breathing new life into old technology

OK, pre warning, as some might have guessed by now, I may have a few geek like tendencies, so if this disturbs you, you may not want to continue reading this post as my inner geek gets to play with some retro technology…

A few years ago, as a special treat for my 40th birthday, my wife bought me a new (at the time) 40GB (see what she did there!) Apple iPod, as she knew how much I loved listening to music on my then long, arduous commute from Leicester to London. It was brilliant, and over the next few years it got a serious amount of use, and never let me down, not even once!

my 4th generation Apple iPod; hiding away, loved but unused
my 4th generation Apple iPod; hiding away, loved but unused

However, a few years ago, the hard drive started playing up, and as by then I had also got an iPhone, my much-loved iPod languished sadly unused on my desk. As I hate throwing things away, I had planned to possible replace or upgrade the hard drive as a way of trying to fix it, but the urgency and good intentions to do this, sadly faded to the back of my mind.

The hard drive and iPod may have gone from the forefront of my mind, but they were not forgotten! I also wanted to upgrade my head unit in the camper van so that I could also incorporate the iPod (or iPhone/iPad) into the system and take more music on the go with me on my travels. It was great being able to record a few mp3 mix CD’s for the camper, but as I now had all my CD collection available in mp3 format, it would be great if I could have all my music available! So now was the moment to breathe some new life into my forlorn and neglected iPod!

I had done further research and had seen that you could now also get extended capacity lithium-ion batteries for my old 4th generation iPod, and there were conversion options to do away with the old ‘mechanical’ hard disk drive and convert it to using a much more resilient compact flash card. This would be smaller, lighter, require less power and having virally no moving parts, be much more robust!

iPod compact flash to 1.8" IDE converter
iPod compact flash to 1.8″ IDE converter

So time for project iPod v2 to begin! First up I ordered a new extended capacity, 1200 mAh, Li-ion 3.7V battery to replace the old original battery plus a new 128GB compact flash card to supersede the original (now outgrown) 40GB hard drive! To hook up the new compact flash card to the original HDD connector in the iPod, I also needed to order a compact flash to 1.8″ IDE converter.

Then with the simplest of tools (plastic iPod splitter tool plus a T6 Torx screwdriver) and some online step by step instructions, it was time to open up the iPod and upgrade some of its primary internal components.

plastic iPod splitter tool and a T6 Torx screwdriver
plastic iPod splitter tool and a T6 Torx screwdriver

Withe iPod opened up, it was a simple job to replace the battery with the new higher capacity extended life replacement. Then it was a case of removing the existing hard drive, fitting the new compact flash to 1.8″ IDE converter and then fitting the new 128GB flash card that would now be the iPods new hard drive.

3.7v 1200 mAh extended capacity Lithium-ion battery
3.7v 1200 mAh extended capacity Lithium-ion battery

With the new upgrades fitted, it was time to update the system software on the iPod via iTunes and then sync my music collection to it. It was here that I first noticed the differences the new upgrades had made performance wise. The new compact flash card/drive was just so much faster than the old drive, and the 70GB of music transferred over really quickly! It also made the iPod considerably lighter than before!

As part of the initial conditioning process for the new battery, it’s important to fully charge/run down the battery a couple of times. The battery life was dramatically better than the original, to the point that I had to just leave the iPod playing over night to drain the battery down! The extended capacity life of the battery and the lower power demands of the new compact flash drive make a perfect combination for long-lasting music on the go!

my iconic 4th generation Apple iPod, fully upgraded and ready to go again!
my iconic 4th generation Apple iPod, fully upgraded and ready to go again!

It lives again! My updated and upgraded 4th generation Apple iPod maintains its iconic cool retro design looks, but delivers a way better performance in terms of battery life and storage capacity! I now have a months worth of continuous music to choose from, looks like I’ll need to be going for some long drives to test it out!

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