Post 30, 2009: My HackiPod

About a year ago, my old iPod died. I’m pretty sure it is what Apple calls a “Clickwheel” iPod. The disk started making odd sounds and it stopped working.

I looked into replacing the disk, but 1.8 inch hard disks are rather expensive these days.

So I hunted around on the net and found several articles asserting that it is easy to replace an iPod’s hard disk with a compact flash card. (I’ve lost the bookmark for the site I used, but this one seems fine.)

To do so, one needs an adapter to convert a 1.8 inch IDE hard drive connector to a CF card converter. Happily, I found such a device here.

Next step: opening the old iPod. As you probably know, iPods are sealed units and are not designed to be opened. As luck would have it, I had dropped this iPod and its white casing was knocked ever-so-slightly off-center and had left a small gap. That gave me the space I needed to insert a watchmaker’s screwdriver into the gap and prise it open a little. The next tool I used was an awl, a.k.a. a pointy piece of metal with a handle attached, to widen the gap further. Eventually, the white casing gave a little pop! and the iPod came apart.

Next, removing the hard drive. This was not hard, but required a firm tug. It came off quite easily.

The adapter is easy to fit, as it is readily apparent where the pins will fit. Adding the CF card was a doddle (we had a spare 1GB card around the house gathering dust), then the white component of the case clipped back together easily.

The CF card and adapter are not as voluminous as the hard disk and lack the housing found inside an iPod, which meant the iPod connector jangled around a little ominously before I closed the case. But once I snapped it shut, everything fell into place.

I connected the iPod to my PC and iTunes recognised is straight away, installed the iPhone OS, reformatted it, then let me synch to it. In less than ten minutes, it was a working iPod again.

I’m impressed that Apple does not prohibit iPod rebuilds of this sort.

So … what am I doing with what I have decided to call my HackiPod? Well … it’s now my iPod of choice for bicycle training. I use it out in the shed on the static trainer. At 1GB it does not have a heap of content, but it can store far more than I can listen to in a single training session of (typically) 45 minutes.

The adapter cost about $23, inc postage. The iPod was originally $799 and we have since replaced it with a$329 iPod classic. So this was no money-saver. And it means we now have five working iPods in a four-person household (two iPhones, the HackiPod, the Classic and a new Nano for Mr 8).

But it was fun to hack this iPod back to life.


One thought on “Post 30, 2009: My HackiPod

  1. My girlfriends vaio died a death last year, hard drive went bust. Gutted the hard drive of the 30GB ipod and stuck it into her laptop…’s still ticking over, should be good for another few months till we get her the carbon fiber model…

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