D70s Camera Repair How-To

UPDATE: replaced all the images – sorry about them being broken after moving to a new server. They’re clickable now for an enlarged view.

UPDATE (2014-01-05): came across an original D70s repair manual with highly detailed disassembly instructions, part numbers, etc. You can download it here as a PDF. Seems to be a safe download, but the usual precautions about content from unknown sites apply.

My D70s recently developed the dreaded CHA error, refusing to recognize any perfectly fine CF cards. A closer inspection revealed that one of the pins was pushed back… straightening a bent pin is fairly easy with the right set of SMD tweezers and a little patience, but if it is pushed back things become more difficult, effectively requiring a little disassembly.

Please keep in mind that the following instructions WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY. Only attempt this if you are comfortable with working on fragile parts, have a lot of patience and the right tools. Do not lose any parts. The screws are NOT all identical, so arrange your workplace to make sure you know EXACTLY which part belongs where.

Tools required:

  • tweezers (the smaller the better, I like my straight-tip SMD tweezers although the shap tip isn’t really perfect)
  • PH00 tip screwdriver
  • good light
  • patience

Unfortunately, I can’t help with any part numbers, but the comments indicate that they are usually available at Nikon service facilities (where an informal description should suffice to get the right part).

Step 0: Preparations

Make sure you have a clean work space. This is not the right time to be drinking Coke or eating chips. Make sure you remove the battery. Remove the lens and put the protective cap in place.

Step 1: Back panel removal

The back panel is held in place by four screws on the left and right side of the camera body. Remove them all and set them aside.

d70srepair-20080829094334-1343

d70srepair-20080829094250-1342

Now, gently lift off the back panel. I used the CF cover flap to pull on one side. Be careful, there is one connecting ribbon cable on the bottom that you do not want to damage.

d70srepair-20080829094607-1346

d70srepair-20080829094629-1347

To disconnect this cable, carefully slide the black part of the connector downwards, towards the cable. The best way to do this is by using the tweezers on the side parts of the connector.

This is what the connector looks like when closed:

d70srepair-20080829094942-1350

And here it is open:

d70srepair-20080829094926-1349

Set the back panel aside in a safe place.

Step 2: Bottom panel removal
The bottom panel is held in place by 8 screws. Some of them have different sizes, so make sure you’ll know which one goes where when you put everything back together.

d70srepair-20080829104521-1357

Now lift off the bottom panel. It doesn’t have any connectors, so it should come off quite easily.

d70srepair-20080829095355-1354

Step 3: CF Subpanel removal

The CF subpanel is connected to the rest of the camera through one ribbon cable. Unlike the back panel, this connector has a black flap to hold the ribbon in place. Gently flip the black part up to release the cable, and then pull it out of the connector.

Next, remove the two sliver screws holding the subpanel in place.

d70srepair-20080829095043-1351

Pull out the CF subpanel, it should come off very easily. Note that there is a small copper sheet below the bracket that held it in place, do not lose or damage this part.

Step 4: Fixing the pins
Now that you have direct access to the reverse side of the CF receptable, use the tip of very fine tweezers – or a very small screwdriver – to push the pins back into arrangement. Here is the bottom part after realigning:

d70srepair-20080829095606-1356

It is also much easier to straighten any bent pins with the subpanel removed.

Step 5: Testing and reassembly
once you are confident that the CF receptable works (try it with a CF card), put it back in place. If it doesn’t slide into its position easily, there is a cable at the bottom that may be getting in the way. Don’t force it.

Reconnect the CF subpanel. Make sure the black flap on the connector is ‘up’, then slide the ribbon fully into the connector and close the flap. Take your time, if you damage the ribbon you’ve converted your almost-repaired camera into a paperweight.

Replace the silver screws. Did you take care of that copper sheet?

Reconnect the back panel. This takes a lot of patience, because there isn’t much room to work with and the sliding connector is a bit of a pain without expert tools. Make sure the black locking part of the connector is ‘open’, slide the cable fully into the connector, and use tweezers to push the cable as well as the lock into the base of the connector. Again, don’t rush. This can take a while.

Now the camera is sufficiently connected for testing. Put the back panel back in place, and insert a CF card and a battery. You’ll have to hold the battery in place, but the camera should turn on and work as expected. Test all the buttons on the back panel. The first time I tried, the back panel connector was slightly misaligned and only the left/right part of the rocker switch didn’t work.

If all works well, turn the camera back off and screw the back panel in place.

Finally, replace the bottom panel. Make sure you’re using the right screws in each position.

Step 6: Go out and shoot great pics!

