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Friday, 13 July 2012

Ltl Acorn 6210 HD Series trail camera re-design cures water problem.

Fig 1:   Ltl Acorn 6210MMX


Most of you reading this will be aware of the huge disappointment felt, when the recent modifications to this camera failed to completely eliminate the water ingress. There was a reduction, but the basic problem persisted.

I had been testing the new unit for a week and although there was less water entering the camera, and non was actually getting into the control panel, condensation was still occurring. I was determined to find the reason for this.

The factory re-design of the control panel housing was certainly working, because although, during tests, there was water in the camera, it was not affecting this area. It was however, collecting at the back above the hinge assembly, and was saturating the inside of the case. I decided to go back to basics and re-analyse the whole process.

The strangest thing about this issue, was that the manufacturers had told me, I was the only person reporting this problem to them; and yet many, many people in the UK were having this problem. It occurred to me that if this were true, then maybe the cause related to particular environmental or climatic conditions.



Fig 2:  Oceanic climate areas
These are the areas of the world where the type of
problem discussed in the text, is most likely to occur.
I already had an idea that case temperature variations may have something to do with it because of a similar issue with a Bushnell with a bad case seal. While pondering this, I had a eureka moment, which went something like, humidity, volume of air, temperature change, expansion and contraction, evaporation and condensation.

So what was likely to cause this problem to predominate in the UK?

I did some research into climate areas and realised that western Europe and particularly the UK, are the largest region of Oceanic (Western Maritime) climate (Figure 2 - Oceanic climate areas coloured green) in the world. Scotland also has areas with subpolar oceanic climates. In these climate types, heavy, cold rain onto relatively warm surfaces is a feature which provides exactly the right conditions for this problem to occur.
Fig 3:   Changes to door panel
showing the extra sinking below the hinge,
and the cut down sides for drainage.

Testing by the manufacturers did not reveal this problem because they are in a tropical climate where wide temperature fluctuations don't normally occur. Even with heavy rainfall, air and rainwater temperatures are similar and relatively constant.


Tests here in Scotland, showed that in ambient conditions where the air temperature in shade was 17C, and in sun was 25C, the cameras case temperature in direct sunlight would rise to 30C. In changeable weather conditions, a sudden rainfall, even in June, would cause the case temperature to drop rapidly by at least 10C. This in turn, would  
Fig 4:   Enlarged water sink below hinge
cause the cameras internal air mass to contract, thereby producing a vacuum.

The old case had a weakness in the seal, at each end of the hinge and also, because of the hinge assembly position and design, water would collect around it during rainfall. Any suction from the vacuum would pull this water inside the case, which would then collect around the control panel.

This seal weakness had already been recognised and in the new case design, the hinge had improved water protection and sinking. Instead of sitting in the base of the door, the control panel
Fig 5:   Side view of modified door
was now raised above it with a 4 mm skirt completely surrounding it, and a tolerance fit with the control panel housing. This was very effective and the reason why initial water ingress was not entering the control panel as it had previously.

Fig 6:   Front view of modified door.
The ends have now been removed completely.
See figure 7 below.
Water was however, still entering the case, and in sufficient quantity to eventually, still cause a problem. I had previously voiced my opinion that the bottom door did not require a seal because, as it was, the case interior was unable to equalise with changing ambient conditions. I felt that with an improved door/control panel design, the seal could be eliminated, thereby allowing the case to breath.

In an attempt to prove my theory, I took the new test camera to the work bench and made some changes, as illustrated in figures 3 to 6.

I removed the door seal, cut extra sinking below the hinge assembly and provided drainage at the sides. I then re-assembled the camera, and started testing again.


The modified camera has been tested for over a week in both natural and artificial rainfall; and there is no indication of water and condensation collecting inside the case The only condensation effect you may see is
Fig 7:   Control panel door edge.
water in the LED array. This occurs during high humidity, when the sun heats the case sufficiently to cause internal evaporation. When the case cools again, water condenses in the top of the case, including inside the array window. This quickly disperses as case temperature and humidity equalise with the outside conditions, allowed by the removal of the door seal. It has no effect on the camera's circuits or the operation of the LED array, as they are designed to operate through 5 to 95% humidity.
Fig 8:   Underside of door.
Because of the equalised environment in and around the case, the only way the control panel will suffer from water is if you drop it in a river.
Even then, providing it is dried thoroughly before use, there will be no lasting damage.


Figures 7 to 9 show the hand made, pre-production shell, with the latest modifications. The door panel profile is now inside the case, the seal is removed, and there's plenty of extra sinking around the hinge assembly.

The combination of the raised control panel and its interference fit with the door's raised internal flange, will prevent any water entering the control panel.
Fig 9:  Control panel housing.
The absence of the seal, extra drainage and sinking will allow water to freely run off the case, and not be drawn inside.

