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Old February 20th, 2006, 12:56 AM   #1
Go Go Godzilla
 
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A P2 Experiment, Stage 2...

So far no 8GB P2 cards are to be had - yet - and just as with the camera no clear answer as to when cards are coming.

So, since *need* is always the parent of invention I've embarked on trying to create my own P2 card, at least until I can get the *real* thing.

But first, what is a P2 card? It's compact flash stuffed into a PCMCIA card - or so we've been told. What's the Cineporter? A spinning hard disk connected via the same PCMCIA-card slot in the camera. OK, so in theory the camera is always talking to an external HDD of some type or another; one is solid-state, and one is a traditional spinning disk.

With that concept in mind I'm in the process of testing home-grown P2 cards.

Stage 1 has already failed: Inserting a PCMCIA adapter into the camera and connecting an external drive. No luck; the camera did recognize that it had *something* in it's P2 slot but didn't recognize the media as valid.

Stage 2 will be tested in the next few days: Taking yet another PCMCIA adapter - this one adapting CF cards, plugging in either a 4GB or 8GB CF card and see if the camera will "talk" to it.

My hunch is that P2 cards are more than just compact flash in another shell, there might also be some extra circuity acting as an "authenticator" or even some hard-coded ROM that dictates communication parameters.

But for now, it's just a theory. I'll report back on final results when I have them.
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Old February 20th, 2006, 01:25 AM   #2
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P2 cards are in indeed much more than four Secure Digital cards in one shell. There's a lot of other stuff going on in there as well. For a breakdown on what all goes into a P2 card, go to the Resources section of my site at www.p2info.net and download the DVCPRO P2 Series brochure. This is a pre-NAB2005 document but the basics of P2 haven't changed. As I recall there's an exploded view of a P2 card showing the four SD memory cards, the LSI and other components. The direct link is:

http://www.p2info.net/pdf/P2brochure.pdf
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Old February 20th, 2006, 05:06 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
............... Taking yet another PCMCIA adapter - this one adapting CF cards, plugging in either a 4GB or 8GB CF card and see if the camera will "talk" to it.
Even if it does talk to it, I suspect the max possible data transfer rate will be much slower than a genuine P2 card, even if you use the fastest available CF. Then again, it may well turn out to be fast enough for SD DV, if not HD.
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Old February 20th, 2006, 07:54 AM   #4
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Whether or not it works (and we doubt it will) or even how well is all speculation until we test it. But like I say, if it wasn't for the lack of the *real* media guys like me who need P2 for work wouldn't be scrambling to find alternatives.

Thanks for the link, Chris. We've seen all the sales brochures from Panny before but decided to press on with our tests in spite of our own doubts of it's viability. My project is at a standstill without P2 so we've got nothing to lose by trying this out while we wait for the real thing.
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Old February 20th, 2006, 12:08 PM   #5
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None of these solutions will work. The CinePorter guys at one point talked about the level of efforts they've had to go to, to make a P2-compatible device. The P2 card apparently has its own computer controller onboard, and the system sends it dozens of different commands, all which it needs to be able to understand and execute.

No simple adapter card will do that.
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Old February 20th, 2006, 01:24 PM   #6
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Hi Robert,

I understand your frustration. There is, however, no way to accomplish what you are trying to do. Barry is correct. The intelligence needed to respond to the Camera would be missing and there are hundreds of commands that have to be interpreted.

Consider getting some 4 GB cards for now.

Hope this helps.

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Old February 20th, 2006, 09:27 PM   #7
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Frack, Felgercarb... RATS!

And of course, you guys are right. It didn't work. The camera did recognize it had *something* in the slot and at one point even tried to initialize it but eventually it gave up with an "incompatible card" error message.

Snick.

It was one of those "what if..." scenarios that just wouldn't let my mind rest; I had to try it out for myself. If I had the time and resources I'd love to dig into a P2 card, reverse engineer it and make my own. I suspect one day somebody will do just that and eliminate this choke-hold Panny has on the media.

David,

I considered using 4gb cards however there are none to have. I've tried literally all retailers listed as being true Panasonic dealers and they've either been allocated to rental or others on a wait list have scooped them up. I can't even get any out of Japan - so far.

Unless your company just got a shipment since last Friday and they're just sitting on your shelf I'm doing what the rest of us HVX'ers are doing: Playing the "Wait for Panny to catch up" game.
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