Update April 14, 2020: One of my readers had purchased a Xiaomi 1s camera from AliExpress and confirmed that it works. So for those of you that are outside the US, that is probably a good option for you. A little cheaper than the Wyze as well. Also, I mentioned that a USB C cable didn’t work for me, but I think that might have been an issue with my cable. I had someone else confirm that a cable with USB A into the Wyze, and USB C into the PC (If you have a newer computer with a USB C port) will work.
So if you are looking for a webcam right now (I am writing this article during the COVID-19 pandemic), then you might discover that you are literally going to spend about 3 times the normal price. The Logitech C920 costs $200 right now, and the popular budget C270 will cost you $100.
You can currently get popular WiFi WyzeCam for around $25. And even the pan/tilt version for $35. However, those cams are WiFi only, and won’t work out the box with your computer as a webcam for video conferencing(or for OctoPrint, which is what I plan on using it for). However, Wyze recently released a special firmware that allows that function.
Here’s what you will need:
- WyzeCam v2 or the pan/tilt version
- Blank MicroSD card
- USB A to USB A cable. NOTE: This is NOT the cable that came with the WyzeCam. The WyzeCam has a MicroUSB port and a regular USB port (Like the one on a computer). You need to connect the regular USB port on the Wyze to the regular USB port on your computer.
- Alternative to the USB A to USB A cable: You can use any 2 USB cables and splice them together. I’ll show you how at the end of this post.
Flashing the Firmware
The first step is the flash the firmware. It’s super easy. Wyze has the instructions here. Here’s the gist of it:
- Download the firmware from that page for your model.
- Unzip it o the MicroSD card.
- Put the MicroSD card into the WyzeCam. The slot is on the bottom of the cam.
- While holding the reset button on the bottom of the cam, turn on the cam and wait until you get a slowly flashing light blue color light.
- That’s it, you’re done. Take the MicroSD out, it’s not needed any more.
To test in Windows 10, just connect it to the computer and open the ‘Camera’ app and it should show up. If you’re on a laptop that already has a webcam, you may need to click the button at the top right to switch cams.
USB A to USB A Cable
NOTE: If you plan on doing this, DON’T use any sort of jumper wires for the splice. The data wires are twisted inside the jacket to reduce interference. I had some alligator clip cables, about 1ft long, that I used to connect things to make sure I was splicing the right wires together and the picture was all scrambled looking. When I spliced them directly, it worked perfectly. After some research, I learned that they are twisted like CAT5+ cables.
I did not have a USB A to USB A cable on hand, and didn’t want to wait the week it’s taking Amazon to ship stuff. Of course, I had a giant box full of USB cables, so I just decided to splice 2 of those. This was really easy as well. Just keep in mind that you need DATA cables. These cables are able to transfer data as well as charge your device. Some cables only have 2 wires in them and can only charge your device.
I’ve got some pictures below the instructions as well.
- Cut both cables near the end you don’t need. We need the USB A side on both cables. USB A is the type of connector that plugs into a standard USB port on a PC.
- Strip off the outer jacket on both cut ends. This should reveal 4 wires in each cable. If you have less than 4 wires(2 for power and 2 for data), then that cable is meant for charging only and isn’t data cable. You will need to find another one. Try not to strip too much away as the data pair is twisted together inside the jacket to reduce interference.
- The 4 wires here should be colored black, red, white, and green. Strip all 4 wires on both cables. Now just match up the like colors. Black goes to black, red goes to red, etc. Twist each pair together and wrap some electrical tape around each wire to hold them together.
- When you are done, you may want to wrap electrical tape around all the wires so they don’t come loose if they get tugged on.
These pictures show how to splice the individual wires together. Of course, soldering them would be better, but I doubt you would notice any real difference. I wrapped up everything in the second picture with some tape to help reinforce the splices.
Now you should be able to connect your WyzeCam to your computer and use it for your Skype/Webex/Zoom/Hangout/Teams meetings. I think the WyzeCam even has a speaker and mic in it that my computer picked up. So you may want to make sure your conferencing software doesn’t use those because the quality of them is likely going to be much worse than whatever else you are using.
I have also tried this out using the standard setup for mjpg-streamer on OctoPrint and it worked perfectly out the box. I need to test further, but the quality is definitely on par with the C920 and maybe even a little better.
While I was putting all this together, I felt like the stuff it was pointing highlighted the quality well. So here’s a picture of that:
Let me know if you have any comments or questions.