Solmeta servicing review

Solmeta's service is generally good. But there are a few "con's". They give a 2 year guarantee and their turn-around (once they have received the package) is fast - though ordinary post can take a time to get through the Chinese mail system.

In September 2-17 I received a GMAX-EOS gps data logger. In April 2019 (some 19 months later) communication via the hot shoe failed completely. I used the supplied cable, but communication via this was erratic. Only around half the shots were properly GPS stamped. I contacted Solmeta - usually an easy process, but their only English speaking employee (Cynthia), although very helpful is sometimes not available and must have I hit one of these periods. After some emails, I sent the GMAX-EOS back to Solmeta in July 2019. It was returned quickly.

Now being Chinese there are great difficulties in sending any English report of what was found as their English-speaker is not an engineer (though evidently learning fast). Translating an engineer's report from Chinese into English would be problematic. So there was no such note in the returned package.

The returned unit was no different. Despite the report I had sent with the unit, stating:
Does not connect via hot shoe.
Connection via cable is erratic (~50%).
Software needs updating - there appears to be no way to update using Mac OS or Linux.
Display may be failing: at switch on centre top of display is feint.

However on return the display had been replaced and the software upgraded. But the communication problem had not changed.

So I contacted Solmeta again and after some communication a replacement GMAX-EOS was sent. This also gave erratic results via the cable - both my original and the new one. I do not recall exactly but I must also have also tried the hot shoe connection without response.

Thinking the camera might be faulty I sent it with the GMAX-EOS to Advanced Camera Services in Watton, who could find no fault with it. After further communication with Solmeta they asked me to send both GMAX-EOS units with the camera (body only) to them to sort out.

This was a bit daunting: sending expensive equipment to China is a bit scary! But I trusted Solmeta, so I complied.

After postal delays I received a photo showing the data cable which was bent. They reported that the camera socket was lose. But they could get it cheaply repaired in china - a service above and beyond what might be expected from any company, let alone from a Chinese one!

The camera was duly repaired and a new GMAX-EOS returned with it (why would Solmeta replace a perfectly good unit? That alone raises suspicion!). All seems now well. Though it's November now, so not a time for a lot of photos.

A warning about Solmeta

There is absolutely no way that the data cable I sent them was the one they photographed! I am an electronic engineer, used to surface mount and quite capable of handling miniature connectors. I had never stressed this connection and could not have bent this connector. Also, had the connector been damaged in any way, Advanced Camera Services would surely have spotted it!

In fact Solmeta returned the cable to me to show the damage. I dismantled the USB connector and the 4 wires (there are only 4 connections) were all intact and electrically connected, so this could not have been the cause! Furthermore if the cable connection was the problem why had the hot shoe connection failed completely?

Moreover I know there was no problem with the camera's USB micro-B connector as I used this regularly to download photos from camera to computer and there was never a single hiccough! Although the micro-B connector has 5 pins, one of them is not used either for camera or for computer connection.

I can only assume that their engineer did not want to admit his failure to spot the problems when the GMAX-EOS was first returned so he 'engineered' such a problem to explain things. I hope this is not Solmeta's general policy!

The bent connector was consistent with a broken camera socket - but Advanced Camera Services had told me that loose sockets were not uncommon in their experience, so they also surely would have spotted such a thing. Furthermore breaking this socket is almost certain to damage the circuit board, so is a very expensive fix (new main board).

Since the camera socket and lead were not faulty when sent to Solmeta, there seem to be only three possibilities:

  1. Solmeta accidentally dropped camera and GMAX-EOS, bending the connector. I do not think Solmeta are that ham-fisted! Especially as they were using their own lens.
  2. Solmeta deliberately damaged the lead and the camera. Damaging the USB micro-B in this way is chancy - great danger of damaging the main board. Such damage is unrepairable.
  3. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the camera and Solmeta did nothing to it. They simply told me an imaginary cost to repair. In the circumstances this seems the only sensible possibility. Solmeta initially told me they would pay for carriage to them. Claiming the camera was faulty absolved them of this charge and enabled them to make money for replacing a dud GMAX-EOS! It cost me a total of nearly £90!

Bad communication Solmeta GMAX-EOS to Canon EOS-70D

In June we had a holiday in Dorset. The statistics are weird, as the table below. When a photo is taken, the word "flash" appears (or should!) in the log file. Even this was erratic. Such inconsistency is not compatible with any intermittent connection and can only have, I surmise, been caused by a software problem or a timing problem between camera and GPS. Clearly the claim of damaged cable and broken connector was a deceit by Solmeta to blame equipment other than their own for the problem.

DateShotsFlashGPSEmpty
19060911056
1906104902722
1906117034
1906125032
1906144082014
19061524241311
1906161916811
1906172722189
1906187352
1906192019812
19062032131517
Notice the complete inconsistency between the Flash column and the GPS column. If the GMAX-EOS was working properly GPS could never exceed Flash!

Conclusion

It cannot be expected that every shot gets GPS stamped: when the GMAX-EOS is switched on it takes a short time to register satellites and although it is faster at this than the alternative there is still time to take shot or two. Also there are times when the GPS was switched off.

It is clear that getting a GPS to work with all Canon cameras is not easy. There have been offerings by other manufacturers (Marrex, Micnova, Qstarz) all of which seem to have sunk with little trace. Solmeta's offerings do work - most of the time! Though if you search the internet for instances of Solmeta units not properly stamping shots there are several, so it seems to be an ongoing problem.

Solmeta do offer a 2 year guarantee and they do honour this. Their service and support is generally good. But the Chinese are famous for not wanting to loose face. Clearly if they can blame you or the camera they will do so. In this case they picked the wrong person to deceive! At this time I am waiting for then to fess up and refund the money I paid them for the repair as well as the carriage charge they promised to pay to return the GMAX-EOS to them for a second time. Either a refund or maybe another satisfactory alternative could be negotiable.

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Page first published: 11th of November, 2019
Last modified: Sun, 29 Dec 2019 10:13:06 GMT
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