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The Cloud-to-Landfill pipeline.

A life well-lived

The brief life history of Amazon Cloud Cam, order number 114-3557508-XXX9840.

Once upon a time, little Cloud Cam XXX9840 was sitting in inventory, wondering just where on this planet it was going to end up. Was it going to be watching over a newborn throughout the night? Bravely guarding inventory at a fancy jeweler? Or was it going to be relegated to staring at a dark alley, with only the weekly trash truck and an errant moth to punctuate the boredom?

Just two months after the product was announced, little XXX9480 started its journey on December 28, 2017, making its way to the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, where it spent its days and nights looking out at the yard next to a beautiful cabin. Sometimes there was nothing to see, but every once in a while there would be a mama bear with her cubs, laughing children walking along the street, people up from the city clad in riotous shades of spandex as they jogged, or PG&E felling trees killed by a beetle infestation.

Over the years, XXX9480 gave its owner much joy, providing a glimpse into what was happening at the cabin (snow! bears!) when the owner was far, far away at some corporate cubicle farm somewhere. And XXX9480 was proud, for it was doing what it was designed to do.

And then, one day, Amazon decided to stop selling the Cloud Cam network; on December 2, 2022, they turned off the service. Suddenly, thousands of Cloud Cams around the world went dark - from proud cloud denizens to landfill overnight. How many of those Cloud Cams are still out there, plugged in, continually pinging a server that is forever dark?

In memoriam

And so, in an attempt to honor XXX9480, I've decided to post its innards so it can live on. Each image is 1600px wide - right-click to view larger.

8 infrared emitter LEDs in a circle
↑ The infrared emitters

A matte black camera lens, about the size of the end of a pinky finger
↑ The camera lens assembly

A round circuit board with an exposed camera chip in the middle
↑ The camera chip, exposed in the middle

Another round circuit board, somewhat more complex
↑ The main circuit board, with heat sinks removed

That same circuit board, side A
↑ The main circuit board

Chips, clockwise from middle:
• Mediatek MT7688AN 1719-AJCSL EAP0Z871
• 0999T E 7721
• 2 x Winbond W971GG8SS-25 6704A1000002 721WUA TWN
• SEC 713 B031 KL?4G1FEPD S5FAF044

That same circuit, board, side B
↑ Main circuit board, flip side

Chips, counterclockwise from right:
• DAC3100 T1 741 AY62 G4
• GEO GC6500A ?1630MAL? 235058?
• Micron 7MK17 D9PSZ Analog to Digital converter

Cloud Cam components: 5 body pieces, 3 circuit boards, 11 screws, a small speaker and grill, 2 heat sinks, and the circuit boards from above
↑ All the pieces

Row 1:
• Outer shell, base (with broken leg), base weight
• Four screws, speaker grill, speaker, tape, 7 screws, 3 risers, 3 elongated nuts
Row 2:
• Back, with vent holes, 2 heat sinks from main board, lens assembly, nylon ring, leg
• Note that the nylon ring is that provided friction to allow angling the camera
Row 3:
• Inner shell, IR lighting ring, camera IC, main IC

Same components as previous image, but each piece is upside down
↑ All the pieces, flip side


Our Cloud Cam was not alone, as we had a second camera in the hallway. This camera saw a lot less action because it faced the front door, but every once in a while a spider would build a web within view of the camera. I always wondered if this was because the camera was warm, or due to the infrared light, or if it was just random.

In any case, this web work frequently led to a flurry of alerts on the mobile app, as the spider made its way to and fro, building and catching.

Screenshot of the Cloud Cam iPhone app, with images indicating that motion was detected 4 times within a 6-minute span

And with that, RIP, little Cloud Cam buddies.


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