Mon Dec 21 21:46:18 PST 2015

Upgrading a 3rd Generation iPod to use Compact Flash

I felt inspired recently to make an attempt to get my mp3 collection onto a single device that can be easily backed up. For some reason my attention turned to an old 15GB 3rd generation iPod that was given to me a while back. I like this device - but its battery was old and its ancient disk drive was only able to hold 15GB of files. Now 15GB of music is a lot of music. But what I really want to do is consolidate music and audio files in one place - so that I streamline their storage - storage which is currently distributed across various computers in a most incovenient way. Plenty of storage space, I reason, should allow me to collect everything in one backed up location, and I can then remove the duplication that has occurred over the years...That is the theory at least...

So I wanted to replace the battery in the 3rd generation iPod. I have done that before and I spent some time investigating where I could buy such a battery. Last time (about 2008!), Fry's had these replacement batteries hanging on their racks. Now Fry's seem to have given up having a large stock, so I investigated online sources.

Amazon was full of scare stories about replacement batteries not being the correct size to fit into the case. Apparently some of the newer replacement batteries are a bit too long or a bit too thick. This results in lengthy investigation of the reviews and questions. Eventually, I decided to buy this battery, and it fitted without problems: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RGJ48N8.

While investigating the battery replacement I found various sites that discussed increasing the storage in these machines using a CF card and an adapter. Well I was tempted by this - and I bought the necessary pieces to have a 60GB 3rd generation iPod...

Here at the parts I bought:

A CF to 50 Pin 1.8 IDE Adapter, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004FCY7WQ. This connects the CF card to the connector formerly used by the small disk drive in the iPod. There is a mismatch between the number of sockets in the connector and the number of pins in the iPod's connector - but the converter is clearly labeled as to where you line up the first (left hand) pin into the connector's socket.

I also bought a 60GB CF card, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009QXFSLI. CF memory seems to be fairly expensive - relative to SD cards and USB sticks - but this one is relatively inexpensive for this type of media and it is working well for me so far.

All you do to put these parts into the iPod is open up the case, remove the old hard drive, and make the necessary connections. I used some of the foam rubber that was used in the packing for the parts to insure that the new CF drive does not move around in the case.

And if I ever decide that 60GB is too small - I can alway buy a larger card.

There is a lot of discussion on how to carry out this conversion here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/337215/ipod-3g-compact-flash-mod. Two of the problems that people have are that the jumper plug on the converter board protrudes a little and formatting the drive is difficult.

For the jumper (which sets whether the CF drive will be slave drive or not) I simply took off the connector, removed the base of the socket, clipped the brass pins back a little, and slid the connector back on. This effectively brings the height of the connector back in line with the rest of the converter assembly.

To format the drive, I formatted the CF card initially using a USB adapter and an a MacPro - I formated the drive to what the Mac said was 'msdos' format - which I presume means FAT32 as this drive is 60GB. I tested the resulting drive on Linux and it was working fine, so I figured that this would be satisfactory. When the iPod was reassembled, I initially connected the iPod to a Windows version of iTunes, and this offered to reinitialize the iPod, which I accepted - and the iPod has been working fine since then - with its 60GB pleasingly reported under Settings/About.

There is talk about reboots when disconnecting from iTunes on www.head-fi.org, but my device is behaving totally normally since being converted. It connects and disconnects as usual and behaves as it used to except it now has 4 times more memory, is lighter, and probably less fragile.

Unfortunately I failed to get any photographs of the drive conversion when the iPod was opened up (and it is a pain to open these devices). I will try to remember to grab a photograph when it is next opened - and this may come soon - because I'm using it a great deal at present and that battery may need to be replaced again soon...

Comments are closed


If you would like to get in touch with me, please mail zfs at themolecularuniverse.com

recent comments

Posted by ZFS | Permanent link | File under: diy, electronics
[StumbleUpon] [Digg] [Reddit] [Facebook] [Google]