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Walgreens PureDigital Camera Hacked 177

Powercntrl writes "While the Ritz version of the PureDigital single-use camera was recently hacked, the Walgreens version wasn't - until now. Codeman, the same guy who brought us the I-Opener hack, found a way to add a standard Smartmedia interface to the Walgreens camera and extract images with a standard Smartmedia reader. Links to sample images showing the camera's quality are included."
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Walgreens PureDigital Camera Hacked

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  • by Brento ( 26177 ) * <brento&brentozar,com> on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:01AM (#7716242) Homepage
    The reason for getting excited is that you can get these for $10 each. Walgreens expects that you'll return them to get your pictures "processed", and then they'll turn around and sell the cameras again to somebody else.

    $10 for a camera that shoots 1280x1024 plus has a flash certainly isn't bad - but then you're going to rack up the expense of a SmartMedia socket, soldering, the memory card, and optionally, your own soldered USB connection. Even if you figure $40-$50 worth of materials, it's not a bad deal, if you can settle for its washed-out colors.
  • That site is already pushing up daisies....
    • MIRROR! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Here's a mirror [] of the posting, courtesy of Worm Quartet []
  • Iopener (Score:4, Funny)

    by kajoob ( 62237 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:05AM (#7716287)
    Anybody wanna buy my hacked iopener that I don't use anymore so I can buy a bunch of these cameras?
  • Woo hoo! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i_am_syco ( 694486 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:07AM (#7716301)
    I needed a digital camera. Santa's going to be visiting a tad earlier this year. To tell you the truth, a reusable digital camera is just begging to be hacked. Why these companies are putting them out at all is beyond me, because the analog film quality is so much better.
    • Re:Woo hoo! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:27AM (#7716489)
      because 99% of the population isn't going to use them to hack. Who in their right mind is going to pay $10 to buy the camera and sit there soldering a USB cable to the inards to get the pictures off? Not a non-geek I can tell you that.
      • ..and a geek can surely buy some 40-50$ cam for themselfs..
      • Re:Woo hoo! (Score:2, Interesting)

        by yonyonson ( 645097 )
        And now besides the 99% of the population who will buy them and not modify them, there will be an added percentage bonus from the scientifically applied hobbyists who would never have bought one before.
      • Re:Woo hoo! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Sunday December 14, 2003 @06:38PM (#7720147) Homepage Journal
        Or for the same reason people use $9.99 35mm disposables: they are cheap to get in bulk, easy to have developed and are universally available. In exchange for this, you get embarassingly bad quality. You're not paying for a good camera, you're paying for developed pictures and convenience...with these, you're also getting a CD, which for your average mom & pop ebay team is a godsend.

        But remember: this is a focus-free plastic lens on a 2 megapixel ccd and MAYBE 8 meg of ram, with a washed out flash and no way to recharge the batteries. Companies give better cameras than these away for promotions. If this is how you save money, I've got a good condition Mr. Microphone that's just perfect for use in your stereo system...

        Of course, the purpose of a hack is not to save money. It's because it's fun to make stuff work in ways that were not intended. Otherwise, assholes like me wouldn't be installing leather seats in old Volkswagens or make Macintoshe SEs into wireless email stations...
    • Re:Woo hoo! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:29AM (#7716512)
      Yes, there really is no reason to have a reusable digital camera without an LCD screen. What's the point of even having it be digital if you have to get the pictures processed by the store anyway? Isn't the whole point of digital cameras that you can preview the pictures and that you DON'T have to get film processed? These cameras allow neither of those - they're pointless!

      You can get film developed and put on a picture CD at a much higher quality than this. Why even bother having it be digital??
      • Re:Woo hoo! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CTho9305 ( 264265 )
        The general population believes slogans like "digital quality" mean that digital is inherently better.
        • This is true. The only advantage of this new crop of digicrap "cameras" is that WalMart doesn't have to replenish film, thereby saving their ass some money, while riding on the common retardation of man thinking all digital = good. Eventually, the scam that this is will be shown on 20/20, and then the common idiot will understand that their blind faith in the word digital is in general a bad thing.
          • Re:Woo hoo! (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dasmegabyte ( 267018 )
            Or maybe it's the CDs they offer along with the digital prints, perfect for somebody who wants to ebay something but doesn't own a digital camera.

