Installing an SSD into an iPod Classic in place of the hard drive

Discussion in 'iPod' started by Yebubbleman, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    So, I've seen this topic crop up on here a couple times, but the most recent posts I've been able to dig up from here or anywhere are from around 2011 and I'd imagine that supplies and interest in this (in light of the recent iPod classic discontinuation) have changed. I'm also hopeful that more research has been done so that this question might have more definitive answers.

    Basically, I'm looking to buy an iPod classic on eBay that is no longer working (and that all posted signs indicate the hard drive as the sole culprit of this). Then, I'm looking to replace the hard drive with an SSD of substantially larger capacity (256GB minimum).

    From the limited research that I've done so far, this is possible and it requires a 1.8" PATA drive with a ZIF interface and no more than 3.3V (5V is too much for the iPod to be able to power it). I've also seen that, as far as acquiring a compatible drive, I have one of three options:

    1. Look for a drive that meets these specifications (the 256GB ones are rare and expensive)

    2. Find an adapter that adapts CompactFlash (CF) to 1.8" ZIF PATA and then get a CF card that has the size I want

    3. Find an adapter that adapts mSATA to 1.8" ZIF PATA and then get an mSATA drive that has the size I want

    I'm told that this procedure (and said SSD drives) will work for every model of iPod classic that has existed, save for the original (fat) 160GB iPod classic, and all sizes of both the 5th generation and 5.5th/enhanced 5th generation of the iPod (read: first iPods with video).

    Given this, is there anything else that I should know regarding:

    A. Either of my the three aforementioned drive options?

    B. The procedure itself?

    C. What to do after I'm done with the procedure?

    D. Drive compatibility?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. rgarjr, Jan 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015

    rgarjr macrumors 603


    Apr 2, 2009
    Southern California
    Your best bet is to grab the latest Classic and get Tarkens mSATA board and grab a 256GB or above mSATA drive.

    If you're looking for only 256GB it's cheaper and better to go with his SD card board.
  3. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Is that known to work? And is there a more optimal place to find it? A quick Google search didn't get me much.

    Also, I've heard that the size printed on the back (and thusly the size designated in the logic board [to identify itself in iTunes]) is the maximum size that the logic board will support (i.e. an 80GB classic can't format a drive to be larger than 80GB, a 120GB classic can't format a drive to be larger than 120GB, a 160GB classic can't format a drive to be larger than 160GB, etc.). Does anyone know if there's any truth to this? I'd probably still attempt this project anyway, though not being able to go past 128GB is sort of a huge bummer.
  4. matthew2926 macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2013
    I have done this to a 5.5th (enhanced) gen iPod Video/Classic and I can personally tell you that the memory can go much bigger than the number stamped on the back. According to Tarkan's site, the iPod Classic line is limited to 128GB hard drives except for the 160GB 7.5th gen Classic and the 5th and 5.5th gen iPod Video/Classic. You CAN put larger drives in the iPods with limitations but they will only recognize up to 128GB. In addition I highly recommend that you buy the HDD adapter from Tarkan as he makes the best and most commonly used ones. Also he sells 3 products: HDD to mSATA (for use with solid state drives), HDD to CF (for use with Compact Flash cards), and CF to SD (for use in conjunction with the HDD to CF adapter). Which parts you will need entirely depends on the target storage space that you are trying to achieve. If you tell me how much memory you are shooting for I can compile a list of everything you will need to order with links. I can also help you pick out an iPod that would work well with this project off of eBay. I, personally, have done this mod on a 5.5th gen Video/Classic and used Tarkan's HDD to CF and CF to SD adapters in order to run my iPod off of a 64GB SD card. I have also done other enhancements to this iPod such as replacing the click wheel, replacing the battery, replacing the screen, and replacing the front face, all in a custom color scheme that I chose. I have included the link to Tarkan's store below.

  5. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you were local to Los Angeles, I'd offer to buy you a beer for all of this help. Truly fantastic of you. Let me get a few things straight (and please correct me if I'm wrong):

    1. The 5th Generation iPod, 5th Generation Enhanced, and the Late 2009 160GB thin iPod classic are the only models that can go past 128GB, yeah?

    (on this note, is there any reason why? And is the limit actually 128GB or is it 120GB? And is this regardless of whether an adapter is used or whether it's an actual PATA 1.8" SSD?)

    2. I can use either Tarkan's 1.8" PATA to CF, 1.8" PATA to SD(XC or HC) card, or 1.8" PATA to mSATA adapter, at which point, I can pretty much either stuff the thing to 128GB (if a non-thin-160GB classic) or 512GB/1TB (if any of the other iPods) and it'll format and run with no issues.

    3. The 120GB Classic is considered the 6.5th generation or 7th generation and the 160 thin Classic is considered the 7th generation?

