Thursday, September 02, 2010

Solid State 5th Generation iPod Video

The final part came in today. I made the necessary adjustments, snapped her together, and she's working like a champ.

Maybe I should back up a little bit.

About a year ago I purchased a 5th generation 30GB iPod Video with a dead hard drive off eBay. I tried to get it working to no avail so I scoured eBay once again and located a replacement drive for relatively cheap. I popped the drive in (a relatively easy task with lots of tutorials available on the internet) and had myself an iPod for less than $100.

Fast forward to about two months ago. I was getting ready to go on a trip. The iPod is my preferred vehicular music source over my Zune HD and my iPhone because it has actual buttons to do everything. I don't have to look at it or bring it out of sleep mode or anything extra to say "NEXT!" Much less distraction while driving (that is unless I'm using the Zune with the radio interface that allows me to control it from the head unit but that's another story). I also use it with a set of noise canceling headphones when I mow the lawn.

As I was preparing for the road trip I decided to sync some new playlists. Little iPod was having none of that. It started to sync then just froze in the middle of it all. I fiddled for a couple more hours and declared the hard drive, once again, dead. It is probably recoverable since it does boot but for the expense of drive repair I can probably get a replacement. But I don't want to have to go through the hassle of replacing the hard drive every year.

A little bit of investigation revealed something very cool. The existence of a Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) connector (that the iPod video uses as a hard drive connector) to Compact Flash (CF) adapter. I could turn my iPod from a drive-based device to a flash-based device for very little money. The adapters are about $1 a piece on eBay - I ordered two, just in case.

When the adapters came in I immediately tore into my iPod. I pulled the drive and attached the adapter and slid in the largest CF card I had on hand - 2GB. Once I figured out I had the adapter connected upside down, I got it to boot and restore in iTunes.

Satisfied that everything had gone well, I snapped the case back together and... sad iPod icon. Something was pushing together too hard, dang it!

As fate would have it, the iPod Video actually has two different backs. Back when they were manufactured, the 60GB and 80GB hard drives were slightly fatter than the 30GB drives. All I needed was the back off of a 60GB or 80GB model and I would be in business. $6.00 on eBay fixed that up right quick.

The new back came in today. I took apart the iPod and ever so carefully pried off the battery, released the cables for the headphone jack and hold switch and used the itty-bitty, teeny-tiny screwdriver they sent with the new back to remove the itty-bitty, teeny-tiny, eentsy-weentsy screws to dismount the headphone/hold assembly and the plastic bezel around the dock connector. I carefully put them all back in place in the new backing, plugged in the cables and tested to make sure it would still boot. When it did, I snapped it back together, connected to iTunes and loaded some music. She's running like a Swiss... car!

My new Solid State iPod still only has 2GB of capacity but it works! To upgrade, all I need is a larger CF card. I pop the case, slide the old one out, slide the new one in, snap her back together and I'm good to go. Now all I have to do is convince someone to let me buy a 32GB CF card (not cheap).

Update: The iPod never quite got back to 100%. It would sometimes start the restore screen but if I turned it a different way and gave it a couple of light taps before resetting it, it would work. I thought it was the drive cable but replacing it didn't help. It now doesn't boot from the CF card at all. The hard drive still boots but isn't recognized properly in Windows. Oh well, it was a good run.

No comments: