Build an IPod Video (5th/5.5th Gen)

Introduction: Build an IPod Video (5th/5.5th Gen)

About: Mechanical Engineer, graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 2019.

So basically, I got bored during the summer 3-4 years ago, so i built this. If you want to build one, dont blame me if it breaks, and please remember I am just a college student, so don't try to sue me for anything.

By building your own iPod, you get full customization of ALL parts and you get the bragging rights and tech experience from building it.  You can change anything, from a clear front panel, to a high capacity hard drive. I built mine to save some $$$ and to show off to my friends. 

P.S. : I built this like three years ago, during the summer, so I might have some steps mixed up.
P.P.S : I just made this new account b/c i did not like my other one, so moving all my pictures and stuff was part of the delay

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Step 1: Tools

The tools you need to assemble and disassemble come packaged with replacement parts on ebay.  You could also buy the repair kit for ≈ $5.(anti-static hand wrap not included in price)

The tools needed are:

     -Small soft-pry tool

     -Large soft-pry tool

     -Micro Phillips screw driver

     -anti-static handwrap


Step 2: IPod Parts

Here is a list of parts along with my recommendations of mods/sources.  I will try and update with some prices as soon as I can find them.

Front Panel:

These come in two colors, white and black.  I chose neither.  I went to rapid repair and ordered an iVue clear panel so it would look cooler.

Back Panel:

These come in silver only.  On ebay they let you chose the hard-drive capacity to be engraved on the back(30, 60, or 80 gb).  This part is best ordered from ebay pre-assembled with the headphone jack, hold button, and battery already put into place.

Headphone jack, hold button, and battery:

I recommend that you order these pre-attached to the back panel, because other wise there will be some soldering involved, which I won't really be going into.


This comes in black or white. Pretty simple.  Unless of course, you order an iVue panel so the button and clickwheel are clear.  I show how to install that later.

Hard drive:

This was the second most expensive part for me.  I ordered a 30 gb toshiba from ebay at the lowest price I could find with free shipping(shipping is usually outrageous).  If the hard drive does not include the rubber sides and foam padding, you will have to order that separately.  Also, if it does not come with the ribbon cable, you will also have to order that seperately


This holds the motherboard, screen, front panel, and clickwheel in place.  Just a piece of metal.


If you did not order the back panel, battery, hold switch, and headphone jack together, then you will need to order the ten pack of screws for the ipod classic/video. If you ordered the back portion assembled, then just order the six pack on ebay.

Coil spacers/rubber bumpers:

These little pieces of rubber are best ordered from idemigods.  They have a lot of the other parts there as well, so check it out if you can't find a specific part.


This was the most expensive part for me, and it is also the one you have to be the most  careful with.  It is very susceptible to electric static shock, so always wear the anti-static wristband when handling.(Unless you live in a moist climate, like Houston, where static electricity is hard to come by.)


This part is pretty self-explanatory, just be careful not to get fingerprints on it, or scratch it before you can get it into the ipod.

Step 3: Assemble the Front Frame

First take your clickwheel, and put a small, square piece of tape over the hole where the middle button goes, and then stick the middle button in the hole from the back so that the tape holds it in place, and does not fall out.  Then, take the metal frame, and start putting different components onto it. Start with the motherboard. It should fit nicely into one side of the frame, where the frame has a curved indent for the top of the motherboard.  You actually kind of cross the frame and the motherboard to put them together.  Before you finish sticking them together, attach the clickwheel to the side of the board that looks like it has five little buttons on it.  The ribbon cable should wrap around to the other side of the motherboard and go in to one of the ribbon cable slots.  Now put in the screen.  Stick the ribbon cable through the large hole, and snap the cable into its slot thingy, then lay the screen flat in the frame.  Take the front panel (either OEM, or IVue) and secure it to the frame using 6 screws. You can use less if you cannot get all six in (I couldn't), and it shouldn't really affect the outcome.  Once the front panel is securely attached to the metal frame, you can take the tape off of the clickwheel.

Step 4: Add and Assemble the Harddrive.

First, attach the hard-drive ribbon cable to the hard-drive.  Then, attach the foam padding to both faces, and attach the rubber side bumpers (see below).  Next, attach the other end of the hard-drive ribbon cable to its corresponding slot thingy at the bottom of the motherboard.  Do not fold it over yet.

