The new page is at:

QX3 microscope under Linux.


New webcam drivers which should make it work. And a new microscope, the QX5. Nice site about QX3 and XQ5.

This is a description of how I got the Intel Play QX3 microscope to work under Linux, via USB. The trick is to use a lamp.

Simply described, this microscope is a web camera, so all you need is a program to view from web cameras. I tried some, and found "xawtv" to be useful. Unfortunately the lamps on the microscope cannot currently be turned on from Linux, so you have to use another lamp to light the sample to be viewed.


"xawtv" shows 15 samples per second, much faster than that annoying Intel Play microscope program. The pictures are sharper too, probably because it is so much easier to properly adjust height when one is seeing the sample almost continously, and also because it doesn't do that interpolation to 512 pixels.

Unfortunaltely, the "xawtv" I used was not able to properly dump images, and they can't be grabbed either because it uses some sort of direct screen access, even when specifically told not to.

The device

The device used is "/proc/cpia/video0" on my computer, because I have only 1 videodevice that is understood by Linux, namely the webcamera in the microscope. I also have a Matrox G400 TV card, which Linux does not understand.

The lamps could be controlled from Linux in older kernels, like this:
"echo toplight: on > /proc/cpia/video0"

Unfortunately, that does not work now. It will probably work in official kernel 2.4.20, or in older kernels, as described here.

I also had to boot my multiprocessor machine with a signle processor kernel, because cpia does not work with SMP enabled.

You may email me if you have a comment.

Last modified: Sat Jun 25 14:17:10 CEST 2005