iSight project - 100% successful!
Yes, I actually remembered to snap some pictures this time while doing it. The project took me less than two hours, with most of that just trying to work slowly and be cautious. I'll skip the part about taking the plastic rectangle molding off the screen (it's covered previously from when I replaced the LCD) and jump right to the meat of things.
I purchased a used Macbook A1181
internal iSight module, complete with all flex cables and microphone, off eBay for $9.95 shipped. It arrived in just four days (weekend included), so I highly recommend the seller. We don't actually need anything but the module itself and its USB plug. Ignore the microphone wire- we'll remove the entire mic eventually.
The Acer Crystal Eye suck-cam uses a 5-pin USB plug. After some deliberation, I decided to unsolder the plug socket off the old module, and use it to fashion a sort of adapter. I don't recommend you do this. It's totally uneeded, and more hassle than its worth. I left mine that way, but might someday go back and remove it. Surprisingly, this mod is easiest if you never go near a solder gun.
Looking at it pointing right as though installed, the 5-pin Acer plug has the following pinout:
1. (Top pin) 5v+
2. USB Data+
3. USB Data-
5. (Bottom) ??? not needed
The iSight has what looks like an eight-pin connector, but don't worry about. There's only four wires (looks like three) coming off the USB plug. The pinout of the connector itself is:
Pin 3 (light blue outside, white conductor): USB Data+
Pin 4 (light blue outside, purple conductor): USB Data-
Pin 5/6 (orange): USB 5v+
Pin 7/8 (orange): USB GND
That seems too confusing though. To clear things up, the orange cable all the way to one side is Ground. The next one over is 5v+. That last light blue one has the other two wires inside (white, purple). To make this more fun, inside each of these wires is a smaller internal wire surrounded by a common shield. This is tough to do if you don't have good eyes...
I snipped the cable a few inches away from the plug- leaving extra, thinking I may have to redo it a couple times. Then I lightly scored the outside of each wire with some scissors, so I could strip the plastic insulation off. The loose shield wire has to be pulled back, preferably lower than where you scored, to make sure there's no short. You can then cut the shielding off. This leaves the actual "live" wire showing, but we still need to strip the insulation of a bit of that. I was able to do the 5v+ and Ground the same way, carefully with scissors.
The Data line is a different story. These wires are even thinner. I scraped the insulation off those using a razor blade and some patience. Once I had bare wire showing on all four, I used my meter make sure nothing was shorted out anywhere. Now, as ranmasaotome510 predicted, these wires are way too small to solder well. Even if you can do it, they can't stand any
tension. I ended up soldering slightly higher gauge wires to the old Acer webcam's plug, then wrapping those with with the iSight's micro-thin cable wires. Since we're going to be wrapping wires anyway, why not just cut and wrap straight from the iSight cable to the Acer cable?
In any case, here's the results so far:
Much longer than needed, but it's a theoretically functional adapter cable between the iSight and the Acer! The question is, will it work? Time to fire up the laptop and try it out...
Hooray! It works! ...yes, that's me with the camera taking a picture of the iSight camera taking a picture of me taking a picture..
Now to slim things down. The iSight module came mounted to a piece of aluminum framework, which we'll remove. After taking out all four screws, the iSight pops in half so it can be freed. By pulling on the microphone cable, the unneeded microphone pops right out as well. Here's a shot of the iSight module beneath the original Acer Crystal Eye one (minus its plug, of course):
That circular hole is where the mic was. The iSight module is actually smaller, so I bet it can fit as a replacement for pretty much any laptop's webcam. Speaking of which, time to mount it!
My original module wasn't held in place with any screws, but a single strip of double sided adhesive tape and some plastic guidepoints. I debated how to secure the iSight- glue, maybe? Finally I decided that if tape worked to start with, why not for the replacement?
It turns out I didn't have much to worry about- the height is perfect, so when the screen was closed up it holds everything in place quite well. Probably why Acer simply used tape. It took me a try or two to fit my way-overly-long wiring properly (again, why I suggest just cutting, twisting, and wrapping) but now everything's just perfect! Looks like I never touched it. Anyone need a slightly used Acer webcam sans plug?
To be honest, I'm not even sure how much I'll use the webcam. But I can't argue with an under $10 mod that puts my little Acertosh so much closer to being a native Mac Edit:
Decided to do things the right/easy way. Last night I removed the long homemade adapter deal, snipped off the plug, then trimmed and wired the iSight plug directly to the LCD/USB cable. Much simpler. I was even able to cover each of the twisted wires with a dab of solder to make it truly permanent, though it worked fine without it. If anyone else has this model laptop, the color code for the Acer / iSight wiring is:
Purple (Acer) = Outside orange (iSight) = Ground
Brown (Acer) = Middle orange (iSight) = 5v+ (3.3v)
White (part of twisted pair, Acer) = Purple (inside light blue, iSight) = Data-
Brown (part of twisted pair, Acer) = White (inside light blue, iSight) = Data+
Grey (Acer) = n/c
I snapped some more pictures while (re-) doing it, if anyone wants them. Really think this will be the way to go for incompatible webcams in the future.