Open Thinkering


Tag: iPod

Building an iPod for 2023

Update (12/1/23): this project is now complete!

Inspired by this post, I decided over the holidays to upgrade a 5th generation iPod Classic (17 years old!) with more modern parts. It’s been a while since I owned an iPod, so I had to buy one — along with a few other things:

  • Black iPod 30GB 5th Generation in working condition (eBay)
  • 1TB Integral M.2 SATA drive (Amazon)
  • iFlash SATA converter (iFixit)
  • Rear (thick) housing (eBay)
  • Front housing (eBay)
  • Clickwheel + button (eBay)
  • 3000mAh battery (eBay)
  • Belkin charge + sync cable (Amazon)

That little lot cost me in the region of £200. As you’ll see below, I had to buy a new LCD display (£22) and I’ll need to buy new front housing (£17) but it’s still a lot cheaper doing it myself than buying one ready-made. It’s also massively more fun.

Side note: I don’t think I’ll ever fill 1TB of storage space and 256GB would have been more than enough, but ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯

For anyone thinking of doing this and a bit apprehensive about taking an iPod apart: don’t be! Although the screws are tiny, so long as you’ve ever taken anything apart before, you’ll be fine. Just don’t lose those screws!

Disassembled iPod Classic 5th Generation

I bought a 5th Generation iPod Classic because it comes with the Wolfson DAC which is supposed to sound better. Opening up the case and swapping out the hard disk for an SSD (with the help of the adapter) was really straightforward.

For some reason, the latest version of the iFlash adapter doesn’t have a little notch to keep the SSD pressed down and in place. So I was pleased that the larger capacity batter was also larger in size and therefore kept the SSD in place. This was all made possible by purchasing a ‘thick’ replacement rear casing (I chose not to have the capacity engraved on it).

Initially, I wanted a blue metal front casing which is entirely on-brand for me (I wear blue most days and drive a blue car). However, I accidentally bought a 6th-generation version which has clips in slightly different places to the 5th generation. As you can see in the photo below, I took a hacksaw to it, which kind of worked…

iPod Classic front housing with saw marks

As it wasn’t a perfect fit, I had to apply more force than usual to get it to snap together and, in doing so, I broke the LCD screen. So while the thing worked, I couldn’t do anything with it.

The replacement LCD screen came mercifully quickly (next day!) but it took me a while to remove the front housing. I destroyed it in the process. Silly me.

iPod Classic with broken front casing

I ordered a new transparent front casing which came with a clear click button. Adding that into the mix, as it was 5th-generation compatible was easy. So now it looks like this…

Modded iPod Classic

I’m really pleased with it! The reaction of my wife and kids ranged from “why don’t you just use your phone?” to “you spent how much?!” but I know that this wasn’t just a nostalgic project for a middle-aged man. Single-use devices still have their place: e-readers, for example, are used partly because they’re a distraction-free experience.

I’ve started keeping my iPod next to my bed and, in the middle of the night or early in the morning, I pop in my headphones and either listen to music or an audiobook. This morning I was listening to the dulcet tones of David Attenborough informing me of how life on earth started. I don’t sleep with my phone in my bedroom, as it’s too distracting, so I would never otherwise be able to do this! And for long walks and travel it’s going to be amazing.

Ideally, I’d like to get the Rockbox firmware installed as it can deal with larger databases than the original Apple firmware. However, from what I’ve read that requires restoring the iPod (not just formatting it) using FAT32 using iTunes on Windows. So that’s a bit of a roadblock for now.

Towards a forward-thinking Acceptable Use Policy for mobile devices

Enough is enough. I think it was Clay Burrell who (via Twitter) initially pointed me towards this quotation by Gandhi: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Unhappily, teachers in many UK schools (and further afield) are forced into a kind of cognitive dissonance as a result of official mobile phone bans being flouted by almost every student in the school. In fact, it’s more than that. Teachers are made to feel guilty when they encourage students to use the technology they have for learning.

Andrew Field and I had a brief Twitter conversation about this situation recently. As a result, Andrew started a thread on the Forum to discuss the issue. I’d like to bring more people (i.e. YOU) into the discussion, especially if you’ve got any links to good and forward-thinking Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs)! 😀

A brief search for AUPs relating to mobile devices brings up the following problematical example:

Mobile phones must not be used during the college day, including break and lunchtimes. Phones must be switched off during the day. If any student is found using a mobile phone at any time during the college day it will be confiscated until the end of the day

Of course, one can see why this particular college, like many educational institutions, has gone down this road. They’re protecting their own back; it’s the reason why networks often blacklist sites that teachers want to use for perfectly sound pedagogical reasons.

But then, there’s the rub. As Andrew Field pointed out, if the Internet connection’s already filtered, why lock pupils out of wireless networks and the like when they’re using their own devices? He cites using an iPod touch for accessing online content through the wi-fi connection in his department. There’s no reason why I couldn’t do the same – give out the password to students.

A big stumbling block is insurance, I suppose. But then, I’m only supposing. What exactly is the legal situation? Surely if a student damages their mobile phone/MP3 player in school it’s covered by their parents’ home insurance in the same way it would be on their way to and from school? Andrew quotes the following from Halifax insurance:

Personal Belongings
For those items that are normally worn or carried in everyday day life Halifax Home Insurance offer Personal Belongings cover away from the home both in the UK and abroad. This cover complements their unlimited sum insured contents insurance* and provides cover for items such as jewellery, money, credit cards and mobile phones.**

* Inner limits apply to certain areas of contents cover, including; money restrictions, single article & high risk item limits and contents left in the open. High risk items are subject to a £2000 limit per item. Details are available within the policy and schedule.
** Aggregate limits of between £2,500 and £10,000 apply. Individual limits apply to mobile phones, money, credit cards and pedal cycles.

I wonder if there’s anyone reading this who has links with those in the industry who could give a definitive answer?

Becta provide some reasonably helpful (general) advice on the subject, stating that an AUP should not stand alone, but instead be part of a ‘safe ICT learning environment’, including:

  • an infrastructure of whole-school awareness, designated responsibilities, policies and procedures
  • an effective range of technological tools
  • a comprehensive internet safety education programme for the whole school community.

I agree. Unhelpfully, they state that there “are many sample acceptable use policies available, both online and via local authorities, which schools can use as a basis for their own policies” – but then fail to link to any. 🙁

To their credit, however, they have a PDF document from 2006 on E-safety which could provide an excellent platform to spark a discussion within your school. It covers everything from the potential dangers of online access, to the responsibilities for those with various (already extant) roles within the organization. It’s focus, nevertheless, is on prevention of abuse rather than enabling and opening-up as much as possible!

Diagrams are powerful tools when trying to effect change. This one, from the PDF mentioned above, demonstrates a sound (if slightly conservative) process. As technologies change, so must AUPs and, most importantly, the whole organization’s response. ICT lessons, as many teachers of the subject have realised, cannot simply be focused on learning how to use Microsoft Office and the like. They need to prepare students for the 21st century online world.

We need to create responsible users of the Internet and mobile devices. Yes, there are risks. Yes, there might be financial and other costs to the school. But isn’t it worth it in the long run? 🙂


Liz Kolb replied to this post via Twitter providing a handy link to some AUPs:

Pimp your 5g iPod Video to look like an iPod Touch

Pimped iPodApple always manage to improve on the interface for their products with each incarnation. It leaves those who have bought previous models lusting after the newest model. However, there’s always custom firmware! Here’s how to pimp your 5g iPod Video to look very special… 😀

Continue reading “Pimp your 5g iPod Video to look like an iPod Touch”