A Very Arecont Problem - Cut Filters Stuck

Just this morning I told someone that Arecont quality had improved and they don't seem to have all the issues they used to, but two hours later, we got out our SurroundVideo Omni for a quick test (just some image comparisons, really), and find this magic:

Four imagers, two cut filters stuck off. We manually switched from day to night multiple times. Nothing. Rebooted. Nothing. Imager 3 was actually worse before the reboot because not only was the filter kicked off, it was monochrome.

These are issues I saw in the very first SurroundVideo I tested when I was still an integrator. Out of the box, one of the filters was stuck. This at least took a few months...though it wasn't even plugged in in that time, it was sitting on a shelf.

50% - that's half working if you are an optimist.

Protip: Hit the reset button


I recall about a 1-2 year pain period with a manufacturer (not Arecont) having a similar issue. The way the IR filter mechanism was built, allowed for it to become obstructed or simply stick in one position.

I even recall feeling sick when I had to tell customers "Well, you can take a Q-tip and gently push the filter back into position. This should fix the immediate problem, but it will almost certainly happen again."

Then I quickly offered an ARMA.

The 'fix' was a complete redesign of the IR filter mechanism.

@ethan what network switches are you using with the Arecont camera? Cisco, HP, Netgear?

This one was Cisco, an SF302-08MP. That shouldn't make a difference on this though, I'd hope. But good lord who knows.

So here is my OMNI story:

I ordered one to test before we sold it to a customer. It was connected to our Avigilon server with HP Procurve switches and it worked fine for 2 weeks.

When we installed it at the customers site which had Cisco switches. It would work for 2 or 3 days and then it would disconnect from Avigilon. Restart the OMNI and it would work again for a couple days then would disconnect again. I contacted their support and they said they have compatiblty issues with Cisco and we would have to configure the switch manually for the camera to work. I followed there directions and it worked for a couple of days and then disconnected again.

Long story short I replaced the camera with a Avigilon multi imager and everything works perfectly!

Welcome to our world, Ethan. New world, same as the old.

@ethan is your Windows firewall on?


Yes and Norton, McAfee, and Symantec anti-virus all running concurrently.

1. Try learning what you are doing, because it was probably your fault.

2. Try a firmware update, that fixes everything!

3. All jokes aside, let us know how easy or difficult it is to return.

I've had that problem before with an Arecont...

Sounds like sliding friction of the mechanism is not being overcome by the solenoid.

Have you considered slapping it around a bit? ;)

"Have you considered slapping it around a bit? ;)"

For every 3 Arecont cameras you buy, get a free broomstick...

I did actually give it a good firm knock or two. It didn't do anything.

Make sure the camera is not starved of PoE power. Often PoE switches cannot deliver maximum power across all ports simultaneously. You might have enough to run the camera, but not enough left over for the solenoid. Solenoids like juice.

It was actually the only camera on the switch.

Of the 4 or 5 brands of POE cameras we have dealth with in the past 5 or 6 years, Arecont is the only brand we have seen having regular problems with the IR cut filter getting stuck.

We did have a stuck cut filter on the $30 Wodsee camera...but this Arecont is $1400. Something's a wee bit off on that comparison.

Although, there are a small handful of suppliers that make IR Cut assemblies. There is a very real possibility that they share more components in common than you think.

That sounds reasonable. If so, care to explain why Arecont has far more reported cut filter problems than, e.g., Avigilon and Axis combined?

Most of the IR cut filter assemblies I've seen are fairly fragile. They are generally magnetically operated (there are some servo based ones, but those tend to be too large and expensive). Some have a magnet at either end of a "slider", with a coil of wire around the actual glass filter, others have the magnet on the glass and the coil wound around the assembly.

The move the cut filter you apply a DC voltage one direction or the other, which creates a magnetic field in the wire, which then attracts it or repels it relative to the fixed magnets. This causes the glass piece with the IR filter coating to move back and forth.

This is a good example of the assembly:

Sometimes you have to (or, alternately MAY) apply a steady voltage to keep the fitler glass "locked" in one position or the other.

Ultimately the drive voltage and current is regulated by the camera and the commands to move the filter are issued by the camera's control logic.

Things that can go wrong:

Supply voltage or current is too high, damaging the very fine wire coil.

Supply voltage or current is too high, causing the glass assembly to move too far/too fast and get wedged

Supply voltage is too low, from bad power management in the camera or other factors, causing the coil to not be energized enough to make a strong enough magnetic field to initiate movement.

Filter is moved too frequently, causing the wire coil to break (in cases where the coil is on the moving glass, and not stationary on the assembly).

Other components around the lens assembly interfere with the magnetic field and cause the filter not to move.

Lens assembly is inserted too tight/too close to the filter assembly, causing it to bind up and prevent movement.

Camera seals are poor or internal airflow design causes dust to build up, preventing movement of the filter.

You could have 10 vendors all using the exact same component, and they could do something wrong that causes their own distinct failure mode. Given how obvious failure of the IR cut assembly is in the camera image, I've often been surprised that they are such a delicate and crappy design.

Is it possible to put the IR cut filter before the lens? It looks to me like this camera may do that, but can't tell for sure...

Technically the cut filter could be anywhere in the light path before the sensor.

However, putting it in FRONT of the lens would mean it would need to be a much larger assembly (typically lenses have a front element ~3x-4X the area of the rear element).

I doubt the camera you pictured as the ir cut in front of the lens, it just looks that way.

C, great explanation!

Evidently, simply based on observed issues, other manufacturers have been better able to anticipate and solve those risks more than Arecont.

I've never taken apart an Arecont camera, so I'm not sure how the IR cut filter is setup, or even if its the same basic assembly across all their models. But IMO they could use the same component as a Longse camera and still have 10x as many failures. Usually though those kinds of things are on the easier end of the "fixable problems" scale, so I don't know why they'd continue to have issues over multiple generations and iterations of product.

Has Viakoo been notified yet?


Have you tried to power it with a 'stupid' PoE injector instead of a 'smart' switch? I had this problem with Arfecont as well, they don't get back from night to day. I'm not 100% sure but have the feeling that something is wrong with their PoE. I was able to fix this on two camera's by no longer connecting it directly to a switch but to an injector. I figure my stupid 10$ injector just throws full 15.4W power at it while the switch (indeed also Cisco) tries to negotiate opotimal powe class which might be different during normal daytime operation and the moment it needs to move the filter. It's just my feeling of it but maybe worth to try

Ethan, curious how the day/night switchover takes place on a multi-imager.

Does it happen all at once for all imagers, or do they happen individually?

Can each one have its own trigger, so you could have one looking at a lit foyer that wouldn't switch but have the rest of the scene switch?