            Or maybe it's that downloading and printing the pictures takes less than 10 minutes and they're better quality than the one hour photolab. Certainly important if your friends are leaving on a flight and you want to give them pictures of their visit.

            Or maybe it's that film is expensive and the chemicals are quite caustic and any mistakes in the process can resul
    • Re:Woo hoo! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) *
      It's cheaper for them.

      Developer chemicals and machines are expensive. Cheaper overhead == more profit.
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:10AM (#7716329)

    Let me get it all out of the way for y'all, ok?

    • What a waste of time
    • What crappy images
    • Don't they have some poor child in the third world they could be helping with their science project
    • Good job destroying their business model, because everyone is going to run out and buy these because they're loaded with features
    • The black helicopters from the Santa/Jesus Conspirary are out to get me and my alien friend, but if you happen to have a time travel S3-4QB, we'll be safe!(props to all the true wackjobs that end up -1. You guys are something special).
    • SCO sucks.
    • I for one welcome our new cheap crappy picture-taking overlords
    • Slashdot editors suck, this is a dupe.
    • Oh, I actually read the article now- ok, it's not a dupe. The slashdot editors still suck.

    Did I miss anyone?

  • Quick! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Someone find a bandwith hack for this site, it`s dying!
  • Film (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:13AM (#7716354)
    What's the point of digital without an LCD? None. For disposible, nothing beats film. If digital rentals are to take place, they should be in some sort of locked waterproof plastic case that must be torn up to get access to it... unless you have the Walgreen's key. Also, calling it a rental would be better - and charging a deposit fee to keep people from using them for this purpose.
    • Re:Film (Score:4, Funny)

      by argent ( 18001 ) <peter@slashdot.2 ... m ['6.t' in gap]> on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:57AM (#7716805) Homepage Journal
      The point of "digital without an LCD" is to save money for Walgreens.

      Over the long term, digital cameras are inherently cheaper than film cameras. A digital "disposable" may cost a little more than a film disposable initially, but the processing and refurbishing cost is negligable.

      Think of it as a delaying tactic.

      As time goes on and electronics get better and cheaper, the cost difference between a film and a digital camera of equivalent quality will end up favoring the digital. A film camera contains all kinds of mechanical devices that a digital camera doesn't need.

      And this shift will start at the low end, where the optics aren't good enough to resolve images better than cheap digital hardware can replicate.

      So, just as all cheap watches are electronic ("quartz" watches are basically an accurate timer driving a motor), all cheap cameras will soon be digital. The niche that all these expensive 24-hour automatic film processing labs are filling... processing the output of cheap cameras... will dry up as only professionals (who have their own darkrooms) and antiquarians and hobbyists (who either have their own darkrooms or will end up having to make them) keep using the increasingly expensive film.

      So, they're trying things, looking for a new niche they can scratch open, and you know you should never scratch a niche.
      • I dunno about film developers drying up. Right now it costs about $.40 per page to print full color pictures using decent ink at home. It takes a long time to print them, and even at the end, they aren't as good quality as images squeaked out of a nice dye sublimiation digital printer. Yes, the many of the petrochemical development labs will probably slowly disappear, but they'll be replaced by awesome printers with massive development rates. One hour photo? Try five minutes, and at much better quality
        • "they'll be replaced by awesome printers with massive development rates"

          Oh, for sure, but only for the 3 or 4 pictures you actually want, you won't be getting prints for the whole roll any more. Not once people get used to the new technology. It becomes something you do for the special pictures only, not 5 rolls of slides per holiday... maybe none at all unless there's something really nice you want to send in physical form.

          Demand is going down, and it's going to be a different kind of demand. How long wi
          • When you say "quality," you seem to mean resolution. Resolution is only a small part of it. The quality people care about -- fixing red eye, cleaning up zits, repairing the washout caused by using a flash in a bright area -- is VERY easy to do with digital. And a smart staff of folks and EASY software are going to make that type of quality come home for people.

            And you know? Even if it costs a few dollars more for fewer pictures, people would really like these features. I guarantee there'll be a demand
            • No, I'm not talking about resolution, or even resolution + optics + color balancing + lighting correction.