Step 5: Attaching the Back Panel.(part 1)

Lay the front panel upside down on the table, with the hard-drive hanging out, and put the back panel beside it, with the ribbon cable facing up.  Put in the rubber coil spacers/rubber bumpers over the capacitors at the bottom of the front panel.  This prevents the hard-drive and other components from damaging them.  Now take the right-most ribbon cable on the back panel, and fit it into the little slot thingy on the left hand side of the motherboard.  It should be bent weird, but that is the way it is until the final assembly.  Now that that is in place, fold the hard-drive over onto the motherboard, and make sure that it fits below the little prong/spur thing that sticks out on the left hand side of the frame.  If it goes above, you have to squish it so that it fits below it, because the battery sits up at the top when it is fully assembled.  This may take a bit of force, but if you are careful, it should go in fine.

Step 6: Attaching the Back Panel.(part 2)

Now that you have one of the back panel's ribbon cables attached, flip the back panel over onto the front panel.  Hold the back panel about 3/4 of an inch above the front panel.  The final ribbon cable  should be dangling down, right above its slot thingy.  This is the hardest part.  Now grab yourself a pair of tweezers, and pull the piece of brown plastic up GENTLY. It should only go up a little bit.  Now slide the cable into place with your third hand (or the thumb of your hand holding up the back panel), then push down the brown plastic piece.  tug on the cable GENTLY to make sure it is securely in place, and then push the back panel and the front panel together until they snap closed.

Step 7: Turning It On

Plug it into your computer via USB cable.  Launch iTunes, and set it up as a new iPod.  And that is it!!!  Go onto the next step if you want to learn how to install rockbox on it so you can do cool stuff like play old Gameboy games on it!!

Step 8: Getting the Required Software

So really there are just two things that need to be downloaded for this to work.

1. The rockbox build files.  go to
2. ipodpatcher.  Thing that installs the bootloader to the ipod.

Don't run any of this stuff yet please.

Step 9: Setting Up the Ipod, and Installing the Bootloader.

In iTunes, check the box for "Enable Disk Usage".
Extract your to the root directory of the ipod.  Once the extraction is complete, you should have a .rockbox folder in your root directory.
Now run iPodPatcher.  Assuming you only have 1 ipod attached to the computer, you should be able to just hit 'i' then the enter key. 
That is pretty much it.  Rockbox is now installed.

Step 10: Booting Into Rockbox

This is a short, almost unnecessary step.  To boot into Rockbox, just perform a hard reset, by holding the Menu and Select buttons. To boot into the regular iPod OS, just do a hard reset, then toggle the hold switch a couple of times while it is restarting.

Step 11: Playing Old Gameboy Games

First create a directory in the root folder of your ipod, called 'gbc' or 'gameboy'. The name doesn't really matter. 
Go download the ROMs you want to play. This is illegal if you do not own the actual cartridge, but that probably will not stop you.
If you download a file named like 'game.rom' rename it so that its name is either '' or 'game.gbc'.  It is very important that the file extension is either .gb or .gbc .  To open one of your games, take your ipod, select Files > gbc(or whatever you named the folder) > ROM you want to play.  Below are the basic controls, and if there is an *, that means you just rest your finger on the button, but do not press it:

Up - menu*
Down - Pause-Play*
Left - Left*
Right - Right*
A - Select
Start - bottom right corner*
Select - bottom left corner*
B - click left or right

Step 12: Thanks for Reading!

That concludes this tutorial!  If i forgot something, I blame it on the fact that I am writing this while in physics class and do need to do some work.  Comment if you need help, and good luck!

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    3 Discussions


    4 years ago

    It worked!!!!!!!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    So how much did you actually spend? And how much did you save? (You listed saving money as the reason for doing it!)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    This was a really long time ago, so the price may be skewed a bit. I spent roughly $180 on parts, and these iPods were going for roughly $195-210 at the time. So that is about $15 savings. As a kid working minimum wage as a lifeguard, I was glad to have the $15. I also had to purchase 3 clickwheels, because when I was trying to install the clear front panel, I broke two of them, and on the third I just gave up and went with the black one.