Why buy new? How to boost that old ipod mini for under 50 bucks

I hate to give up without a fight.  When something breaks, I do my best to fix it before giving up on it for good.  I also hate losing, especially when losing means having to pay Apple for a new iPod.

So when my beloved ipod mini, constant companion for the past four years and occasional gag post prop, died a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t mourn the loss and start to shop around for a brand new replacement.  I looked at it as an opportunity to tear the thing apart and try to make it work again.  A quick look at a few sites and I learned how I could build myself a new – and much bigger –  ipod mini for under 50 bucks.

I know the mini is old, that a brand new 16GB Nano that has a colour screen and shoots video isn’t expensive, but so what?  I don’t need a colour screen to read text, music videos have always bored me to hell, and you don’t need to shoot video with an iPod.  Who thought that one up, anyway?

Besides, if you’re used to handling the mini, you’ll find the wafer-thin Nano much too light, its feel too flimsy.

Another great thing about the mini – besides its substantial heft, smooth hand feel and functional simplicity – is how easily it can be taken apart.

ipod mini 16GB compact flash new battery replacement

Using only the two screwdrivers – one to pry the ends off and the other to remove two tiny screws holding the guts to the outer frame – I had everything apart within five minutes.

I would go into lavish detail about how to do all that, including why you also need a hair dryer for the job, but that would simply be repeating what is already available on this easy-to-follow how-to video.

I could have replaced the old hard drive with a 32GB card, but since I only need it for music and podcasts, the huge size and extra expense would go to waste.

So I swapped the old 4GB hard drive for a 16GB compact flash, and threw in a new battery at the same time.

After formatting the new flash card and charging the battery, iTunes at first wouldn’t load onto it, but after a bit of iTunes tweaking and reformatting, it finally worked.

Sorry, Apple shareholders.  Your company’s bottom line won’t get much help from me.

18 Responses to “Why buy new? How to boost that old ipod mini for under 50 bucks”

  1. October 11, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Wow, neat!

    What kind of death did your iPod mini die? Most of the trouble I have heard about was regarding the battery — in fact, Sarah’s iPod mini battery eventually died and we replaced it with a nano. I gather that throwing a new battery in was a supplemental repair/replacement. Or was the battery the primary problem, and you decided to upgrade the storage along with replacing the battery?

    • October 11, 2009 at 1:55 pm

      The big problem was the battery. After four years of going about five hours on one charge, it had started to drain to zero within an hour, so I ordered a new one. Then I stumbled upon all that info on how you can outfit the mini with a compact flash chip, and so replaced both at once.

  2. October 11, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Good for you. Where would we be without the internet? Anything breaks or goes wrong, you google and have a spate of DIY solutions.

  3. October 11, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Ca you come over and fix my old brick shaped Nokia too?

  4. October 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Well done! And 16Gb is plenty. Things like colour screens and video options are just extra things that can go wrong, imo. Especially when they are superfluous.

  5. October 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Most ingenious! Now I’ll know where to turn when my old iPod goes belly up. I mentioned your cleverness to our 16 yr old today and he said “Oh yeah, everyone’s doing it.” Reduce, reuse, recycle, eh? Apple will be fuming.

  6. October 15, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I say more power to the teenagers. Based on the writing skills of the standard DIY hacking sites, I would say the great majority are teenagers.

    Now, would you like to come over and hack into a Wii with me?
    I would love to do it, but am a little frightened over the prospect.

  7. October 17, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Hey inspector gadget, let me know if I can put your problem solving skills to use in one of my ventures! Well done! P.S. Come to Oslo next year for our blogfest http://www.terella.no/ Renny is a legend!BB.

    • October 18, 2009 at 5:29 pm

      Hey BB,
      Thanks for the invitation! I sure would like to get back to Norway sometime, and that sounds like a great reason. If I could combine it with a ski trip, so much the better.

      @Snooker – I haven’t a clue about video games. I think I was born just a little too late to ever get that much into them, and now I just can’t get interested.

  8. October 20, 2009 at 5:13 am

    I kept coming back to read this and couldn’t figure out why, since I don’t have an iPod or other such gizmo and probably wouldn’t repair it if I did.

    Finally, I got it – this reminded me of my uncle, who was a Motorola dealer and had a repair shop in the his basement. It was filled with old radios and tubes and wires and such, and I used to sit down there and watch him work his magic.

    The technology may have changed, but the dynamics and pleasures of tinkering haven’t changed much at all.

    • October 20, 2009 at 5:28 am

      That’s a big part of it, Linda. It’s not that I can really do much more than swap out the bare essentials, though.

      If you like radio and listening to stories, I think you’d appreciate having an MP3 player – doesn’t have to be and iPod, just something to download podcasts onto.

  9. October 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I’m sure you’re right re: the MP3 player, and it’s on the list. As a matter of fact, I just pulled the plug on my cable tv service last week, and an MP3 player is the first thing I intend to purchase with the monthly savings. Priorities, priorities….

  10. October 24, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Well done. It’s nice to see that it can be done. Too often we tend to just chuck things as soon as they don’t work the way we expect them to.

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