Getting stuff to work on Windows 7

Ever since moving to Windows 7 late last year I’ve had to deal with the odd incompatibility for both software and hardware – as much to do with moving to 64-bit bit as to Windows 7. Last weekend I was trying to sort out my old webcam so I could chat with my brother on Skype.

The webcam in question is a Philips Toucam Pro (740K) and whilst a new webcam doesn’t exactly cost the earth, I hated the idea of discarding a perfectly usable peice of kit. Running it in XP mode was an option and worked but I still wanted to get it working in Windows 7 properly. For that reason I did a lot of looking around online and came up with a couple of ways to get it up and running.

The first involves using the drivers for the Philips SPC900 – essentially the same hardware in a different body. You install the Windows 7 drivers, manually edit a couple of files to match the hardware ID of the old webcam and then point the unknown device listed in the device manager at the ‘new’ drivers.

There is a second option however which is similar but a little more permanant and should save my having to fiddle as much if I reinstall my machine. This involves updating the firmware for the webcam to make it appear as an SPC900. You can then use the drivers directly without tweaking them. Of course this is riskier as you are mucking about with the firmware so could well end up bricking’ the camera so do so at your own risk. Below is the walkthrough for this technique (courtesy of the many amateur astromomers that use the Toucam and wanted to get it working).

1. Get an XP virtual machine up and running. I used VMWare Player but Windows Virtual PC and VirtualBox would probably work too.

2. Install the XP drivers for the Toucam and then connect it to the virtual machine. It should work.

3. Download and install WcRmac onto the XP machine. Once installed download the file spc900nc.bin (right-click link and save target that way if it fails to download the file) which is the firmware update. Copy this to “C:\Program Files\TWIRG\WcRmac\binary\8116”

4. Launch WcRmac and go to Webcam > DSInterface. Select your webcam and click Connect.

5. Run the webcam. Can do this by going to Windows Explorer and double-clicking to open the camera from the Scanner and Cameras section. Running it any other way should work too.

6. In WcRmac, go to the Binaries Tab. Click ‘Get Current and Save As’ to save a copy of the existing firmware setting somewhere safe. Once done, select the SPC900nc.bin binary that should be in the list for that tab and click ‘load into Cam’. This could break the camera so do so at your own risk!. It worked fine for me and many other people though.

7. Shutdown the virtual machine. Download the SPC900 Windows 7 drivers and install.

8. Go to Control Panel > Device Manager. There should be an Unknown Device listed in Other Devices. Right click it and choose ‘Update Driver Software’.

9. Select ‘Browse My Computer for Driver Software’ and point it to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Philips\Philips SPC900NC PC Camera”. Carry on if you get warnings about unsigned drivers when installing. It should install the webcam and list it under ‘Sound, Video and Game Controllers’ as the SPC900 webcam.

10. Windows 7 does install the audio driver for the webcam by default but you may want to update this driver to the SPC900 version too. It is also listed in ‘Sound, Video and Game Controllers’ as a USB Audio device (or something like that). Update the drivers as above.

11. You should now have the webcam installed as an SPC900, complete with icon in the System Tray that allows you to change the settings (including flickerless mode and face tracking). I spent a while trying to figure out why Skype wasn’t picking it up but found I had to go into the Video options and manually select the webcam from a list as it wasn’t doing it automatically.

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