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How I built a working iPod for £25 from spares

Posted by admin on June 9, 2016 in IT |

I recently decided to go back to the gym again, one of the things I wanted to do was get another iPod Nano 4th Generation music player. I can use my phone, but personally I always liked the nano that I had, I found them comfortable to use and they seemed to suit me for the gym

Problem was I sold my previous one, I didn’t want to spend the money to buy a brand new one or second hand one. I like repairs so thought why not carry out a repair on one.So off I went on eBay and found 3 broken iPod Nano 4th Generation 8GB models for £9.99 – can’t complain at that, should be able to salvage the components

Broken iPods

A selection of the iPods I purchased for repairs

 

The iPods I purchased for repair had 3 issues (from left to right)

  1. The first one the click wheel wouldn’t respond. The device worked, but nothing happened after power up. Click wheel wouldn’t respond to any input.
  2. The second iPod had a problem with connecting to the computer, it just wouldn’t switch on
  3. The third iPod worked fine, it just had a problem with the screen being very dim and wouldn’t increase in brightness

Reading this I thought I may be able to at least salvage one of them, the cases on them were all scratched, but as it was for the gym I wasn’t particularly bothered. One of them had a good case, but this was also a problem with the screen.

 

My first train of thought was the following repairs;

  • iPod 1 – Faulty click wheel, cable, dirty click wheel, or O/S restore
  • iPod 2 – Possible port damage, O/S damage or physical damage
  • iPod 3 – Damaged LCD, damaged digitizer, damaged logic board

Now that I had decided what I was going to do, I set about a plan of action. The 3rd iPod was hopefully the one I was going to use, merely because it was in the best condition, but I still wanted to try and repair at least one of them to have a go and see what I’ve got to work with

Broken iPod 1 Repair

I first powered up the iPod to confirm the fault, indeed, it powers up. Screen was fine, seemed to load the operating system fine, but no luck nothing else. I tried cleaning up the click wheel to make sure no grease had got under it. Carried out a system restore but none of this worked still the same problem. Issue now is either hardware related, or cable related. Kept it for spares, since I knew the iPod had a working screen

Broken iPod 2 Repair

I first needed to find out what was busted on this. I tried to connect to the computer as initially I thought it was a USB issue, I received no connection. I couldn’t go any further to test with this because the battery had no charge, so decided to dismantle it. Turns out the battery was damaged as it had swelled in size, so it’s possible this can be repaired. I couldn’t go any further with this because the lower data cable connecting the battery to the board snapped on removal as the battery made it a tight fit and I ended up cracking the screen on removal…..bugger… 1 down two to go.

I had spares from the first iPod, I swapped the logic board and battery over to the iPod which wouldn’t charge up or switch on. It came to life, but had the same issues as the first. The problem followed me so it meant the logic board was damaged as I was using a different clicker wheel this time. This may be a possible repair in future, but I wanted to see what I could do with the 3rd one.

Broken iPod 3 Repair

OK, first iPod knackered needs a new board. Second iPod, busted battery, cracked LCD (now no longer working) and connector cable. I have a 3rd one that’s working, great. Swap the screen over, still dim…. well that’s a problem. If you have a dim screen on an LCD, normally you replace the digitizer. All the power controls and assemblies are built into the screens and the logic board circuitry.

I had swapped the screen over, and had the same problem. That means the battery was OK, but the board was gone…. board from iPod 1 was a nono, board from iPod 2 required repair with soldering iron so what was my options

I ended up having to fork out some money, and kept an eye out on eBay because I needed either a good battery and board, or a good board. As this was all pot luck I kept my eyes open

 

iPod Nano 4th Generation, successfully repaired

Success, I found an eBay seller who was selling what was listed as a working board and battery. After some back and forth emails I took the risk and purchased them with the spares they came with for £16.99

 

I received them a couple of days later, swapped over the units working screen and replaced the logic board. Then came the moment of truth….

I powered it up, it worked! It connected to iTunes and said it needed a restore but then I received a low battery warning message. Damn it, usually low battery means it’s knackered. I figured it was working, so went to bed and left it on charge.

Lady luck was shining down on me, the battery really was just low, once connected to iTunes I restored it and now have a working iPod for the gym again.

OK I could have probably found one for the same price, but as I will also be repairing iPods for my business it makes good practice for me to understand how they work and the problems that you can encounter when working on them. Plus I like to tinker about with electronics.

This concludes my article on How I built a working iPod for £25 from spares

Fixed iPod

A repaired iPod built up for £25

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