My Expeditions

Travel expeditions, expeditions in to the mind, into rituals, into cultures, into computer programming, into thought process, into anything that I can imagine....

Saturday, January 21, 2006

With my brother getting transferred to Singapore, we decided to get home a broad band connection (nothing but BSNL Data One), a web cam and a new headset.

I called up my schoolmate A. Mohemad Haaris who is a partner in Xeroxtronics at Mambalam and asked him to home deliver a webcam and a headset. After a few days, he sent me a fancy Zebronics ZEB -350WC web cam. It calls itself as a night vision web cam. Wonder what it really means. I tried connecting it to my PC. Initially, the camera was not detected either by M$ Window$ XP nor by the then Mandrake (now Mandriva) Linux 10.1.

Later in the evening, the camera started working under windows perfectly. But I cant risk my PC to connect to Internet through Windows. I had enough trouble of loosing my data to virus three times earlier. So, never will I connect my PC to internet through Windows. Who is going to pay for the resource hungry Anti Virus Softwares. I am simply fed up with Anti Virus software that has caused enough embarrassment in front of my clients, by slowing/hanging my PC. So somehow I have to get this camera running under Linux. Fine. How to do that?

A little Googling helped a lot. I am not going to elaborate on how I searched. But I guess, it will be very useful to list down the steps.

[root@localhost kumar]# lsusb
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 0000:0000
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0ac8:305b Z-Star Microelectronics Corp.
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 0000:0000

Okay: my Camera is actually a Z-Star Microelectronics Corp. 305 Rev. B

A little more Googling and the screen shots in the user manual revealed that my camera has an alias name Vimicro Zc305B.

More Googling: a French website had just the right thing for my camera. A driver for Linux :-).

I then downloaded the source tar ball and followed the sequence of steps as described from the site

For reference here it is again.

  1. Downloaded Spca5xx driver source tar.gz to local. (spca5xx-20060101.tar.gz)

  2. su to root (Root console in Konsole)

  3. mv spca5xx*.gz /usr/src (move the tar.gz to /usr/src folder)

  4. tar -zxvf spca*.tar.gz

  5. cd spca5xx*

  6. make (This will dump a few things on the screen)

  7. make install (this will again dump something on the screen)

  8. modprobe spca should do an auto-complete as modprobe spca5xx

  9. vi /etc/X11/XF86Config

  10. Search for -- Section “Module”

  11. Add the line -- Load “v4l”

  12. Re-start X Server.

  13. Open Gnome Meeting and start chatting.

BUT BUT BUT.. , my web cam worked only when I login as root. This must be a simple “rights” issue. So I checked with “ ls /dev/vid*”. This revealed that /dev/video0 was not accessible by any one other than root. So I did a “chmod a+rwx /dev/vid*”. After this, the camera is working perfectly under any user....:-)

Another useful place to look at for checking the correct functionality is to tail “/var/log/messages”

Please do let me know if any of you have a similar experience................:-)


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