iPod Innards

iPod Innards
iPod Innards
June 20, 2006

I repaired my iPod last week.

The iPod had been having problems since late autumn, crashing, freezing up, needing to be reformatted again and again. A month ago I finally gave up on it entirely, when nothing I could do would make it work.

I tried being frugal, deciding I could live without an MP3 player. That plan didn't work: in addition to storing my music, I also used the iPod as an addressbook and scheduler.

There's no shortage of cheap MP3 players around China. After looking at a few locally-made devices I knew they wouldn't come close to replacing what I had before. I finally decided that, despite the expense, I would purchase a new iPod.

High-end electronics are generally cheaper in the U.S. than across China, I asked former Uighur-language classmate Astrid if she would play courier. She's recently returned to Xinjiang on a Fulbright scholarship, so has been shuttling back and forth between Seattle and Urumqi frequently. She offered up the luggage allowance of her boyfriend, who was to come visiting from the U.S. shortly. Using his address I went through the entire ordering process on-line, only to find that, even with expedited delivery, the parcel might not be delivered before Astrid's boyfriend's flight. I cancelled the order.

As I'd already resigned myself to shelling out for a new iPod, I figured it couldn't do any harm to try repairing the old one myself. The way the devices are designed it's not possible to just unscrew and open one up. I searched around the Web and found lots of instructions for opening up an iPod. One of the better sites included photos showing how one fellow opened up his iPod using two guitar picks and a credit card.

Based on its behavior in its final days, my presumption was that the hard drive needed to be replaced. I decided to remove the hard drive to see if I could find an identical model available somewhere in Urumqi. After taking the iPod apart completely, I noted the hard drive specifications and put it back together again. After it was put back together, voila, the iPod was resurrected. All it needed was to be opened up, then put back together again. Perhaps the IDE cable had come loose? I really don't know what the problem was, but am happy that I didn't have to buy a replacement hard drive. That would have cost nearly as much as a new iPod.

I've been carrying it around for over a week now, it's been working perfectly. It's in better health than it's been for half a year, I'm just hoping it will survive through this next month. I'll be on the road from the beginning of July into August, observing my annual ritual of leaving the country on my birthday.

Next stop: Mongolia.