    Also, it would seem as though the 1.8" drive would have some thickness that the adapter with accompanying SSD/SD Card/CF card wouldn't have. How does one install that into the iPod Classic's enclosure in such a way that it's not loose in there?

    I was considering shopping for 120GB iPod Classics with obviously defective drives (and likely nothing else wrong with them). Are you saying that I should instead target my search towards broken models of the recently discontinued 160GB thin classic only? Or does it not really matter?

    Also any tips on how to get the iPod open and then put back together in a nice way so that the thing doesn't look like it was crudely pried open? I figured, I'm going to need to get a couple of them to practice on so that when I finally do it for realsies, I don't mess up.

    Thank you very much for any information you can provide. I expect that this will be a very fun project indeed.
  6. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    As an aside, I understand that the 2nd Generation iPod Mini supports Compact Flash cards up to either 64GB or 128GB without any adapters. The connector in there is the same.
  7. matthew2926 macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2013
    1) Correct. I'm not entirely sure but I know that the 128GB has something to do with the iPod firmware and not the adapter. You can install Rockbox on iPods with the 128GB limit in order to remove this limit and use all of your memory, but this only works when running the Rockbox firmware. Rockbox dual boots with the stock firmware in most cases.

    2) Sort of. If you want to use an SD card as the hard drive, you will need the SD to CF adapter AND the HDD to CF adapter. To use a CF card as the hard drive you will only need the HDD to CF adapter. To use a solid state drive as the hard drive you will only need the HDD to SATA (mSATA) adapter. Most drives should run and format out of the box without issues but Tarkan has extensive lists of SD cards, CF cards, and mSATA drives that are known to work with their respective adapters. I highly recommend buying a drive off of his lists because they are known to work and Tarkan keeps these lists updates very well, so there is a good selection.

    3)The 120GB thin is the 7th and the 160GB thin is the 7.5th according to Tarkan's site, and I would trust Tarkan.

    4)Tarkan's adapters are a tight fit against the sides, so they don't move around. I have the HDD to CF and CF to SD adapters both installed in my Video along with a 64GB SD card and with the slim back (the 30GB Video was slim and the 60GB and 80GB Videos were thick) it fits great. I think that the other Classics are the same physical size as the Video so the 7.5th gen Classic (160GB slim) should work really well with Tarkan's adapters and others have had great success using them.

    5) Due to the hard drive limitations, I would look for the following iPods with or without defective hard drives: iPod Video (Classic 5th gen) 30GB (60GB or 80GB models will work but you will have to replace the thick back with a slim back as well as a new headphone jack and hold switch module), iPod Video Enhanced (Classic 5.5th gen) 30GB (60GB or 80GB models will work but you will have to replace the thick back with a slim back as well as a new headphone jack and hold switch module), iPod Classic 7.5th gen 160GB (slim as there is no thick model of this generation iPod).

    6) Opening these iPods can be a bit difficult, but putting them back together is a breeze. I highly recommend checking out YouTube to get a look at the methods that others have used to open them. In addition, you are going to want MULTIPLE plastic pry tools specifically made for opening devices. I stress multiple because they are very cheap and break easily. I usually go through at least 2 every time I open a device. You can usually get these bundled in with the parts that you end up ordering, so if you are going to be ordering multiple parts (new front, new clickwheel, whatever), try and get all of the parts as bundles with tools so that you have a stockpile of them. Tarkan sells a 4 piece toolkit. If you want to simply buy all of your tools from Tarkan, I would recommend ordering 2-3 of his 4 piece toolkits. In addition, I wouldn't worry too much about destroying your iPod in the process of opening it. If worst comes to worst, you might have to order a new front face and back housting if you end up breaking the plastic on the front and bending the metal on the back. Both the front face and back housing are easy repairs and each part is around $8 on eBay (for a total of around $16 to replace both the front and the back. As an alternative, you could order a front face and back housing to practice opening and closing the iPod as these two pieces are what hook together to keep the iPod closed.

    Please feel free to post back in this thread if you have more questions, as I anticipate that you will. Like I said before, I would be happy to compile you an online shopping with links where you can simply order all of the parts that I would select for you. In addition, the amount of memory that you are shooting for will ultimately determine if an SD-based or mSATA-based will be the most cost effective for you. On a separate note, I'm a 16-year-old from Michigan who could really use that beer after finals next week ;)


    Is this a question or a statement? Either way, you are correct, iPod Minis require no adapter. If you are suggesting this as an alternative to the Classic for the OP, I would personally stay away from Minis due to the fact that they can only be upgraded using CF cards which can get quite expensive. In addition, the Videosand Classics are just so much better than the Mini (bigger, color screens, better battery life, etc). Just to establish my credentials for the OP, I have also done this mod on the iPod Mini with a CF card, so I could help you with modding a Mini but, again, the Videos and Classics are so much better than the Mini.
  8. noodles5666 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
  9. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think, for myself, I'll be fine with a 128GB Flash/SSD-based iPod classic, especially as the first go. I plan on making more than one of these. I just want to confirm that, as far as using stock firmware/software and unmodified versions of iTunes, that 128GB is doable for the 80GB and 120GB classics and that this stupid stock firmware limit is not present on the 160GB thin classic as well as any of the 5th/5th Enhanced iPods.

