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MSI Wind u100 Webcam Solution

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Like most wind u100 owners, my MSI came with an evil BisonCam ver 0.3. You can sort of get it to work with CamTwist, but the latency is ridiculous. I ordered a replacement cam for it on ebay from a newer model u100 thinking it would be more compatible, and received a BisonCam Ver. 3.08. Sadly, this camera is even less compatible with OSX.


I did a lot of research here and on InsanelyWind and the solutions I found were far from elegant - most of them were Wind owners whining about their particular cameras not working, CamTwist not finding their particular BisonCam, or attempts to contact the manufacturer and beg for an OSX driver.



PART 1 - The right camera


So I thought... it's a standard USB device... why not just buy a known-working camera? To solve the problem, I purchased a Toshiba X205 webcam board with the cable on ebay for about $7.00 shipped - which I knew would work in OSX because I had just built an X205 hackintosh. I chose this camera because it was the same physical dimensions as the BisonCam, the connector was on the correct side, and the indicator light was in generally the correct spot. I knew the connector on the webcam was different than the BisonCam, but since the one I bought came with the Toshiba cable, I had intended to clip the connector on the MSI and frankenstein it into the factory wiring.


Turns out, I didn't have to.




I found that the cable that comes with the Toshiba X205 camera is obviously a different type, but because the pins are the correct distance apart, it still fits into the MSI Wind u100 motherboard, where the old cable came out. The cable you get may be slightly different as far as colors, but so far all the ones I've seen appear to be the same. The wire closest to the BOTTOM of the camera when it's installed, is the +5 line - which should be red. And that goes to pin 1 on the MSI logic board. The connector can go in backwards, because it's not the right one for this board - so make sure you're plugging it in the correct way.




The cable that came with my Toshiba X205 cam was very long, and shielded with a conductive material, which had the potential to short out the logic board. So I sprayed it with clear acrylic before installing it. You may want to wrap yours in electrical tape, or remove the shielding all together.


The webcam board fits nicely into the slot where the bison cam used to sit. Even the indicator light is in the perfect spot, and it's blue so it matches the power button, rather than that ugly deep amber color that the original BisonCam came with.




It's a Chicony, and it is a supported UVC device that is NOT laggy, but it is not a high-res camera, which is why it doesn't work natively with FaceTime and Photobooth. Part 2 tells you how to get around that.





Part 2 - Using a Low-Res Netbook Cam with FaceTime and Photobooth


My next problem was figuring out how to get FaceTime and Photobooth working, since I use FaceTime exclusively. I performed this on OSX 10.6.6, but I see no reason it won't work on newer versions of the OS.


The problem with FaceTime is actually quite elementary. It wants to use a high resolution video camera - which most netbooks just don't come with. That's why your netbook camera will work in iChat, but not in Photobooth or FaceTime. CamTwist will trick FaceTime into accepting a lower-resolution feed, by switching the camera to native resolution behind FaceTime's back. But getting it to work requires you to first launch FaceTime, and then launch CamTwist with an Auto-Load profile. This can get annoyingly cumbersome, so I've setup an automated means of doing it.


First step - Install CamTwist.




Setup a default profile for your camera, save it, and make sure it's set to AutoLoad.





Second step - Open AppleScript editor, and build an AppleScript to launch FaceTime:




This script will start FaceTime and Camtwist, Bring FaceTime to the foreground, and then close CamTwist after 15 seconds (it's no longer needed, once you get a video feed in FaceTime). If you want to make one for Photo booth, just change "FaceTime" to "Photo Booth".


Once you've tested it to make sure it compiles, save it as an Application (not a script) to your Applications Folder, change the icon (if you like) and drag your new icon to the dock.





Happy modding.

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The script idea for using CamTwist to enable FaceTime & Photo Booth works for me with OEM BisonCam v0.03 firmware, BUT, when a call is dropped, or ended normally in FaceTime I get a system freeze where I've got a working cursor but nothing responds and I can't even Force Quit anything, I'm forced to hard reboot. I also need to have Voodoo HDA Helper (voodoohdahelper) working so that the internal microphone is working prior to launching FaceTime. I see nothing in the Console logs that might help with the cause of the freeze, but rebooting is a high price for a dropped or ended FaceTime call. Any ideas on a solution?

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