I do not remember how I got into this rabbit hole 🕳️ but I had a big, big shovel in my hand and was ready to dig ⛏️ (there is no shovel emoji).
I like the idea of having a dedicated device for doing one thing in a good way. The eBook reader is a perfect example of that. No distractions, almost endless battery life, way better display for reading compared to a tablet or smartphone, especially in the sun.
The same could be said about an MP3 and video player.
You do not have to worry about your phone battery at all. You can plug cable headphones, stereos, or whatever into that device.
My special use case is audiobooks to be precise. I and my girlfriend started to listen to audiobooks during dinner timer and beyond. Especially on vacation, it is a good way to come down and enjoy a good story. Currently, we are currently going through a German fantasy series called "Die Zwerge" or "The Dwarves" by Markus Heitz.
Listening to audiobooks with Audible sucks
I am using Audible for my audiobooks at the moment and the experience is not as good as I would like it to be. When we want to listen to them we have to use either our smartphone or the tablet.
The audio quality of my smartphone (a Google Pixel 5) is just terrible and the volume is too often too low. The tablet is slow, and always almost has no power. We rarely use it anyway so buying a better one is not an option.
Audible has the feature of syncing the timestamp between devices, but in practice, it did not work always as it should have worked. And yes, I have set up this feature correctly. I know it is only possible if you download the audiobook file as one big file instead of many parts. Still had some issues.
You can not stream audiobooks from Audible to anything as far as I know. My home is full of speakers from Google. Still not possible.
On vacation, we had a rental car with Android Auto. Nice! We can easily listen while driving. That worked well. Except, that the tiny buttons on the display were used to skip whole chapters instead of 30 seconds back and forth on the Audible app on your phone. How often did we hit one of those skip chapter buttons? A frickin lot! If a chapter is like 1 hour and 30 minutes long you will have fun finding the section you were listening to.
My dream audiobook setup
I just want to have a device with good sound quality, decent battery life, and easy play pause with resuming at the last listen state. It should also have enough space to store all the audiobooks we have gathered over the years. I mean one of these can easily have more than a Gigabyte.
So I thought of a small speaker box just for this in the living room. And then I remembered: The iPod Classic back in the day had these 30-pin connectors. And these connectors were everywhere. Radio, boomboxes, stereos, and portable speakers.
This looked like the perfect setup.
I checked eBay and the local classified and soon enough there was a deal out there! 👀
I got one of those Bose Sounddock 2 speakers on eBay for like 20 Euros WITH an iPod Classic. The speaker is battery-powered and has a remote as well.
A lucky shot. 🍀
What can you mod?
You can do almost everything with the iPod Classic. The modding community for this is just nuts. 🤯
What others did:
- The REAL Perfect Bluetooth iPod Classic
- The ULTIMATE Transparent Bluetooth iPod Classic with Wireless Charging
- Spotify Streaming on my 17-year-old iPod Classic (via Raspberry Pi)
- and many more things.
What I did:
- Replaced the small HDD with 4 x 246 GB SD cards
- Replaced the old small battery with a huge fresh one
You can replace almost anything and make the iPod look unique as well with colors Apple never offered.
So there are different iPod Classic models which have different capabilities for modding. If you want to mod them be careful what you buy. For example:
The 6th Gen models (80Gb/120Gb/Thick 160Gb) are limited to LBA28 addressing by Apple, so these models will only show and use up to 128Gb of the storage installed – The other iPod models have LBA48 addressing so do not have this limitation.
Depending on what you want to do be careful of the iPod Classic you buy.
Also, check out https://www.iflash.xyz/
Here you will find various adapters to add
- SD Cards in various quantity
- SATA SSDs
- Compact Flash Cards
- converters/adapters needed for specific iPods
and most importantly: the tools to open an iPod!
Seriously, get a couple of the Flexible Pry Tool and one Metal Spudger, it will save you a lot of time.
You will also find a compatibility chart for the iFlash cards.
Another good resource is the 3rd party extended Battery guide. You can find them on AliExpress as well and double-check which one will most likely fit in your iPod Classic model.
I also discovered the Elite Obsolete Electronics website. You can buy replacement parts, batteries, and even whole iPods there as well. Maybe worth a look. I think I heard that name in one of the DankPods videos and visited the site imediatly. Hope it helps!
How do I find the right iPod model?
On the Apple support page you can check the serial number against what model you have: Identify your iPod model
Here you need to consider the Model number, the capacity, and the last 3 characters of the serial. Then you know which iPod you are using. If you are searching for iPods online keep this in mind to buy the right one.
BTW: You can definitely buy iPods with broken screens to save a bug. There are many replacement parts available on AliExpress or Elite Obsolete Electronics for example. A display is around 20 Euros.
Check SD card's compatibility
When you choose to use a iFlash adapter check the SD Cards table. I have bought 4 of them which were known to be not working. 😒
They worked fine alone but when I put in more than 1 then I did not get the iPod recognized by iTunes.
So I had to buy another squad of SD cards in order to complete the project.
If you are going with the iFlash Quad you can find the SD card table on the tab below:
Opening the device
No mater what you are doing you will need to open the device. Depending on the model: This is NOT easy.
There are several video guides out there. The funniest one in my opinion is from DankPods:
- Use the Prying tools from iFlash
- Use gloves to not cut yourself
- have patience (took me 20-30 minutes)
- watch the video, text is not as helpful as a video
Replace HDD and battery
Did you get it open? Good, the hardest part is over!
I have added a small gallery to follow along with the text for you.
Disconnect the battery connector on the bottom corner with a plastic tool, toothpick, or anything. Be careful not to break the ribbon connector. These are finicky.
Now you can just fold the bottom cover to the side and have full access to the tiny HDD in there. Replace that with your iFlash adapter.
Now the battery. First, disconnect the cable on the side. You want to work separately on the bottom cover.
Warning: Do not poke or bend the battery to much! Physical damage may lead to an explosion or fire. Be gentle in this step.
There will be some adhesive under the battery. If it is old you may get it off. I had to add some alcohol (70%) in my case to dissolve the adhesive a little bit.
Replace the small battery with the new big one. Bend the battery connector so it can fit onto the ribbon connector more easily.
Test your iPod now by toggling the hold switch and power on the device.
Now we need to plug this into a PC/Mac with iTunes!
Restoring the iPod OS
We now need to connect the iPod to a PC or Mac with iTunes. I do not have a Mac so I will do this on Windows 10. Unfotunraly Apple does not support the iPod Classic anymore in the latest iTunes version to my knowledge.
I could not get it recognized with the latest version at least.
But you can use iTunes 12.4.3 which is available from Apple:
Plugin your iPod and be patient. iTunes will ask to restore the iPod and just follow along with the prompts. It is pretty straightforward.
Be patient because this may take quite a while.
After the process has finished you now have a modded iPod Classic ready to go!
Close it up again now.
My modded iPods
Here are both my modded iPods.
The grey one was a present for my girlfriend loaded up with lots of content you can enjoy with weeks of battery life without any internet connection. It is an iPod Classic 7th generation.
The white one is an iPod Classic 5th generation. This one is sitting on the Bose Sounddock 2 and is just used for listening to audiobooks. We just hit play on the remote and we are good to go. If we are done we can just pause and resume the next day with a button click. No app, no internet, it just works.
I have a few mot posts planned regarding this topic. I will go into the experience of using this as an audiobook device, transcoding videos, and more details regarding iTunes alternatives I have tested.
Stay tuned for that and subscribe!