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

Disassembling the Canon Powershot A650 Digital Camera

Sample Pic !

What follows is my guide in words and pictures to taking this camera apart. Read it over before starting the disassembly.

Tools needed:

- Set of small screwdrivers. The screws have Philips heads. A thin flathead screwdriver is useful for prying apart the plastic latches in the camera.
- Can of compressed air.

Take off the filter adapter silver ring around the lens by pressing the button next to it. Look at the camera from every angle and take out all the screws you can find. You should come up with a system to track where each screw came from because the screws that you will remove have several types of threads and several lengths. For each screws or group of screws, I ripped a small piece of paper and wrote on it where the screws belong. I formed it into a "container" by creasing it with my thumbs and my index fingers. The problem is that halfway through, you don't know how to name the locations anymore. Probably the easiest thing is to print the images on this site and number the screw holes in the pictures as you remove each screw. This will also make sure you put all the screws back in when you re-assemble the camera.

Next, pry off the back half of the case. Notice it's held in place by three latches, so you have to raise the top a little:

This is how the back looks without the case:

and the front (without the lens assembly):

Next, remove the piece that has the shutter and the zoom controls. The main obstacle is the latch and the ribbon cable:

To remove the LCD, unscrew the two screws shown below and unplug the yellow and the blue connectors:

While you're at it, also remove the ribbon cable that you see in the corner next to the yellow and the blue connectors.

To remove the LCD, there's also this screw and one or two others:

Look at the metal case and remove the screws that hold it together. When you get the flash unit loose, short-circuit the capacitor to discharge it so you won't accidentally electrocute yourself. I used a pair of scissors WITH PLASTIC HANDLES. Touch the two points shown below to discharge the capacitor and to see a decent-sized spark in the process:

NOTE: This is the bad way to discharge a capacitor because it creates a very large current for a brief period of time, possibly destroying the capacitor. You're better off using a resistor to drain the capacitor over ten seconds or so.

Take out the screws that hold the viewfinder in place.

Now comes the fun part: disassembling the lens assembly. Start by taking off the little cover on top of the lens held by a spring if it hasn't fallen off already:

This should leave you with the following pieces held together by cables:

Slowly play with the back cover of the lens assembly. It's held together by a few latches so try not to break them. I broke one or two but I reassembled the lens assembly without any problems. The back cover snapped back into place.

Once you remove the back cover, a few gears will fall out that were connected to the little motor:

Taking apart the lens assembly is by far the trickiest and most painstaking part. The lens assembly is composed of a few plastic cylindrical pieces that have diagonal tracks to guide the other cylinders. When one of the cylinders reaches the end of the track, it pops off because the end of the track is open. Try to remember how every piece looked and fit in before you remove it. It will save you a lot of time and frustration.

Note, Piece 4 can be decomposed further.

Also, be very careful with the two ribbon cables that go into the lens assembly; I managed to break one of them at some point. I moved to another house while the camera was apart, so I stored everything in a few plastic bags and when I took them out two weeks later, one of these two ribbon cables was ripped.

It's also useful to have a can of compressed air to clean the lens of dust as you are reassembling it.

At the end of the process, you will have the following pieces:

As you see, I removed 37 screws to get to this point.

Here's my Crazy Glue job:

The plastic here doesn't work well with Crazy Glue. One solution is to go to CVS and among the instant glues they sell is a brand of glue that is packaged together with a tube of primer. The primer made the plastic surfaces hold together much better.

Okay, time to re-assemble everything! I'll refer to the cylindrical parts of the lens numbered in red in the previous pictures. The green line shows the ring edge of Piece 4. Rotate the ring until the opening in the ring lines up with the opening of the track in Piece 3. Place Piece 5 inside Piece 6 and rotate them until Piece 5 slips in. Take the combined piece and place it so that the pins from Piece 5 slips through the openings in the ring of Piece 4 and the openings in Piece 3. Push Piece 6 down so that its pins slip through the openings of Piece 2. Here's how it looks:

Rotate all the pieces back into place so the lens assembly shrinks into the retracted position.

Place the three gears inside and snap the back into place. To complete the lens, put the cover with the spring back in place--without permanently deforming the spring. Now go the steps in reverse order to re-assemble the camera.

Good luck!

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