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'[OT]: digital camera picture storage'
2002\06\14@184355 by Mike Mansheim

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I'm considering getting a digital camera for an upcoming long trip that
is likely to generate a lot of pictures.  However, carrying a bunch of
memory cards looks expensive (no laptop either).  Are there
"intermediate" storage devices that might be more cost effective?

I'm thinking of a stand-alone hard drive package that you could plug the
card into, transfer the contents, then re-use the card.  Eventually, when
the trip is over or the drive is full, the contents are transferred
to your pc.  Given the size and cost of large drives today, it seems
this device could be quite compact and possibly cost effective.
Does such a thing exist, or does anyone have other suggestions?
Thanks.

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2002\06\14@191601 by Pic Dude

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Put some numbers on it ... how many pics would you estimate
storing during the trip, and what resolution and format?
Calculate an estimated space requirement based on this.

A low-cost solution may actually be picking up a bunch of
used memory cards or a small laptop and selling it when
you're done.  Buy used, sell used, and you may even make
some money on it. :-)   Generally I've found that a
specialized device may cost you more than a generic solution
that could do more ... like an old used laptop.

Another option is to look for some way to transfer the images
to a web site or other holding area until you return.

BTW, I'm assuming you didn't put [PIC] in the tag cause
you're not looking at building something?

Just some random thoughts...
-Neil.



{Original Message removed}

2002\06\14@222521 by Brent Brown

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Hi Mike,

I have had a digital camera for a while now (Fuji FinePix 40i). Hope
the following ideas help.

My camera came with a 32MB SmartMedia memory card and I bought a
128MB card for a 2 week overseas trip. I get really excellent photo's
at 1280 x 960 resolution (great 4 x 6" prints) and can store 100
photo's on the 32MB card and 400 photo's on the 128MB card. The price
has dropped heaps on the 128MB cards now, tempting me to think I
wouldn't hesitate to buy another one if I were going on an even
longer trip. Not necessarily trying to talk you out of it but you get
a fair bit of memory card for the price of a hard drive these days.

Back to project ideas though: USB card readers for PC's are cheap and
work well. That gives you a good connector for the card. Then you
need a USB master controler. Not many ideas there sorry. IDE
interfaces for micro's have been done before though.

Another idea I can visualize is a 3.5" floppy drive sitting on top of
a 3.5" hard drive. Buy a memory card floppy drive adaptor and bang,
all your hardware is done for you. With this scheme the floppy drive
and hard drive interfaces are very similar and may be able to share
circuitry and software in your micro interface. Just detect the
floppy inserted and dump all contents into a new folder on the hard
drive and turn an LED on to say it's done. Maybe put the hard drive
in a removable bay to make it easy to get the data back into your PC.

Sounds easy, but I know there will be a heap of work involved.
Probably more software than anything else.
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16 English Street, Hamilton, New Zealand
Ph/fax: +64 7 849 0069
Mobile/txt: 025 334 069
eMail:  .....brent.brownKILLspamspam@spam@clear.net.nz

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2002\06\14@231221 by Ashley Roll

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Hi Guys,

You don't need to go to the trouble if interfacing as a USB master to read
CF cards.. You can interface a PIC to them directly reasonably simply. I've
done this for a MP3 player for a client of mine. The CF card has a (slower)
8-Bit interface as do Hard drives.. But speed shouldn't be too much of a
problem. To make it faster you would have to use a PLD to implement a
"proper" IDE like interface.

3M and many others make CF card connectors, I'm sure you should be able to
get them from digikey.

You can also interface a PIC to a IDE hard drive (web pages out there on
doing this).. I used a '877 for my MP3 player..

Shouldn't be too hard to design a storage unit.. I don't think you would
need any extra RAM for buffering as HDs and CFs generally both use 512 byte
blocks so you read the block out of the CF and straight into the HD..

I haven't looked to hard at it but I'm sure you could do a minimal
implementation with very little extra glue logic.

