Sunday, March 30, 2014

Inside stuff - teardown and repair of a Spy Pen

This came out of a "box of things" that I regularly purchase on eBay. They consist of new items that are DOA (dead on arrival).

It's a "Spy Pen" or "Spy Stick" - a USB stick with a 4GB capacity that also has a camera inside.

The second line under the title makes absolutely no sense, it's like someone used OCR + Google Translate:

The end cap was unglued, also the stick would not take a charge. With a bit of force the motherboard slides out, revealing a camera module that's literally plugged in:

Great, I get a 4GB microSD for free:
Also notice the reset button, I have no idea what's that for, I assume pressing it while plugging the stick in will allow uploading new firmware. Also, the battery is held in position with sticky tape.
The other big chip is a 25Q80SCP, 8Mbit flash, probably holding the camcorder firmware.

A clearer picture of the battery side with the camera connector. I don't know what this chip is but I assume it's an integrated solution for cheap camcorders: Anyka AK1120Q06402:

The battery was dead so I tried removing the kapton tape and access the third terminal. This allowed me to bypass the protection circuit and charge the small battery.
When charging an unknown LiPo the safest maximum setting is 1C - in this case 160mAh. Just be aware of the fact that many manufacturers fake the printout, putting you at risk of overdriving the small LiPo and causing it to explode. Your best bet is to find a similar-sized battery that is original and use that capacity as guideline

With the battery off the camera can still be used, it draws around 50mA which would make it perfect for a flight cam or other small embedded project:

The "innovative" packing method is used to put the pen back together:

Hopefully I will remember to put some samples from the camera here, the quality is not so bad as I would have expected. It's certainly better than most camera phones pre-smartphone-era.


  1. Well shoot. Good job. I knew eventually I would find a cam pen hack. "Just be aware of the fact that many manufacturers fake the printout..." !!?? My god, intrigue in the cam pen world. Just try calling the cam pen tech help. They will try to hack your pc to look for whatever you may have on your pc. But I was too smart for that. The tech then used a voice changer. I wrote a complaint to the company but it came back as undeliverable. The video clarity is superb on these damned things and the audio is so good it is scary. I've been wanting to hack one of these pens for a long time and make the interface 1000 times better and install a battery with a larger capacity. I'd stuff all the guts into a small package although aiming the cam pen is easy once you practice and deploying the capture is easy. Hats off to you and the god damned geniuses who created this little gem!!!

  2. Wonderful post, yes spy pen camera is beneficial for both purpose commercial as well as business. It's inbuilt hidden camera.

    Spy Hidden Camera USB Pen & Camera Recorder Pen

  3. Ive seenan amazing improvment in this technology i got my spy pens from and they were hd i attached them to my RC airplane it was kewl. thanks for this article too!

  4. Actually my pen camera is not blinking while charging....what to do.....

  5. Actually my pen camera is not blinking while charging....what to do.....

  6. my pen is not on but charging light is blinking

  7. My pen camera battery short .plese give me new battery .