Reolink Argus Teardown

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NEWS: Just posted a review of the new Reolink Go.  If interested, you can find details here: Reolink Go Security Camera Review

UPDATE 1: If you are interested in reading the Reolink Argus 2 review, you can find that HERE

This post is not a review of Reolink’s latest indoor/outdoor, 100% battery operated, high-definition security camera; the Argus.  Not at all, if you are looking for a review of the Argus, you can find mine posted HERE.

indiegogo.pngThis little camera took Indiegogo by storm by bringing in over one million dollars at 4001% of its funding goal.  The funding campaign ended on May 11, 2017, but if you would like to have a look at it, you can find it by clicking HERE

Briefly, the Reolink Argus is a rather small form-factor high definition security camera which is completely battery operated using only four CR123A lithium batteries.  Reolink claims months of standby power or upwards of 500 minutes (more than 8 hours) of continuous operation before the batteries need replacing.  You can use rechargeable batteries in this camera if you would like to have a set ready at all times.  The camera is easily mountable using any one of the three provided options; a magnetic ball mount, a mini fixed tripod attachment, and using the existing tripod mount for mobility and stability; if desired.

reolink-coupons.pngWhat sets the Reolink Argus apart from their other battery-operated camera, the Keen, is that the Argus has everything contained in a single small enclosure.  The camera body and its mounts are also rated for both indoors or outdoors use.  The camera’s body contains: batteries, Mini SD card, wireless controller, speaker, microphone, and PIR (Proximity InfraRed) motion sensor all in a very small package.  You will see these items in the teardown and images provided below.  Again, if you would like to read the full review along with some sample images and videos taken with the Argus, click on the links below

Start the Teardown here…

Now let us get on with the fun part of tearing down this camera and seeing what you get for your hard-earned money.  Let me say up front, you get a deal when you buy this camera.  It is well built, easy to maintain, and designed to put up with some of the harshest environments.

The below image is simply showing you the front of the Reolink Argus prior to it being taking apart.  Here you can easily see that nearly all of the important components of this camera are located here.

You can see that it contains a photo sensor (the small hole above the camera’s lens), the camera’s optical lens, two LED indicators showing recording & power status, The PIR motions sensor, multiple holes for mic and speaker near the bottom, and last but not least the innovative magnetic base it all sits atop.

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Figure 1 Camera Front View

For those who like to have a look at the finished product prior to reading the full review, I have provided an image for you below.  You are the same people who like to read the last chapter of a suspense novel first then get to the book.

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Figure 2 Final Teardown Image

The Reolink Argus is rather easy to open and take apart for those who enjoy doing such things.  Once the rear cover plate is removed by depressing the spring-loaded section near the bottom of the body marked “open”, you will see five (5) screws that will need to be removed before the two halves can come apart.  Each of the five screws are the same length and size making it easy to reassemble the camera afterwards.

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Figure 3 Remove Five Screws to Open

Just a note of warning for those attempting to deconstruct your own Reolink Argus.  The two bottom screws and the three in the next section can be a bit difficult to remove and put back during reassembly.  This is because of the very strong magnet at the base of the camera body which appears to be epoxied (glued) in making removal challenging.  The screws used are steel so they are attracted to the magnet when they are loose.  I recommend using a non-magnetic screwdriver if at all possible, and use the screw guides to insert them quickly before the magnet can gram them.

Once you have removed the five (5) screws holding the back plate, I recommend you next turn your attention to removing the three small screws holding a small white cover plate giving the camera a more finished look and feel.

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Figure 4 Remove These Three Screws

Again, these screws can be troublesome due to their proximity to the magnet; the steel colored disc shape.  Take your time removing these screws, but put them in quickly for reassembly.

With the three screws removed, you can see in the picture below that they basically hold the small white cover plate in place.

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Figure 5 Decorative Cover Plate and Screws

As you begin to separate the two camera body halves, after removing all the screws, you will want to be careful because of a spring-loaded button located near the bottom flat portion of the magnet.  This springs-loaded button is used to hold the back-cover plate in place after installing or replacing the unit’s batteries.

As the two halves come apart, you will want to ensure you remove this “open” button next or the small (steel) springs may fly away and potentially be lost.  What I found helpful when removing this button piece was to allow the two outer springs attached themselves to the powerful magnet.  This will help prevent you from losing them.  The center spring stayed attached to the button bit the others did not.  You do not want to lose these, so be careful.

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Figure 6 Spring Loaded Release

In the image below you can see the location where the two smaller springs go when reassembling the camera.  Do not lose these, and be aware that they appear to be magnetized because they are attracted to each other or other metal you may have around.

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Figure 7 Close-Up of Spring Loaded Release

With the eight (8) total screws and the spring-loaded ‘open’ switch removed, you can easily open the two camera body halves by gently pulling them apart.  I did not find any snaps or other things that would prevent me from opening them.

In the image below, you can see the many parts making up this camera.  The bulk of the space is for the back cover and the battery compartment.  Next you see the rubber seal or gasket ensuring the camera remains weather-proof when outdoors.  You also get a first glimpse at the back of the main circuit board.  The camera and PIR sensors are facing downward in the below image.

For reference, you can see the magnetic mount at the bottom of the camera.

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Figure 8 Separating the Two Halves

Below is a closer image of the back of the main circuit board.  To remove this back half of the camera’s body you will need to disconnect the two battery leads.  Once this is done, you will be able to completely detach the battery compartment along with the rubber seal and back plate.

One other connections you will want to remove before lifting out the camera’s main circuit board is the connection to the wireless antenna (grey).  The larger Infrared LED (for night vision) connection will need to wait until you have the board out of the body as it is blocked.

