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  1. #1

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    Default iPod Mini upgrade

    Gentlemen, first of all, please do not say "get a new one": I much prefer Firewire-compatible ones and the mini is the latest.

    Well, I have not been terribly lucky with iPods (and repairing them), but I picked up a 4GB Gen 2 mini the other day, all original, but the battery seems not to be able to play for more than an hour, so it can do with replacement. Except for that, it works very well, after an initial stumble or two.

    (FYI: I found that it does not restore well and gave me the dreaded folder if I use the G4 iBook on which I have my iTune stuff, but it restored well on my Firewire-equipped 2012 MBP)

    So I am wondering - ten years after its introduction - if there is a known-good source for replacement batteries. Earlier threads here indicates there are some whose power keeps being consumed even if the iPod is switched off.

    With the view of improving reliability I might even look into CompactFlash conversion, as I am moving away from CF cards in my cameras, I can definitely spare one of the 16GB 233X by Pretec but I sure have heard a few horror stories regarding CF conversions...

    Thanks in advance for your insights.

  2. #2

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    Default

    No particular recommendation, but there seems to be plenty of options on eBay for five bucks or so, might as well grab one and see what happens for that price. The CF upgrade looks like a great idea too, extra capacity as well as lower power consumption and added shock resistance! Again, while you have the thing apart putting a battery in, you may as well give it a bash, especially when you have a spare CF card anyway so there is no added cost.

    While it's working for you and has enough capacity (expanded hopefully!) you might as well use it.

    Your limiting factors here are that running iTunes on an G4 means you're stuck on an old version of iTunes, 10.6.3 being the last one to support PPC, so if you want to sync newer devices (iphones/ipads especially) it's going to want to update iTunes which you cant do.
    Many Shiny Toys with Apple Logos | Some Microsoft Toys too
    If it has an engine or a heartbeat it's going to cost you.
    Drive a VW?

  3. #3

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    The Hawk,

    Thanks for your encouragement, I appreciate it.

    As I have only bought the MBP brand new - and picked it instead of the Retina models for all the sockets - I could very well move the iTunes stuff from the iBook to that, it's just that I do not use smart phones at all, so the need is not there. One thing I noticed is that the earlier iTunes on the iBook cannot restore the iPod but the current one on the MBP can.

    My concern is the many reports I read about replacement batteries not performing correctly, or CF card conversion failing such as this. Therefore I'd like to see if fellow members who have been successful can offer their insights, or at least those more informed than me can see if the Pretec CF is compatible. Thanks!

  4. #4

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    At this point if you're comfortable pulling the iPod apart give it a bash anyway. The way I read that post is that that particular CF card wouldn't work but the original drive would. Since you have to tear it down to replace the battery it should be easy enough to check the CF while it's all apart (just be careful with the ribbon cable as they can be a little fragile).


    I'm all for pulling stuff apart! Give it a bash, take lots of photos and share them to encourage other to pull stuff apart!
    Many Shiny Toys with Apple Logos | Some Microsoft Toys too
    If it has an engine or a heartbeat it's going to cost you.
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  5. #5

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    The Hawk,

    If I can find a battery that's going to be a satisfactory replacement then I would certainly take it apart to replace it. The $7.10 battery (cheapest on eBay AU) does not even quote its capacity, some UK sellers offer 750mAh ones, and US sellers offer 1300mAh ones, but at much higher prices, and I am aware of 2000mAh ones too. I have to decide on one that makes financial sense, and it would not make too much sense if I just open it up to put in a CF card anyway. Some serious thinking needed!

  6. #6

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    Default

    I'm the guy who started that thread two years ago. In the end, I did end up with a working iPod mini with a 16GB CompactFlash card and a new battery.

    BUT...I had to get a new mini in order to do so. When I had the iPod apart, I somehow managed to damage the logic board. When I got a new iPod, I was able to slot my CompactFlash and my new battery into it, and it worked perfectly, and still works great. But I'm never opening the damn thing again unless I really have to, for fear of damaging it.
    Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two...

  7. #7

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    LCGuy,

    Thanks for your update, it sounds encouraging! I have been running the mini all day and it seems to make it works better: this current charge-up has been running for a little more than three hours, and the battery level indicator is still more than halfway up; I'll keep running it and see when it conks out, and then decide if a battery swap is worthwhile: but it is anything less than the Gen1's 8 hours then it would tip me towards upgrading.

    So where did you get the battery? Is it one of the less-expensive ones like the $7.10 one on eBay currently?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seele View Post
    LCGuy,

    Thanks for your update, it sounds encouraging! I have been running the mini all day and it seems to make it works better: this current charge-up has been running for a little more than three hours, and the battery level indicator is still more than halfway up; I'll keep running it and see when it conks out, and then decide if a battery swap is worthwhile: but it is anything less than the Gen1's 8 hours then it would tip me towards upgrading.

