Next, I want someone to figure out how to build me a diamond ring out of some coal, a letterpress, and a gold earring I found on the ground.
March 1, 2009 8:22 AM   Subscribe

[video camera hardware hacking filter] Is there a way to hack/homebuild a p2 card for the Panasonic p2 system? How would I enlist help in this endeavor?

Panasonic has a proprietary P2 system, a solid state cartridge that you record video on as opposed to tape. The size is apparently identical to the pcmcia slot found on some laptops (wikipedia defines it as thus "a RAID of SD memory cards with an LSI controller tightly packaged in a die-cast PC card (formerly PCMCIA) enclosure"). It is also priced way out of line with the market.
Sony's recent EX1 camera had a similar solid state card and its user community started hacking together a line of home brewed cards (e.g., kxs; a sample history can be found here: They may not be able to do everything the sony cards do, like record at the fastest speeds, but they can do enough to make the savings worth it.
Okay, there are a bunch of products that are in a pcmcia enclosure, SD cards are much cheaper than the p2 cards, but I would have no idea about how to pursue this. Is there a community of people who could help out? Are there people who could hack out the controller and figure out the feasability? The panasonic community seems to have given up, but the few conversations on internet boards seem to have been years before the sony community hacked the SxS cards.
Where should I look? I'm near NYC if this matters.
posted by history is a weapon to Technology (2 answers total)
I've never used the P2 format myself and so all of this is speculation...but I think P2 is, viewed from outside the metal box, just a very fast CardBus Type II flash memory card. The specifications for Panasonic hardware all describe it as such, with nice normal things like a FAT32 filesystem.

The 'RAID of SD memory cards' you found on Wikipedia may be the rub though. This system is designed for much higher data rates than flash memory would normally provide, and so attempting to plug in a PC Card flash thing into your camera may at best result in poor video quality, at worse, none at all. Still, the claim of my camera's relatively affordable CompactFlash card is 40MB/s, and P2 is supposed to provide something like 80MB/s, and perhaps you really could get away with some fast off-the-shelf memory? I've seen 80MB/s+ CF cards advertised (MACH4?) albeit for hundreds of dollars, so this seems plausible.

Maybe a CardBus -> CompactFlash adapter + high end CompactFlash cards would work? Worth a try I suppose.
posted by jacobbarssbailey at 11:38 AM on March 1, 2009

I've been meaning to try what jacobbarssbailey suggested for a while now, but I haven't gotten around to it. The data rate for DVCPRO HD 720 24PN is under 6MB/s , 1080i60 is about 14MB/s so I think the CF cards that are available right now should have no problem keeping up.

I think what might end up being a problem is if they have something verifying that it's an actual Panasonic manufactured P2 card, but I haven't tried it and I'm sure someone smarter than me could find a way around that.
posted by Framed Poster at 1:23 PM on March 1, 2009

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