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Video iPod Exposed: Guts to Glory, PSP Style

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How did Apple get an LCD and 60 gigabytes of music into such a small device? In this third "Exposed" article, Seth Fogie takes a peek under the hood of the iPod to investigate this engineering marvel. However, he doesn't stop there! In an effort to improve upon the original design, Seth also upgrades the infamously scratchable faceplate with parts from a PSP. The result? A scratchproof clear faceplate that makes his iPod one of a kind.

Since its inception, the iPod has sold roughly 42 million devices and accounts for about 75% of the nation’s digital music player inventory. Combine this with the sales of music via iTunes, and it’s no wonder Apple is smiling all the way to the bank. While there are those who might find other gadgets more attractive, the iPod is a hit. Not only has it proved to be a technological success, but Apple has managed to strike a musical chord with the younger generation, who have turned the little device into the latest "must own to be cool" toy.

While the Video iPod is aesthetically pleasing, I have to wonder how someone can fit 60GB of music inside such a small device. The result of this disorder is that I like to take apart such devices, just to see what’s under the cover. Sometimes this leads to ideas on how to improve the devices; however, in the case of the iPod, the aftermarket vendors have this area covered. From external speakers to FM connectors to streaming the music to your car stereo—if you can think of it, someone has probably made it.

All that said, the iPod does suffer from one very annoying problem—an easily scratchable screen. This problem affects many portable devices, but one gadget has managed to avoid this curse: the PSP. I happened to have a spare PSP faceplate lying around, so I compared the two faceplates and realized that the clear part of the PSP plate almost exactly matched the size of the iPod. Was this pure coincidence or just God’s sense of irony? Either way, it was too good a chance to pass up. The rest of this article will detail not only the procedures needed to get into the iPod, but also the steps I took to create the scratchproof iPod PSP faceplate.

Disassembly

Taking apart the iPod proved to be much easier than I thought initially. Simply follow the steps below and you should have your device apart in no time. Although I can’t guarantee it, you probably won’t even void your warranty if you’re careful.

  1. Place the iPod face up on the desk to orient yourself.
  2. Slide the iPod around to its side. Insert a small flathead screwdriver tip between the white plastic and metal case; then use the screwdriver tip to pry up the side. (Figure 1 shows metal grooves between the white plastic catches. Aim for this area when inserting the flat tip of the screwdriver.)
    Figure 1

    Figure 1 Side shot of iPod.

  3. Once the side is free, wiggle loose the other side. Carefully flip the iPod onto its face and lift off the back of the iPod about half an inch. In the lower back left-hand corner you’ll find the battery connector that needs to be unlatched.
  4. Using the flathead screwdriver, lift the brown catch on both sides of the connector and slip out the power strip. Figure 2 shows the location of the connector and provides a shot of the internals of the iPod.
    Figure 2

    Figure 2 Power connector and iPod internals.

  5. Lift the blue hard drive out of the case and flip it over the bottom of the iPod (see Figure 3).
  6. Using the tip of the flathead screwdriver, release the brown catch of the connector on the circuit board. It will lift up from the bottom. Be sure to use care when doing this—a wrong move will damage the device. Once the catch is released, slide the cable out from the connector.
    Figure 3

    Figure 3 Removing the hard drive.

  7. Flip the catch on the connector near the side of the iPod. This item provides the output signals for audio/video to external devices (speakers, video, and so on).
  8. If you want to access the front of the iPod or remove the LCD, you need to remove the six screws on the side of the iPod keeping the white faceplate on the metal skeleton. Once the screws are removed, the faceplate will slip off.
  9. To remove the LCD, unlatch the connector on the back side of the circuit board; then slip the display off the front of the iPod.
  10. If you like, you can remove the battery and external connector assembly from the back case of the iPod. This is held together by a few Phillips-head screws and black tape. Once disassembly is complete, you should have something similar to Figure 4.
    Figure 4

    Figure 4 Disassembled iPod.

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