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MD-80 vs. Clone

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MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by Team Seneca » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:23 am

I wanted to post some more details on my MiniDV MD-80 and Clone Cameras here as a public service, so that lurkers could more readily transcribe it for their own blogs and stuff to help spread the word. The more people that know about this the better! (Don't forget to credit your source)

When I got the clone I was very apprehensive because I noticed some small changes to the packaging, but for the price being so low I thought it was worth the risk and went ahead and ordered it.

I detailed in the other topic my disappointment with the clone camera in comparison, so I thought I would post pictures of the MD-80 package and the Clone package, so that you guys could tell how to ID the clones.

I have seen websites selling these trying to pass off the clone as the MD-80, so you will know the real McCoy by looking at the box.

Front View (Clone on Left):
CAMS1.JPG
Back View (Clone on Left):
CAMS2.JPG
Side View (Clone on Left):
CAMS3.JPG
Top View (Clone on Left):
CAMS4.JPG
I wanted to show you guys something amusing about the packaging but I can't get the picture to come out clear enough in a close-up.
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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by Tim Chen » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:21 pm

Does your camera have a "Macro" setting? Look for an icon that looks like a mountain or a man or a tulip. Change the setting to the tulip setting. That's a the macro mode. The mountain is for landscapes and the man is for portraits.


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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by Team Seneca » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:07 pm

Thanks, Tim. I found the "Macro" setting. It didn't have the icons you mentioned, but I found "Macro" in the PDF of the manual that came on the CD. Technology is wonderful!

Here's the funny (and slightly creepy) thing I spotted with the clone camera. Look at these close-up images of the box:
MD80.JPG
CLONE.JPG
If you look closely at the boxes you can see that the printing is very similar. The pix of the cameras have been swapped so the clone camera replaces the original, but the pictures of the people using the camera on the top and back of the clone box are swiped right off the MD-80 box. You can clearly see that the picture quality is degraded because the clone box is a copy of the original printed image which is made up of little colored dots. When they cloned the box the must have scanned the original box with a scanner and then used image correction software to remove the dots. This always makes the image blurry. You can see the cloned box printing is really fuzzy and indistinct in comparison to the original.

It's pretty creepy to think that this kind of copyright infringement is going on in the world and these people can just get away with it. These back-benchers need to be punished! Now that I know these cameras are a knockoff and are made using ripped off packaging I would recommend that nobody buy one of these things. I want to encourage people to only support the original MD-80 designers and not these crooks who stole the design.

I can't get behind a company that so blatantly steals from its competitors!
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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by ninja_iga » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:50 pm

Bill,

thanks for the excellent detailed write up,
and yea, China has a nasty reputation of copying (and to hell with Intellectual Property) everything


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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by RaZias » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:47 am

Did you know that the Kalashnikov company went bankrupt due to the imitations made by the chinese ?

I guess that all the bloody weapons in arabic contries and africa are from the chinese, but that is just a guess...


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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by Team Seneca » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:35 pm

ninja_iga wrote:Bill,

thanks for the excellent detailed write up,
and yea, China has a nasty reputation of copying (and to hell with Intellectual Property) everything
It seems to be a rampant problem in that general part of the world. I wonder what would happen if they created something and had someone else steal their hard work ? Would they see the error of their ways and come clean, or would they be oblivious? It would be great to see the tables turned on them!


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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by Team Seneca » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:42 pm

Hey everyone,

I was doing a little research about this camera and found a website where this guy has torn apart another camera that has the same "guts" to it, just on a different printed circuit board. I think all these things come from the same place because this camera has the exact same problems and the same timestamp that cannot be removed.

This guy has dumped the memory of the camera and found all sorts of neat things in the memory. The good news is that he's found an executable code portion that's based on an old MOS technology CPU. I'm looking at the code right now, to see if there is a way to disable the time. I worked with this CPU in my first job, so I have tools to disassemble the code and look at what it does!

Here's the website:

http://www.pluc.fr/2010/02/tear-down-an ... ck-camera/

If anything turns up, I will post an update.


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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by U.S. Water Rockets1 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:25 pm

Keep up the good work on this little camera, Bill. If you can figure out how to get rid of the time-stamp graphic, or you find someone else who figures it out, then please let us know. That camera would really help us go higher, bit that graphic overlay would make it worthless when we went to create one of our trademarked aerial Panorama images.

Thanks for your efforts!


