I need to find a driver for a specific USB fingerprint reader
February 3, 2005 5:33 AM   Subscribe

On behalf of a friend: "I need to find a driver for a USB fingerprint reader and I'm drawing blanks. We bought this USB fingerprint scanner off eBay - it was made by ST Electronics, which was then sold off to Upek (www.upek.com) so I think that's probably where the confusion stems from. It's an older model, not supported anymore (or at least, the model number appears nowhere on their website anymore, plus the newer drivers fail to work with the scanner).

Model number: TCFC*TCSA1BL\LFE
5.0V 70mA max

is all that's written on the bottom, apart from a white serial number sticker and an "ST Made in Taiwan" transparent sticker. It still looks like this; the newer UPEK models that look similar are TCRU1C and TCRU2C. So we have a scanner, tales that companies stopped selling them because of driver support, and no trace of them really on the net at all... at least the old model number anyway." Help?
posted by sailoreagle to Technology (3 answers total)
First, More Inside (MI) is your friend.

Second, when hardware distributors top distributing drivers, it's often difficult to find them again. There are a few sites that archive these things (windriver.com, driverzone.com, etc). None of the identifying strings your friend provided turned up anything useful on those or google, but I might have missed something.

Third, it appears that such devices often make use of some obscuring/encrypting process, and thus there is little to no support in the free software community. (Again, that I found, anyway).

In summary, your only hope is probably to search google with every piece of semi-unique identifying bit of text on the thing. I think USB devices generally have some unique ID built-in, which is provided to the driver/OS layer. I'm not sure how to reveal this in Windows, but under Linux, one could probably find it under the /proc mount somewhere. Not that this would necessarily help -- merely another identifying bit of text to search for...
posted by theatrical matriarch at 5:54 AM on February 3, 2005

I've bought a lot a surplus/old/weird hardware of eBay, and I've had the same problems with finding drivers or detailed specs, too. Once I exhaust my Google skills, my next step it usually to email the original manufacturer of the product.

The trick is to hunt down an email address of an engineer at the company or a developer's contact address. (If the company in question sells a development kit or something like that.) Include as much identifying information as possible in the email and be very polite. If you sound like a eager hobbyist, you'll get a reply most of the time. I've had email conversations with engineers to identify circuit board revisions for a product they haven't made in years and that I bought third hand.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 6:46 AM on February 3, 2005

Take it apart and look up the numbers/branding on the chips.
posted by cillit bang at 8:35 AM on February 3, 2005

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