    He posted something that seemed to indicate that, in terms of both speed and battery life, that the SD card route would be superior to the mSATA route. I'd imagine that 1TB can only be accomplished this way, though it seems as though there are now 512MB SD cards. I take it your recommendation to make sure it's kid-tested tartan-approved still stands, yeah?

    I guess if there's a firmware limit on the former and not the latter, that's enough for a half-generational difference. Otherwise, I do know that there were quite a few little tweaks and things (like Genius support) that was baked into the 120GB and 160GB thin classics that were not in the 2007 (80GB and 160GB fat) classics.

    So, you're saying that I shouldn't be worried about a gap between the board and the outer shell as parts are going to stay securely put. Would this not give me room for a bigger battery? Is there a material I can put in there just in case? Or do you think that this is largely unnecessary. I just don't want there to be any chance that, even with some impact, anything can get dislodged.

    So the fat video iPods actually require different headphone jacks and hold switches too? It sounds like it's a good idea to avoid all fat iPods altogether, especially the fat 160GB classic with the completely different drive connector.

    So, you're basically saying:

    - 5th Gen 30GB
    - 5th Gen (Enhanced) 30GB
    - iPod classic (Late 2009) 160GB (thin)

    Again, I might try getting my feet wet with the 120GB with the aim of only expanding to 128GB flash (which, in my opinion would still be a marked improvement to make). But again, the consensus is that going with an iPod classic with 80GB or 120GB is fine, just so long as I'm either (a) using a third party firmware and/or (b) fine with a 128GB limit, yeah?

    So, a couple questions here:

    1. Where can I get the parts? I'm assuming eBay, but is there a preferred seller that has higher quality/OEM parts?

    2. Are the parts of the same quality as the original? It'd be annoying if it was noticeably worse and/or fell apart or got scratched/scuffed up FASTER than the original parts would've.

    3. Regarding the procedure; I get that these parts are easily replaced. How likely am I to want to go this route? Is it practically guaranteed that I'll opt to just replace the front shell and the back plate and should thusly not care how careless I am in cracking it open to begin with?

    4. Similarly, are there front plates for the 5th Gen/5th Gen Enhanced in similar availability?

    5. Are the back plates the same between the thin 5th gen, thin 5th gen enhanced, and the thin classics?

    6. Isn't replacing both the front and the back of the iPod rather annoying as it would entail transplanting everything to the new front and back? Or does everything connect to the other internal components?

    7. Depending (probably heavily) on the age/generation of iPod used, do you recommend a new/aftermarket battery like the ones OWC sells from NewerTech?

    You sir are a gentleman and a scholar (quite literally if this is your finals week; best of luck on them, by the way). I thank you for your help, as well as in advance for all of the stupid questions that I'm likely to answer down the road.

    Yeah, the iPod mini does have an allure (the more scratch-resistant backing) though, substantially less utility given the lack of the color screen. Plus, I feel like the odds of finding one in good condition are going to be slim. That said, I do like that it removes the need for one of the two adapters (assuming I stick with SD, which I probably am). But yeah, you're right, not worth the minor gains.

    Just perused it. Have a couple questions.

    1. Where did you get your new backing? I ask as you have a 256GB backing and surely Apple never made such a thing. So, I'm wondering who does them?

    2. Also regarding the backing, was it inexpensive? Did it feel like the same exact part as the backing you originally had? I very much like the idea of giving my frankenPods new fronts and backs, but I'd rather not if they are weaker parts or are obviously fake (sort of detracts from the fun/experience/durability).

    3. I may have more, but that's all for now.

    The following makes me think that I should probably go the SD card route. Though, I may still yet be tempted to do a 1TB iPod classic. Stay tuned, I may hit you up for that.
  10. matthew2926 macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2013
    I'm going to do my best to answer all of your questions in order. I don't know how to do multiple quotes in a reply from my iPad so bear with me.

    For your first paragraph, you are correct. The iPods that have the 128GB limit (80GB and 120GB) will be able to recognize up to 128GB while running the stock firmware.

    Second paragraph, yes, Tarkan is very trustworthy and whatever he says works will most likely work for you. He has yet to steer me wrong. As he says, SD will get better battery life than mSATA.

    Third paragraph, I'm not familiar with the improvements made from one generation to another, but you seem to know what you're talking about.

