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Help repairing several Reconyx trail cameras

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DOA

New Member
Hello my fellow members,

I have several Reconyx trail cameras that are broken and I am hoping someone can help me with. They cost around $600,- per camera and I am not able to send them out for warranty. These cameras are used to capture photos of wildlife (jaguars, tapir, etc.) and are subjected to the outside tropical climate in Suriname all year round (they are of course built for this). They use an infrared sensor to detect movement and warmth and make several photos upon triggering. During day they capture color photos and during night/low light they capture black/white photos with the help of an infrared flash. Some cameras (of varying age and time-in-field) have developed problems. I will try to describe them as clear as possible below. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am not an electronics guy. I have never soldered before but I have been doing some research and wouldn't mind trying it out if the fix is something doable and I also have some old circuit boards I could practice on. At the moment I have a multimeter and the more common tools such as screwdrivers. If you could point me in the right direction as to what I should be looking for as possible defective component or try to replace that would be awesome. There are two models of camera, they are pictured below.

Model 1:
IMG_20161106_092858 (3).jpg IMG_20161106_094109.jpg

Model 2:
IMG_20161106_094427.jpg IMG_20161106_094600.jpg

Now on to the problems:
1. The particular two cameras pictured above are not powering on. More specifically, it seems that the boards are not drawing any power. The boards are powered by 12 NiMH AA batteries. The power cable is able to power other boards, so the problem must lie with some component on the boards themselves. Which components could be causing the problem and do you think it is fixable? Can I visually inspect for defects are test anything with my multimeter?

2. Normally when the camera powers on, the display shows reading card and then the percent full (of SD card) and percent battery left. Several cameras show reading card and the "ERROR no light meter". The display doesn't go past this point. One of the cameras first showed SD card write lock or insert card error (while the card was inserted and was not locked) and when that was resolved (I have always been able to resolve write lock errors by reinserting the card or blowing air into the slot) showed the "ERROR no light meter". Because of this I was thinking maybe the "ERROR no light meter" could have something to do with the SD card slot although light meter doesn't sound like anything card related... Does anyone have any idea what this error is about and possibly how to fix it?

3. One camera when powering on shows reading camera and then flashes Reconyx on the display, goes back to reading camera and flashes Reconyx again. Keeps doing this over and over. Any ideas on this?

4. On one of the cameras, the functions of the > button and the OK button seem to have fused. If I press the > button, the input that is received is "go right and thereafter press OK". Likewise, if I press the OK button, the input that is received is "go right and thereafter press OK". Any ideas what is wrong and how to fix it? As you may have noticed by now there are more cameras so if I need to do any replacements I could also salvage from another broken camera.

5. One camera only displays numbers that keep adding up no matter which button I press. I think the numbers are also not displayed fully e.g. just some lines or pixels of the display are shown. Another camera only displays lines on the display. I thought about a display replacement for these but have no idea if it would work and if it is possible or easy to do.

6. One of the cameras has a weak flash resulting in badly lit or completely black night photos. I have tried replacing the led board but that did not fix the problem. I thought one of the capacitors may be weak/bad so I tried to get a voltage measurement with my multimeter on the two capacitor leads (where it makes contact with the board) but am not getting a reading. I probably am doing this wrong and maybe not even measuring the right capacitors?? Any help how to do this and other ideas I would appreciate very much. Oh I am posting part of this particular board down below as I can see some white stuff on some of the components (R92, R85, R93, C74 between them, etc.). What is this stuff and could it be causing problems?

IMG_20161106_092615.jpg IMG_20161106_092550.jpg

Thanks for reading through my lengthy post and if you could help me even repair one of these cameras I would be soooo grateful! :)
 
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pfofit

Active Member
To get you started, The boards that do not power up, check the fuse.
Set your meter on lowest resistance setting, ohms or Ω symbol.
should be low resistance. less than 5 ohms depending on amp rating.

One board appears to show damage to diode but focus is not sharp so cannot be sure and power pin seems to be bad.

The white crude can be wiped away with a q-tip wet with rubbing alcohol and such. It will dry up quickly with some air flow. Roll the qtip in your fingers as you wipe to lessen cotton hairs coming off
The board appear to have conformal coating but the crude may be mold oxidization humidity crystallization or dust. Sometimes it's conductive and can mess up stuff.

The boards are heavily populated with SMD components and you will be hard pressed to repair them. Sorry.
You are down to basics. Look for broken, bad or corroded pins. unplugging and re-seating can fix you up sometimes.
check sticky buttons, do they feel the same, click the same. They can be checked also with the ohm meter.

IMG_20161106_094427_cr.jpg

IMG_20161106_094600_cr.jpg

Edit: removed duplicate image. Go figure
 
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DOA

New Member
Thank you very much pfofit, you have been very helpful and have a good eye. The diode is definitely blown but the fuse is okay on that board. On the other board the fuse seems to be blown. I don't know about the joints, may just be light reflection but I will have a better look at them. Below is the diode. Do you think this by itself can be the cause of the power failure on this board?
IMG_20161106_182349.jpg
 

atferrari

Well-Known Member
It would be much easier to focus in just one camera at a time. Your thread risks to become a monument to the confusion, hence hard to follow. Trust me.
 

spec

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
To get you started, The boards that do not power up, check the fuse.
Set your meter on lowest resistance setting, ohms or Ω symbol.
should be low resistance. less than 5 ohms depending on amp rating.

One board appears to show damage to diode but focus is not sharp so cannot be sure and power pin seems to be bad.

The white crude can be wiped away with a q-tip wet with rubbing alcohol and such. It will dry up quickly with some air flow. Roll the qtip in your fingers as you wipe to lessen cotton hairs coming off
The board appear to have conformal coating but the crude may be mold oxidization humidity crystallization or dust. Sometimes it's conductive and can mess up stuff.

The boards are heavily populated with SMD components and you will be hard pressed to repair them. Sorry.
You are down to basics. Look for broken, bad or corroded pins. unplugging and re-seating can fix you up sometimes.
check sticky buttons, do they feel the same, click the same. They can be checked also with the ohm meter.

View attachment 102098

View attachment 102097

Edit: removed duplicate image. Go figure
Amazing detective work.:cool:

spec
 

pfofit

Active Member
Been sick for awhile and waiting on some more focused pics of the one board with the blown diode. Lets call it Bd #2.
More focused, not zoomed in. Need the whole board or at least the bottom half both sides.
From here it is guess work cause i do not have the Bd in my hands to fondle with.

The diode is most defiantly toast. It appears that these boards can have to power sources. There is a BATT connector for a battery and a PWR connector (or space for one) on Bd #2. (most likely for a wallwort type alternate source.) Bd #1 has a connector for both.

Assume the board is multilayered.
So, I surmise the Batt+ (red line in my pic, dotted line i think is thru another layer or other side ) follows the track down to the blown diode, thru it and then down thru the board to somewhere. Probably the yellowish cap with the weird solder joint.

If you had a PWR then it would go(green line in my pic) from the+ to the diode D5 thru it and to meet D31 and go thru the board to somewhere thru those two little pin holes fr4om your mag pic..
The + lines also go to the other bigger diodes D32 and D4 and meet together on their cathodes, and go somewhere, probably everywhere as it is the main power.

The diodes are there to prevent reverse polarity and to protect the 2 supplies from mixing. Now you do not have the PWR plug so i would think D5 would be still good. The big diodes are rated at 3 amps and 40 volts. The little guys i couldn't yet find anything. but would be less than 1amp and equal or lesser voltage the the biggins.

What took out the diode could be a defect elsewhere on the board or a mix up with a wrong, gerry rigged or backwards battery.
Things you can do
Measure the diode that is blown, is it open or shorted. Measure both ways by reversing leads.
Measure resistance between anode of d31 and d32. Is it a short or zero ohms?.
Also measure resistance from where cathodes of d5 and d31 meet with red lead and black lead to ground or batt-. with the on/off switch in both positions. The yellow line is where i think ground is .

If the main board is not shorted?.
Your problem is removing and replacing d31. Your self admitted lack of soldering skills will be the problem, and SMD stuff is difficult and small.
The main issues is the diode is soldered and probably a drop of glue under it during assembly. Too much heat and you risk delaminating the foil traces off the board..
If you heat one end and lift it too high off the board the other end will most likely peel off the trace as it bends. On a multi layered board that can be catastrophic. If you quickly, alternately heat each side, it may work loose and probably stick to the end of the iron.
One method is to cut it out, but you cannot just use a big ass side cutter cause the closed jaws may spread the ends apart and maybe peal back the foils.
A small file can cut it in half or a delicate hand on a dremel cutoff wheel or tiny cutters thru the metal ends (under a mag glass, if your old):oops:.
Then unsolder the metal ends.
Probably any ole 1 amp diode would work, maybe d5 if it is not being used(doesn't half to be SMD) but don't know for sure. Then you have to get it off without destroying or cooking it.

Getting tired and crawling back to bed. make the measurements
img1.jpg

edited a couple errors in my diode number labels.
 
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