11.08.2014 - Camera Repairs

I am still behind with repair work and I apologize if you have been kept waiting.

If you have an urgent request please call me on 01456 415726 or use Skype. If you don't get an answer please keep trying or leave a message and I will call you back.

Spare Parts and Repairs.
Please go to my Technical Support Page.

Trees for Life

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Ltl Acorn 5210 and 6210 Trail Camera Problem Solving

Fig 1:  Ltl Acorn 6210MMX and 5210A
Trail Cameras
Latest Page Update: 16.06.2014
Troubleshooting Guide at bottom of page.

Like all cameras of this type, the Ltl Acorn models do have their issues and I answer a large number of emails requesting help. Some problems are just mistakes with menu settings, others are issues with memory cards and some are camera faults.

I've been collecting a list over the last six months or so and this post is an attempt to collate and illustrate potential problems which, in most cases, can be corrected by users if they have the right information.

Some issues may require some analysis by the user, but most often a simple procedure or a firmware update will correct the problem.

I hope this post will help you keep your camera running without costly returns and time spent trying to explain problems.


Real or Fake (cloned) Ltl Acorn (Firmware upgrade issues):

Before I go into specific issues, one thing which is very important is to determine that you have a genuine
camera manufactured by Ltl Acorn. There is at least one company that I am aware of, who stole the case design and who, I believe, are currently the subject of a law suit in China. They manufacture a range of lookalikes which are available from a variety of internet sources.

Fig 1a:  Genuine Acorn
5210 packaging showing
the Acorn logo top left.
The bottom box is the oldest
and similar to the box in
figure 1b.
The two boxes above show
the 0.8 second trigger speed
label which was introduced
in June 2012.
How alike the internal electronics are to the genuine Acorns I have no idea, but if you are unfortunate enough to have one of these cameras it is unlikely that it will respond well to a genuine Acorn firmware update. In a situation like this it would be impossible to reload the camera with the original software, and the camera would be useless.


Fig 1b: Fake packaging shown by an Amazon seller.
Note that there is no Acorn logo on the box.

















How to tell the difference:
Fig 2: Embossed badge on all models

All models of the Ltl Acorn range of trail cameras have a badge (Figure 2) embossed into the case front below the PIR side detector windows. This is a registered trademark.

Fig 2a: Acorn clone without trademark 

Distributors and retailers of cloned cameras have
Fig 3: 5210A Bar Code Label
apparently been known to show images of cameras with the badge, even though the cameras they are selling do not have this.



Bar code labels and approval marks with nine figure serial numbers similar to those shown in figure 3 (5210A) and figure 4 (6210MM) will always be found on genuine cameras.
I have seen images of cloned cameras, apparently without labels and marks.

Fig 4: 6210MM Bar Code Label
With the 6210 the label is found on the lower outside back of the camera body and with the 5210 the label is found lower back of the camera after removing the backpack.


The splash screen is always as seen in figure 5 and appears when the camera is switched on to the test switch position.

The splash screen picture is the same for all Ltl Acorn Camera models.

Fig 5: Acorn Splash Screen all Models

Clone Models that I have seen usually have a splash screen which displays flowers (fig 5a) and is predominantly blue in colour.



Fig 5a: 5210A clone


















None of the above is guaranteed not to change but if you can tick all the boxes, you can be fairly certain that your camera is genuine as at the date of this post.



Getting Started:

Make sure you always switch the camera OFF before switching to ON or TEST. Don't switch directly from test to on or visa versa.

SD Cards are the camera's memory and without one loaded into the card slot, the camera simply won't work. If you switch the camera (5210 and 6210) onto test without inserting an SD card, the camera will beep, show the splash screen and then go dead. This will also happen if the SD card is faulty (see troubleshooting note below)

Maximum card sizes: 5210 models 16GB - 6210 models 32GB.

Don't try to force the card into the slot. With both models the contact side of the card is always towards the front of the camera. Card and slot can both be damaged by using force.


