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September 20, 2013

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September 2, 2013

Fixing the U2 and U3 errors on Pentax point-and-shoot 1QZoom EZY-R

Filed under: cameras — npd @ 1:05 pm

In need of a new 35mm P&S, I picked up this slightly aged but clean Pentax 1QZoom EZY-R at a local thrift shop for $4. The battery in it was dead, but I replaced it for another $4 at a local electronics store and loaded it up with an expired roll of Fuji 400 to test. I spooled up the film, popped in the battery, and was greeted by a small clicking sound and a flashing “U3” on the camera’s LCD before it shut off. One detail that seemed noteworthy was that the lens cover (two retracting triangles) was slightly open and the zoom lens protruded just a bit.

I spent a few minutes browsing the internet for repair manuals, user manuals, or other helpful hints that might help diagnose this problem but found very little, save for those SEO spam sites that seem to log every error condition on every device ever built- but fail to offer solutions. The user manual for a similar Pentax P&S model points to problems with the zoom lens, and this was corroborated by a number of confused newsgroup posts, but no actual solutions.

So, on a cloudy Saturday afternoon I sat down with a small screwdriver and decided to dive in to see what was wrong with the zoom lens. I don’t know what I was looking for exactly- I was reminded of a an old Jerry Seinfeld bit about opening the hood of your broken-down car and not knowing what you’re looking for. A big red button that says “ON” that you can flip?

I wasn’t careful when disassembling the camera, and minutes after making a comment that I needed to put it back together without electrocuting myself, I took a jolt from the capacitors. Try your best to only touch the plastic on the camera while you’re working on it or you’re likely to get zapped. It didn’t kill me, but I did get a blister and my girlfriend told me I screamed and jumped across the room. Be careful!

Anyhow, by removing the two screws on the left side, the two screws holding on the strap, the 3 on the bottom, and the 1 screw in the film compartment on the right side where the full spool sits (plus 1 or 2 more on top in the back that holds the top plastic in place), you’ll be able to remove the top and front of the camera, exposing the innards. 

Pentax gear cover plate

Take a look at the metal plate on the left, with the small box labeled “M934”. That’s the motor that drives the gear assemblage (obscured by the metal plate) for the zoom lens. Remove those few screws and pull away the motor and plate, exposing the gears.

Pentax gear assembly

Gently grab the gear assembly and set it aside. Be careful not to drop it, as all the gears could fall out of place. Take your finger and make sure they all spin freely. If they don’t, bump them back into place and add a small drop of lubricant if necessary.

Pentax zoom gear

What you’re really looking for is the black cog which drives the zoom. It’s circled here in red. With your screwdriver or finger, gently spin it until the zoom lens closes and retracts back into the body (in the full “off” position). If it’s already there, go the other way and ensure you can fully open and close it.

In my case all I had to do was close it. I then popped the front case back on and inserted the battery. It whirred to lift for the first time, the motor squealed back and forth before flashing the “U2” error on the screen. This is a different zoom lens error code, and it’s expected as you haven’t put your gears back in yet!

So, do that. Remove the battery, remove the case again, Pop the cogs back in and set the motor back on top. Screw everything back together and load up with film!

All together this took me about 30 minutes. If you’re having trouble with your Pentax P&S I recommend giving this procedure a shot before tossing it out. Good luck!

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