Rollei 6000 battery upgrade

I have received a few questions on various forums about upgrading the standard Rollei NiCd battery. First of all, thanks to various contributors at the Rollei forum on photo.net for their assistance.

Rollei 6000 battery

Why change anything? When the Rollei 6000 platform was released with the 6006 model in 1983, battery technology was very different from today. The cells used were 500mAh NiCd cells from Sanyo. These work, of course, but have quite limited capacity. I would often have to change batteries mid-shoot. An unwelcome interruption.

Today, NiMH cells of 1500mAh capacity or more are readily available, in the same specification as the original cells. The upgrade is simply a matter of rebuilding the battery by replacing the older cells with modern NiMH equivalents. You will need 2/3A size 1.2V NiMH cells. I recommend 1300mAh or more.

This is how the battery looks on the inside:

As you can see, adjacent cells are connected by spot-welded tabs. It is essential that the battery is rebuilt the same way. The cells only just squeeze into the casing and soldered contacts are too large and will NOT allow the cells to fit. I’m talking from experience here 🙂

The labour to rebuild the battery cost $16. The Intellect 1600mAh cells I use cost $2ea plus shipping. You can get them from rcmart.com and many other places. You will need 8 of them.

After the upgrade, I was curious to see how many shots the new battery would last for. So I sat on my couch and took 1,000 shots before I gave up. The battery showed no signs of slowing down and was still full-strength on the 6008AF’s battery indicator. I haven’t had a shoot interrupted by the battery since, and it’s good for peace of mind to have that much extra capacity in case you need it. (I am about the rebuild a second battery to give me more than I’ll ever need, and a backup in case of failure).

Warning: The original Rollei charger is designed only for NiCd cells, and is not compatible with the upgraded battery! You will need to use one of many available ‘intelligent’ battery chargers to charge the new battery. This is also not a bad thing as many of these chargers will condition a battery properly and maximize its lifespan. I happen to use a Maha MH-C777Plus-II, but there may be better options out there.

UPDATE, 31 March, 2011: I recently spoke to a battery technician and showed her a Rollei battery pack. We discussed the upgrade but soon discovered that her supplier of 2/3A cells was producing the cells at a size slightly larger than the standard specification. These cells were less than 1mm longer but that is enough to make it impossible for the battery to fit inside the case. I thought I should pass along this news to you all – be careful when ordering cells that they are the standard 2/3A size. If in any doubt, use the same cells that you know others have had success with. Good luck!