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Figure 9 Closer view of Main Board Connections

The connectors are simply held in place via tabs located near the top of where they connect to the main circuit board.  Just press downward gently on the tab while pulling the connection apart.

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Figure 10 Battery Connector Terminals

Once you remove the two attached battery connections, you will be able to completely remove the back half of the camera’s body away exposing the main circuit board below.  The below image is showing the back portion of the battery compartment.

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Figure 11 Battery Compartment Removed (Back)

With the Battery compartment removed, you now get a much clearer view of all the many components making up the Reolink Argus security camera.  There are quite a few chips, resistors, and other electronic components crammed into this small unit.  Not sure how the engineers pull it off, even with space to spare.

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Figure 12 Clearer view of Main Circuit Board

The below image points out a few of the more important aspects of this camera.  Under the shielding near the bottom center portion of the camera is the radio/wireless controller circuitry.  Next to that you see where the microphone and speaker connections are made to the main board.  There is a reset button which is reachable via a small hole located on the side of the camera under a rubber flap for weather protection.  Next to that is a battery to retain one’s setting in the event the batteries run down.  Next to the battery is the micro-SD slot which is also accessible externally under the rubber flap; alongside the reset button.

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Figure 13 Left Side Main Components

Turning around the camera body image, shown below, you see the PIR sensor connection, the wireless antenna leading back to the wireless controller chip, and a rather large metal block which appears to be a heatsink for the camera’s main processor.

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Figure 14 Right Side Main Components

The below image is a close-up of the heatsink which is glued securely to the processor or some other component which must get rather hot during normal operation without it.  I am unsure what the silver connector that looks similar to a USB port sticking up with nothing connected.  It may be for diagnostics or to load the initial firmware on the device; or both.

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Figure 15 Close-up of Heatsink and Unknown Connector

To remove the main circuit board from the front body of the camera, you will need to remove four (4) screws located at the top portion of the camera’s body.  The screws are clearly shown and indicated in the image below.

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Figure 16 Four Screws to Remove Main Board

The next image shows what the main circuit board looks like with the four (4) screws removed.  As with the many previous screws removed, these four screws are all the same size and length making disassembly and assembly much easier.

You will now want to disconnect the audio connector and the other one located near the micro SD slot along with the grey wireless antenna connection before lifting the board out of the body.  The first two simply lift up while you are pressing a small tab on the side of the connector.  The antenna cable can be disconnected by pulling it upward with a pair of needle-nose pliers; be careful not to bend this connection when removing it.

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Figure 17 Main Circuit Board Screws Removed

After removing the four (4) screws, gently pry the board upwards from the bottom portion using a small screwdriver or other tool.  You can see the bottom half of the circuit board is held in place via the plastic posts.  I found it easier to gently lift the board using a flat-head screwdriver through the mounting hole at the bottom of the camera’s body.  Take this step easy as there are other components attached on the front (other side) of the circuit board.

You can see that I had to leave the IR LED (night vision) connection because you are unable to disconnect it without first lifting the board clear of the overlapping plastic case.  All other connections should have already have been removed prior to lifting the main circuit board.

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Figure 18 Ready to Remove Main Circuit Board

The below image shows the back side of the camera’s front body with the main circuit board removed.  You can see in the image, there is a blue and white wire connected behind, under the board, so be careful to not pull it to hard upwards.  Once free, you are able to disconnect the IR LEDs (night vision) cable from the main board.

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Figure 19 Camera Body and Main Board Removed
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Figure 20 Wider View of Body and Main Board

Turing the main board over you can have a look at the front (camera facing) side.  Here you see the camera sensor as the top square with green colored trim along with the motion (PIR) sensor near the bottom as a round protruding component.

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Figure 21 Front View of Main Circuit Board

Below is a closer view of both the camera sensor and the PIR sensor on the front side of the main circuit board. Again, we can see the space was used efficiently when Reolink designed this camera.  There are just so many components used in what appears a very easy to use product.

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Figure 22 Front Main Circuit Board Closer View

The next image shows where the motion (PIR) sensor and camera sensor receive input when the device is operational.  The camera lens consists of a wide-angle fixed focus design.  The PIR fits into the round hole so it can detect changes in image frames, and if found, it will alert based on how the camera is configured.

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Figure 23 Camera Lens and PIR Body Holes
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Figure 24 Main Circuit Board Removed

The next image gives you a close-up of the camera’s lens.  Nothing real exciting as this is a fixed focus lens so it does not have optical zoom capabilities.

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Figure 25 Camera Lens Close-up View

If we want to see the lens used for the motion (PIR) sensor, we need to remove the six (6) screws shown below.  Here you have four (4) silver colored screws and two (2) black ones located at the very bottom of the unit.

These two black screws can be difficult to remove as they are quite close to the strong magnet.  The plastic piece also is used to held the microphone and speaker in place; near the two black screws.

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Figure 26 Remove Six Screws for PIR Lens Access

With the small white plastic plate removed, you get a good view of the camera lens, the PIR lens, and the microphone/speaker combination.

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Figure 27 Camera, PIR Lens and Mic/Speaker

On the right side of the case you see in the image below the wireless antenna along with its grey wire and connector.  The component is clearly listed as a RFLink C0714 model.

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Figure 28 Wireless Antenna and Connector

Turning back to the main circuit board, I wanted to show the front and back images when it has been completely detached from any of the camera body items.

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Figure 29 Main Circuit Board (Front)
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Figure 30 Main Circuit Board (Back)

With that, we come to the final image of the Reolink Argus teardown where we see all the components displayed.  As you can glean from this review, the Argus is a rather simple device to tear down and reassemble.  Unlike with the Keen teardown (found here), I was able to put the Argus back together and it was fully operational; Always a good thing.

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Figure 31 Final Disassembly Image

 

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