Reuse that old or broken iPod mini in a fresh, sweet, and slightly minty way. You might even be able to have the same color case!
Step 1: The Acquisition and Idea
Maybe you sat on your favorite iPod and broke the screen. Maybe the case got scratched and smashed when you were chair jousting at 3 AM last weekend. Either way, you're out one sweet tunes machine, but still have an excellent data storage device.
I acquired this iPod mini from a friend. The screen was broken, and the buttons no longer functioned properly. He had actually removed most of the casing himself, therefore picture documentation is lacking in that department. Knowing about the iPod's file storage capability, the obvious option was to make a super sweet four gigabyte portable hard drive.
Step 2: Software Handling
Upon plugging any iPod into your computer, iTunes opens automatically. Apple likes the iPods to update through iTunes, mostly to make things simpler for the user in my opinion, but in this case we need to look at its storage capabilities. Due to my currently disorganized room, the next steps will be demonstrated with a third generation iPod, not the iPod mini previously mentioned.
Step 3: Enabling Disk Use
In the previous step the checkbox "Enable disk use" is left unchecked. When you check it a warning box appears informing you of possible doom should you yank your iPod out of the computer connection without manually ejecting it first. Easy peasey, you can handle that. Fire away!
Step 4: Files!
Having enabled disk use, you should wait for your iPod to finish automatically updating before removing it from the connection with your computer. After each automatic update the iPod is immediately ejected from the computer by iTunes, hence the reminder to need to eject yourself. Having disconnected your iPod, the next time you reconnect it to the computer it should appear on your desktop or in your "My Computer" thing on Windows. Now you can put files on it!
Please note that Apple did a good job of hiding the folder your music in kept in on your iPod. Enabling disk use alone will not allow you to move music imported by iTunes around in the Finder or outside of iTunes. In order to recover song files from a broken iPod, try searching versiontracker
for a program to help you with that on your computer.
Step 5: The Battery and Hardware
Closer inspection of the iPod mini reveals the two heaviest and bulkiest parts of the machine: the hard drive and the battery. The hard drive (which says "Microdrive" on it) you obviously need to store files. However, the iPod will run without the battery (the other blue square thing) if, and only if, it is connected using a firewire iPod cable. If the iPod you are using is a mini, you can certainly do away with the battery entirely, but you rely on having a firewire connection to every computer you wish to use it on. I recommend that you keep that baby in there.
Step 6: Casing
Casing is a difficult, but fun subject to attack. Any material used needed to be the right size, and flexible enough to cut a slit for the iPod connection.
I decided that using a metal case without any inner lining might make unwanted and possibly device-ruining connections on the circuit board. That eliminated a soda can case.
Originally, as you can see in the photos, I used a simple cardboard case scotch taped together to hold the device. It did the trick, but I kept having to cut the scotch tape to show off my handiwork. Too much work.
I finally discovered that an Orbit gum case is precisely the right size for a stripped down mini. It's flexible. It opens easily, but can be taped shut to prevent accidental slippage. It even comes in different colors similar to the mini's original casing, and your friends like you even more when you inexplicably give away an entire pack of gum. All in all pretty sweet. Just make sure no one throws it away thinking it's a regular pack of gum. Maybe that's what happened to mine...