Just looking at the schematic for my MP3 player, ok for the CF card, you
need an 8bit data bus, 3 address lines, Output Enable (Read), Write Enable
(Write), Card Detect, Reset (optional), Ready/Busy (optional, but
recommended).

That's 16 connections. You would also want a Chip Enable if your sharing
with a IDE HD.. Say 17. Then to interface to a HD (from memory here.. could
be wrong) you have basically the same connections and almost the same
registers that you talk to. You would need a different chip enable for the
IDE disk.. I'm sure you could get away with around 20 pins at most. A '877
would then still have enough pins for a LCD and some buttons if you were
tricky about the connections..

Reading and writing the raw data blocks (LBA mode) is pretty simple.. you
set up some values in certain registers using the address pins to select the
register and data and the OE and WE pins to read and write. Basically you
query the registers to get disk format information (num sectors, size etc..)
then you setup an address register and start reading or writing to a
different register to stream the block of data in or out..

Once you can read and write the basic blocks, you need to implement some
file system decoding.. this can get a little tricker because there are
several different FAT file systems to accommodate, but not to hard..

Trouble is that a Hard Drive is going to eat batteries.. probably best to
make it externally powered by a plug pack or car cigarette lighter socket..
Have the PIC spin up the HD when it detects a CF card inserted, it then
works out the file system on the CF card and HD, displays some details on
the LCD and waits for the "copy" button to be pressed to begin copy or the
"erase" button to be pressed to erase the CF card perhaps..

I'd have it create a directory on the HD for each "date" (would need a Real
time clock chip to help with this) then each CF card of pics entered on that
day would get its own sub directory and you copy all the files into there.
Then erase them on the CF card. You want to have at least 2 levels of
directories because some FAT file systems have limited number of entires per
directory and you could conceivably run out of directory entires.

Cheers,
Ash.

---
Ashley Roll
Digital Nemesis Pty Ltd
http://www.digitalnemesis.com
Mobile: +61 (0)417 705 718




> {Original Message removed}

2002\06\15@010210 by Matt Gorbet

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> I'm thinking of a stand-alone hard drive package that you could plug the
> card into, transfer the contents, then re-use the card.

There seem to be a few such solutions on the market:
http://www.image-tank.com/
is one.  I did a google search on "cf card hard drive portable" and found a
few.

Another option might be the IBM Microdrive, depending on what type of camera
you use.  I use a Canon camera with a 340MB microdrive and in 6 weeks in
Europe I only had to dump the contents of the card once, halfway through
(dumped ~450 3.3 Megapixel photos onto a CD-ROM at an internet cafe in
Paris).

Good luck.
<M>

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2002\06\15@010421 by Matt Gorbet

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Here's another link (also european) that compares some solutions:
http://www.bvision.ch/ImageTank/

<M>

> {Original Message removed}

2002\06\15@062606 by Peter L. Peres

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On Fri, 14 Jun 2002, Mike Mansheim wrote:

>I'm considering getting a digital camera for an upcoming long trip that
>is likely to generate a lot of pictures.  However, carrying a bunch of
>memory cards looks expensive (no laptop either).  Are there
>"intermediate" storage devices that might be more cost effective?
>
>I'm thinking of a stand-alone hard drive package that you could plug the
>card into, transfer the contents, then re-use the card.  Eventually, when
>the trip is over or the drive is full, the contents are transferred
>to your pc.  Given the size and cost of large drives today, it seems
>this device could be quite compact and possibly cost effective.
>Does such a thing exist, or does anyone have other suggestions?
>Thanks.

They exist. Check digital photo supplies. Exactly as you described, you
pop the CF card innto them and they copy it to a hard drive inside, then
reuse the CF. Professional photographers need these because they do large
format and they ruon short of even the largest CF cards (even microdrives).

