Dycam Modular Cameras (1993)

This may not be known to many but Dycam was an elaborate manufacturer of custom and modular digital cameras where the Dycam Gator was the first such one. It was a grayscale camera, made for the parellel port of notebook computers in a joint effort among Dycam, IBM and the University of Florida Research Foundation (hence the name 'Gator') and introduced in September 1993. Since then Dycam's modular cameras have evolved rapidly. Here is an explanation from the now defunct website:

Dycam's MODULAR Digital Camera is designed to be part of an imaging system with the flexibility to tailor the camera to work according to the requirements of that particular system. The camera is capable of indoor or outdoor use in a wide range of environmental conditions, depending upon the enclosure selected. In its basic configuration, the MODULAR camera is an unprotected camera electronics board that takes one picture at a time and transmits it to the host computer upon request. Using downloaded code modules, this basic camera platform can be enhanced to compress and store images, detect movement or other changes in the field of view, or process images to enhance their appearance or provide information about the image contents. A variety of enclosures are available, including a rugged weatherproof metal case for permanent outdoor installations and a compact case that contains rechargeable batteries for use with pen-based computers in field data collection applications.

The MODULAR Camera uses the screen of a computer to frame the subject and set the desired exposure, and, therefore has no optical viewfinder. The camera is available as a 256-level gray-scale or 24-bit color model in three basic picture storage memory configurations: 256-kilobytes, 1-megabyte, and 4-megabytes. Firmware is available to allow the larger memory configurations to compress and store multiple images, or even perform analysis of the image for special applications involving scene recognition or motion detection. Depending upon the capabilities of the computer, the MODULAR Camera can be connected via RS232 serial up to 115-KBaud over cable lengths as long as 25-feet or by RS485 serial over cable lengths up to 3000 feet. Multiple cameras can be operated on the same RS485 cable using the camera addressing protocols. The camera can also be interfaced through an IBM-PS-2 compatible bi-directional parallel port under DOS or Windows-3.1. Lens options include a fixed focus, a variable focus, and a variety of C-Mount lenses. The MODULAR Camera can only be operated with Dycam's Picture Viewer software under Windows 3.1. A DOS version is also available, as are Integrator and Developer Kits.

Dycam also made a special digital camera for the ASUSAT1 student made satellite. Since 1995 Dycam completely concentrated it's efforts on producing custom versions of their existing cameras (project Enhanced Modular Camera). Another variation of the modular camera was the 1996 Multi-Detector Camera, a 3CCD optical assembly. Field tests had been conducted but there is no record of this camera ever being marketed. Above you can see some very rare pictures of Dycam Modular Cameras.


  • Brand: Dycam
  • Model: Modular Cameras
  • First mentioned: 1993-1996
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $695 - $1,995
  • Imager Type: b/w CCD, color CCD, 3CCD
  • Resolution: 320x240 - 640x480
  • Internal Storage: flash memory (1MB-4MB)
  • External Storage: -
  • Lens: mostly fixed focus
  • Shutter: -
  • Aperture Range: -
  • LCD screen size: -
  • Size: -
  • Weight: -
  • Remarks: -

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