              When I say "quality" I mean "quality". Red-eye elimination is something you can automate in a filter in the camera, there's already programs that do that. When you say "EASY software [is] going to make that type of quality come home for people" you're on the right track but you're not following that chain of logic to its obvious conclusion: it's going to be right there, at home, and many people won't e
    • > What's the point of digital without an LCD?

      Well, sonny take a seat on my lap and let me tell you about the dark days of photography when we had no LCD displays. I think the year was 1995...

      Back then, we walked to school through waist-high snow for two miles.

      A digital camera is no less crippled without an LCD display, than a film camera is. You use the viewfinder.

      Of course, if you're the type that puts your index finger over the aperature when you shoot, this won't help you...

      For me, this camera wi
      • Read the post again, gramps. He didn't say "what's the point of photography without an LCD?" rather "what's the point of digital without an LCD?" That is, for a dirt-cheap and shitty-image'd camera such as this, one of the only advantages it would have is the fact you can go back and delete photos that sucked on a digicam- out in the field, without your computer there- so you can squeeze a few more in the flash space.

        That said, on our digicam, I usually use the viewfinder instead of the LCD. Just seems wei
        • Nope, I didn't misread - you assume I did, but my post was deliberate.

          My logic:
          (Problem) Using film, I took a bad shot... and KNEW it. This happens.

          (Solution) "take another".

          In this case, being digital, the cost of a second shot is effectively $0. Yay.

          I'll grant that without an LCD you have no PROOF that the shot is bad.

          That said, but there's a big stretch between proof OF a bad shot and "[value of] NONE" (and as some other posters claimed, "No way of knowing...").

          Exaggerated posts are not helpful. I'
          • Also:
            (Problem) Using film, I took a bad shot... and KNEW it. This happens.

            By this I mean "KNEW or suspected" it was a bad shot.
    • What's the point of digital without an LCD?

      Well, for one, you can erase shots and re-take them. Says so right on the package.

      • Yeah, except you don't know which shots suck. Rather, you may know some- like you took a photo of the ground when drunk. But it's not like you can have a look and see which photos suck, then go back to re-take them.

        I guess you could err on the side of caution and just do three takes for all the photos on the camera- make sure they're grrrrreat!
        • I thinking more like, you take a picture, but someone sneezes...or looks away...or anything unpredictable like that. Sooooooooo, erase that shot right away and try again. Not as useful as with an LCD, but still a nice feature.
    • If you don't hack it and just use it as a disposable, I agree, there isn't much of a benefit from it being digital. Sure, you can delete the last photo but that's not that big of a deal. I'd be more concerned about the image quality disadvantages.

      However, once you have a hacked camera it's a different story. Because it's digital you can take virtually free photos. The batteries in the Ritz version lasted me for about 300 photos and they're just standard AA, easy to change. Sure, it would be better if

      • I'd be more concerned about the image quality disadvantages.

        Yeah, because, let's face it, when I'm shopping for a $10 camera, image quality is way up there on my list. Heck, quality is why I have my prints done by Walgreens in the first place!
    • Maybe the Walgreen's product is just plain pointless. But a $10 digicam NOT tied to Walgreen's, on the other hand, might have some potential. The main advantages over film are the electronically triggered shutter, and instant feedback.

      I can hook it to the underside of my motorcycle and maybe get some cool shots before it's destroyed.

      Maybe I can turn it into a webcam, buy 6 of them, and put them up around my house to find out whose dog is crapping on my lawn.

      I can buy 30 of them and make one of those

    • What's the point of digital without an LCD? None.

      Personally, I want to cut one up and strap it to a home made model rocket. I don't need a LCD for that. Also, at $10 I won't be too heartbroken if it doesn't survive the launch and recovery.
  • damn it! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 )
    Now they know, in advance about these stories and these dinky sites getting slammed.

    Why don't they mirror these little sites on the awesome OSDN system ahead of the rush?

    Shit, within seconds of release the sites are out of order and the entire story is for naught and NO ONE gets to see what it's all about.
    Quite often the site exceeds it's bandwidth allocation and is taken offline by the ISP for the remainder of the month.

