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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Ltl Acorn 6210MG Cellular Upgrade Performance and Availability

Ltl Acorn 6210MGX 940nm
Please note that the X suffix is used
by me to denote a camera with an
external antenna.
It is not an official Acorn mark.
I am sorry I have taken so long to report on the 6210MG with the upgraded SMS Remote Control but I have done a lot of testing over the last month or so and although the camera is now stable when connecting, the SMS remote control function still doesn't appear to work reliably in all circumstances (see below).

Network Connection Stability
Tests with twelve cameras show that the camera now connects to the network reliably and in all my tests I have found the connection stable with no instances of repeat/continuous triggering.

SMS Remote Control
In 10 attempts the camera returned 2 images and I have not been able to change any menu settings remotely even though the camera received the text message. 

Others have reported to me that the function has worked more reliably for them and bearing in mind that all my testing is carried out on a two to three bar signal in a marginal coverage area where a signal is only possible using an 11dBi Yagi Antenna, I suspect my circumstances may have something to do with my poor results.

I will continue testing the SMS Remote Control Function and report again at a later date. I would be pleased to receive test reports from other users.

Transmission delay when using an Interval setting between
0 seconds and 2 minutes.
There is an issue with a forced delay time in the camera sending the MMS image (MMS or SMTP), which is a byproduct of the SMS Remote Control integration, where a delay of total 6 minutes is experienced between images being sent over the network.

This occurs if the camera is triggered during the connection and sending period. The typical time period from the trigger event to completion of sending is 1 minute 30 to 40 seconds after which and providing the camera does not receive another trigger input during the time period, the camera is able to receive another trigger and act normally. 

If the camera does receive a trigger input during the above time period then it locks into a listening state for an additional 4 minutes where it waits to receive any SMS remote control message.

This makes a total time period of just under 6 minutes where the camera is unable to send an MMS image, although it will take and save an image if triggered during the extended period. Any images taken during the delay period will be saved to the SD card but will not be transmitted.

I do not know why the camera behaves in this way but I have found that if the Interval is set to 2 minutes the camera is able to trigger and transmit every 2 minutes during continuous activity.

Time Lapse
The time lapse function will also work reliably down to a minimum of 2 minutes alongside the cellular function providing either the sensors are turned off or the interval is set to 2 minutes.

MMS Image Interference Pattern
MMS Image Interference
During my tests I discovered that vertical interference bands were appearing on some of the transmitted MMS image. This interference does not appear on the images saved to the SD card and Acorn technical believe it is being caused by the camera's compression engine. I don't know if they have been able to overcome this problem yet.

The interference varies between cameras, is not always noticeable and I have only observed it on images taken under certain exposure conditions and particularly around the day/night mode interface with it being most obvious on the IR images.

I have found no evidence to suggest this otherwise affects the camera's performance or operation and don't see it as a major issue, but one which I hope Acorn will be able to resolve in later cameras.

In my opinion the 6210MG has become a reliable and versatile cellular camera which will withstand extreme conditions and work well in difficult environments. It is ideally suited to security, surveillance and monitoring applications where almost real time notifications are required; and offers an economical solution in a very small package.

I do not recommend using the internal antenna version or upgrading the 6210MC because the external antenna provides for attaching remote and higher gain antennas in situations of marginal network coverage and circumstance where internal camera RF interference may occur.

Camera Availability
We have recently experienced long delays while waiting for shipments. Others have reported up to 20 day lead times which is extremely frustrating when customers are getting impatient to receive their order but I hope this will improve over the next month or so.

Acorn recently presented their products at a Florida Trade Fair in Miami USA, where the 6210MG was very well received and I think it generated so much interest that Acorn have been finding it difficult to keep up with demand.

Future Tests
Over the next month or so I will be running comparison tests between the Acorn 6210MG and Scout Guard models SG550M-8M and SG880MK-8M.

These tests take up a lot of my time so I'm not making any promises about how long it will be before I can publish reports.

I will also be reporting in more detail on my testing of the Acorn 6210MG.

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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.