Can you run a webcam directly from a hard drive with no computer? see my details for more info...

Here is what I want to do. I'm sure it is possible, but is it feasible?

I want to run a webcam in my car for recording video while I drive. I was wondering is it possible to power a hardrive on 12V DC and have it interface with the webcam [for video storage, mainly].

I was toying with the idea since I saw a company that makes vehicle cameras for recording accidents [
The drivecam device is powered by the vehicles 12V electrical system and stores video to a flash drive contained inside the housing, can this be re-engineered with a hard drive instead?

I know I could use a mini PC but I wanted [if possible] to make it small enough to maybe fit on the windshield like the drivecam does or even the dashboard.
I would just buy a drivecam but they do not sell them retail, just fleets and such, and they are really $$.

I looked at powering the HDD through a USB 2.0 to IDE adapter, and I think I can get it to power up using the 2 USB pins for power and the other 2 would be for data, but how to get the 2 to communicate with each other???

Any ideas?

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vaibhavay2 years ago

#brandegor - Could you please tell something cheaper than Pinnacle Video Transfer.?

brandegor7 years ago
This question has come up before, and the answer is YES YOU CAN. Pinnacle Systems makes this device: 

Pinnacle Video Transfer

  • Direct-to-device video capture – no PC required
  • One-touch video recording
  • High-quality MPEG-4 encoding
  • S-Video and Composite video inputs
Other folks like to argue with me about this, but I use this thing all the time. You plug in your camera of choice on one end, and plug in your flash drive or whatever to the other end, press buttons and you're all set. I use this thing all the time, and you do not - I repeat - do NOT need a computer.
Here is the link:

After you capture the video, you DO need a computer to view it and/or edit it.
The issue for you, if you decide to use the device, would be how to adapt it for 12v. I know nothing about that - I have an inverter that allows me to plug any AC plug into the 12v car, but those are expensive. I know there are lots of instructables on how to do the power adaptation.

Good luck and let me know if you have questions.
ReCreate8 years ago
No, Only a computer or a Complicated Microcontroller can communicate with the HDD to record the video and save it to there.
The answer to your question is no.

You're going after the wrong kind of camera. A pc webcam just doesn't have the hardware to communicate with a hard drive. You'd need a computer to run it. You could probably rig up a microcontroller-based interface, but likely at a cost similar to buying a computer and not without a great deal of effort.

The hard drive needs a computer or some kind of recorder (like a hard drive camcorder) that can communicate with it. It doesn't have the smarts to record anything by itself.

So what do you do?
For just one camera, you need a gadget like this : for recording. You'll also need a security camera or some other camera with RCA output.
As for a camera, something like this: You can power both with an off-the-shelf inverter.

OR, you can just buy a cheap hard-drive camcorder and mount it somewhere. You could also buy a cheap, basic security camera set (including a tape or flash-disk recorder) for less than the cost of the gear mentioned above.
Why use a webcam? Why not just go with something simple like a flip camcorder? They are very reasonable and can record up to 2 hrs. See here for more details then buy one on Amazon:

Either way you're going to have issues with stability, especially if you're racing your car or something like that. You'll have to work on some type of camera stabilization system. Here is one of many ideas that you can find on Instructables:
Re-design8 years ago
Short answer no. The hard drive won't know what to do with the data that the cam. is giving it. At least not if you want to use a web cam. Long answer - sure if you're willing to invest the time and money to create an adapter with the smarts to take the data and convert it to something that the hard drive can store and the figure a way to get that data out and into a form that pc/mac can display. That camera probably is nothing more than a modified video camera. They come complete with internal computer and hardware to make this work. Now having said that, I'm sure that some brilliant person on here is going to come along and explain how it can be done simply and easily.
What if you install an OS on the hard drive along with a CPU and etc?
That would work if you do it right but then that would be considered a minicomputer.