Earning the iPod Repair Merit Badge

Six Million Dollar Man LPAs mentioned in my admittedly lengthy Zune review, I’ve been an iPod guy for a while. Long enough for my original 4G iPod’s 20GB hard drive to go kaput a few months back. But would any professed technology geek settle for using Apple’s free recycling service? Heck, no!

Not when we can rebuilt it. Better, stronger, faster.

So I read this Instructables article and subsequently ordered a Transcend 16GB Compact Flash card and a CF-to-1.8 inch drive adapter (the former from Newegg, the latter from what I’m sure is a perfectly reputable Chinese retailer).

Some benefits of switching to Flash-based memory:

  • Faster read and write times
  • Less prone to shock-based damage due to the lack of moving parts
  • More energy efficient for extended battery life
  • Lighter

The only negative points are capacity and price, but losing only 4GB of the device’s original capacity for about fifty dollars seemed reasonable to me. That’s roughly $150 cheaper than buying a Flash-based Nano of the same capacity (though without snazzy new features like video).

The aforelinked article proved helpful and largely correct, with two small caveats:

  • Opening the device is the most difficult step. Despite recommendations to use special tools and guitar picks, no plastic tool I tried would work before its edges would soften. I eventually had to use a pocket knife, which did a fine job but left a few minor marks from false starts on the iPod’s seam.
  • The jumper on the adapter was very slightly too tall, resulting in a black spot on the LCD screen from the pressure it applied when closed. I bent the jumper with a pair of pliers to solve the problem.

Have you hacked your personal tech?