Jump to content
marknorton

Anatomy of the Leica M8

Recommended Posts

Dear Mark,

It's a phantastic sight: the anatomy of the Leica M8.

Thank you for this opportunity.

But, honestly, I prefer keeping my dear M8 in the shape I got it from the retailer.

Willy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark:

Incredible courage, competence, and confidence!!!

 

Seems there are a lot of connectors. Any potential problems that you can see? How do you think the power is monitored and communicated to the various processors? Any potential communications issue from the hardware standpoint that would cause some processors to think the battery is too low, while others think it is ok?

 

Alan

 

I don't think the connectors will be a problem. The tabs are gold plated and once secured will form a micro air-tight connection. This sort of connector is widely used in things like laptop PCs.

 

Power management is undoubtedly complex in this camera because of the number of different devices, the need for different power supply voltages and the need to prolong battery life. It's complicated by the need for the camera to be able to go into a deep sleep. In addition, the types of processor used have a variety of power saving modes and getting the thing to work as a coherent whole is tough.

 

I do not know what strategy they've employed. The M16C has a built in analog to digital converter which will be used to meter the light level and monitor the battery voltage and my guess - and it is only a guess - is that it is master and the whole of the DSP board is shut down or woken up on command from the M16C.

 

That's why pressing the play button does not wake up the camera - the M16C knows nothing about this button, only the power switch, shutter speed dial and shutter release. Changing the power switch or pressing the shutter release wakes up the M16C which then wakes up the DSP. Maybe!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dear Mark,

It's a phantastic sight: the anatomy of the Leica M8.

Thank you for this opportunity.

But, honestly, I prefer keeping my dear M8 in the shape I got it from the retailer.

Willy

 

LOL, that's why I did it, so you don't have to! Welcome to the Forum, we have a lot of fun here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark,

 

Incredible job - you have brightened up a cold grey morning in Provence. Is there any chance you could post the full size images on maybe "yousendit". With your permission, I would love to put them all together as a PS composite and print an A3+ picture of it all.

 

Wilson

 

Wilson, I need to be sensitive to Leica here - they may yet react negatively to having all this posted on the User Forum and require the thread to be deleted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark,

Wow! Thank you for sharing this. They shure did cram a lot of stuff into that shell. I'm impressed that it didn't grow more than it did from the M7.

 

- Carl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bloody brilliant!

 

This looks as hard to fiddle with as the motorcycle engine I once rebuilt, except much smaller. Seeing the complexity of the inside makes me appreciate the simplicity of the outside much more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does this happen to people withh too much time ? But you seem to have planned this project for some time. So the Easter holidays can´t be blamed.

 

It leaves two wishes from this side:

 

First: Hope you get it back into working order one day and you do it so cute, that your warranty is still valid.

 

Second: Not too many chinese wizards find your post, otherwise tourists in the PRC will one day be hazzled with M8-clones.

 

As I mentioned, I bought another M8 to replace the one I took apart, just in case it went bad and seeing the camera immediately available was the catalyst to get started. Also, having time over the Easter holiday helped. All the pictures were taken in an afternoon.

 

About your other two points:

 

- My warranty is dead, for sure, that's why I quoted the serial number so that everyone knows which camera it is. It's not going to turn up in Leica for warranty service or be sold on to anyone.

 

- Seeing the internal construction of the camera tells potential competitors nothing about the real IP in this camera - the electronic design and firmware. That's why I have not done anything more than make informed observations about what I can see.

 

In reality, this camera has probably already been "inspected" by potential competitors. I think they may well have been frightened off - Leica have done a great job with this camera.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bloody brilliant!

 

This looks as hard to fiddle with as the motorcycle engine I once rebuilt, except much smaller. Seeing the complexity of the inside makes me appreciate the simplicity of the outside much more.

 

Thanks Carsten, I thought you might like to see the rangefinder vertical adjustment you made through your black dot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As I mentioned, I bought another M7 to replace the one I took apart, just in case it went bad and seeing the camera immediately available was the catalyst to get started. Also, having time over the Easter holiday helped. All the pictures were taken in an afternoon.

 

 

That answers some of my questions. Google found your Digilux-2 assembly thread for me (the search engine on this website doesn't seem to go back before the site redesign), so I'll post what i found and save you the effort:

http://www.leica-camera-user.com/discus_e/messages/3/203462.html?1143062890

 

I assume you meant M8 above. I wish you had kept the new body and disassembled the old one which had been through the Solms hardware upgrade, so that we could see where the yellow wires go on the sensor board.

 

scott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Edmund, that's a very interesting question.

 

Of course, the problems of sensor vignetting would still be there so such a development would require improvements to sensor technology and I think there would also be problems with power but again, they seem to have anticipated changes in battery technology as well.

 

Mark

 

The vignetting problem would be history if people accepted they need to buy retrofocus lenses under 50mm. In other words; Leica would sell some new wides, and the full-frame camera could use the old standard and tele lenses. This could be done with existing SLR fullframe sensor technology.

 

However, you did sidestep my question quite neatly, so let me put it again: Is the "throat" of the camera wide enough that it could be sed for fukframe 35 with a different shutter ?

 

Edmund

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awesome job, Mark. I've seen teardown reports for consumer cameras that cost as much as the body that you have disassembled, and don't provide any more insight. So you're already even. You've produced a $5000 engineering study which you should write off as a charitable contribution to the Leica user community. How long did it take to do this with photo documentation? A week? A day?

 

I teach a course in what's inside modern computing appliances -- this is invaluable stuff to have for that purpose. I understand you did a similar teardown on the Digilux-2. Can you post a URL for that forum thread, as the index to old posts only goes back 500 entries? Given your productivity that would probably only take us back to the 8 bit vs 16 bit discussions.

