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Gatorcam repair on the cheap.

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  • Gatorcam repair on the cheap.

    Ok, so a few of you may know that I destroyed the camera head on my gatorcam and am in the process of attempting a repair using a cheap ebay backup camera and some LEDs.

    Well, the color camera turns out to be B&W with the LEDs surrounding it (maybe color is washed out from the brightness or the lights?), but I can live with that.

    What I can't live with is the fact that only 1/3 of the LEDs work since I was too stupid to test it before putting it all together. the 4 working LEDs provide enough light for the camera to work, but it just looks so stupid with only 1/3 of the lights on the head working.

    Anyhow, I've tested the whole thing and it works good enough to get me by for now. As I type this, the camera head is in the oven. The encapsulating electronics epoxy needs 2 hours at 175F to cure completely.

    In about an hour, the camera head should be 100% waterproof. Key word being should. I'll have to wait for it to cool down then test to see if 1) it still works after the time in the oven and 2) if it really is completely waterproof.

    I'll take some pics for show and tell as soon as she comes out of the oven.

    Wish me luck everyone!

    PS: The whole process of building this DIY camera head cost me just under $100 with about $20 of it spent on plexiglass that I didn't end up using.
    Ideal Plumbing

  • #2
    Re: Gatorcam repair on the cheap.

    aram, are you using white led's? the red ones are for b&w.

    josh watch out, if aram gets this working, he'll be knocking on your door

    rick.
    phoebe it is

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    • #3
      Re: Gatorcam repair on the cheap.

      Rick I did swap out the original red LEDs for white ones.

      I must have messed up while trying to figure out connections for the LEDs. There was one ground and 3 separate power sources so in effect there were three circuits for the LEDs. I must have soldered the LEDs in backwards or something but having 12 might have been too much so it kind of worked out for the best.

      I just pulled the head out of the oven. The epoxy seems to have expanded and also covered the camera lens which isn't necessarily bad because it's waterproof but it does feel somewhat spongy so I don't know if it will hold on to dirt while going down the line.

      Now I'm just waiting for it to cool so I can test and make sure the heat didn't damage the camera. Keeping my fingers crossed.
      Ideal Plumbing

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      • #4
        Re: Gatorcam repair on the cheap.

        Learned a few very important things in a real world test of this bad boy.

        1 - When the epoxy fully cured it becomes as hard as plexiglass (GOOD!)

        2- The epoxy takes away from the brightness of the LEDs so they all NEED to work. (BAD!)

        3 - The camera is waterproof and provides a pretty darn good picture, even if it's B&W (GOOD!)

        So, basically now I have to either figure out how to take this apart without destroying it or I have to buy a new ebay camera and wait for it to get here so I can try it all again.



        Ideal Plumbing

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        • #5
          Re: Gatorcam repair on the cheap.

          I've not heard/seen the epoxy filler you mention in your post and PM.
          Interesting....I wonder if it's truly needed for waterproofing or a way to keep us from fixing our own...????

          This is the mini right?

          Does the light ring have two post that sort of "plug in"?
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          • #6
            Re: Gatorcam repair on the cheap.

            Originally posted by Gene Bickford View Post
            I've not heard/seen the epoxy filler you mention in your post and PM.
            Interesting....I wonder if it's truly needed for waterproofing or a way to keep us from fixing our own...????

            This is the mini right?

            Does the light ring have two post that sort of "plug in"?
            The light ring was not as simple as it is on the full size head with the pins on either side. Rather, there were four 26AWG(I think) wires, two on each side, soldered in place and attached to the rear or the head (where it connects to the spring/reel). Those tiny wires really tested my soldering skills.

            As far as the epoxy, the original epoxy used was a brownish color. It's an encapsulating epoxy used to seal electronics and keep them from getting wet, but that was only behind the actually camera in the circuitry of the camera head/lighting circuit. The epoxy I used was also an encapsulating epoxy, but mine was crystal clear and dried to become as hard as plexiglass whereas the original epoxy was more gummy. The clear epoxy allowed me to use it in front of the camera as well, sealing that in too.

            The use of the epoxy also allowed me to create a completely flat "face" to the camera head instead of the having the lens opening set in a bit as it was originally. That helped a lot - the head was no longer "funneling" crap (literally) in front of the lens and if it goes through a belly, it would come out clear on the other side.

            I unfortunately had to destroy the head while taking it apart after my first attempt. Even the rear connector that I salvaged from the original head took a beating, so now I have to start ground up with new circuitry (resistors to reduce voltage) for both the camera and the lighting. The connector itself is still useable, but just barely. One pin was damaged while taking it all apart, but I'll just have to substitute with a pin from some other piece of electronics.

            As of right now, I'm waiting on a new ebay camera in the mail. I have an idea of how all of it will go together, but will need to make small adjustments here and there since I am using a smaller camera head, and need to redo the circuits for the lights and camera. I also managed to destroy the small circuit board for the LED lights while taking it all apart, but I should be able to get by without that. I'm already working on stringing some LEDs together in a circular shape so that I don't have to deal with that when I get the new camera.

            All in all, the first attempt was a VERY successful attempt other than the LEDs not working. Had I not been so stupid and tested the LEDs before putting it together, I would be enjoying a working camera right now, but haste makes waste. So, it's back to the drawing board for me.
            Ideal Plumbing

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            • #7
              Re: Gatorcam repair on the cheap.

              I have the same problem I have the gator one cam grey pushrod I broke the head.at first I had no picture but the leds worked now I have no ledscand no picture any advice would be greatly appreciated my friend

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