Teardown of Ricoh Theta 360 Degree Spherical Panorama Camera

The first impression of the Ricoh Theta 360 Degree Spherical Panorama Camera is its odd appearance — to me it feels like a bar of chocolate wafer. The dual lens reminds me of the bubble eye goldfish. For some reason I was given this 1st generation Ricoh Theta camera for free, but broken. So why not taking a peak at its inside? … continue on yu.xueming.org

Update: my blog has moved! Check out yu.xueming.org

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25 thoughts on “Teardown of Ricoh Theta 360 Degree Spherical Panorama Camera

  1. My theta s no longer charges but if I hit it oddly, sometimes it does charge. Pain is butt though. If I tear it down do you think I could fix it with my limited knowledge as it seems like it is a loose connection at the plug. What do you think, give it a go? Warranty ran out December last year. I do not live in the USA and they are not sold where I live.

      1. I never tore it down but I figured out how to change it – It needs to be on something heavy – if you zoom in to the picture you can see the red light is on and this is now I charge it.

  2. Somebody help me!
    I’m in Taiwan,My m15 side surface of the lens broken, anyone know where you can buy to replace it? Thank

  3. Which IMU does it have? Only accelerometer or both accel + gyro?
    I’m actually interested in knowing which IMU the Theta S has but it would be great to know which one this theta has too.

    Thanks for the teardown!

    1. Hi raymondday61. I am also looking to buy a lens for Theta S. I scratched mine, so obviously i lost the warranty

  4. i have the new Theta S camera, and i need to power for 6 hours of long timelapse, i tried to power the camera with a custom microUSB cable with +5v and gnd only without data wires, but turn it off itself. Any suggest? Is there a way to increase the internal memory?

    1. I am not sure if the camera has a built-in turn-off timer. Usually you can disable the automatic turn-off function somewhere in the menu. As for the internal memory, yes for the old model. Because you can see from my blog the memory is actually an SD card. You can replace it with a bigger one. Not quite sure for the new model, I guess someone will have to take the new model apart to find out.

      1. I don’t need a timer off, but i just need to have the camera always ON shooting all the images that i can store inside the memory! I tried to disassemble but this new version is different from your, no screws are here!

  5. John Finlayson, please!! Since you opened the pack, does it have the memory on a micro sD card like the previous?!?!? 😀
    luca vascon.

  6. Hi John, did you by any chance take photos of the disassembly process? I’m thinking about making an external trigger possibly by soldering two wires to the switch inside (as Idid with the M15)

  7. This is just what I needed except for one detail. I got my Theta S on Thursday. I took it out on Friday to capture the Gum Wall before it was cleaned. It fell over and damaged the lens on the first shot. I have been able to repair the damage with 12,000 grit pads from Woodworker. I used coconut oil and they polished up great. When I pushed it back together after the fall the image on the switch side was out of focus. I took it apart and was able to pry the lens back into focus. While repairing the lens it went out of focus again. I have removed the solder on the back of the lens and removed the screws in the optical housing. I was hoping that the lens would be able to move easily to get back where I had put it on the first fix. It has not done that so far. I got the first fix by prying on the outer lens housing. I am wondering if you saw anything that would allow the lens to re position and then to be held by the solder or the screws. Or if you discovered any other focus method, I would be interested.

    1. Hi John, sorry for the accident. To be honest, I never though of sanding out scratches using fine grit pads, because I would be afraid of damaging 1) the coding; 2) the shape of the lens profile, which are both critical for focus. Since it’s already been done, we might have to shift the lens around to find an alternative sweet spot for focus, just as what you did. I actually didn’t see too much space inside the 1st generation for the lens to shift around because it is so well packed. I am not sure if I could be of any help beyond this point, but you can keep trying re-position of the lens. Good luck!

      1. After I got the lens polished good enough I put it back together. The first time I did this it worked fine. The second time it does not come back to life. I think it was probably because I worked on it with the battery in. It is important to know that the battery is held in with double sided tape and can be removed with enough force. The battery connectors are spring loaded and when the battery moves, it comes out clean. The charging light comes on but otherwise it seems to be dead. It might have been that one of the cable clamps was not properly engaged and the power switch was accidentally hit. I am sad if it is toast and will probably get another one when they are available.
        The Theta S does not have screws on the metal strap. You have to use a knife or some other instrument to pry the side without the shutter switch off. Start at the round end.
        The first time I took it apart I totally removed the cover without the switch. I found out that I could have left the flat end together and still reached the two screws that hold the lenses in. Taking it off damaged the plastic at the tripod screw.
        If you pry it apart at the round end the cover opens up so that the outer screw is available at the end. The inner screw is available through the lens hole. These are very small black screws that can be hard to turn. Once the lens is mobile there is a small black cable clamp part that releases the flat cable. After you flip it open you have to lift the cable away from the clamp so that the notches release. After these two are released, the microphone wire is taped to the optical unit. When it is released the optical unit can be released.
        I don’t know if you can get the battery out without removing the cover. I would recommend removing the battery before working on the electronics.

      2. How could you take the out-most convex lens of the optical/image sensor assembly?
        I think I am going to disassembly it because I need to use fine grit pads too (accident with a drone landing).

        Some of my pictures here:

        https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xlf1/v/t1.0-9/12705433_587843094698349_6187054331700577160_n.jpg?oh=8c447625da64fdfc4e8e5f3227097000&oe=572FE178

        https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xlf1/v/t1.0-9/12705433_587843094698349_6187054331700577160_n.jpg?oh=8c447625da64fdfc4e8e5f3227097000&oe=572FE178

    2. John, XueMing,

      I am in the same situation as John.
      After a flight with my drone, lens of the Theta S where damaged.

      Here you can see some photos:

      https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtp1/v/t1.0-9/12715436_587843664698292_6878730047263642275_n.jpg?oh=18ad8189e6fe11c5f0e5411df3f80575&oe=5737E3EE

      I tried to start repairing them with 1600 grit pads and toothpaste, without disassembling the camera (only taking off the plastic cover). Do you recommend not to do this then?

      Any other help would be appretiated. Thanks in advance.

      1. Sanding the lens is not strong recommended unless you have to . Because you may deform the lens profile as well as its coding, both are essential for sensors to produce good quality photo. John seemed to have it fixed by doing so, maybe you can give it a try too. If the scratches are not significantly bad, you probably can leave it alone. Small scratches won’t even leave any noticeable defects on your image.

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