Ricoh Theta V — a teardown

Last week I was in the Maldives shooting underwater 360 videos (with Ambisonics audio! coming soon), and our Ricoh Theta V got flooded at less than 10m, probably because I slightly bumped my head into the underwater case. The case itself is fine, and we tested it empty in a subsequent dive, but the camera itself was pretty clearly beyond recovery.

As I haven’t seen a teardown for this particular model online, I pulled out my Swiss army knife and got to work. The pictures aren’t the best, but I didn’t exactly have a photographic studio at my disposal.

The bottom without the sticker and with only one screw removed, backplate already pried away from the body

The first step is pulling away the sticker at the bottom, so that the 4 screws are revealed. After that it’s just a matter of prying away the front and back plates, which are simply snapped together. I simply used a knife blade, but there are specialised prying tools available.

Backplate removed

Now we see the battery, which is the only reasonably replaceable part, if you can actually find one for sale. It’s the same model used in the older Ricoh Theta S.

This bit at the top is probably the wireless antenna

I then removed the battery and the supporting plate, revealing a massive thermal management baggie.

Battery removed
Support plate removed
There was still a *lot* of water inside

This is when I gave up the faint hope of ever reassembling the camera, and just started exploring the hardware.

Pretty much every single component is surface mounted. There are some interesting solutions, like the double video processing chips, but basically zero user-serviceable part. Previous models had literal microSD cards that could be swapped out, this one has nothing of the sort.

This is a pity, as memory limits constrain the device, and before flooding it shot great underwater video with little effort.

So we ended up using our GoPro array for the rest of the project. It’s quite an effort to stitch underwater videos like this, and we suddenly had an hard depth limit of 10m. These GoPro Sessions didn’t flood when we went deeper, but they temporarily stopped working, apparently the extra pressure simply keeps the shutter button depressed.

The resulting videos should be available in a few weeks.

Lazy biker and videographer. Very occasional scuba diver. Tends to bake when procrastinating. Did Classics in High School, EE + media in Uni.

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