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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!
 
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Step 1: The Acquisition and Idea

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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...
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Could you not use the microdrive and a usb CF card reader instead?
LOL! Thats my current project. I just dismantled my ipod mini which a kid at school so kindly gave to me (woot to adam) and i am actually on newegg.com right now ordering a 4gb CF card. Umm, i may even go up to 8gb... it depends how much my next check is (: . When and if it works, i will post an instructable.
I dont get it, whats the point of using a cf card instead of the hard drive in the ipod, besides the fact that apple will no longer meddle with the files, in which case why wouldnt you just put your music on a flash drive seeing as that i pod has no controlls anyway? Forgive me if this is a stupid question.
Yes, the CF card will read exactly the same as the standard hard drive. As long as you installed the CF card and adapter properly, it should work.
lakaiorion5 years ago
actually all u need to do is go under ur control panel and under folder options, check the box next to show hidden files
Derin7 years ago
i plan on modding it a little...just ordered a box of broken ipods...hope they accept my request
Derin Derin7 years ago
darn they wont

YOU LOST ANOTHER CUSTOMER YOU STUPID COMPANY CALLED APPLE!!!!!!

Derin Derin6 years ago
must...............................get...................................mac..............................somehow.......................*puts tinfoil hat on*.................aaah...................cant.................escape...................the...........................feeling
toogers Derin6 years ago
ugh, artemis fowl joke. everyone at my school liked that book at one time, but i didn't ever like it.
Derin toogers6 years ago
. I wasnt doing an artemis fowl joke.I never read the book anyway.
toogers Derin6 years ago
oh. they use tinfoil hats in the book. sorry.
Lance Mt. Derin6 years ago
YAY, i like this idea to an extend. YAY
Redgerr, its best if you use a flat end screwdriver, and pry it open. worked for me. mine looks a little different on the inside. i guess its because its a 15 gig. huge harddrive! nice intructable! inspired me to finally figure out some thing to do with one of the 8 ipods ive won in the past 3 years.
GIMME ONE!....please...
he won't on account of your screen name!! creative infidel!!! lol
NLomm216 years ago
that's attractive
Redgerr7 years ago
okay i made one of these last night with my ipod mini but i dont get how to take the case off! its really hard lol your instructable works great though :) thanks again
Redgerr7 years ago
i just found a old mini my mom had and i think i might do this! awsome idea :O thanks!! :D
manmelvin7 years ago
so is the scroll wheel and screen removed???
blink1828 years ago
hey, im new to this whole "dismantling my expensive devices" thing, and im hoping my old mini will find a way to get broken any day now. Anyway, how do you go about opening the iPod?
first you have to pop of the TOP white peice. if you try to take it out the bottom it will rip off the headphone jack. Believe me i did that. Unscrew the top part from the case, pop the scrollwheel into the case and pull it out.
Ursell blink1828 years ago
  • the white ends, prolly with a small screwdriver like for watches, and the screws in side are really small.
Ursell blink1828 years ago
you have to take off the ends. on the top there are screws that connect the "guts" to the shell. on the bottom you have to remove that metal piece and unplug the spin wheel and put the ipod up and out (you'll see what i mean when you open it up)
mrdspecs (author)  blink1828 years ago
I got mine from a big guy who just tore it open. The mini's aluminum enclosure is basically a tube that the components slide into. You have to find some way to push the components out either towards the bottom or the top since the metal piece is seamless. I don't know specifics exactly as I wasn't there, and when I got the mini the enclosure was... not so together anymore.
Shifrin7 years ago
That looks so cool! That is an awesome case, maybe an Altoid can, would work... Nice Job! ~Shifrin
branfordlac7 years ago
I have a question -- will this still work if I use my old iPod mini, although it's battery is near-dead?
mrdspecs (author)  branfordlac7 years ago
Yes, it should still work if you use the Firewire cable to connect to your computer. If you use USB it may not work, but it's worth a shot anyway if your iPod is completely dead otherwise.
