Contents:

Cheap USB Web Camera teardown, analysis and examples

Teardown

Board

Lens

USB identification

Analysis

CMOS sensor

USB controller

Examples

Indoor

Standard conditions

Low light

Web camera

Used as microscope

Summary

Pros

Cons

Cheap USB Web Camera teardown, analysis and examples

Teardown

teardownThis camera is probably the cheapest on on the market ever. It could be purchased for less than $3 on goodsmall999 Ebay shop: Mini Stylish USB 2.0 5M Meter Retractable Clip WebCam Web Camera Laptop PC G9.

The seller declares it as a 5M HD camera, but probably nobody would even believe it. Lens frame lies even more, and declares that it is an 8.0 Megapixel camera.

I was interested how well it performs and what is inside.

Board

PCB top view PCB top side view PCB bottom view

Lens

lens top view lens bottom view lens frame top view lens frame bottom view

You can see that the IR block filter is part of lenses. I did not try to remove it yet, but it seems to be the topmost element.

USB identification

USB id: 1908:2311

idVendor=1908 (GEMBIRD)
idProduct=2311

Product: USB2.0 PC CAMERA
Manufacturer: Generic
SerialNumber: 20100331010203

uvcvideo: UVC 1.00 device USB2.0 PC CAMERA (1908:2311)
input: USB2.0 PC CAMERA

Camera is an UVC standard camera and supports up to 640×480 at 30 fps. So it is 0.3MPix in the fact.

The camera can produce YUV output only. (It is not a problem for the most of the recent software.)

Supported resolutions: 640×480, 352×288 (seems to have stability problems), 320×240, 176×144, 160×120

Supported FPS: 30fps, 15fps

Supported controls: brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, power line frequency, gamma sharpness, backlight compensation

It reports itself not only as a camera, but also as an input device. It means that the chip probably supports button.

Analysis

The camera has a very low field of view (horizontal field of view is approximately 24°), but the image is a pretty sharp and colors are good.

Lens holder is pretty large and has a long thread. If it is unscrewed as much as possible, it can be turned to a cheap microscope. But you need to remove the cover for this purpose, as it makes impossible to unscrew so much.

The camera has no microphone (and also no hole in the case you can see on the listing photos).

The whole board consists from a single IC, CMOS sensor itself and a few parts. There is apparently a space for LED light and one IC (USB id memory?).

If you use the camera without the case, protect it from strong sidelight. It can cause reflections of PCB traces directly to the sensor.

Board revision: AX2311-BC-0309-6DBY-001

CMOS sensor

sensorThe CMOS sensor is a Galaxycore GC0309 640x480@30fps 1/9″ sensor with pixel array size 648×488 pixels (datasheet).

It has a very good sensitivity in the infrared range, so it could be used for infrared experiments.

USB controller

The USB controller is labeled with an AppoTech logo and letters: 2311-A4F EAPR28193_1 1412ARZ. Guessing from the PCB print, it is an AppoTech AX2311. But it does not help at all. There is no single reference to such part anywhere on the net.

Examples

Indoor

Standard conditions

strawberries and phone at the table

Low light

serving pads at the window

Web camera

video playback

(If the video does not play to you, download video here.)

Used as microscope

hair follicle

This example was made with camera open, microscope slide lying on top of the lens frame. The limiting factor was the height of the frame, not the thread length.

Long term experience

It is not suitable for 24/7 use. The firmware is a bit flaky, and freezes about once a week. You need to unplug and plug again to get it working again.

Summary

If you expect a decent 640×480, it is definitely a good deal.

Pros

Cons