 

Some obvious questions at this point -- what sensors are in the battery circuit, and what type of monitoring do they permit? Is it just voltage or are current values available? How much EPROM space is there for the firmware to live in? I'll go back and read that part more carefully, but the ROM you pointed out seemed smaller than the load module that one puts in for a firmware update.

 

thanks for all the insights -- now are you invited for the tour of the factories, clean room, and repair facilty?

 

scott

 

Scott, thanks. I suppose it took a couple of days to get it done, I only started on Thursday, I the pictures on Saturday afternoon and wrote it up last evening.

 

I can't find the D2 thread, it was February or March last year if I recall.

 

I think the M16C will monitor the battery voltage because it has a built-in ADC but as I've mentioned above, I think the power management is pretty complex and it's tough to know what gets done where. I'd love to know the command/data interface between the camera interface and the DSP and then to try emulating each side on a PC! I'm quite sure this was a development interface to allow different teams to work independently.

 

The M16C has 256k ROM which is not bad for what it is doing; I haven't researched what the Black Fin and Intel provide. I expect the firmware updating is carried out by the Intel PXA270C which provides the interface to the LCD, command dials and push buttons; that in turn also means the M16C receives it's firmware update across this same interface. I need to look at its programming interface.

 

Tour of the factory and clean room? If I turn up in Solms, I think they'll run me out of town!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have earned a placed amongst the Leica Gods.

 

I am blown away by your courage, dexterity and inquisitiveness.

 

I now look at my Leica with even more respect, and it makes the sheer simplicity of the external form even more beautiful knowing that it shields such mind boggling complexity.

 

Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your skills are as great as your courage! The whole project would make a great coffee table book with some photos taken with it when you get it all back together, as I'm sure you will.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If nothing else, this thread has laid to rest two myths:

That the M8 is "too expensive" for the simple add-on of digital to an M body; just think of the R&D for this

That the cloth shutter should have been kept and that the new shutter was used to cut costs; the body is totally full, so it would never have fitted in.

I'm very impressed, Mark, and will be even more so when you report the camera working again. One question though: Leica has built a multi-million Euro clean room to assemble the camera's. How will you be able to get around that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark

 

The vignetting problem would be history if people accepted they need to buy retrofocus lenses under 50mm. In other words; Leica would sell some new wides, and the full-frame camera could use the old standard and tele lenses. This could be done with existing SLR fullframe sensor technology.

 

However, you did sidestep my question quite neatly, so let me put it again: Is the "throat" of the camera wide enough that it could be sed for fukframe 35 with a different shutter ?

 

Edmund

 

Edmund, the shutter is full frame already, but the lens throat contrains the width - you can see the top and bottom edges of the shutter but not the left and right hand edges. It's about 3mm short, constrained on one side by the battery and the lens metering circuit on the other. So, a move to FF would require some re-packaging, possible for an M9 but not as an upgrade to the M8.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Olof
Hi,

 

looks like we get a lot for our money.

 

I always had the impression, the M8 had two differnt developments inside. Think about the different style of the standard menue and the set menu.

My guess is that somebody developed the Sensor-DSP-Intel-Memeory board and somebody else the interface around it with the Renesas MC.

That would explain why sometimes only half of the camera is not working, but the rest is still alive.

 

However, thanks for showing this.

 

Best regards

 

Karl-Heinz

 

Wasnt it said that the electronics cames from Jenoptik ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the M16C will monitor the battery voltage because it has a built-in ADC but as I've mentioned above, I think the power management is pretty complex and it's tough to know what gets done where. ....

 

The M16C has 256k ROM which is not bad for what it is doing; I haven't researched what the Black Fin and Intel provide. I expect the firmware updating is carried out by the Intel PXA270C which provides the interface to the LCD, command dials and push buttons; that in turn also means the M16C receives it's firmware update across this same interface. I need to look at its programming interface.

 

Tour of the factory and clean room? If I turn up in Solms, I think they'll run me out of town!

 

You have a pretty good structure diagram of the camera, based on flattening out all the flex connectors and identifying the major components. I don't know the ethical and legal lines between inspection of what you purchased and "reverse engineering" (which is usually a right that you only give up when you sign a EULA, and purchasing a Leica doesn't require that), but it would seem fair to look at the card layouts and flex connector lines and make educated guesses about whether the ADC on the M16 can see the output levels on all 6 voltages and determine shutdown when any level is not safe, or can only see the power system input from the battery plus warning signals derived from its third contact, and has to compute a shutdown decision from these. I see the purpose of this kind of discussion as educating us to make reasonable requests for fixes that can actually be done, and suggestions for improvements that respect the amount of engineering work involved. As you said, I doubt that you are exposing things unknown to other German or Asian camera manufacturers.

 

In terms of your 'structure" diagram obtained from the flattened-out pictures, where do you suppose the 4.5 MB of an .upd file gets copied? It has a rather repetitive structure, so I guess it is intended to be broken down into several parts. It must go into the places that are mentioned in the .xml header lines, but it is too large to be absorbed into the onchip ROMs of the 3-4 smart components identified so far. Is there an identifiable large EPROM on the M16 card? Or elsewhere? I also wonder if the Xilinx that with the Blackfin replaces the ASICs you would find in a Japanese design is reprogrammable from firmware, or only when the 4-bit maintenance interface and perhaps some additional power inputs is being used?

 

If you turn up in Solms, I expect you would be handed a pair of brown overalls, and invited to stay...

 

regards,

 

scott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...