"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." Not realy, you just can't see it in finder but all the music is there. for you probably: /Volumes/Escape\ Pod/iPod_Control/Music/ They do mix it all up and give everything nonsensical names like: BBZL.mp3 but you can get all your songs off an iPod and back into iTunes with no extra tools. Just pop open 'Terminal' (Applications -> Utilities) and cp -R /Volumes/Escape\ Pod/iPod_Control/Music/ /Users/steve/Desktop/ (the paths might not be the same they depend on the name of your ipod and username.) Then when it finishes just import the folder 'Music' that poped up on you desktop into iTunes. Sorry windows users; I try to avoid that crappy os.
mrdspecs (author)  johnson_steve8 years ago
Definitely interesting and useful information. Do you know if the folder is just hidden or is it encrypted somehow? I imagine the path is the same or similar for Windows.
it's not encryped, and regular unix hidden files start with a . like .profile so it's not even realy hidden. finder hides all sorts of things it doesn't think you need to see. All my 'pods have the music randomly sorted into 50 directories F00 - F49 inside Music in addition to the weird names; but if the songs are mp3s they have standard id3 tags so any program that sorts or renames mp3s by id3 tags should be able to make sense of it. keep in mind that anything you bought off of itunes is encrypted and mp3 isn't the default 'import from cd' format for iTunes. /Volumes/Escape\ Pod/ would be the path for the 'root directory' of an iPod with the name 'Escape Pod' the \ is to escape the space so that bash doesn't think it's two seperate arguments. if you don't have spaces you don't need to worry about it. allso if you are typing a command or path to a file in 'Terminal' you only need to type the first few characters and press 'tab' it will compleate it for you. if it doesn't that means there were multiple matches pres 'tab' twice to see what they are. I imagine the path on windows would be similar but realy I'm more of a linux guy
mrdspecs (author)  johnson_steve8 years ago
Do you have any idea why the file names are changed and divided into folders like that? Would that sort of system make it easier for the iPod to find each song? Also, does iTunes tag each song with its name and artist and so on so that when you load songs from an iPod back onto the computer they have this information? It seems that would be the case due to the way iTunes tags the songs.
dfc849 mrdspecs7 years ago
I have a friend who owns an Olympus m:robe 5GB m100 (not sure) and the music was just in the root directory on Windows, and I think apple puts them into F00-F49 folders or however is to browser music faster by using the XML library file that locates the music. Watch as when you play a song it does not instantly play, there is somewhat of a wait on it. It also may have something to do with how Mac does the iPod business with iTunes, although I am not a Mac user.
Yes, it is hidden. The way to find it is (I will use > when entering file levels) My computer>your iPod Then hit tools>folder options>view tab>then check the circle next to "show hidden files and folders" Click ok Back to the iPod you will see all sorts of different dimmed folders. Click on iPod_Control. Inside, go to music, I do believe (I am doing this all from memory, so these things might not be labeled exactly as I say.) Then hit search at the top>Music>your file name, but be sure to go into advanced options and tell it to search hidden files and folders, or it won't find anything. Then, hope your computer has a fast search, cause with my 30GB, this can take several minutes.
By the way, this way is for Win XP
With Windows, though, you can use a program called Ephpod 2, which was made as a hack when iPod wasn't able to be used on Windows. You open it, then select your iPod's drive, and then it shows you all your music. You can then select what you want and hit Ctrl+Alt+C and then select where you want the music to be copied to. It will then copy to the HDD. I have done this several times, no hassle.
/Volumes/Escape\ Pod/iPod_Control/Music/ ( part of file path only or code only?) is the terminal comand cp return or cp -R /Volumes/Escape\ Pod/iPod_Control/Music/ /Users/steve/Desktop/ then hit return?
I have an idea: How about you take out the hard drive. You'll notice it has a IDE connection. Attach it directly to your comp as a slave hard drive TADA!!!! you just put 30 GBs on your comp the easy way. Don't go into all that work with a gum box that gets thrown out. By putting it INSIDE your comp, you can't loose it
locofocos8 years ago
So, will you be able to remove the battery and have it work if you are using a USB cable?
mrdspecs (author)  locofocos8 years ago
No. The iPod will only function without a battery if you use a firewire cable.
USB provides power also, if you are using version 2.0. My iPod runs through USB and charges at the same time. No need for Firewire, for those of us with WINDOWS!!!!
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