The Aiptek Z500+ is dead

A while back I killed my FPV FunJet. It was the first flight with the Aiptek Z500+. After the crash I powered up the camera to makes sure that it still worked. It did boot up and showed me the option to choose between “Earphones” and “TV-out”. -Great! It works, I thought, and laid it a side for the moment to work on the tricopter.

After finishing the FunJet V2 build, it was finally time to get out and do some flying with the Z500+. I drove to the field and set everything up for what was looking to be an awesome flight. The weather was perfect and there was no wind at all. I powered everything up and looked in the goggles, the “Earphones” or “TV-out” screen was showing. So I selected “TV-out” using the remote. This was when I got a feeling like missing a step walking down some stairs…

The picture was full of “green noise”, lines and flickers. I turned of the camera and tried again. The “Earphones” or “TV-out” screen showed up, but when I selected “TV-out” the same thing happened yet again. I tried everything I could think of. Jiggling cables, moving stuff around, hooking up the external LCD but nothing worked. Downhearted I packed everything back into the car and went home.

At home, I took a closer look using a magnifying-glass and found that the ribbon cable had been damaged during the crash.

The damage was minuscule and very hard to see but I was sure that I had found the problem. So I decided to remove the old ribbon cable and replace it with a brand new one. Only problem was that I had used epoxy to secure the ribbon cable at both ends! Cursing my own stupidity I took out the hot air gun and began heating and removing the epoxy. This turned out to be a pretty tedious job since both connectors was full of epoxy.

Anyway, after a long time I finally got all visible epoxy off. FFC connectors usually are pretty hard to get to open and these connectors was no exception. I managed to open the first one after a lot of wiggling and gentle pushing. Only one left to go! I wiggled and pushed. Dragged and… BANG! The whole connector flew of! Along with nearly every solder pad on the board! Crap…

But I’m not the one that gives up that easily. So, after hours of tracing where all the pads led to, scratching conductors and vias to be able to solder wires to, triple checking every connections in a microscope and with a multimeter, I finally got it ready.

With a pulse of 150, I hooked the camera up and flicked on the power… and nothing happened. The camera was completely dead. It drew current, but it didn’t boot up. I tried several times, but I could not get it to work. I looked over all the wires again, but could not find anything wrong. I desperately tried everything from wrapping the cables in copper foil, twisted the wires, re-soldered cables… Nothing worked. I was defeated yet again by a HD camera.

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