Fig 6: Loading SD card into a 5210




Fig 7: 6210 Battery compartments
Battery Cells are AA (LR6) size and can be Lithium, Alkaline or NiMH. See this post for more information about internal and external power sources, plus SD cards and interfaces.

Cells are easy to load (fig 7) and polarities are stamped on the metal contact plates inside the battery covers. If you insert a cell the wrong way round it will overheat, may catch fire and possibly stop the camera from working.

When you first close the battery cover, the blue/red diode in the LED array will flash briefly although the camera is not switched on. This is normal.

The power switch has three positions. Off is position one which is nearest the centre of the camera with both models. To switch the camera to test and access the setup menu, move the switch to the third position which is nearest the outside of the camera. The middle position switches the camera on for normal operation.

Fig 8: 6210 Menu screen - first page

Switch the camera to the test position.
When the camera fires up it will beep, flash the blue/red diode in the LED array and activate the information/monitor screen.

Format the SD card in the camera (as instructed below) before you do anything else.

Important: Do not format your SD card in Windows. Either format in the camera or use SDFormatter which you can download here.


Fig 9: 5210 Menu screen - first page
To access the menu press the menu button once. On the 5210 it is the far left button and on the 6210 it is the top left button.


The first page of the menu on both cameras is the same. Navigate to the second item down which is the format command. With it highlighted as in figures 8 and 9, press the OK button. The OK button is far right on the 5210 and bottom left on the 6210. When you press the OK button the screen will ask for confirmation. Navigate to YES and press OK.

The screen will then ask you to wait and when the SD card is formatted, the camera will automatically exit the menu and return to the information screen.

Without turning the camera off, you can now check that the camera's PIR detectors are working properly. Set the camera down on a flat surface and move your hand across the front of the camera at about a metre distance. As you move from side to side the camera's blue/red diode will flash from blue through red and back to blue. The blue diode indicates that the side PIR sensors are working and the red diode indicates that the main PIR sensor is working. This function can be useful for setting and aiming the camera in the field

At this point the camera is ready to operate normally and is set to the manufacturer's default settings. You can set your own personal settings later but first I would suggest you test the camera for correct function as follows.

Turn the camera off and then move the switch back to the middle position. You'll know that the switch is in the correct position because instead of the beep and splash screen, the control panel screen will stay inactive and the the red diode in the LED array will flash seven (7) or thirteen (13) on later models (5210); and fourteen (14) (6210) times; after which you may hear a faint click as the IR filter moves across the lens. In daylight mode the IR filter is across the lens, while in night mode it moves away.

Fig 10: Pink image caused by sticking IR filter.
Sometimes these filters have been known to stick, resulting in pink images. The filter can be freed by sharply tapping the side of the camera case with your knuckle, which is usually enough to get it working again, even if you have to do it a few times.

If all is correct the camera will now be taking still images, every time (1 minute interval on default) the PIR is activated. Set the camera on a flat surface like a table top and walk about in front of the lens. Then move away behind the camera for a few minutes, before moving back in front of the lens. The result should be one or two images, then a time gap before one or two more. This tells you that the camera is firing when triggered but not when there is no trigger (trigger instability).

You can check the images the camera has taken, by viewing them on the camera's internal screen; but I find it a lot easier to turn the camera off, remove the card and stick it in the desk or lap top's SD card slot. Open up Windows Explorer and viewing, and checking basic image data is straightforward.

The reason I've gone through this preliminary setting up procedure is because if you've followed the above exactly you will have confirmed that all the camera's basic functions are working correctly before you get more deeply involved.

Visit my menu settings page for a complete description of the 5210 and 6210 camera menus and how to use them. The paper manual will also walk you through the menu options. There are however, some operational issues which can arise because of incorrect menu settings so I'll go through those now.

Manuals can be downloaded from the Camera Data Page.

Using the menu:


Fig 11: 5210 menu - Page 4
All 5210 and 6210 models before October 2012 have the same basic menu (excluding MMS menu) apart from the 6210 which has two additional items. These are Beep Sound on/off and SD Card Cycle on/off.
Fig 12: 6210 menu - Page 3

The 5210 has four pages and the 6210 has five pages.