87 Comments. Leave your Comment right now:

  1. by James

    Patric B’s advice on this forum on 2008/11/24 was extremely helpful. He said to disconnect the bottom end of the back panel ribbon cable rather than the back end. To do this, wait until you have the bottom panel removed before removing the back panel. As Patric said, the ribbon cable socket of the bottom end uses a very different locking principle. Instead of sliding, the black clamp pivots 90 degrees open like a piano hinge. Lift the edge of the black clamp (cable side) with a sharp screwdriver, but DO NOT touch the ribbon cable itself, or the contacts will get gouged! When the clamp is rotated 90 degrees, the cable pulls out free. This is much easier and safer than disconnecting the cable at the back panel, but the cable and socket clamps are very delicate. Thank you Stephan and others for taking the time to share things learned.
    James

  2. by alain v

    thanks for all i’m a camerounian’s camera operator but i have a lot of camera who is damage but no spare parts to change ,can you help me to show me where i can buy aspare part?

  3. by Klaus

    you can buy the part at
    http://www.micro-tools.de
    part no: NIK-D70-CF-READER
    1C998-364

  4. by Georg

    Thank you for the excellent instructions. Just reassembled my D70s and the CHA-problem seems to be gone.
    I didn’t find any pushed back pins or anything alike though.
    Be aware that the pins are of different length by specification! That is the upper left and bottom right pin are shorter, the bottom left, upper right and two pins in the middle are longer than the rest of the pins.
    I cleaned the ribbon cable contacts with a clean q-tip. Maybe that helped.
    Also I zero filled my CF-cards with the Unix/linux tool dd:
    dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb bs=4k
    where /dev/sdb is the path to the cf-card device which may be different on your computer. Run “dmesg | less” to find the device name of your card. You can run Linux off a bootable CD to do that.
    After that I formatted the cards in the camera.
    Just shot 4GB worth of images without any troubles. Nice! :-)

  5. Thanks for the detailed instructions and photos. They made the job very easy. Unfortunately, after taking it all apart, cleaning, checking and re-assembling, there is no improvement. I guess I will have to break down and buy a new reader module but at least I know that installing it is a snap. Thanks again.

  6. by Darren Crawford

    Thanks for great instructions. Followed them easily. Of course reconnecting the back panel is a little tricky.

    Not trusting my ability to fix the existing CF card reader, I purchased one ahead of time – I was able to buy a replacement CF card reader from Nikon USA for about USD 10 plus $6-8 shipping. I think this was a worthwhile price to pay to ensure that the problem didn’t recur and that I only had to do this operation once.

    Thanks again

    • by Simeon

      Could you please tell me how you ordered the card reader part from Nikon USA? I could not find a way to order online. Did you call customer service?
      Thanks!

      • by Bernie

        Hi Simeon. I carried out some checks and the only information I could find was this.

        Nikon Parts Department
        Phone: 310-414-8107
        FAX: 310-322-6979

        7am – 3pm (PST)
        Monday – Friday

  7. by Bernie

    Very happy. Replaced the CF reader no problem other than that awkward ribbon connector on the back panel which took a while. Many thanks for the detailed instructions.

  8. Pingback: Bad Memory Card or a Nikon Problem? - Page 2

  9. by Roger

    Hi!
    According to the experience of the ones who made the repair :
    Did the CHA-problem definitly go after you made the repair or did it come back latter ?

    Thank you so much (and sorry for my bad English: I’m french …!!!)

    • by Bernie

      My problem definitely disappeared after changing the reader. The camera works perfectly again.

  10. by eric

    Great instructions – 2 pins were bent on mine too and I was only able to see it once the CL reader module was out. Unfortunately repositioning the pins is almost an impossible affair due to the lack of access space. I’m going to order a new reader.

  11. by carol

    In case anyone is still looking at this, talked with Nikon today, the part number is actually
    1C998-634 (number transposed above). On backorder until end of April. I will look around to find. Thanks for the info though, my camera has been CHA for 9 months and I finally going with this solution. Considered upgrading, but don’t want to curb it. Thanks!

  12. This a great source of information and confirms this as a common problem. For those not brave enough to attempt the repair then consider my comments below. I would suggest for those who will try to do this themselves they should probably buy a replacement card reader and flex as this is the most likely cause of the issue and so once open replace the card reader is the best advice

    I’ll tell you my story as I wasn’t brave enough to try this. I had been getting the CHA and FOR issue on my D70 (its been converted to IR and nothing to do with this CHA issue). I found I could get past the issue by removing / reseating the card but its a pain doing this and who wants to do this everytime the camera is switched on.

    My reasearch suggests its an issue with the gold plating on the camera SD card reader pins where the coating wears off and the pins oxides cause the poor contacts and hence the CHA issue.

    I got several quotes, beware of shops claiming to do them as they will often just send them off themselves and add a cut on top. I wont advertise who I used to make the repair but feel free to email me if you want the details. Anyway the repair has cost me £78 inluding VAT, parts (new card reader and flex) and return delivery via courier. It has taken 5 days in total. This repair also included an internal clean and clean of the CCD sensor

    Which ever you try do be aware its an easy fix and relatively inexpensive, do consider an internal dust rem,oval clean and CCD clean at the same time.

    Good luck with which ever fix method you try!

    • by Diehl Unger

      I hav70 with CHA problem. It has finally reached the point that I cannot reset the camera by removing/inserting the card. The camera is dead with permanent CHA.

      I am reluctant to attempt the disassembly of the camera myself.

