Tag Archives: Medium Format Digital Back

REPLACING THE INTERNAL BATTERY IN A LEAF APTUS 22 DIGITAL BACK

November 2019

I’m a film photographer again….having been through the ‘digital phase’ …and come out the other side. I love shooting film in my 30 year old Hasselblads. But V Series Hasselblads come with wonderful interchangeable film backs of course…and they can use digital backs instead of film and yes I do now also have a digital back. Not a Hasselblad CFV-50C or a Phase One, but very old Leaf Aptus 22MP model from way back in 2005. Even I know there are many advantages to digital…as sometimes I want to see or use an image immediately and it’s great for portrait work.
So lets see what was required to change the old dead internal battery in my Leaf Aptus 22.


The back wouldn’t keep it’s date when switched off and the menus selected by the touch screen were often shaky to change (yes even in 2005 it had a somewhat crude touchscreen!)

To do this…and I will confess that I wouldn’t be doing it if that digital back was a Phase One worth the price of a luxury car…you need to set yourself up very carefully. I’ve taken circuit boards out of things before and you can soon find you’ve drop the screws or forgotten the assembly order. So do get prepared.

I have a little kit of screwdriver bits that fit on a special driver. It is called the ‘Gocheer 115-in-1 Screwdriver set’ that I see is being sold for under £20 from that internet site named after a large river…although I do try not to buy from them because they just aren’t ethical are they! I mean, not paying their proper taxes and tracking everything you do. Oh well perhaps I bought it somewhere else after all.
You’ll need a few different screwdrivers, hex drivers and sockets for doing work like this so a kit like this is useful from time to time and this has everything you are likely to need.

Lets start, having laid out our work area, set up a good working light and prepared some little plastic pots to store our removed circuits boards and all the screws we take off. I remembered to remove the CF memory card, in case it got in the way…and I had looked up the replacement battery I would need, a 3 volt CR1220. Not the most common ‘watch battery’ these days.

Here is the Leaf Aptus 22 with the protective cover off, looking at the sensor…..I know you don’t really want to be poking around a digital camera sensor do you. Well luckily, after you have removed the 4 x 2.5mm Torx bolts, that are on the sides, reasonably far from the sensor housing, you can slip the protective cover plate back on over the sensor and know that it’s safe.

The Leaf Aptus 22 sensor exposed, showing the 4 TORX bolts that connect it to the back assembly.

Now you can pivot the sensor housing assembly to the right and revealed are the first set of connections to work on, a ribbon cable, 2x grey cables fitted with very small co-ax plugs and an IDE type plug.

First circuit board exposed when sensor assembly is rotated revealing connections.

Support the sensor housing so that it won’t put stress on the cabling and start with either the the ribbon cable or the small co-ax cables. As I was mulling over how to pull the ribbon out one of the co-ax plugs came out of it’s socket. I then noticed there were two of these grey co-ax cables, one above the other. I stuck a small tape label ‘1’ on the first cable and tried to work out how to ease the second off.

First circuit board in close-up. One of the two small co-ax plugs had popped off the socket when I took this.

It turned out that in order to ease it up without bending I needed to use my small plastic tool to pry it up near the cable sheath as it entered into the little co-ax plug. Gentle force should prise it up without causing it to tilt or bend as it comes up. You really musn’t bend small sockets like these out of shape.
So I gave that grey cable a small taped ‘2’ label and I noted it’s location in a small drawing.
The ribbon cable is of the type that has ‘bare ends’. These sometimes ease out after the top of it’s matting socket has been ‘flipped up’.

I tried this but it didn’t happen, so I guessed the small black plugs on each end of the connector probably ‘did something’ and I eased these very small black lugs up…well sideways actually, as they move away from the socket towards the side walls. I used a small scewdriver blade to ease them towards the right, as seen in the picture above.
The ribbon cable then slid out…I just hoped getting it back in was going to be easy.