    So where did you get the battery? Is it one of the less-expensive ones like the $7.10 one on eBay currently?
    I got one from macfixit locally.
    Successful trade with: Clockwork.....(and what a trade!)

  9. #9

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    I got mine from Other World Computing, back when the Aussie Dollar was a bit stronger than it is at the moment. I believe MacFixit should have the NewerTech batteries as well.
    Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two...

  10. #10

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    Thanks gentlemen, too bad the A$ is in a bit of a state but the fact that I have a bit of US$ in cash does not exactly help! I am familiar with the products by the old NewerTechnology firm, but the brand has since passed into different hands, so the name is not an assurance as before, but I am glad that first-hand experiences are positive.

    As I type this, that same charge is still running the mini after 5 1/2 hours so far; we'll see how that goes as everything depends on the result. In the mean time I will look at the Newer battery, but the Pretec page does not give me explicit information regarding compatibility...

  11. #11

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    Gentlemen,

    So far my tests indicates that it can run continuously for nine hours on one charge, which is half the original capacity: when the power level indicator reaches the middle, it conks out and asks for recharging. If I use it intermittently, playing a few songs a few times a day with breaks in between, the cumulative duration seems much less. Getting it future-proofed - or giving it a clean slate as per new battery and storage might be an idea after all. Apart from the Pretec CompactFlash that I already have, here is a high-capacity 1300mAh battery which might just be the ticket to provide a good headroom, even though it does not come with the regular type of spudgers; I sure won't want to mar the unit at all!

    Has anyone tried the hot glue method?
    Last edited by Seele; 6th August 2015 at 05:25 PM.

  12. #12

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    An update, hopefully the final one:

    I have since acquired the 1300mAh battery, and have performed the operation switching out the old battery and 4GB hard drive.

    The hot glue method works, but with a caveat: the metal nozzle of the glue gun I used is hot enough to distort the surfaces of the plastics end pieces, now they show tiny dimples; there again it could have been much worse. Worth noting is that the bottom piece is easier to remove than the top which required several attempts, and the bottom piece has to be orientated correctly to ensure correct reassembly.

    The CF card I use is a Pretec I have been using in a digital camera, rather than the identical new one still in box. It formatted correctly and provides near instant boot-up and no vibration at all, so none of the original bumpers fitted to the MicroDrive is needed. Being thinner as well, a small piece of double-sided foam tape is used to secure it in position.

    I have been using the iPod sporadically so I have not been monitoring battery life per charge in any meaningful manner yet. With the old battery, it can play continuously for twelve hours or so, but when left on its own, a full charge can still be drained within days, which tallies with another person's observation. Yet another said that a higher capacity battery does not always give a longer running time, but the current set-up should be at least within specs.

  13. #13

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    Great to hear it worked out! Nothing like a bit of DIY hacking
    Many Shiny Toys with Apple Logos | Some Microsoft Toys too
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Hawk View Post
    Great to hear it worked out! Nothing like a bit of DIY hacking
    Absolutely! In Leicestershire there's a term for this: "mackling", referring to fixing things, especially making things to work beyond what they're intended in the first place, so I think I am a bit of a mackler... Still I hope my experience is of some benefit to fellow members regarding the hot glue method, and the Pretec card as a viable low-cost replacement for the original hard drive.

  15. #15

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    Default

    Performed some repairs to my iPod mini recently as well. It was a 4GB Silver, a few nicks around the edges and some scratches on the screen from when I bought it but still a decent looking unit. Removed the factory battery and the 4GB Seagate Microdrive, replaced them with a 650mAh NewerTech battery and a 16GB SanDisk Extreme CF drive.

    The verdict is still out on the battery. I'm not seeing phenomenal battery life despite no longer having a spinning drive in there, still having to charge it around once every day or two, but it isn't terrible either.

    The SanDisk Extreme though is breaking down all expectations of what an iPod should be. This card is capable of 120MB/s reads and 60MB/s writes, working in UDMA-7 mode so it's compatible with the iPod mini (2nd Generation) controller. No more re-queueing is required as I skip forward rapidly through tracks, and selecting a track to play starts the playback instantly. Syncing is impressive, it can transfer the contents of a CD (MP3 format, 256kbps) in around 5 seconds flat over USB 2.0.

    Those kind of transfer rates shame even the sync times of my iPhone 4S (although iOS on that device does add some overhead that the iPod doesn't have to contend with).

    For internal mountings I used double-sided adhesive foam to mount the CF card to the Logic Board, then a thinner compression foam to apply pressure between the CF card and the back case. I removed the end caps (the white plastic pieces) from mine entirely, so it's back to metal on the top and bottom of the iPod. It looks a little industrial, a little mechanical, but it doesn't look terrible at all.