Both menus are natural and easy to use but you must remember to press the OK button after each individual menu function change, otherwise the chosen function will revert to its original setting.

When setting the Time Lapse or Timer to ON you must set times for both functions, otherwise the camera will fail to operate.

If you think you've scrambled the menu settings, one option is to use the Default Set instruction which will return all settings apart from the clock, to the manufacturer's default settings. You can then try entering your personalised settings again.

Setting a password can lead to a problem. See troubleshooting below.



Troubleshooting:


Like all modern electronic items such as satellite receivers, routers, phones et.c, these cameras have on-board processors, which store a basic programme set plus all additional menu commands made by the user.

Sometimes all these instructions get scrambled and the equipment starts to behave erratically or not at all.

If your camera develops a problem which doesn't have an obvious answer, then the best course of action is to force a system reset. You can do this by removing the SD Card and all the Battery Cells; and then leaving the camera for at least 24 hours, which will allow all volatile memory to discharge.

Afterwards, you start to set the camera up again as from new providing this appears to have cured the problem.

If this doesn't work it may be that the camera has developed a component fault and will need to be returned to your supplier for repair or replacement, providing it's within the one year warranty period.

Before you contact your supplier read all below.

Wireless Cameras (Series 2) Manufactured from December 2012 to February 2013:
GPRS Module and PCB problems. Please read this post.
General all cameras:

Camera Menu Reset. Camera doesn't behave as expected after changing menu settings. Select Default in the menu, click OK and start again.

Dirty switch contacts. If your camera refuses to switch on (either switch position) or when in the test position, comes on then dies and then comes back on again. Remove all the batteries and try spraying a small amount of switch cleaner into the body of the OFF/ON/TEST switch and then gently work the switch back and forth through its positions. Using switch cleaner will clean and lubricate the switch contacts which can become dirty over time.

Dirty card contacts. SD and SIM card contacts, on the cards and inside the camera can get dirty over time. If the camera suddenly starts to behave unusually when it's worked OK previously, try cleaning the card contacts by lightly spraying the card contact face with CD or screen cleaner and then gently working the card in and out of its slot a few times. This will clean the contact areas between card and camera.

6210MC SD card lost inside camera. The reason the card is able to go in at an angle is because the non wireless MC only has a plastic blanking tray where the module would normally be fitted. This leaves a small gap at the back of the card slot. If the card is accidentally pushed through this gap it lands in the blanking tray, which in itself should not cause any problems. To remove the card open the back battery cover and you will see the front of the blanking tray, directly below the card slot. To the middle left of the blank is the SIM card slot and to the right of this and above is a lip which can be levered with your finger nail to pull the blanking tray out of the camera. Do it carefully and the SD card should come out with it. Keep the camera normally orientated while you do this and gravity will keep the card at the bottom of the tray. Once you've removed the card you can either choose to leave the tray out or refit it.

6210MG refuses to switch on in test position with SIM card inserted.  Try cleaning the SIM card contacts. This may work!

6210MG No wireless network connection information on screen. This was a problem with cameras produced during December 2012 and January 2013. Please read this post.

5210 Microcontroller (MCU) problem. Some recent cameras have occasionally shown a fault where, although the menu sets up OK and all functions work in TEST mode, when set to ON the camera will take one image and then fail to respond to the PIR trigger. If you are unfortunate enough to receive a camera with this problem, you will need to return it, through your supplier for replacement/repair.

SD Cards

Camera shows the Acorn Splash Screen and then dies when switched to test. No SD Card or SD Card faulty. Insert SD Card or try another card. Clean contacts (see above)

SD Cards can also go faulty causing the problem mentioned above. If you suspect this, then try a new card. Some cards can be incompatible with the camera so you may need to try a different brand. This may be indicated by getting a Card Full message on the screen. SanDisk are compatible.

Card Protected Message on Screen. Make sure your SD Card Lock is off.

