Oh no! You've dropped your digital camera. And it's out of warranty. And repair costs more than the camera is worth. What to do short of tossing the camera (or selling on ebay)? Well, believe it or not the average person has a good chance of diy fixing that camera themselves. All they'll need for most cases is some patience, and a little background knowledge. The intent of the posts on this blog are to help provide that knowledge.

But now for the WARNINGS! Many of the repairs posted here should only be considered as a last resort for a broken camera that would otherwise be considered for disposal. Also please consider those repairs that require removing the camera case to also require some electrical background and knowledge, and should not be attempted by anyone unfamiliar with basic electrical components and safety precautions.

Make sure you read this post and are aware of the potential DANGER OF SEVERE ELECTRICAL SHOCK should you decide to proceed with a "do it yourself" repair that involves removing the camera case.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Canon A430 fix

The Canon A430 is a nifty and inexpensive little P&S. We got it as an upgrade for my old Canon A60 as a family snaps camera. The red colour matches my wife's car. Anyhoo.. only six months old, the lens jams half in and half out. The camera is unusable. It beeps and says "lens error" then turns itself off. Fair enough, so send it away to the authorised Canon service centre. But oh no, they send back a fuzzy 6x4 picture showing what they say is sand in the lens mechanism. They say this invalidates the warranty and would I care to pay £99.83 for them to fix it? Seeing as a new one now costs rather less than that, I decline. I then have to fork out another £8.50 for them to post it back to me. I am not a happy punter. But with nothing to lose I decide to try and fix it myself. It turns out to be a doddle. I see no reason why this same approach will not work with any other Canon models with stuck lenses caused by grit in the mechanism. (If the mechanism itself is irreparably damaged, say after dropping the camera, you're out of luck.)

First, remove the three screws on the base (note how the serial number has rubbed off. This seems to be a modern design feature - the self-erasing serial number. I've seen it on a number of very recent consumer products)

Then remove the screw on the AV in/out connection side. Then on the opposite side, remove the screw hidden under the rubber flap

covering the USB connector.

Five screws, that's all there are.

Now gently pry open along the seam and ease off the front half of the casing.

Now you can begin to see where we're going. Just above that 6105, underneath that orange ribbon connector, is where the problem lies.

But we need more access. So remove the rear casing. As with the front casing, it just eases gently off. However, the orange ribbon cable

will remain connected between the camera and the LCD.

Now we can get at the problem. Half hidden by the strip of orange ribbon cable, by the ball of my thumb, is a worm (spiral) gear that engages with a cog. Some grains of sand or grit have got in and jammed between the gear and cog teeth. All that is required is to take a paintbrush and blower, or whatever you have to hand, and dust out the grit. At the top of the worm gear are some small turning vanes that are useful because you can use them to turn the worm gear whilst dusting.

If your eyes are sharp you may be able to make out the axe-head shape of one of the vanes in the shot below. (Travel north from 6105 and it's underneath the small stub of ribbon connector.)

After blowing and dusting and turning the screw, it is time for a test; so put the batteries back in.
Push the power button and see what happens. With luck, and perhaps a bit of a residual grinding sound, the lens mechanism will operate as designed.

I got lucky. I just slid the casings back on - remembering to locate the rubber cover grommets for the USB and AV connectors as I did so - and replaced the five screws. Now all is well. So Canon can stuff their "invalid warranty" and kiss what goodwill I had towards them goodbye. On the other hand; they do make a camera that is remarkably easy to take apart. But next time I'll be buying one of those Pentax or Olympus waterproof numbers..

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