How to Repair Cracked and/or Broken Canon PowerShot SD500 LCD Screen

As I mentioned the other day on WickedBlog, I broke my precious little, ultra portable (and great-picture-taking) Canon SD 500 Power Shot. I broke the little LCD screen. Now, although it still takes photos — I can’t see them, preview them, or sort them until I plug the sd card into my Tablet PC. So, it’s really cramping my style.

With that said, I called a client of mine (photo buff and Georgia Realtor Jeff Aughey) and asked if he knew anything about replacement of the screen — was it possible, or did I need to budget for a whole new camera? He went on his favorite forums and did some legwork for me and found the following forum post… (Thanks, Jeff!)…

Photography on the Net Forum on LCD Camera Screen Repair. (Update 4/2011 – this link is no longer valid.) These forums require a log in — but I must admit that I didn’t find them to be extremely helpful, other than learning that it could be done — and of course the phone number for ordering the part. So, I decided to write my own “how-to” to help anyone who would like a cheaper solution for a heart-breaking gadget problem.

Since the guy that posted said he hadn’t actually DONE the replacement himself, but had pulled it from another post, I thought I’d give a blow-by-blow on how this goes for me… and, just maybe, my hands will be steady enough to do the deed.

First, on Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon, I called the Canon Parts Number: 1-732-521-7230. The wait was minimal and the lady that took my order looked up my own part number (based on my camera model) and placed the order on the spot. Since my model wasn’t an S400, I didn’t want the same part referenced in the forum post.

My total was $33.37 for the screen and $6.00 for shipping and handling. It was to be sent the same day by UPS ground (but could have been sent faster, if I wanted to pay more… which I didn’t). Including taxes for my area, the total was $41.73 and she took my CC information over the phone.

So far, the cost was considerably less than a “professional” repair and MUCH cheaper than a replacement camera. Besides, I like my camera. Heck, I LOVE my camera.

I must say that the lady at Canon was excellent. Great service, good conversation — a conversation which started when she told me that the parts do NOT come with instructions. I asked if they offered instructions for purchase and she said (rather stiffly — like reading from a taped up card on her computer monitor) “Canon does not offer instructions.” Hmmmmm.

I told her that was fine, that I had some from an Internet resource that would have to do, despite the instructions’ recommendation that I not do drugs while trying to perform the delicate procedure. She laughed, told me that was good advice and suggested I enjoy a tame weekend (As if I have any other type! LOL.) and the parts should arrive the first part of the next week.

I used my own set of Craftsman microscrewdrivers (the ones I use for all my tiny electronic repairs) — they are really ugly, electric yellow, and were purchased at Walmart a couple years ago for about $5.00.

My LCD screen was delivered at 2:00 p.m. on Friday. 48 hours! Now THAT was fast! I’m really impressed (and that doesn’t happen too often). And I began using the instructions offered by the forum site to replace my camera’s screen… eventually I gave up on the instructions and just “felt” my way along the process.

And it only took me two hours, a brand new vocabulary of unseemly words, a pair of reading specs that not only made me FEEL old, but made me look like someone’s grandmother and LOTS of patience. I took it all apart and put it all back again, before I got it to work. I don’t think I’ve EVER been so glad to see an LCD screen light up!

There were more than a dozen screws — all tiny and all different sizes and shapes. So, if you are planning are doing this yourself, be sure to keep up with where they go. Also, don’t do this over carpet — one drop and you will never find that screw again.

My advice? Take off all the screws you can see, then pop off the panel on the left edge (it can pop off with a slender tiny flat screwdriver. Then go to the other side and first remove the rubberized AV out / digital rubber “stopper” — there’s a screw hiding under that flap that you will need to remove. You also need to remove the one under the wrist loop. Then remove two underneath that are on opposite sides of the tripod screw-in, and remove the one to the left of the tripod hole. There are no screws on the top, hidden or otherwise, pull the back case off from the bottom, it’s pressure-snapped into place at the top. once that’s done, look in the upper left corner of the LCD screen area for three screws. Remove them.

There’s a tiny ribbon cord that goes to the power button. If you locate the power button (still intact) you will see it. Gently slip a tiny screwdriver shaft under that and wiggle until the cable comes loose. At first, you may think you have broken it — since it doesn’t have the typical “connector” looking edge that we are used to seeing on computer cables. It just slides in with a hardened flat edge so you are ok.

Immediately underneath that tiny ribbon cable is another screw. Remove it. Remember where it goes.

Your LCD screen will pop out if you are patient enough to look on all four sides for the way that the think metal frame is held in place. Bad news is that this is dang near impossible to get out without damaging it. Good news is that doesn’t matter. It’s already broken — just be careful with the metallic “reflector” panel that’s behind the LCD screen — that you are going to need.

After you pull the broken LCD screen out, you should look at HOW EXACTLY it came out. You will need to understand this in a few moments when you put the new one back in. Now, the reflector panel is removed (it’s got a slotted tab at the bottom in addition to the screws that you have already removed in the upper left and top.

Next is the tiny controller board on the right side of the camera (this is what sits directly under the controls on the back of your camera. Be careful with these. They can’t afford to get bent or scratched (and probably shouldn’t be fingerprinted, either). The cable from the old LCD screen slithers under this tiny controller board. When you remove the controller board, you will see the connector end. The side closest to the LCD cable will “flip” up to allow you to remove the cable without dangerous tugging. When you get that out, you are now ready to put the new cable in here. Get it in place and take advantage of the tiny hole in the center of the cable to wiggle it toward the connector and make sure it’s tight. I used the “wrong end” of a needle to do my “wiggling” of this little cable — worked like a charm. (You will also need this to replace the power ribbon cord in a few moments, so keep the needle close).

Once it’s tight, you can flip down the flap and your LCD cable is now secure. You should be wearing surgical gloves (no powder style) or something similar to place your LCD, unless you want fingerprints all over your brand new screen — fingerprints that don’t come off easily. Make sure that the controller board is put back in place (slot at the bottom, screw at the top) Also be sure the “round” portion of the copper colored controller sheet (the part that fits under your “review, photo, video” button) is snapped into place. There are tiny little knobs that circular cut-outs go over to secure them in place in the corners of the controller sheet. You will see them if you look closely.

Now, put your reflective piece back in place — screw in the screw under the power cord first — then screw in the rest. Now that the “frame” is in place, you need only to re-secure the new LCD screen into the cradle. Be careful, what holds this in place is extremely thin metal. You want it to snap in, but you do NOT want to bend it. Take your time, you will look at it long enough and the 3-D part of your brain will eventually reveal exactly how to get it to snap back into place. I swear it’s a trail and error thing.

Once that’s in place, slip your power cord back in place (don’t forget to use your needle to get a tight fit). Now you can replace the outside casing, add the screws — the right ones for the right holes — and you are finished!

Congratulations!

So, in two days, I have my camera back in time to use it this weekend. Not bad!

It would have been easier to “show” you how to do this with a few photos… but, alas… my camera was out of commission during this particular repair … *grin*

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