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iPod deconstruction tips.

iPod deconstruction photos
I took apart a nonfunctioning 15GB iPod that had been hanging around the Mobile PC offices for the past few months. I pretty much just went right in, using a pocketknife to create a gap between the front (white) plastic and the metal back, which are joined together extremely tightly; once I’d created enough of a gap I worked a small standard screwdriver in and wedged the thing open. Reseated all the connectors, put it back together, and it worked! Mostly. In the process, I learned a number of things:

  1. It’s nearly impossible to open an iPod without doing some cosmetic damage to the case–usually minor, but noticeable. There may be a special tool or technique which would simplify this, but I don’t know about it.
  2. Even after the hard drive has been disconnected, the iPod continues to function, playing music from its cache–see the photo shown here.
  3. If you’re going to open your iPod, start on the left side of the unit — about 2/3 of the way down the right side, there’s a thin ribbon cable connecting the scroll wheel/touchpad to the iPod’s motherboard, and it’s very easy to puncture this ribbon cable with your screwdriver
  4. If you’re lucky, a punctured touchpad ribbon cable will leave the iPod and many of its buttons functional — and even if the scroll wheel doesn’t work, you can still use the iPod, albeit without the ability to select songs or menu items or to adjust the volume
  5. Replacement touchpad ribbon cables are not easily available.

I’ve posted a few pictures of the iPod disassembly for your edification & entertainment — including a slightly blurry shot showing the hole I stupidly punched in that cable. D’oh!


  1. I.

    Well, you should have read the iPodLounge article suggesting that you use guitar picks instead of a screwdriver:

    (Do banjo players use plastic picks?)

  2. Dylan Tweney

    Great tip! I am doubtful that a guitar pick (or 3) could actually get in there — that case is *really* tightly sealed — but it wouldn’t hurt to try.

    And yes, we banjo players use both plastic and metal picks… neither type especially well suited for opening iPods though….

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