Several years ago I had a computer (one of the first I ever built) that had bad IDE card. Helpdesk/computer shop veterans will note that it was a card and thus a computer constructed before IDE ports became standard motherboard features. Well, from time to time it would “flake out” and the system wouldn’t boot. It literally required a kick-start. A swift kick to the side of the case usually got it working again.

Computer parts have come a long way since then and these days one is more likely to cause damage to a system by kicking it. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it and even then it wasn’t the brightest thing to do (but it did work).

A couple of months ago I was asked to assist my boss with a presentation. I won’t go into details other than to state that I needed to setup a Webcam and my nice and inexpensive 6 MP personal digital camera, which I usually carried to work, happened to double as a Webcam. Unfortunately, at a critical point in the presentation it failed. By “failed” I mean that it would not remain powered on. As soon as the power button was depressed a logo flashed on the LCD for a few seconds, the primary LED flashed green (and sometimes red) and then it immediately shut off again with the lens extended. In the past, when the camera flashed on and off this simply indicated the batteries were drained.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. Nothing seemed to work and eventually I stored the camera in my closet thinking that perhaps the parts would come handy for something one day or that I might dare to open the unit and try to figure out if it was something simply that I could fix, such as a jammed part.

Tonight I felt somewhat depressed that I no longer had a working digital camera (at least not one that wasn’t out of focus and was modded for infrared). On a whim I decided to search the Web to learn whether or not there was a key combination I could use to reset the camera (specifically, it’s firmware).

I didn’t find anything about firmware but as I altered my search keywords to include related problems for a broader range of cameras I eventually found a forum post in which at least one individual suggested tapping the lens hard immediately after turning it on, which may cause the lens to retract and the camera to function properly (before the camera shuts down and without hitting hard enough to break the lens).

I turned the camera on and rapped the side of the lens against my desk. Victory! Sure enough, I heard and saw the lens retract. I was then able to turn it on and off normally (without it shutting off automatically on it’s own). As I test I took a couple of quick shots and viewed them on my computer, which appeared normal.

Here’s the original post for those interested.

Figuring I had nothing to lose (and have installed fresh batteries).

Hardware, Tips

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