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SJCAM M20 Date/Time vs. Battery Change

A recent ride reminded me to do something about this:

M20 - Date-Time Reset - detail - 2018-05-18

M20 – Date-Time Reset – detail – 2018-05-18

So I wrote up a support ticket on the SJCAM site:

The time-of-day clock in my M20 often resets when I change the battery in the middle of a bike ride.

I turn the camera off, wait for the status light to go out, remove the battery, install the new battery, turn it on, and the time-of-day displayed on the screen has reset to 2016-01-01 00:00:00.

I’m using firmware 1.3.1 (the latest), genuine and fully charged SJCAM batteries, and swap the batteries as fast as I can. Sometimes it works, but maybe half of my bike rides end years before they start! [grin]

It seems my turned-off M20 is extremely sensitive to the power fluctuations occurring during a battery change.

What do you recommend?

Thanks …

Their reply:

The capacity of internal memory battery on main board is very small due to hardware limitation so it can save date and setting for about 10 seconds after pulling out battery.

Would you please check it again ?

I’d call that a design screwup, not a “hardware limitation”. Perhaps I don’t understand how putting a slightly larger capacitor on the PCB, in place of the one that’s already there, would pose a problem.

They also recommend checking with my “re-seller”, but, seeing as how I bought it directly from their nominally official Amazon store, so:

In case they are not able to offer help, SJCAM Technical Department offers a maintenance service. The steps of such service are:
1. You ship the camera directly to our Technical Department address at your own cost (it is located in Shenzhen, China).
2. We check and repair the camera. The repair process usually takes about 3-5 working days.
3. We ship the camera back to you.
Note: The whole process usually takes about 20-30 days, and if your camera doesn’t have damage on the main-board, screen or lens, the maintenance will be free, but we charge 15$ as return shipping cost.

As usual, round trip shipping to Shenzen costs half the price of the M20 camera package, a fact I’m sure they’re well aware of. I did a warranty return to Australia with the Cycliq Fly6, before replacing the battery myself, and (re)learned valuable lessons about warranties and batteries.

I turned SJCam’s offer down, which prompted a curious proposal:

You can send back your camera to SJCAM factory and then we can replace internal memory battery for you.

So the “hardware limitation” has morphed into a (presumably inadequate) internal battery that, when replaced, will resolve the problem. Huh.

Note: you can’t use the M20’s “Car mode” with the timestamp function, because you must remove the battery to let the camera start when the USB power goes on. Unlike basically all other cameras-with-clocks, the M20 wasn’t designed to run its internal clock without a battery.

Improving my battery change speed definitely has the best ROI. Alas, my dexterity has a definite upper limit …

AFAICT, the M2 has a glued-together / assemble-only shell, so cracking the case and hacking a cap isn’t happening.

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  1. #1 by Olli on 2018-05-25 - 09:16

    “a slightly larger capacitor on the PCB”

    My Canon PowerShot SX130 IS…

    “The life of the date/time battery (back-up battery) is approximately 7 years. If
    the Date/Time settings screen appears every time the camera is turned on,
    replace the date/time battery with a new one (CR1220).”

    Maybe overkill for a 120€ point-and-shoot camera?

    • #2 by Ed on 2018-05-25 - 10:33

      At least you could replace it! The soldered cell in my SX230HS just corroded in place …

  2. #3 by Vedran on 2018-05-25 - 14:15

    Do I smell an external battery adapter? :)

    • #4 by Ed on 2018-05-25 - 15:25

      As it turns out, the Official SJCAM Batteries have a run time slightly less than our usual rides, so a 47 Wh USB battery pack and a set of right-angle Mini-B connectors wait expectantly on the desk. I want the camera and pack mounted on the seat back as a single lump, a concept still lacking the necessary “Yeah, that might work!” insight; keeping grit out of the camera’s myriad openings remains a puzzle.

  3. #5 by tantris on 2018-05-25 - 14:20

    Upload some picture of yourself looking sad and we can turn this into a “First world problem” meme ;)

    • #6 by Ed on 2018-05-25 - 15:26

      How about looking baffled while holding two batteries and one camera? I can do that!

      • #7 by tantris on 2018-05-25 - 15:56

        Not that I can talk. Last time changing the AA batteries for my inside/outside thermometer, I wired a second pair of batteries in parallel using alligator clips on the battery springs.

        • #8 by Ed on 2018-05-26 - 07:31

          The camera buttons don’t repeat, so setting the date to 2018-05-24 requires 2 + 5 + 8 clicks (if I remember to decrement the day), the time may require another 12 + 30 clicks, and none of those include the navigation / accept clicks. A classic First-World Problem, but it adds salt to the battery faceplant.

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