Peter

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2002\06\15@114725 by miked

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Iomega had something like this for their Click! disks(40Mb). I don't remember if they
had one for ZIPs. Also had problems with >64Mb cards.

> I'm thinking of a stand-alone hard drive package that you could plug the
> card into, transfer the contents, then re-use the card.  Eventually, when
> the trip is over or the drive is full, the contents are transferred to
> your pc.  Given the size and cost of large drives today, it seems this
> device could be quite compact and possibly cost effective. Does such a
> thing exist, or does anyone have other suggestions? Thanks.
>

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2002\06\15@115806 by Dave Tweed

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Mike Mansheim <@spam@Michael_J_MansheimKILLspamspamGRACO.COM> wrote:
> I'm thinking of a stand-alone hard drive package that you could plug the
> card into, transfer the contents, then re-use the card.  Eventually, when
> the trip is over or the drive is full, the contents are transferred
> to your pc.  Given the size and cost of large drives today, it seems
> this device could be quite compact and possibly cost effective.
> Does such a thing exist, or does anyone have other suggestions?

Starting with the June 2002 issue of Circuit Cellar (#143), Jeff Bachiochi
has started a series on interfacing to SmartMedia using a PIC. The
application is specifically related to getting data out of a digital
camera.

He also covered the topic back in September/October 1999 (issues #110 and
#111), again interfacing with a PIC.

See my index at http://www.dtweed.com/circuitcellar/ -- from there you can
follow links to order back issues, etc. as needed.

-- Dave Tweed

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2002\06\17@031133 by Michael Rigby-Jones

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Brent Brown [SMTP:RemoveMEbrent.brownTakeThisOuTspamCLEAR.NET.NZ]
> Sent: Saturday, June 15, 2002 3:24 AM
> To:   spamBeGonePICLISTspamBeGonespamMITVMA.MIT.EDU
> Subject:      Re: [OT]:  digital camera picture storage
> Another idea I can visualize is a 3.5" floppy drive sitting on top of
> a 3.5" hard drive. Buy a memory card floppy drive adaptor and bang,
> all your hardware is done for you. With this scheme the floppy drive
> and hard drive interfaces are very similar and may be able to share
> circuitry and software in your micro interface.
>
The original 3.5" floppy interface is completely different to an IDE one,
and much harder to interface to a PIC.  Seems wastefull to have to use a
floppy adapter when the PIC could just read the memory device directly?

Mike

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2002\06\17@062827 by Brent Brown

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> > Another idea I can visualize is a 3.5" floppy drive sitting on top
> > of a 3.5" hard drive. Buy a memory card floppy drive adaptor and
> > bang, all your hardware is done for you. With this scheme the floppy
> > drive and hard drive interfaces are very similar and may be able to
> > share circuitry and software in your micro interface.
> >
> The original 3.5" floppy interface is completely different to an IDE
> one, and much harder to interface to a PIC.  Seems wastefull to have
> to use a floppy adapter when the PIC could just read the memory device
> directly?

My apologies, I don't know much about the floppy drive and IDE
interface, just assumed both were generally parallel like and might
be able to partialy share the same data bus or something. Too bad.

--
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16 English Street, Hamilton, New Zealand
Ph/fax: +64 7 849 0069
Mobile/txt: 025 334 069
eMail:  TakeThisOuTbrent.brownEraseMEspamspam_OUTclear.net.nz

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2002\06\17@103108 by Michael Rigby-Jones

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> My apologies, I don't know much about the floppy drive and IDE
> interface, just assumed both were generally parallel like and might
> be able to partialy share the same data bus or something. Too bad.
>
It is a shame.  Interfacing a floppy to a PIC has been discussed several
times on here in the past, and the conclusion was that without the dedicated
floppy interface, bit bashing would be extremely difficult.  Would have been
very handy for e.g. data loggers, but I guess not that flash memory is so
cheap, and uses so much less power the idea is pretty much redundant.

Regards

Mike

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