Convert Your 4th Gen IPod to Use Flash Memory

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About: Hello, my name is Eddie. I'm one of those people that can't leave well enough alone so I'll inevitably take things apart and modify them to suit my needs. As evidenced from my Instructables, I've been int...

We all have or know of someone who has an iPod with a dead hard drive. Of course you can simply buy another drive but you're back to the same power-hungry, failure-prone, fragile rotating media. Instead, upgrade your iPod to use Flash Memory. Sure a hard drive can hold all 30,000 of your songs, but even a 4GB card can hold over 24 hours of music - I usually change out songs often enough that I don't need to carry 20+ Gig of songs at all times.

Before you comment, I know there are a few people out there who have already done the upgrade. I don't claim to be the first to do this but I am the first to write an instructable for it (I think).

You can also check out my new Bluetooth 5G iPod Video atiPodHackers.net

Let's get started!

NOTE: If you're looking for my instructable on how to add Internal Bluetooth capability to your iPod, click here

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Step 1: What You Need


1) Unlike my other instructable where I showed How Do Upgrade Your iPod Mini With Flash Memory, you cannot simply replace the hard drive with a flash card. The 1.8" drive and CF interfaces are similar but you will need an adapter to bridge the interface from the card to the HD connector on the iPod.

I purchased the adapter for under $15 from an Asian vendor on eBay. It is not pretty but it works.

2) You will also need some cardboard and some hot melt glue or double sided foam tape.

3) iPod-Opening tools (non-marking plastic tools and/or flathead screwdriver.

5) Your iPod wall charger unit

5) Of course, you will need a fully ATA-Compliant Compact Flash card. Any size will work, but you can now get 8GB cards for under $70 as of this writing. I've had good luck with Transcend and Sandisk. Check the specs, not all cards will work.

Step 2: Open Your IPod

There are literally thousands of DIY guides and tutorials on how to properly open up your iPod, so I won't go into it here. I will assume that if you're actually willing to do this hack to your iPod you already know or can easily figure out how to open it up.

Step 3: Remove Hard Drive


Be careful here, don't just yank out the old hard drive!

First, unplug the battery from the circuit board to prevent any accidental shorts.

Next, carefully remove the drive by slowly separating the drive from the connector. Use your fingernails or a small screwdriver to gradually separate the two. A little on one side and then the other until it is out.



Step 4: Prep and Install the Flash Card

Once the drive is out, use it as a template to cut out a small piece or cardboard. This will take the place of the hard drive and prevent the adapter and connector assembly from bouncing around inside your iPod.

Next, plug in your flash card into the card adapter and plug the adapter into the HD connector as shown.

Use some hot melt glue or foam tape to secure the adapter to the cardboard and the cardboard to the logic board.

Plug the battery back in and get ready to test it!

Step 5: Test the IPod's Functionality and Restore


Carefully put the iPod pieces back together but don't snap closed just yet.

Plug your iPod into the PC using the dock connector. If iTunes does not automatically open up, do so now.

At this time, iTunes should recognize your iPod and will give you the option to restore the iPod to its original settings. Click OK and wait for it to finish.

Once the restore process is complete, your iPod will display a message telling you that the unit needs to be plugged into its wall charger to complete the process. Plug in the iPod for a few minutes and check to see that your iPod works as it should !



Step 6: Before and After


Some of the differences between the old HD unit and my new flash version:

iPod now weighs 22% less! 5.5 oz vs. 4.3 oz

iPod is now much more rugged and will no longer suffer from shock-induced hard drive failure.

Oh yeah, I'm still tallying up the battery gains but you can imagine how much less power the CF card will consume compared to the hard drive.

Now go and make yourself a Custom iPod Boombox!

5 People Made This Project!

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213 Discussions

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jonathang11

4 years ago on Introduction

I recently tried this and got everything but as soon as i turned on my ipod I received a folder icon with a website to contact support. Did anyone encounter this problem? If so, how did you go about this. Some things to point out, I tried the compact flash to sd adapter with a 32 gb sdhc. Any help would be welcomed. Thanks!

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jackmck.galwayjonathang11

Reply 22 days ago

Hey Jonathan, I know it has been 4 years but did you get that iPod going? I am in the exact same circumstance with the exact same problems and same adapters etc. Let me know if you got it working and what you did, much appreciated, thanks Jack

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crazyforipodsjackmck.galway

Reply 6 days ago

unplug and plug the adapter back in. I have bought a few ipods sold (as parts) because of the folder message. I take them apart, unplug the hard drive and plug it back in and it works. Make sure the ipod is Locked up at the top before unplugging anything, not sure if it makes a difference but it worked. Also, unplugged the battery before unplugging or plugging in a hard drive.

After doing that and making sure everything is in place, press and hold select and menu button for 10 seconds, and then select and play for another 10 seconds.

Another reason why you might get that message is because the new memory card was not formatted correctly. The best way is to do it outside the ipod using Disk utility (if you have an apple computer). It took me around 2-3 hours to get it work after resetting everything over and over again.

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svr

Question 8 months ago

Hope you can help me. I need to clear few things. I want to upgrade IPOD classic 4 20GB . Must I use SD card with same capacity GB and if not how much can capacity be increased? 32GB? More? I will use SD card and CF adapter. Any idea will 2port CF adapter work in IPOD?

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/2-Port-Slot-micro-...

