qvplay and the Casio QV-10 Camera

Linux software to control the Casio QV-10 camera is now available. Mr. Hepple tells us how to use qvplay.

In the continuing battle with the Evil Empire, I have recently reduced my dependence on “Them” by one program—I discovered a way to use my Casio QV-10 digital camera with Linux.

This article is a simple HOWTO on the method I used—hopefully to encourage more people and Casio to use Linux.

One of these days, every peripheral will ship with Linux drivers and support software—until then, let's “share and enjoy!” (Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

The Casio QV-10 Camera

Figure 1. Casio Camera

Describing the camera in full is probably best left to Casio but suffice it to say that it:

  • has fixed focal length lens (no zoom)

  • has fixed resolution of 320x240 pixels in 24-bit colour

  • stores up to 96 shots in Flash memory (immune from low battery power)

  • takes 4 AA alkaline cells or an optional, external power source, but not NiCad

  • has a serial link to a PC

  • has a separate printer available, driven directly by the camera

  • can also output to TV/video

  • has CAM default file format, proprietary to Casio

  • sells for about $400 in Singapore (about $263US), although I paid a lot more than that last Christmas—prices have dropped.

The resolution of the pictures is adequate for simple web pages but nowhere near as fine grained as some of the models recently on the market. By comparison, a Kodak PhotoCD image digitised from a 35mm slide or film would be about 3000x2500 pixels—more than 100 times the number of pixels. On the other hand, while the resolution is so-so, the 320x240 jpeg files that are produced are reasonably fast to download with current modems.

It is quite possible that Casio's proprietary CAM format is superior to others for certain purposes (I am no graphics expert), but it is no good for web pages, which need JPEG or GIF files. The Windows software that Casio provides makes converting more than one or two files to JPEG format very difficult. No filter is provided for batch conversion of files to other formats. The process for each conversion is:

  1. Open CAM image on PC (10 seconds on my 486)

  2. Pull down File|Export menu or press ctrl-E

  3. Pull down Format|JPG

  4. Type in new file name (.jpg extension is provided automatically)

  5. Select OK

On one file this is manageable, but on 96—forget it.

The qvplay Software

qvplay was written by ken-ichi HAYASHI and Jun-ichiro “itojun” ITOH to control the QV-10 and is really great. Itojun also wrote a filter called cam2jpeg to convert CAM files to JPEG. (I haven't tested this program yet.) With qvplay running on Linux you can:

  • Download individual or groups of pictures to or from the camera in JPEG, BMP, PPM, RGB or CAM formats.

  • Instruct the camera to take a picture.

  • Delete pictures from the camera's memory.

  • Instruct the camera to display a certain picture (or 4 or 9 thumbnail pictures).

  • Protect or UN-protect specific pictures from deletion.

It seemed to me that the quality of the pictures from qvplay was better than from the QV-LINK software provided with the camera—apparently, some older versions of QV-LINK do some automatic re-touching of the pictures which seems to make things worse. Also included in the package were two utilities:

  • qvrec: send CAM files to the QV-10 camera.

  • qvalldel: clear the camera's memory.

The Software

I used version 0.92 of qvplay. Just use your favorite search engine to find qvplay-0_92_tar.gz and download from the site nearest you.

Configuration couldn't be easier. Expand the distribution file and follow the instructions. A setup script is provided that worked just fine “out of the box”. I use Red Hat Linux 4.1 with a 2.0.18 kernel. One thing you might want to tinker with is the default serial port for qvplay to use. I changed the supplied default of /dev/cua1 to /dev/cua0. Once it's working, use strip on the executables to remove extraneous lines such as debug commands and run the command make install.

I have written man pages for the qvplay, qvrec and qvalldel software (not in the original distribution). These pages are available at http://home.pacific.net.sg/~bhepple/qvplay/qvplay.html.