I recently went on holiday to France and took my Sony DCR-HC19E Handycam along to capture the action. It’s a few years old now but hasn’t had that much use.
It has a fancy touchscreen colour LCD which flips out and rotates. I’ve always wondered how such movement is possible and I’d soon have the opportunity to answer my own question. Only a few days into the holiday and the LCD screen stopped working. Initially it was possible to view the screen when it was folded out to about 30 degrees. Opening it up to 90 degrees and the screen would simply switch off, it just went black. I knew the camera was still functional as the touch screen still worked – just I couldn’t see anything on it. The viewfinder in the camera still works too.
A quick look around the Internet turned up a whole load of people with the same problem. Some people suggested it could be the backlight in the LCD or a CCD Chip problem (Outlined here) but alas my model was not listed.
It was time to get the screwdriver and find the real cause of the problem. Removal of side panel on the camera was straight forward. It’s easy to slip and scratch the case, so I recommend using masking tape to cover the plastic to prevent damage. There are two small screws on the front of screen and one on the hinge. There are two further screws on the rear of the screen/hinge assembly which are only accessible by tilting the screen at an angle, then rotating it slightly. This allows removal of the LCD cover and you can inspect for loose ribbon cables. Mine looked fine so I had to move on to the main camera body.
The main body has about 4 or 5 really obvious screws holding the side on. There is one non obvious screw under the battery. As you remove this, it frees up a small piece of plastic which drops out (and is easily refitted afterwards). Now it’s just a case of carefully levering the side off. I used a small screwdriver, working my way from the bottom to the top of the camera body. It came free quite easily so don’t get too carried away with the levering. You need to be super careful at this point, as the side is still attached to the camera with several ribbon cables.
There should be enough room to look inside and see the back of the LCD hinge. At least two ribbon cables seem to disappear into the back of the hinge. There is a small strip of sticky felt covering two further screws on the back of the LCD hinge. Remove these two and you should be able to lift up the semi-circle wedge of plastic. I then levered out a smaller piece of plastic which had a ribbon cable clipped into it.
This gave me a good view of the ribbon cable from the screen, past the hinge and on into the camera. I inspected this area closely. That’s when I found the problem. There are two ribbon cables back-to-back which cross the hinge and enter the LCD screen. Just inside the camera, one of the cables in the back-to-back arrangement had clearly split – it looked like someone had cleanly cut the cable with a pair of scissors. This ribbon cable must be replaced in order to restore the LCD to a working condition. Unfortunately I have yet to find a source for this cable. So despite finding the problem I have yet to repair it. In theory with the right ribbon cable it would be a very easy repair.
This is clearly a design fault which has been caused by the rotating screen. Overtime the copper/plastic ribbon cable has become weak and split. I must say I am not best pleased with this and feel that Sony should repair the camera free of charge, although I also believe that given another few years the problem would reoccur, unless the quality of the plastic ribbon cable is improved.