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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by ninja_iga » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:45 am

just so anyone knows,

aircommand is working on a similar solution.
we're kept updated via the yahoo forum.

he's got some progress done, he posted some stuff which i dont get (cos i dont need this camera, lol)


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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by Team Seneca » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:50 am

As you can see, I was able to discover the font data embedded in the firmware binary posted on the website I linked to yesterday. I used some old image extraction techniques to coax the data into a human readable format. It is not clear yet how this image data is formatted for use in the camera, but at least we can confirm that there is font data in the files. Taking a step back and looking at the "big picture" will make the fonts obvious. You can even see what appear to be multiple copies of the font and even what looks like Chinese fonts as well.
dump.jpg
For those technically inclined and wish to examine this further, the format of this image is pretty simple:

Starting at byte 0 of the file and going through byte 4095, each byte is expanded into 8 pixels (white = 1, black = 0). Each successive byte in the file is expanded with the LSb on the right and the MSb on the left and placed in below the previous expanded byte, forming a column. When byte 4096 is reached in the file, a new column of expanded bytes is started back at the top and to the right of the previous column of bytes. This repeats 512 times until all 2MB of file is exhausted.

I have been playing with this all evening. I will continue tomorrow. I have jetlag so bad I couldn't sleep at all tonight, so I put the time to good use.

I hope someone can make use of this!
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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by air.command » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:09 am

ninja_iga wrote:just so anyone knows,

aircommand is working on a similar solution.
we're kept updated via the yahoo forum.

he's got some progress done, he posted some stuff which i dont get (cos i dont need this camera, lol)
Bill's approach is certainly the right way to go to remove the date at the source before it is overlayed on the video rather than after it is embedded in the video like what I am trying with a filter. Bill's probably trying this approach already, but since the font data he provided in the file does not appear to be encoded I'd try to change the font data for a single character to see if the change is reflected in the recorded video. If that works, then you should be able to just clear all the font data in the bin file, so the date is still displayed in the final video, except it's all clear characters. Interesting though that the font is repeated a number of times, and there could always be some sort of a checksum on the file that may prevent tampering. It will be interesting to see where Bill gets with it.

Bill: Was this data file for the MD-80 clone or the gumstick camera?

Though the post production filter approach is not ideal, it should be possible to apply it to existing video or for those cameras that can't have their code updated.
U.S. Water Rockets1 wrote:That camera would really help us go higher, bit that graphic overlay would make it worthless when we went to create one of our trademarked aerial Panorama images.
USWR: I think you could still use the cam for your panoramas without any modification. If you just crop the bottom 30 pixels of the images from the video, then there should still be plently of coverage from the video sequence to re-assemble into your great panoramas.


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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by Ripper » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:29 am

Team Seneca wrote:It is not clear yet how this image data is formatted for use in the camera, but at least we can confirm that there is font data in the files. Taking a step back and looking at the "big picture" will make the fonts obvious. You can even see what appear to be multiple copies of the font and even what looks like Chinese fonts as well.
Suggestion:

Maybe replace the "9-0/" ranges with whitespace would make the font invisible?

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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by philfifi » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:57 am

Hello all,
I am the guy from http://www.pluc.fr/ that dump the flash memory. I am happy to see that it served ;-)
Thanks Bill for this trick that make the font appear. I will try to go further with that.
On the other end, I would be happy if you can confirm or not if the CPU is a 6502 or similar.
Regards,


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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by spinner » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:42 am

Hi Team Seneca!
Great work! I played around a bit with your imaging-idea and with IrfanView. The results I posted in the comments over there:
http://www.pluc.fr/2010/02/tear-down-an ... ck-camera/



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Re: MD-80 vs. Clone

Post by Team Seneca » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:14 pm

philfifi wrote:Hello all,
I am the guy from http://www.pluc.fr/ that dump the flash memory. I am happy to see that it served ;-)
Thanks Bill for this trick that make the font appear. I will try to go further with that.
On the other end, I would be happy if you can confirm or not if the CPU is a 6502 or similar.
Regards,
Which area of the file was your associate examining when he determined that the CPU was a 6502? The reason I ask is that the ASIC in the camera is reported by the manufacturer as an ARM CPU. I was going to disassemble the code but I got interested in finding the font files or discovering new things embedded like the font.

We know the binary is made from several different files, so if someone were to indicate which part was suspected as 6502 code, I can look at that more closely.

In my opinion, if there is 6502 code in there it is potentially an embedded microcontroller and not the main image processing controller. Portable devices usually have a very simple microcontroller to read I/O (buttons, sensors, servos) and report this back to the main CPU. This way when the device is in "sleep" mode (or powered off) the little processor will be in an active low power mode scanning the controls and the main CPU will be idle and saving battery. The 6502 code which was reported in the binary may be the I/O controller code.


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