    By the time this site will be viewable again, Walgreens will have pulled the camera
    • Why they couldn't apply their massive genius to creating some kind of mirror system is beyond me.
      • Re:damn it! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RevAaron ( 125240 )
        We need some sort of way of putting the archive on bit torrent and then making it easily viewable. That is, someone saves the pertinent pages into a zip file, puts the zip up on bit torrent, and when you click the url, Moz or whatever your browser be unzips it to a temp dir, and opens up the index.html ... VIOLA! that'd be slick as snot.
    • Re:damn it! (Score:2, Informative)

      by Cobain ( 104632 )
      This [] is why they don't cache webpages. RTFF!
      • Re:damn it! (Score:3, Funny)

        by wolf- ( 54587 )
        Look! A 3 year old FAQ answer!
        Shouldn't a techy/geeky/nerdy website have more up to date policies? Oh, well, just a thought.
    • The site is a bulletin board. Here follow codeman's 2 informational messages (the formatting sucks, but what can you do?:

      ---first post---

      ok i did some hacking on the walgreess version and here's what i have done..

      first thanks to zonyl for getting me some cameras to mess with..

      ok if you look at [this] [] you will see there is a daughter board on there with the nand flash for picture storage ..

      if you remove that board you can add a smartmedia socket and using smartmedia card you will be able to get t

  • by CRCates ( 557541 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:29AM (#7716516)
    The real benefit on these cameras (after they're hacked) is that you can use them where you wouldn't want to risk your $100-500 camera.
    For example, most people don't want the expense of having to risk a high-end digital camera for underwater (SCUBA, snorkel) shots. The Ritz camera (when hacked to interface with USB) is a great camera for use in a shallow-depth enclosure (because it has a flash) and you don't care if it's destroyed because $10 is a mere fraction of the cost of diving (it might be less expensive than the compressed AIR you're breathing while doing it).
    Also, think about skiers or other extreme sports people what kick the living crap out of their gear. This makes a digital (albeit crappy) camera something that you can actually use with reckless abandon and not feel so bad when after the Nth time you fall on your *ass after a bad trip down the moguls it finally gives up. (you just hope that it lasts you a couple of trips).
    Granted it's crappy but, again, a niche use is still a good use.
    • The real benefit on these cameras (after they're hacked) is that you can use them where you wouldn't want to risk your $100-500 camera.
      For example, most people don't want the expense of having to risk a high-end digital camera for underwater (SCUBA, snorkel) shots. The Ritz camera (when hacked to interface with USB) is a great camera for use in a shallow-depth enclosure (because it has a flash) and you don't care if it's destroyed because $10 is a mere fraction of the cost of diving (it might be less expens
      • You can do all that without having to hack the camera.

        As if!

        Whether or not you may be aware of it, those of us into SCUBA and EXTREME SPORTS are into HACKING everything... I mean, XTREME SPORTZ are all about HACKING LIFE itself!!!!!!1 sooo stffu to your naysayingZ and BIG ^^ (upss) to hacking4life!
    • No, the real benefit of hacking this camera is that you've hack something that wasn't supposed to be hacked.
      • I think that replies have missed the point of my initial comment. The idea is that you shouldn't have to pay for developing (and then return the camera) EVERY time you want to use it in a hazardous situation. The concept is that you could use them MANY times (not just the once permitted) and retain contol over where you get the photos produced (because you're not limited to the "out of the box" options.
        As for the assertion that it is "wasn't supposed to be hacked". That's like saying that you can't upgra
        • As for the assertion that it is "wasn't supposed to be hacked". That's like saying that you can't upgrade a computer that you've purchased.

          I think he meant that the reason for doing it is the joy of doing something that they don't want you to do. It wasn't "supposed to be" hacked, because Walgreen's wants you to bring it back, pay them for "processing", and let them "recycle" it (i.e. let them resell it).