    While some think the iPod mini is an ancient relic, with the kind of performance this device is capable of with a few internal upgrades it's far from it.

  16. #16

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    iMic,

    Good to know you have done this operation as well. The SanDisk Extreme is at least 400x speed rated, while the Pretec I used is 233x: I do not know the throughput speed the iPod Mini is capable of, or the speed offered by the original Seagate Microdrive. But I feel the the speed of the CF is not likely going to be the bottleneck, that is why I did not elect to use a card with performance as high as yours: the fact that I have a couple of them already was also a factor nonetheless!

    I do agree wholeheartedly with you that the iPod Mini is still a totally viable machine: in a sense it's a purist's machine, no video, nothing but the music pure and simple, and I do like that a lot. The upgrade headroom is, of course, very appealing, even though the battery capacity issue is still a bit funky. Placed on my current model MBP, its design hasn't dated by a moment.

  17. #17

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    Gentlemen, today I spotted another silver first generation iPod mini, also without any accessory and a little grubbier than the first and never been opened. As the price was very modest I bought it and it took a few hours to get charged up, but all is well too: I will also monitor the performance and battery life, but I do suspect I would give it the upgrade treatment as well, but with a cheaper battery: the high-capacity battery on the second generation discussed above does not appreciably improve play time, so the extra cost might not be worthwhile.

    There are also some generic no-name CF cards as well, I am wondering if they can be used. And as I prefer Firewire if possible, I am also hoping to find a dock-to-Firewire cable and matching mains charger. I also notice that Griffin made such a cable but with Firewire 800 at the far end, I do not know if it has ever been sold here, but then the dreaded Australian mark-up would have reduced its attractiveness...

    By the way, I keep forgetting to ask. On the numerous online instructions and forum page, there's a fair bit of differences in opinion from various periods, some say the first generation cannot be used with CF cards. I sure hope to find a definitive answer to this!
    Last edited by Seele; 11th October 2015 at 12:00 AM.

  18. #18

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    Well, a couple of weeks ago, shortly after doing this upgrade, I dropped the iPod mini while stepping out of the car. Straight onto asphalt. Left a small scuff in the corner. Functionally though, it kept running like normal. Didn't even stop playback as it fell. One of the advantages of having solid state storage, I suppose.

  19. #19

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    I just started dismantling the iPod mini 1st gen and as chances would have it, I broke the clickwheel ribbon cable... *sighs*

    There are lots of 2nd gen clickwheel assemblies on eBay at sensible prices, but only one 1st gen that I can find and quite costly too; I guess a 2nd gen unit cannot be put in. So I found another source and ordered a proper one: the wait continues!

    UPDATE:

    After a bit of mackling I managed to get the clickwheel working, by transplanting just that assembly from a cheap aftermarket unit whose actual mechanical function can only be said as much in wanting. An inexpensive battery proved to be no good as it's thicker than the original and that messed with the electronics, so I have ordered another known-good unit from the same source.

    I also notice there are some ostensibly "no name" CF cards, only branded in tiny letters at the back as "Memory Technology Company Inc", but the graphics imitate an early Kensington. The prices are low enough to make you feel suspicious: a touch less than A$14 for a 16GB unit, but my example seems to work well, so it would be a viable option I figure.
    Last edited by Seele; 28th November 2015 at 03:18 PM.

  20. #20

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    An additional question regarding the iPod mini (and I have another dead one heading my way)...

    I did not get one new back then but the used ones I chance upon rarely come with the accessories. I understand it came with the Firewire mains adapter that came with a long-expired clickwheel iPod. According to this Apple page I could also get an USB mains adapter, model M9837LL/A, on which I have not been able to find much information, such as output voltage and amperage.

    This M9837LL/A is not mentioned in this page describing the various Apple mains adapters, but the nearest one appears to be the A1102 (or #2A in the article) which gives 5V at 1A. The smaller A1205 follows with the same specs (#2B in the article).

    My questions.

    1. Is there a difference between M9837LL/A and the A1102? I would make sense if the former gives a higher output at 12V at 1A that matches the Firewire version but we are talking about different technologies there. If they are the same, then the later smaller A1205 should also work with the iPod mini.

    2. I also have a couple of USB mains adapters looking just like the A1205 and with identical specs, but marked as A1402. Is there any difference between them?

    3. The MacObserver page said the 5V USB charger was supplied when Apple stopped supplying the Firewire charger and cable. It does not state if either of these are compatible with Firewire iPods such as the mini.

    As I have a couple of A1402 I would want to make the most out of them, as long as they are compatible with the iPod mini, so I would want to be sure about that.

    Thanks!

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