SanDisk Compatibility. In November 2013 I discovered that a new batch of SanDisk 8GB cards would not allow the 6210MGX to send vga images over the network. It transpired that a change in the cards technology was preventing the camera from saving the vga image to the MMS folder.
This will be the case with all 6210 cameras using V1.2.105T firmware or earlier when using some new SD cards. The problem was quickly solved by Acorn writing new firmware  V1.2.115T

Important: Do not format your SD card in Windows. Either format in the camera or use SDFormatter which you can download here.

Firmware/Software

Setting a Password can be a problem if you forget what it is, or if when entered, the camera doesn't respond. If the above system reset doesn't cure it, contact me by email and I will be able to help. Please include proof of purchase and the model and serial number of the camera.

Screen message saying 'Please re-upgrade' and camera does not work. This indicates that the camera has been loaded with the wrong firmware update for that model. You will need to load a new firmware update using the correct file for the camera model. Email me with the camera model, serial number, date when purchased and any information regarding an attempted/failed firmware update.

Firmware Updates and Acorn lookalikes sold by Aldi. I don't know the origins of the cameras sold by Aldi but firmware updates for the Aldi cameras are not compatible with the genuine Acorn cameras. If you try to update an Acorn 5210 with Aldi firmware you will stop your camera from working. At the moment (16.01.2013) I don't know if the resulting condition is recoverable.

Set-up Software. A user in Sweden has reported that he couldn't get his older (pre-screen change) 6210 to work properly using setup software v1.2.026 but all worked OK when using v1.2.020 which is one of the versions available here.

Firmware Updates have also been covered elsewhere on this site. You can find links to the relevant posts by going to the site Index Page and/or the Download Page.

Battery Issues

Warning: Battery cells should not be left in the camera when the camera is not in use. Even when the switch is in the OFF position the camera will still be drawing about 300 microamps to maintain time and date settings and after a long period in this state cells will start to leak and corrode the inside of the camera. The damage can be extensive.

Always replace discharged battery cells and always remove battery cells, regardless of their state of charge, if the camera is going to be stored. 

Some popular batteries such as Duracell have a high internal resistance and although they will seem to be OK when first used will very quickly show problems related to discharged cells. This will happen within a couple of weeks of normal use which suggests to the user that the camera is faulty when it is in reality the battery. Symptoms include all the following.

Camera does not accept menu changes.  This can be caused by low battery voltage. Replace batteries. Also do a system reset as detailed above.

Camera set to Camera + Video but only shoots images. This can also be caused by low battery voltage. Replace batteries. Also do a system reset as detailed above.

Flickering White Screen and buzzing noise from camera. Batteries need replacing and you may see a blue screen with low battery message.

Black Night Time images and/or Shortened Videos. The cause will most likely be low batteries. As the battery voltage decreases with use it will eventually reach various thresholds.
1) Length of video will be progressively reduced to 0 seconds.
2) IR light will decrease on still images and the images will become very grainy.
3) Camera will still take images at night but they will be black other than to show external light sources.
4) Day time images will still be taken but no videos or one/two second clips.
5) Camera stops functioning.

Batteries and Video Length.
If the camera is taking videos which are a variable and shorter time than you have set, it will be because the battery voltage has dropped and the camera is attempting to save battery power.

If the camera is operating in low temperature, use Lithium batteries or an external Sealed Lead Acid battery rated at 6 volts 7 Ah. The SLA battery will last for a long time.

At temperatures around or below 0C Alkaline and NiMh rechargeable batteries will only work for a few days before their voltage drops to too low a level. If you have to use these battery types then reduce the length of the video to 10 seconds, or just shoot still images only.

Using an SLA battery is the only reliable and cost effective way I have found, for shooting 20 second plus videos over long, in field, service periods.

Video Compatibility

Problems viewing videos on your personal computer.
VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.
Please make a small donation when you download.
Download VLC Media Player for Windows, MAC, Android et.c

Video compatibility between cameras.
Video taken with the 5210 is not playable on the 6210 and vice versus.



I hope I've covered most issues but I will update this post as new problems and solutions emerge.



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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.