          If they are selling them under the same terms that they sell single use film cameras, they can't st

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:35AM (#7716563)

    ok i did some hacking on the walgreess version and here's what i have done..
    first thanks to zonyl for getting me some cameras to mess with..

    ok if you look at d_board_hr_back_mod
    you will see there is a daughter board on there with the nand flash for picture storage ..
    if you remove that board you can add a smartmedia socket and using smartmedia card you will
    be able to get the pics with a smartmedia reader standard jpg's but it will not do more that
    25 pics still (think its using fat12)..

    also there is a serial port there labeled rs232 it a ttl level serial port ..
    pin 1 rx []square on board
    pin 2 tx
    pin 3 gnd
    pin 4 data out ?? for lcd ?? video ??

    if you hook up a max232 type chip to the board and a pc , in a term program hit
    space bar and the camera will return a 0x01 hex (looks like it does autobaud rate)
    and if you hit the - key twice it will trigger the flash and count the remaining
    counter down but does not write to flash .
    and if you send a 029 dec (hold alt and type 029 on keypad then release alt) if will
    change the format of the data coming out on pin 4..( dont know yet )

    so far thats all i got in one night ..


    here are some pic to get a better idea of how it works
    daughter card removed website/r es44442
    smartmedia socket added bsite/r es44441
    here it is complete. y/website/r es44443
    another one ite/r es44445

    there is a door for the smartmedia card


  • by Cryoabyss ( 443279 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @11:49AM (#7716713) Homepage
    I was only able to get a the picture of the hack. It looks promising so I'm heading to Walgreens to pick one up for use as a digital camera back in my 35mm SLR. []
    • Thanks

      That image is weird. I wonder if it's photoshopped or if the Smartmedia socket is just placed on top of the camera PCB (ie. not connected and not functional) I wouldn't expect them to just put pads there for soldering in one of those sockets and so I'd expect wires and perhaps some glue logic.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...poor quality pictures of Saddam's capture !

    Does anyone else see the connection? :-)

  • by rufus t firefly ( 35399 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:06PM (#7716901) Homepage
    I don't know much about the hack, other than than the information regarding the camera at []. What I'm curious about is why no one has posted or is interested in a USB hack similar to the Ritz one. A smartmedia reader, as some have pointed out, is much more expensive than a USB cable. I know that I would not spend 10$ on a single use camera, then spend an additional 30-50$ on parts to make it arguably equivalent to a 60$ cheapie digital.
  • He has named the samsung memory chip, but not the two rather small ones right of it. On the daugther board is memory chip F [] Memory upgrades anyone ?
  • Screw the camera (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:21PM (#7717037) Homepage
    For $10, it would be nice if this could be used as a general purpose USB interface for other projects. (I'd RTFA, but it's pining for the fjords.)
    • I wouldn't say "Screw the camera", I like mine and I've been using it a lot. However, your idea is really good. I bet this is the cheapest way to get a USB interface for a project.

      The hardware isn't really meant to do that. The a SPCA504B chip is meant for use in a camera. However, it has an 8051 core with some extensions, it has I/O ports, there is external flash memory for code and the current firmware probably even supports a USB command for uploading new firmware.

      • From some of the comments, it might just have a serial interface that a USB interface can be added to.

        Hmm, 8051 core. That would be a damned nice little gizmo to have a bunch of for whatever. (I'll mention this on comp.arch.embedded to increase the slashdotting.) If nothing else, they'd make cheap security cameras, telescope add-ons, robot vision .. whatever!

        Is there any chain in Canada that would have them before they disappear?

  • Well, a better alternative for those using disposable cameras (digital or otherwise) at weddings or other parties. Some friends in the SF Bay area use a service from Big Day Snapshots []. Instead of getting 10 cheap disposable cameras for about $15 developed, they got 10 Canon A60 cameras to use for the day-- for $15, "developed"! Afterwards, they were given a CD with all the images and their own password-protected website. Pretty cool, they were psyched to get digital pix so easily; some of the guests even ma
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Having looked at the pics of this camera it looks a lot like an old camera I have - a fuji ix-10
    If there are linux drivers for it it might work with them..
  • The mention of the smart card has me confused. Looking at the site, it looks like he just soldered 4 wires on from a usb connector and was able to get the pictures with that.

    Am I seeing that right? Smartmedia would be convienent, but I don't mind adding a wire out the side of it if that is all that needs to be done.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The obvious solution to this (for the company) is something they used to do with the film disposables -- charge for processing up front. Include the price of the "processing" (which amounts to downloading the pics and printing them for an unreasonably inflated price) in the price of the camera, and then just say "processing included". The only reason they don't do this is because they found it was more profitable to mislead consumers into thinking the product was cheaper than it was.

    I have no sympathy fo

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