Sometimes when you look for one thing you find another. I should really be working on the pipe organ electronics. There is no Dickens fair and my Tale of two cities puppets are waiting in the wings. But there are ever so many interesting things in this world and they are not going anywhere and I have enough projects to keep me for 500 years …
And now a distraction on top of a distraction …
While looking for surplus parts for the MIT/BYU Holo monitor; I found a Kodak pcd film scanner 2000. Something I have wanted since the 1990s. I tried to get one of these back in 2014 and missed out on the auction. The unit came as-is for parts with no cables and software.
Over the decades I have collected as much information as I could on the Kodak PhotoCD system. Probably one of the most unpopular products ever. Eventually leading to the Bankruptcy of Kodak in 2013. For this reason I find the system an amusing diversion.
In the mid 1990s I worked for Apple Imaging. Part of the Postscript test group. Among my responsibilities was creating a color test suite for the apple color laser printer. Kodak was partnering with Apple at the time. I was given the PhotoCd disk to use as reference images.
I also used PhotoCD for my vacation photos, which were taken in 3D with a stereo Realist camera. Transferring the photographs to digital made viewing easier. The PhotoCD mastering system used a Sun Workstation to drive this scanner. There is no indication Kodak ever placed drivers for the Film Scanner 2000 online.
Ted Felix has a comprehensive website detailing the structure of the PhotoCD file format. Over the decades reading these files has become well documented. As a last gasp to save PhotoCD, Kodak packaged the workstation software as a program called Build-it.
Build-it was made for both mac and PC. For some reason Kodak opted to write the drivers as Photoshop plug ins rather than a stand alone driver.
Photo CD was supposed to be for deep time digital archiving with a lifespan of 100 years. It had an active life of about 12. Still there is a bit of stuff out there that was captured in those 12 or so years.
First though I need to see what in in this 60 pound box of ” parts.” To see what the hardware entailed.
Tearing down the Film scanner 2000
The first step in getting the scanner to work is to do a complete tear down. For the most part the scanner was fairly clean. Evidence it has been in storage for some time, there was a light deposit of dust in exposed places.
Removing the cover shows the air filtration system for the lamp housing and exhaust chimney. Also visible is the line scanner camera on the right. Much of the far space is taken by the power supply. Electronics are in a card cage behind the lamp assembly and in the near foreground.
When the air filter assembly is removed, It can be seen that this is pretty much a standard slide projector lamp housing. A good thing as this one is burned out.
The iTek scanner used three of these and had a 20 minute boot up calibration cycle. In the 1990s these black body radiators were considered standard illuminates. In reading the archived literature film is considered a chemical process.
With the 250 watt Xenon halogen lamp removed we can see a filter wheel. Some collimating lenses and a rather large light pipe inside the scanning frame, center.
Removing the lower electronics assemblies reveal the three ADC chips. Unlike the RFS series scanners, Which have a rotating tri color wheel, this unit has a 3 color CCD.
Removing the cover from the card cage, The micro controller contains 4 cards. It is based on an Intel 80C196 chip. The iTek interface used an i860.
Pulling the processor card we can see that this is not a consumer item, as there are segmented LEDs and some sort of 26 pin connector debug port on each card. The boards are 6 to 8 layers. The other three boards are the stepper motor drivers, more processor support chips, and the SCIS interface.
CD plugins for Kodak scanners have updatable firmware files. There are several chips that look like E proms and memory. If this hardware is retained and the SCSI command set can not be determined from existing drivers it may be possible to dump this code to see what the functions are.
A more practical solution would be to replace the processor card with a more modern equivalent, that can directly support Ethernet, such as the STMF429. The motherboard connectors are .1 pitched and keyed. This would make replacing the processor easy, and less time consuming than reverse engineering the obsolete SCSI firmware.
With the electronics out of the way we can take a better look at the filter wheel. This contains 2 dichroic filters. There is also an optical flag for home position.
The scanner was full of dust bunnies. So I will probably nick name it Rabbit. The light pipe is open to air on one end. In this photo some of the dust can be seen behind the sealed side.
The light pipe comes apart. The backlights are replaceable items. Inside the light pipe It looks like some sort of science fiction set. There is a center post that blocks the direct path from the light pipe. This is just visible in the upper left behind a back light Fresnel screen. The back lights are filament bulbs rather than LEDs. White LEDs were pretty pricy in the mid 1990s. CFLs a bit more popular with backlit lcd displays.
Removing the cover from the camera shows two more PCB boards. The camera connects to the ADCs through RF cables. Removing the CCD heat sink screws does not release the CCD PBB. The CCD seems to be sealed to the actual camera (Camera originating from the Latin word for black chamber or box.) It is not practical to remove the CCD to find any manufactures part numbers.
The Camera assembly rides on a spring loaded focusing axis. There are several optical flags. In front of a camera is a solenoid driven aperture plate. A calibration plate shows that these units are of laboratory quality.
A modern cell phone camera does have more resolution. The advantage of the line scanner is to reduce the distortion inherent in the grid.
Sadly Google is broken (It now serves advertisements for useless consumer products, which are bad for the economy, rather than technical information that can be used for deep time (or even recent time archiving.))
With the camera removed, What remains is the mechanically dampened cross slide. There are several solenoids and a FPC ribbon connecting this to different aperture plates. This unit only came with the slide mounting aperture. The film strip scanning unit being sold separately.
Since I wanted this to scan more non standard film frames such as produced by a stereo 3D camera, I was going to make my own aperture plate anyway. Perhaps some time I will find the film scanning unit in another online surplus store. If you have one for sale or trade contat me as “PcdScan at [ delectra domain]”
When the film scanner was re-assembled, and a new lamp installed, the scanner was powered on for the first time. The scanner booted up, then ran some sort of self calibration on the scan axis, the focus axis and the filter wheel.
A hex dump of the Kodak pcd 4050 driver, photoshop plug in showed that it seems to contain the whole of the PhotoCD imaging workstation (Piw) code much like the Buil-it app. The pcd 4050 driver is also native powerpc. The RFS 3570 driver dumps as a FAT plugin. Adobe has archived the Photoshop plug in API, so it is easy to read the driver code.
The online version of the driver is dd0656.hqx. (1.1MB created 9/8/1999 11:44:55AM.) Over the decades I have downloaded this many times. The read me implies this is an update to an earlier version It may not contain all of the libraries. When loaded into Photoshop, the plug in gave an an error “file not found.”
Using a PEF viewer, it can be seen that the code was written in C++ by a popular 1990s IDE (code warrior)
The driver code was built with debug mangled C names on most of the functions. There are two shared libraries what may be missing that relate to the photo CD system. One is called PiwColorTransformLib and the other is simply called ‘sba.’ It is actually the Scene Balance Algorithm, that I am interested in.
When my stereo pairs were scanned they were scanned with a full aperture that included parts of the surrounding image. This makes correlation when doing photogrameritry on them awkward. At Apple we said of the Kodak engineers; The Kodak motto was “Don’t make it right, make it bright.”
This project has been many decades in the making (pretty much a quarter of a century.) So I expect to keep chipping away at it. If there are any others out there who are interested or may have old offline Kodak Pcd documents libraries, firmware or drivers to share. I have set up a special email address which is “PcdScan .at. [ delectra domain]” (this is encoded, but the email address should be clear where the text in brackets is the domain of this blog.