Help me find a service that hacks electronics!
March 27, 2007 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a service that creates or modifies custom electronics? For instance, I review a lot of concerts for various web sites and would love to have something like a decent quality 0 lux video cam w/ sound that's housed in a cell phone. Don't need any phone functions, just something inconspicuous to film small parts of the show for the review. Something that looks like a phone but is really a good low light video cam. Any suggestions?
posted by Geoffh to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not just get a cell phone that does proper video, like one of the Nokia N series? The N95, for example, will probably give you better results than something you'd pick up at one of those spy supply stores.
posted by lia at 7:38 PM on March 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Since a camera phone with video function already exists, it is very likely that the device you are thinking of will not be economically feasible by comparison.

A CCD camera that will fit in a cell phone body should be possible, but it'll cost a fortune to integrate the recording equipment in that small form factor on a custom device. If you could offload some of the job to a backpack, so that it could be much larger, it would get a lot easier/cheaper.

And then there are the intellectual property issues you are trying to circumvent..

More generally, you are talking highly skilled design work, with custom fabrication of some parts - it will always be pretty pricey work. On the other hand, it is pretty much my ideal career, if I can just figure out how to earn enough money doing it :)
posted by Chuckles at 9:12 PM on March 27, 2007

Ben Heckendorn usually works with game consoles, but he could probably do it for the right price. Or ask for bids on the MAKE forums (not sure if that's allowed though).
posted by djb at 9:42 PM on March 27, 2007

The best A/V gear doesn't have "inconspicuous" as a positive attribute in its design criteria.

If you want to tape, and review, you're being a horse's ass for trying to do so without the band's cooperation. Even the Dead didn't expect to service critics in the Tapers Section. And if you've got a band's cooperation, you don't need "inconspicuous" gear. Seriously, guy, you're unbelievably dense if you don't understand that the introduction of recording equipment into the performances of others, changes the venue, and their very relationship with that audience, for musicians. Please be up front about any recording you intend to do, and record only with the knowledge, permission and cooperation of the musicians involved.

Criticize as you will, in writing, or in audio/video of you alone, commenting, without the knowledge or cooperation of those making the music, as that is time honored commentary, and a value that you create, of its very own. But what you're asking about is just creepy/wrong, ethically.
posted by paulsc at 9:49 PM on March 27, 2007

[Skirting the ethics of the question...] My husband hacks existing electronics to make custom devices for specialized needs (specifically, for scientists at a university research lab). He loves finding elegant, economical ways to get these devices to do more--or other--than they were originally intended to do. You could look for someone in a similar role or setting.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:24 AM on March 28, 2007

I agree with cocoagirl. Find a university or industry research lab and make friends. I know a few people who might be willing to work on this kind of zany project. For the right price / compensation. They might even be able to turn it into something publishable, which could mean that their late night use of the equipment to make it (3D printer, etc) would be perfectly justified (instead of just overlooked).
posted by zpousman at 8:52 AM on March 28, 2007

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