The new mould is being made and I am told that the fully modified camera will be available by the last week in July 2012.


The Ltl Acorn 6210 HD Series cameras are very high specification cameras and these last modifications should make them a reliable, high performer, in most professional user environments.

15 comments:

  1. Hi

    What about use who have these leaking cameras?
    Can we get new one? Or new modified parts?

    ReplyDelete
  2. The case parts between new and old design are not interchangeable.

    If you have a camera which is dis-functional because of water ingress, it is not fit for purpose and should be returned to your supplier under warranty.

    Best regards
    Ron

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Ron
    I have one of the old ones here in New Zealand that took water in.Iv found that a wipe around the seal with vaseline petroleum jelly seals it just fine. Not sure what it will do to the seal long term .Its Been out for 2 2week runs now and we had over 250mm of rain last weekend alone.Iv just recieved 2 more pics on my laptop.Its working well.
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Chris
      I can imagine it would work in most cases but I've been attempting to suggest ways of mitigating the problem which don't involve adding alien chemistry to the camera.
      If I recommended something like this and a camera was later returned, there might be an issue with seal degradation; which might invalidate the warranty. Just being careful but I'll be interested to know how it works for you over time.
      Best regards
      Ron

      Delete
  4. Yes certainly, I wasnt sugesting you adopt the method , just a point interest really. Being quite remote finding a way to make this one work seemed easier than trying to get it replaced.
    Cheers
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd certainly agree with making it work, and I'm sure there are others who have done the same as yourself. I'm just not in a position to advocate it.

      As I said before, I would be interested to hear how it works over time.

      Thanks for your input.
      Best regards
      Ron

      Delete
  5. Hi Ron
    Really pleased the problem has been cured.
    Any idea of when you will get them in stock, I'm dying to try mine out. :-)

    Adrian Jevons

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Adrian

      We're still waiting to hear from the factory. There's been a problem with the new mould, which has delayed things again. I was told a couple of weeks which will be up this next weekend, so fingers crossed.

      Will be posting as soon as something is definite.

      Best regards
      Ron

      Delete
    2. Ok thanks. Cross my fingers too.

      Regards
      Adrian

      Delete
  6. Any news on when stock will be available? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A new test camera is in transit and should be with me about the 15th August. I'll be posting news tomorrow.

      Regards
      Ron

      Delete
  7. I have a hard time getting my Acorn 6210M to work as it should. Only remote function that seems to work is the SMS send setting when the camera has taken a picture. Neither the MMS or the E-mail function has ever been working. I've tried putting in auto MPNO settings and also manual, and I know the SIM is working since I've tested it in another phone. Any suggestions here? Is it some special setting I'm missing, should the phone number be entered in a specific way I'm not aware of?
    Is there a step-by-step guide on how to setup the setting other than the ENG manual I found here that also came with the camera?

    Please advise so I don't need to burn anymore patience with this, I'm about to loose my mind :)

    Thank you all in advance!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Petter

    I can understand your frustration as getting these cameras to work, either by MMS or SMTP (GPRS) can be difficult.

    Assuming you've got your protocols set right, just getting an adequate connection seems to be the biggest issue.

    You should read this post on the 5th September http://www.ronburyswildlife.com/2012/09/acorn-6210-mmmmx-instructions-for-using.html
    and there will be an update to this in a couple of days with additional information. This update will also be available as a pdf file to download.

    I hope it will be of help. Also look in the index page where there are links to several posts relating to this.

    Best Wishes
    Ron

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have noticed foggy pictures which are often accompanied by condensation on the LED window of my Acorn 5210A, usually when there are changing weather conditions or going from a cold damp night to a sunny day. The camera lens will eventually clear up but it might take a few hours. I have also noticed water which appeared to be inside the camera, I wasn't sure if this was water that was just sitting around the lower door seal or that had actually run down the inside of the camera.

    After reading your posts on the problem I'm wondering if either drilling a tiny hole or removing the rubber power hole bung in the bottom door might be the answer to at least speed up condensation evaporation inside the camera. Do you think it would be wise? On the 5210A there is nothing to damage in the bottom flap and it would be hard for water to enter upwards into the camera.

    Thank you for some very useful posts on the subject.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jonathan

      What you describe is condensation and water running down inside the camera as a result.

      I am currently running tests on a modification to try and cure this and if you would like to contact me by email and provide me with a phone number, I will give you more details.

      It may be that you might like to test this for your self.

      Removing the power bung will not help this and I can explain this if we have a telephone conversation. I'm not ready to post about this and probably wont be for at least another month or more.

      Regards
      Ron

      Delete

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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.