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Got this camera from a friend, battery door broken, no cables, no battery. There are some important photo's on this camera that I want to copy from internal memory to SD card. We first want to try this because USB requires an special USB cable we don't have and we even don't know USB will work when there is no battery at all.


Panasonic Lumix ZX1 - with connected battery


The original battery is very expensive and because we didn't know the camera is fully operational, we want to try it first with an external battery (with some clip wires on contacts inside the battery compartment) to see it reacts on some juice. We verified the pin layout from a picture of the original battery, the DMW-BCG10E:


Panasonic DMW-BCG10


Connected our 4A powerpack ;-), must be enough and yep, we saw the first picture however the camera doesn't like the fake battery and shows us a message "This battery cannot be used" and turns off directly after this message. We also tried another battery, a LIPO, but same message.

There are some D and T pins on the original battery, this must be some kind of battery info data lines however we cannot find any info on this. We think it doesn't work because the camera cannot obtain some info from the battery or there is a problem with the camera itself. We want to know if we could use another battery, with same pin layout to fake the datalines. We don't know there is any standard. Before we try this, we want to know for sure there is no risk to damage the internals of the camera by doing this.


AC-adapter/DC coupler route

Panasonic also provides an AC-adapter/DC coupler with a case that fits inside the battery compartment, in fact a fake battery. I think there must be a (simple) trick (maybe a resistor or something, 'shorts' D and T for example) to let the camera think it is an AC-adapter/DC coupler.


Does anyone have experience with this or does anyone know where we can find more information?


EDIT/UPDATE #1:

very difficult to find info on these batteries, however, found the service manual!

They talk about "ID BAT DQ" (qualifier?) and later on "ID BATT DO". But what does it mean (unreg and DQ for example)?

Pin layout:

1. UNREG+
2. BAT THERMO
3. ID BAT DQ
4. UNREG-

Some schematics: Service manual Schematic - panasonic_dmc-zx1_zr1 1


Service manual Schematic - panasonic_dmc-zx1_zr1 2


EDIT/UPDATE #2:

The creator of this video (thanks to @KalleMP) shows that the thermistor is only required to be able to operate the camera, however, tried the same and in my case it doesn't work. Hopefully nothing internally is damaged by doing some experiments. I ordered an original second hand donor battery for less than 3 euro's (still waiting for it to arrive) and will try it soon to figure out the chip is required or not, or if there is something wrong with the camera itself.

EDIT/UPDATE #3:

YES, WE'VE DONE IT, with success. See also my answer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The battery has active circuitry, remove that and replace the actual LiPo cell \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Dec 18 '17 at 20:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ D is likely a 1-wire connection that the camera uses to authn the battery. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Dec 18 '17 at 20:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Some times the adaptor plugpack uses a tie to ground or plus on data to identify itself. But some times not and that will break something. You could try putting a 10k resistor to ground from the T to fake a thermistor showing 25degrees (10k NTCs are most popular), and then experiment with 10k~100k from D to either + and ground, starting with ground. Noting that none of these suggestions come with a guarantee that they won't break anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Asmyldof Dec 18 '17 at 20:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here is a video that details the electrical and mechanical engineering design of a similar item that shows the electrical signalling protocol is likely optional and may be deprecated in a DIY design. I like the question. - yt.ax/watch/… \$\endgroup\$ – KalleMP Dec 23 '17 at 22:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KalleMP : Thanks for the interesting video! The creator of the video shows that the thermistor is only required to be able to operate the camera however tried the same and in my case it doesn't work. Hopefully internally there is nothing damaged. I ordered an original second hand donor battery for less than 3 euro's (still waiting for it to arrive) and will try it soon to figure out the chip is required or not, or if there is something wrong with the camera itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Codebeat Dec 25 '17 at 18:08
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Allright, finally we done it! @KalleMP had the eye opener, however this was a slightly different battery (DMW-BLG10E instead of the DMW-BCG10E and it is fore sure another "valid and safe battery detection method"). It is not enough to fool a temperature sensor, you really need the battery IC (whatever it might be) to get it working. Also great thanks go to @SamGibson.


Purchased a cheap second hand original battery (doesn't know it will work either), just for three euro's, to use it as a donor battery, to reuse the circuitry inside this battery.


After disassembling the battery very carefully, I solder the salvaged board on a micro USB connector board for two reasons:

  • Easy and stiff connection;
  • It might be possible to use it on 5V because the camera is rated 5.1V (see experiment later on).

The first try didn't work, for some reason the board outputs only 0.7 volts when connected to a battery (3.7v). First thoughts:

  • It has something to do with smart failure detection/registration by disconnect the original battery (power disconnect = failure)
  • The circuitry was already in a failure state;
  • Heating up the board by soldering damaged the internals of the board.

By connecting the battery directly to the camera inputs and the circuitry (in fact in parallel) there was life! Now we are able to copy the data to SD-card, it works perfectly.


solution


USB Power possible? (warning: Just for science, use at own risk!)

After copying (for sure) all data we tried an experiment, just for science, connect it directly to USB (5V) because the camera is rated 5.1V. After a few hours the camera is still running fine, works great! I think it is still usable as photo/film camera with external battery or USB 5V powersource, neat.


This project is a success

Thanks to you all, really awesome, happy faces at the beginning of 2018 ;-)


Experience update/hotsnot update

When using a battery or USB power connection, be sure the power source can handle peaks of 550mA when using camera mode. It seems that the lens motor requires some juice when lens moving out or in. If it is not possible for the camera to get required current, the camera shuts down and lens stay open. When this happens, turn off the camera and switch it to view mode and wait the camera correct the situation.