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skweekymageesvr

Answer 3 months ago

I just completed this on a 4th Gen 20GB.
I used a SanDisk Ultra 32GB card and
I used this CF Board:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Compact-Flash-CF-SSD-...
and this SDHC adapter:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Speed-SDXC-SDHC-SD-to-CF-...
I don't know how much more increase the old 4th gen will take but the above is working well however:
As mentioned by others, make sure you align the ribbon cable of the iPod to Pin1 indicated on the CF adapter board.

I also needed to put some electric tape under the iPod ribbon cable covering the iPods circuit board. Before I had done that, whenever I would close the iPod it would push it down and the screen would go blank. Isolating the cable from the board with the electric tape solved that.
The jumper pins on the adapter board also seemed to stick up past the jumper so I put tape on the iPod inner case too.

iPod.jpg
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AlbertoN24

Question 1 year ago

I’ve done all the steps above and I’m unable to restore my iPod Classic 4th gen .. when I plug it to my mbp it’s not even detected or show up and I’m unable to restore it any help?

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nick71

2 years ago

Hello, thanks for the instructions, but, even thought the ipod works fine when I try to connect to an amplifier or the car's stereo it cannot connect. I get a message "not recognized"

Any idea what I should do in order to listen music from the ipod in the car?

Nick

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bansuri

2 years ago

Such a sweet mod! Worked perfectly with suggested adapter.

Thanks for posting this!!!!!

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dunnsrb

2 years ago

I am using an iPod 4th generation. I am using he most up to date iTunes and iPod firmware on an iMac running Sierra. I am using the same converters and CFs as pictured in this article. I have replaced the battery which is charging well and holding its charge. I am using the original iPod charger cable on a Y splinter so that there are two USB ports supplying power. I have tried every combination of formatting and button choices on iTunes. iTunes recognises the iPod and can see the CF but it will not restore. iTunes says cannot restore iPod cannot be found. What am I doing wrong?

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Faultsinlife

2 years ago

I tried this conversion and ran into an issue with the restore process, my computer recognizes the ipod and starts the restore but upon completion every time my ipod reboots to the damaged folder icon instead of the power block icon. I tested 3 different cards (im using a CF to SD and another CF to micro SD adaptor, I have both) and got the same results with all 3 regardless if I used a micro sd card or regular of different capacities. I tested it in another ipod and used 3 different usb sync cables, I also know the ipods ribbon cables and main board work fine, I swapped parts to double check. I also have 2 of the micro drive adaptors and using the second one didnt make a difference either. Im stumped at this point and cant think of what it could be, if anyone has any idea of what could be causing this I would highly appreciate some help.

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FaultsinlifeFaultsinlife

Reply 2 years ago

Update on above post, the ipod still isnt working but after using a program called easeus partition manager I found out after the ipod crashes during the restore it wipes the card and leaves it unallocated regardless of what it was formatted to before hand. Yet again im stumped as to why and still cant think of a solution to get this ipod working. Please help!

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Futsal_PHFL

3 years ago

I'm trying to convert an Ipod Classic 4G to flash memory. The mod seems to work OK with an 8gb CF Card, but once I use an adapter with an SD card (64gb) the Ipod will not restore. I've tried formatting the SD card but no change... Anyone else had this problem and a fix?

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JeffN47Futsal_PHFL

Reply 3 years ago

I've used this one (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004FD1D2C/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) in my iPod Video 5G (200GB micro SD) and iPod Classic 6G (128GB micro sd). The iPod classic required a special ribbon cable (https://www.iflash.xyz/store/hdd-ribbon/) but both worked perfectly with the CF Adapter.

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RickH51Futsal_PHFL

Reply 3 years ago

Your CF-to-IDE adapter might not be compatible. Some seem to work while others do. Not sure why. Search Amazon for "CF to 50 pin" and check the reviews to see if people have had success. I THINK this is the one I have, but I had to order a few to find one that worked, so I'm not sure:

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004FCY7WQ

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KaplanA

3 years ago

This was not as easy as advertised.... but it works...at least its working for now. I had to reconnect the cable a couple of times, do the whole enable disk trick and charged it for a while. I recommend to get the old firewire cable if you can cause that seems to do the trick better then a newer cable. Someone in the comments talked about how firewire sends power differently.

But it worked. By god it worked. I only have one album on it until I can get back home to my full library. This was an excellent Valentine day gift even if its a month late

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KaplanAKaplanA

Reply 3 years ago

4th Gen ipod classic HP invent model for above comment

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AlvarM

3 years ago

I have attempted this modification on a 4th Generation Classic iPod. New battery, plus a 128GB CF drive.

The CF drive shows up when plugged into a USB card reader, but more than one Apple (and a PC) cannot read the iPod at all. I've tried every trick (Disk Mode, Fire Wire), but I cannot get iTunes to recognize the iPod with the drive in it. I have tried two different adapters as well. These are the ones with the two diodes (a white and a red) which flash if you don't put the pins in right. Or am I missing something?.

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KaplanAAlvarM

Reply 3 years ago

I too have a 4th gen ipod classic and I cannot get the flash drive to work properly. I can't get past the restore ipod, always crashes, any ideas why?

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AlvarMAlvarM

Reply 3 years ago

(or it is also possible the drive is too big for this particular iPod to handle?)

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maccapen

3 years ago

after having outrageous success with my Ipod 7th (still running well) I bought a cheap Ipod 4th this time I got my 1. SD card (micro with adapter) 65 gig for $19 from Ebay Aust (seller item 281578038026) and a 2. flash card adapter for $9 and a 3. CF to IDE adapter $2.26 (crazy).

But sadly even though the 1. Sd and 2. flash adap work will with windows Ipod wont see it. Thanks RickH51 I'll try a new 3. CF to IDE (at that price be worth the effort).