The little ‘IDE type’ plug and socket (remember them from computer hard drives?) had also to be teased out with a pair of plastic ‘spatulas’ (as found in the ‘Gocheer’ tool kit). Gently does it.
I marked it on both plug and socket to make sure it was returned the correct way.

We haven’t actually done with the connectors on this board as there are 4 more carrying ‘little cable plugs’. 3 of these can be seen on the left of the picture below, with the 4th on the right side. I called these ‘A’ to ‘D’ in my drawing when I removed them and noted all the cable colours on each connector as well. I wanted them back correctly afterwards.

The first circuit board removed…but it is rotated in this image…the ribbon cable socket is under my top finger here. Facing left are 3 of the 4 small sockets that take ‘little cable plugs’, with the 4th on the right opposite side of the board.

OK the ‘circuit board 1’ is now free of connectors and 3×2.0mm screws can be removed on it’s edges to get it out. Alas these 3 screws weren’t magnetic, so wouldn’t ‘stick’ to my screwdriver. Take great care not to drop them inside! The photo above shows it out of course, but when you start to lift it upwards you discover it is also held by a long board mounted plug and socket underneath it. Gently prise it up, the picture below of circuit board 2 in place shows the long connector.

It gets easier now as we move on to removing circuit board 2. This only has the same connector, a fairly long plug on it’s underside that mates it to circuit board 3 underneath it. Board 2 is held in by 3 threaded hex bolts that will need a 4mm socket head, Luckily these 3 were magnetic so my 4mm socket driver lifted them cleanly out. Into one of my storage pots they went.

Here is circuit board two, the long connector and the 3x4mm socket bolts can bee seen. The dangling cables are the ones removed from circuit board 1.

After circuit board 2 is out, no 3 is exposed. It has the battery on it! But alas you can’t get it out. Circuit board 3 will have to be removed.
Below the 3rd circuit board, at the bottom of the picture above, is a long black flat metal plate (opposite side of the board to the ‘fan’). It is a protective grill to stop ingress of ‘grot’ and I removed it by unscrewing the 2×1.0mm screws and lifting it out. You may not need to but I thought it gave me more space .

Circuit board 3 has the same 4mm hex bolts holding it …and it has another long plug connector assembly (as held the earlier boards, but this is on the opposite side. Ease up circuit board 3 and rejoice….now the battery is ‘get-at-able’!

3rd circuit board lifted out, although the battery is a bit hard to see in this picture…it’s on the right side of the board here, in the centre.

Easing the battery out of it’s housing is a little difficult but a small screwdriver pushed it out enough for me to pull it all the way.

As I had found out earlier, it’s a 3 volt CR1220 replacement. I found a Panasonic one on eBay. Push it in with the ‘+’ showing upwards and start the reassembly. Do make sure those long plug and socket connectors on each board are carefully pushed in. No broken pins thanks.
That ribbon cable on board 1 is rather close to the aluminium sides of the housing and it may work to put the ribbon back into it’s connector before you screw down circuit board 1. But done that way you have to know that the sensor housing unit can be supported OK whilst you put circuit board 1 back in.
I won’t go through all the re-assembly…after all you made notes, took photos or drawings and had the correct tools didn’t you!

The digital back powered up right away, satisfactorily giving a bleep. The menus on mine now selected very easily, although a re-alignment of the touch screen helped. This was under ‘Set Up’, then ‘Display’, to ‘Align Touch Screen’.
You’ll obviously want to re-set the ‘Date and Time’ also in the ‘Display’ menus…and if you’re like me will sneak back to check after awhile that it is in fact keeping time!
Nice to know the EXIF info will now make sense.

My Aptus is the old ’22’. I now see there’s a mention on the ‘GetDPI.com’ forum (https://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-format-systems-and-digital-backs/52991-aptus-internal-battery.html ) about doing this battery change on other Aptus models and I can tell they weren’t quite like the insides of mine. However with a small kit of tools you should find you can tackle any version, if handled with care.

I always find great pleasure it tackling something like this…and now my Aptus may get used rather more.

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