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February 23, 2012

Repairing A Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8 Camera



DMC-ZS8 With Stuck Lens

DMC-ZS8 With Stuck Lens


Recently I was looking for a cheap pocket camera with a big zoom range to keep handy in my pocket for going to the dog beach with Gimli and other adventures. I happened to spot one of my candidate cameras, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8, in “Not Working” state on eBay. The camera problem was that it had the lens stuck open in the extended position. As a result, the camera was nonfunctional and the display showed the error message “System Error (Zoom)”.
The Error Message

The Error Message


A stuck lens is a very common problem with modern digital cameras with telescoping zoom mechanisms. Having acquired this broken camera, mainly as a personal repair challenge, I set upon trying to fix the apparently stuck lens. What I’ve documented here is probably quite applicable to these other very similar Panasonic models (DMC-ZS3, DMC-ZS7, DMC-TZ10, DMC-ZS10, DMC-ZS15, DMC-TZ20) and possibly other cameras from other manufacturers, especially those using similar Leica lenses.
I had a few key clues as to what the problem with this one was. Apart from the error message and the out-of-position lens, when I put my ear to the camera, I could faintly hear the zoom motor running when I switched the camera from playback to shooting mode, so I knew that the zoom system was getting power and the motor was at least somewhat functional. Use all your senses! None of the usual tricks of power cycling and pushing various buttons and rotating and holding the zoom lever to reset the lens and camera worked, so I began disassembly to have a closer look for the problem. Here’s what I did to fix it. (more…)

February 21, 2012

Retrofitting Old Flashlights With LED's

Flashlight LED Conversion

Flashlight LED Conversion


I have a pair of 14.4 volt flashlights that were part of rechargeable toolsets that go with these NiCd battery packs. Each flashlight had a subminiature bayonet-base incandescent bulb, for which the filament had died after several years of use. When they were working, they were great for lighting for automotive and other repairs, since they could be aimed easily and sat solidly on top of the battery pack base. The obvious thing to do was to modernize them with LED’s, but I had no immediate source of replacement LED-based bulbs for that voltage and socket type. All I could quickly find were LED “bulbs” to fit the more common automotive 1156 socket size. However, I was able to get some unmounted, white, high-brightness 3.2-3.6V LED’s, so I decided to use those to retrofit into the bases of two old bulbs from my flashlights. Four of the LED’s in series per bulb brought me close to the nominal battery voltage.
(more…)

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