      I would like to send the camera to a trusted repair facility and pay them a fair price for the required service.

      Can you please provide the name (contact info) of the firm that you used with successful results?

      Thanks in advance,

      Diehl Unger
      diehlunger@charter.net

  13. by Adrian

    Great description! After some fiddling I could put my D70 back together again.

    TIP: I found it easier to disconnect/reconnect the flatcable to the backpanel on the side of the bottom PCB (you will have to remove the bottom panel first). It is much better accessible and it flips open, just like the CF cable.

    The only camera problem I could find was some dust between the soldering pins of the CF connector. I suspect the card problems to be caused by the flex-PCB’s / flatcables between the PCB’s. I cleaned them all using electronic cleaning solvent (Servisol Aero Klene 50) and reconnected them carefully.

  14. by Jen

    I followed this very easily, thanks! It seems though that I have some corrosion on the cable that was taken out of the cf subpanel… anyone know if that would have caused the CHA error?

  15. by Chris Stovall

    I ran across this site a few years ago and bookmarked it for the time when I decided that I’d try to fix my D70. I lost that bookmark and am so happy to find it with a search query. I’ve been using my D90 and let the D70 sit idle. Last week I took it to a Girl Scout meeting to talk to the girls about Digital Photography. When I removed the CF Card and reinstalled it, the old familiar “Card Not Formatted” error was displayed. Oh joy. So, I hope that this page helps me correct the issue.

    Thanks for keeping this info available.

  16. by Bill Anderson

    Thanks very much – removing the panels and cleaning the contacts cleared the problem.

  17. by Baiju

    Nikon is stating they do not sell parts directly anymore. Has anybody in the US found an option to get the card reader. Nikon quoted me $150 – $225 for the repair.

  18. by edie

    any chance with an idea of fixing my D70 that keeps showing FOR and the problem is not with the card???

    thanks

    • Apparently this may also be caused by a malfunction of the card reader panel. A brief search turned up this discussion on flickr, where the original author mentions that they managed to fix their issue with a replacement.

  19. by edison Silva

    I need de nikon d70-cf- reader p/n 1c998-634, where to buy it, other place then Nikon

    • Sorry, the only suggestion we can make is to check ebay… it should be fairly easy to find a seller there.

  20. by D70s repaired!

    Great tutorial. Thought I’d chime in since it seems the card reader replacement part is becoming harder to find. I could not buy it from Nikon and buying one on ebay is likely to come from a donor camera that has the same CHA / FOR issues we are all experiencing. Plus they are now far more expensive than some report buying new Nikon replacements a few years ago.

    I read on another site that the card reader may be repairable. He found that the force of the card going in and out in conjunction with poor manufacturing creates cold solder joints from the pins to the board. You can read more here:

    http://votefordavid.blogspot.com/2012/12/solved-0-diy-nikon-d70-chachr-error-fix.html

    I followed the instructions here to disassemble. Once apart I used an 8x slide loop to examine the pins. None were bent. I examined the solder joints form the pins to the board. They appeared to be well soldered but they are insanely tiny solder joints so its really hard to know for sure. Adding fresh solder to each pin without bridging to another sounded insane. I decided instead to simply heat each pin with a very sharp soldering iron to reflow the solder that was present. It was really difficult to tell how much of a change was happening.

    After hitting each pin with the iron (for a 5 count) I looked for solder bridges or anything that may be connecting the pins electronically. I did notice some thread, hair or slivers of metal. They were microscopic. Thinking they could be a thin shaving from friction when sliding the card against the pins I cleared everything from the pins just in case. Last I took a sewing needle and ran the tip between each pin at the solder joint to make sure there was nothing touching. Also when reassembling I scraped the end of the ribbon connector to make sure there was no oxidation or connectivity issues.

    I can’t be certain what it was specifically but this fixed my problem completely. Works like new. It took me about 45 minutes moving slowly.

    If I got another one of these with the same issue (for those of you considering what to do) I think I would blow out the chamber really well before disassembling to make sure its not simply an errant sliver of metal bouncing around and connecting pins. The stuff I removed was smaller than the naked eye could see. It was smaller than a regular magnifying glass to see. I could only see it with an 8x loop. Second, I’d try to clean / lightly scuff the connection of the ribbon cable on the bottom (not the lcd cable but the card reader cable). It only requires removing the bottom cover. Next I’d do the full disassemble, take out the card reader and try to carefully reflow the solder on each pin to make sure they are all well connected. Last, if all these fail, I’d try to track down a new card reader fro a reputable place and simply install it as suggested.

    Thanks for inspiring me to try to tackle this DIY. It’s fun when it works.

  21. by Dave Mac

    So I got that dreaded CHA message this week. I took out the card and I couldn’t rad anything from it. I put in another card and seems to be working. So the question is, can a CHA error come from the card and not the reader/camera?

    • That is certainly possible, as the CHA problem can also be a simple contact error (can be a bent pin, but also simply corroded contacts). So in marginal cases one card could fail while another one would provide sufficient electrical contact to work.

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