Recently my iPod Mini has been hanging up on me. Typically this means that the hard drive is having trouble. I tried to restore the iPod but the problem persisted. It seems like it was time to put the old FireWire 4GB iPod Mini out to pasture. I felt the same way last year when the battery died. I tried other replacement iPods but none was able to talk to my car as well as this relic from 2004. Just like last year I looked for a way to keep it alive. Last year it was a new battery. This year the rebirth came in the form of a compact flash card, the kind you used to use on high-end digital cameras. It turns out that the Hitachi Microdrive® has the same ATA interface as a compact flash card. There are some gotchas. There are plenty of compact flash cards on the market that are not ATA compliant. I decide to give it a try. If it didn’t work out I would only be out my time.I went to Fry’s, the best place to find old technology on the cheap. I found a 4GB compact flash card for $12.99. By comparison Best Buy had on for $43.99. Fry’s offered higher capacity but the point of this exercise was to keep the repair cheap. I was also worried about compatibility and decided that the 4GB model was the safest choice.
I got it home and ripped apart my poor unsuspecting mini. It is the same procedure as replacing the battery. There are sites out there that will charge you for the directions. There’s no need to pay them because you can find the directions out there, usually from the company selling you the replacement battery. I found some instructions on YouTube too.
The basic procedure is to pop off both ends. The trick is to not damage the plastic shields. One site used a hot glue gun to glue the iPod to a Popsicle stick and then peal it off once it cooled down. I just used a really tiny screwdriver and lifted it gently all the way around. Inside is a spring loaded thingy and a couple of screws. Don’t forget about the touch wheel connector. Once everything is unhooked, it just slides out. Form that point you have access to the screen, hard drive and battery. There’s not much else to it.
I replaced the hard drive with the compact flash. I used Disk Utility to delete the primary partition (DOS formatted). Then I plugged it into iTunes to let iTunes restore the drive and synch my music. Everything was working so I put it all back together. Project complete. The iPod is back in my car and ready for another commute.