Same will happen when using a low voltage battery (or empty battery) or message "this battery cannot be used" can randomly appear. Possible reason for this is that we bypass the battery protection circuit of the salvaged board (see first try explanation above).

We got the best operating experience using a protected high current powerbank, a high current charger or a computer USB socket. This is because there is a low voltage drop and will never be lower than 4v because of the DC/DC converter inside.

I put the circuit and connector (wrapped in plastic) permanently in the battery compartment with some hotsnot (hot glue, not a fan anyway). Not a beauty but hey, the camera is still usable with almost any power source! In fact it is some kind of DC Coupler. Maybe some idea for others that want to reuse/revive the camera for still pictures of components or other inhome purposal.


permanent solution with some hotsnot

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer is confusing. When you used it to pull the images off, what voltage did you give it? And after that, you gave it 5V through the battery port? You are lucky that worked. Most devices with lithium cells like this would not run off 5V internally, that's only for charging the battery. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jan 3 '18 at 5:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby, it is not confusing when you take the time to read the whole story. The battery is rated 3.7v and outputs 4.15 volts at best (fully charged 18650) and the USB thing was just an experiment, curiosity, not a goal. The camera is rated 5.1V, it is on the specs label. We just tried it, just for science, we don't care about the camera, we care about the data on it. That's why a battery to get data. Above expectations 5v seems to work through the battery inputs, however, the camera is rated 5.1v and there are DC couplers that do a similair job. It is up to you what to do with this info. \$\endgroup\$ – Codebeat Jan 3 '18 at 5:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Congratulations :-) So it looks like you were successful with something similar to option (b) from my answer (i.e. buy a "real" battery pack and if the battery itself is dead, then use the thermistor & authentication chip from it, while providing suitable external power). Glad you got your data :-) \$\endgroup\$ – SamGibson Jan 3 '18 at 10:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SamGibson : Updated the credits ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – Codebeat Jan 3 '18 at 14:57
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I know you may not like my conclusion, but here is my analysis:

They talk about "ID BAT DQ" (qualifier?) and later on "ID BATT DO". But what does it mean (unreg and DQ for example)?

The schematics in the linked service manual do not include any components on the main PCB - details stop at the connectors on that PCB. However based on what is shown in the partial schematics, public info about similar battery packs and the naming conventions used for the 4 connections, my hypothesis is:

  • 1.UNREG+ = Battery +ve
  • 2.BAT_THERMO = Likely thermistor connection, probably the other end goes to to battery -ve
  • 3.ID_BATT_DQ = Likely "1-wire" or similar data connection to an "authentication IC" in the battery pack (as Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams already commented). "DQ" is a common designator for data connection to a 1-wire device.
  • 4.UNREG- = Battery -ve

("1-wire", originally developed by Dallas Semiconductor, now part of Maxim Integrated, is a data bus which uses only 1 wire (and Gnd) for bi-directional communication between devices.)

Without a battery, you would have to guess at the value of a resistor which simulates the thermistor at room temperature. However I doubt that you would do any permanent damage to the camera if you guess wrongly, and you have already received suggestions about likely values to try from Asmyldof.

However you have no information at all about the data being sent to authenticate the battery pack, and you currently have no battery pack to investigate or dismantle. Therefore the only realistic plan I can see, is to buy a battery pack (at least one which is compatible with the camera - it doesn't have to be an original, which are much more expensive). Over here in the UK, compatible battery packs equivalent to that part number, are available at <£10.

Then you could either:

  • a. spend time with an oscilloscope and/or logic analyser to reverse-engineer what is happening on that data line, to reverse-engineer the authentication process, if you really want to try to do that (and if that's allowed to do in your country - for example, in the USA, I believe the DMCA might apply) or;
  • b. dismantle the battery pack, leaving just the thermistor & authentication chip, and attach your external battery to provide the power itself. If you had a dead but previously working suitable battery pack, this might be something to consider, or;
  • c. simply use the purchased battery pack to power the camera while you get the photos copied off that camera.

Even if you did find someone who would reveal details of previous reverse-engineering of that specific battery authentication process, you would need to buy (and perhaps program) whatever device they used to simulate the original authentication device used in a battery pack. The cost (in time and components) of doing that, could easily exceed the cost of a cheap, compatible battery pack for your one-off requirement.

Therefore the difference between buying a battery pack and not buying one, is not the whole cost of the battery pack, since any alternative would have its own costs too.

Panasonic also provides an AC-adapter with a case that fits inside the battery compartment, in fact a fake battery. I think there must be a (simple) trick (maybe a resistor or something, 'shorts' D and T for example) to let the camera think it is an AC-adapter.

I doubt that. I believe that such an AC adapter will also have an equivalent authentication IC, like a battery does, which is why the camera stays powered-on when the AC adapter is used.

If you were looking to learn all about the battery authentication protocol for education purposes, you might choose option (a). However for your stated "one-off" requirement, option (c) seems more sensible.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the great answer. Yesterday I figure out it must be more complicated and watch a presentation of TI about this counterfeit 1 wire (encrypted) IC solution. That's not easy! The AC-adapter is actually a DC-coupler, there are many however didn't find one for this camera. I will go for option C you suggests and just purchased one second hand used and original battery for only 2.80 euro's(!) ;-) Hopfully a great catch. If the battery doesn't work I replace the cell itself. Have to wait to arrive. \$\endgroup\$ – Codebeat Dec 20 '17 at 17:50

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