Sunday, October 16, 2016

How to fix a broken GoPro Hero4 Session (IN PICTURES)

A GoPro Hero 4 Session that was ground into the street.
Amazingly only the glass was broken.
Who doesn't love GoPro, the action-camera brand that attracts equal parts thrill seekers, equal parts cubicle-dwellers. GoPro's made a name for themselves by carving out the niche action camera market, and whether it's base jumping and scuba diving, or BMXing and laying down some riffs on a guitar, GoPro has certainly helped people capture their incredible, highly personal photos and video. With generally superior engineering, GoPro tends to blow away most of the competition, and the cameras are just damn near indestructible. But sometimes, damn near can fall a bit short. Accidents happen. And short of buying new gear, how does one recover when misfortune strikes?

Watch us repair the glass on our GoPro Hero4 Session.


Lenses. Or more specifically, the safety glass cover that protects the real lens on a GoPro. If we're talking about, for example, the GoPro Hero4 or Hero5 Session, this protective glass is the biggest weak area, usually the first point of failure. And that's by design. I mean, of course, this just assumes that you don't try to go diving with your Session while neglecting to close the battery cover before you hit the water. But that's (I hope) obvious. So whether it's a kick-flip gone wrong, or something somewhat more mundane like, for example, when your toddler tries to recreate an episode of Will It Blend, accidents do indeed happen, and in most scenarios it will be the glass that breaks first on a GoPro. GoPro knows this, and now you know it too. [Or maybe you already knew that, and are just exploring repair options by reading this]


The good thing is that it's easy to find replacement parts. GoPro sells a small replacement kit that pretty much includes everything you need -glass, rubber seal, even the tiny screwdriver. It's also possible to find 3rd party replacement parts, or even genuine replacement parts from people who are selling a used GoPro for parts. If you're like me though, you should be extra careful when you order anything. You wouldn't want to accidentally get replacement glass for a Hero3 when you're trying to fix your Hero5 Black.
Lens replacement kit for the GoPro Hero4 Session.

The specific parts you'll need will differ from camera model to camera model. If for example you're trying to fix a Hero5 Black, you don't need any tools at all. All you need is a simple part which GoPro sells on their website.  Cameras like the Session come with a few more parts, and that's what we're covering here.

The parts and tools required are:

  • Your GoPro camera with broken glass
  • Replacement glass
  • Replacement screws(optional depending on camera model)
  • Replacement rubber seals (optional depending on camera model) 
  • A tiny screwdriver (optional depending on camera model) 
  • Air blower/air canister (optional) 

Today we're replacing the glass on a broken GoPro Hero4 Session and we'll be using the replacement glass kit available from GoPro. 

Broken GoPro Hero4 Session.


Removing the glass from a Hero4 Session isn't too hard. Using the screwdriver provided in the replacement kit(or your own if you have one), gently rotate each of the 8 screws on the front counter-clockwise (to the left) until the fall out. Don't lose them!! Also, be extra careful about shards of broken glass and sharp edges at this stage. Depending on severely damaged your camera is, you could potentially cut yourself at this stage.
Taking the tiny screws out of the front.
From here, gently pull off the now unscrewed front glass from your GoPro. Underneath you'll see the rubber gasket which keeps everything water tight. If there's any damage to the rubber seal, you can optionally remove it as well. If everything is clean and in working order though, there's little need to remove the original gasket. Make sure that you don't touch the lens on your GoPro which is now exposed, otherwise you run the risk of having fingerprints and smudges on all of your future photos and videos.
GoPro with glass front off, original seal still in place.
Depending on how severe the original damage was, you may want to use an air blower to dust off any dirt, dust or micro fragments of glass from the inner lens of your GoPro. A good technique is to hold your GoPro so the lens is facing down, and then blow air on it from the bottom facing up. This will allow any dust to harmlessly fall away from the lens, and not potentially be blown upward, only to then fall back down upon the lens.
Blowing any dust or glass shards off the GoPro.


Once everything has been dusted off and is clean, it's time to put it back together. If you removed the original gasket, carefully line up a replacement gasket around the lens, in the position that the original gasket was in. Make sure your hands are clean.
A clean GoPro, waterproof seal in place.
Once the gasket is in place, carefully take the replacement front glass, and note where the microphone holes are in relation to where the actual microphone is on the front of the GoPro. You'll need to align the two when you attach the replacement glass. If you bought your replacement from GoPro, there will most likely be a protective piece of plastic on the back of the glass. Carefully peel it off, making sure not to touch the glass underneath. Once you have removed the protective plastic, gently push the replacement glass onto the front of your GoPro, making sure that the gasket is in place, and that the microphone is aligned to the microphone holes on the front cover glass.
Reattaching the front glass to the GoPro. 
After you have this is in place, carefully screw in either the original or any replacement screws that you have. Be careful not to force any of the screws - if they won't go in easily at first, take them out rather than force them, make sure the holes are aligned and that the screw is lined up appropriately, and try again. You don't want to force any of the screws at this point, otherwise it could ruin the thread, which might make your GoPro less watertight. When you've finished this part, congratulations, you're done!
One repaired GoPro. As good as new?


This last part is fully optional, but it's a smart idea to stress test your GoPro now that you've hopefully fixed everything. This ought to help prevent potential equipment failure down the road when you might be relying on your GoPro and nothing else. Ways that you can do this include running water under it in the sink, putting it in a cup of water, or just taking it in the shower to make sure water doesn't leak in.
Testing the GoPro under running water.

For our testing, we decided to go one step further and freeze our GoPro in ice! Watch our timelapse video of ice forming over the lens.

Preparing to freeze the GoPro in ice.

A GoPro frozen in ice. Will it still work?

Success! Our GoPro is watertight, ice-resistant, and it works great now. 

After thawing, the GoPro still works!