The other day a friend sent me this gem of a camera that he found at one of our facilities while preparing some electronics for recycling. He sent it over as a bit of a joke complete with the original power cord. To my surprise as I cautiously plugged in the camera it sprung to life. Well that’s a bit of an exaggeration as the tiny LCD screen is the only real feedback you get that the camera is running.
In a couple of minutes I snapped 4 *cough* High Resolution 640×480 photos and watched excitedly as the counter on the screen incremented each new shot. I had now used up half of this $749 cameras internal memory and couldn’t wait to see my results. There was just a couple of problems. My friend did not ship the serial cable with the camera, it was not designed to work in a windows environment, it only takes photos in Quicktake file format, and there is no removable media card.
Well I wasn’t going to let those 4 masterpieces just sit there collecting virtual dust in the cameras internal memory so I had to find a solution. I stumbled on this great blog post “Using Apple Quicktake 100 in OS X era” that spelled out how to retrieve the photos in a Win XP virtual environment on Mac OSX. Having a native XP machine laying around with a serial port I felt I was almost there. All I had to do now was hop on Ebay and buy an old Apple/Newton serial cable and I’m living the good life.
Of course it couldn’t be that easy. These cables have turned out to be very hard to find and the ones I did locate were either too expensive or did not clearly state the pinout of the cable. So what else is there to do but make your own.
Apple publishes the pinout for this cable but over at namedfork.net they have included a diagram that better illustrates it.
Finally on to the good stuff. Here’s what you will need to make this cable completely free of soldering for under $6. ( I didn’t include the single RJ45 connector in the price as most people building a serial cable will probably have one laying around)
Parts List and tools
- Apple Serial cable, MiniDin8 Male, 8 Conductor, 6 foot
- Modular Adapter, Black, DB9 Female to RJ45 Jack
- RJ45 Crimp connector
- Network Cable Crimpers
- Continuity Tester / Multi Meter
I ordered the first two parts from www.cablewholesale.com. They delivered very quickly and have detailed specs of all of their items.
You could take some time and check each connector by continuity to identify which pin comes out the other end of the cable but who has time for that?
Chop off one end of the MiniDin8 cable and strip back the insulation. Line up the individual wires in your hand and cut them off flush. Gently slide them into the RJ45 connector. This is a bit trickier than making a regular network cable as the individual wires are not as stiff as cat5e. Make sure that all of the wires have made it to the top of the connector and crimp.
Plug the RJ45 into the modular adapter. Get your continuity tester or multimeter out and test each pin on the MiniDin8 to identify the corresponding wire on the modular adapter. Write down the pin number and the color of the wire that it corresponds with.
Using the pinout chart above I found it easiest to layout my list in the following manner
|MiniDin 8 Pin||My colored wire||DE-9 Pin|
After you have completed your chart look on the back of the modular adapter where the pins are inserted. In very small writing each slot is numbered. Plug each of your wires into the corresponding holes listed in the DE-9 Pin column of your chart.
Note: On the MiniDin 8 plug pin 6 is not used. The diagram also shows pin 8 jumpered to pin 5 on the DE-9 side. For our purposes pin 8 can be ignored.
At this point you can test continuity again to verify your work or if you are confident that everything is correct plug it into the serial port and give it a shot. I waited to finish assembling the modular plug until after I tested the cable with the hard to find Quicktake for Windows software. (if the link goes away I can put up the file)
That’s all there is to it. The software is very simplistic. Run the Quicktake serial ports program to test your connection to the camera and the main Quicktake program to view and download your files. You can also “save as” jpg to avoid the format issues so many people have run into. Soon I will post some pictures taken with the camera.