    Fourth paragraph, I have never had to worry about the gap on my iPod but if you want peace of mind, there should be a thin layer of foam that comes on the stock HDD that comes in the iPod. You can pull this off and place it in such gap. In addition, I have tried installing the thick back for my iPod Video in order to install a larger 2,000mah battery which was supposed to fit in my iPod but upon attempting installation, I found that it was too thick and I couldn't close my iPod. Personally, I would just stick to the stock battery or a 3rd party clone of the stock battery that you buy on eBay (because you can't buy new original, genuine Apple batteries anymore). Whatever you end up putting in that gap, just make sure that you can still close your iPod.

    Fifth paragraph, staying away from fat iPods is a pretty safe way to go. The iPods that you listed are the best ones to choose from when doing this mod. Lastly, your part about "getting your feet wet" with the 80GB or 120GB to 128GB is also all correct.

    Sixth paragraph,
    1) Buy the adapters directly from Tarkan, buy your SD card anywhere such as a local Best Buy, Amazon, etc., and buy any other parts (new faceplate, new back housing, new battery, etc.) from eBay. I don't have any specific eBay sellers but I usually try and order from sellers located in the U.S. due to shipping speed and ease of communication. Alternatively, instead of ordering the "other" parts from eBay, is a reputable company but their prices are often high.
    2) I cannot testify to the quality of any specific parts, but I have been ordering off of eBay for a while now and I have never had any bad parts. Just be sure to check the return policy just in case any of the parts are dead on arrival. Most U.S. sellers will be willing to work with you if any parts are indeed defective. Scuffing happens, to stock and aftermarket parts. In my experience, both stock and aftermarket parts "deteriorate" at about the same rate with normal use.
    3) Depending on the condition of the iPod when you initially buy it, you may or may not have to replace the front and back plates/housings. Since a new front and back together cost about $15, it doesn't really hurt to replace them. Alternatively, if you don't mind waiting, you can always wait to receive the iPod, determine their condition, try to open them, see how much you destroy them, and then order a new front and or back if needed. Also, it is important to note that the plastic clips on the front faceplate of these iPod Videos and Classics have a tendency to break, so in most cases, it is in your best interest to replace the front in order to ensure that the iPod clips shut when you are done working on it. Usually you don't need to replace the back housing unless you simply don't want all of the scratches that the backs of these Videos and Classics are prone to.
    4) Yes, these parts should be widely available on eBay.
    5) The 5th gens can share backs with each other, but I'm not sure if the 5th gens can share backs with other gen Classics.
    6) It isn't hard to replace the front and/or the back. You only have to transplant a few things. Search YouTube for a disassembly video of the 5th gen Video/Classic to see what I mean. Basically, all of the components are in a bundle in the middle and the front and back housings act as the "bread" in this iPod sandwich. Just have to transplant the bundle of components (motherboard) and a few other small things. Not hard.
    7) Replacing the battery is up to you. One tip that I have is that if you indeed decide to replace the battery (which isn't hard to do), since they are only a few dollars a piece, I usually buy 2-3 batteries, install each of them for a few days, test each battery's life and determine which one has the best life. The one with the best life is the one that I end up using. Then I just save the extra batteries for future projects.

    Seventh paragraph, no problem! I am happy to help!

    Eight paragraph, I have had and modded a mini. Just wasn't good for anything, modded or not. Didn't enjoy using it like I do when using my Video.

    Ninth paragraph, I know this paragraph is directed at noodle but I think I can help.
    1) 256GB backing scan be found on eBay and as made by aftermarket companies. I have used them in the past and, in my experience, they have been just as good as the original backs.
    2) Aftermarket parts such as the 256GB back feel just as good as the originals in my opinion. Usually around the same cost as the original parts too.
    3) Standing by :D

    Tenth paragraph, the SD card route is definitely the best route to go in my opinion as it offers the best battery life and a sizable amount of memory at a reasonable cost. While the 1TB iPod is an awesome concept, I don't even have 1TB of content to fill it with and I don't want to forfeit battery life. Also, as Tarkan explains, syncing large amounts of data to mSATA iPods can result in the iPod battery dying before the sync is completed due to the iPod dying faster than it charges when syncing with iTunes.

    No sappy closer to this reply. I'm sick of typing. :p
  11. andreyirra macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2014
    I was checking Tarkans website since mi iPod Classic died. Then I proceeded to check video tutorials and iFixit and I was almost in dismay when thinking of opening the iPod.

    As far as I have seen the back of the iPod has a very big chance of getting deformed. I even saw a video where the guy is pushing the sides of the back casing against a hard surface in order to flatten it again, which he did but not perfectly.

    Here is the thing, the back of my iPod is engraved and I would want it to be ruined.

    Any experience in this regard? How many chances of deforming the back casing?
  12. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    It was a statement. I agree that in many ways the classics are better. I was just giving the op another option.

    Since you have modded the mini, do you know whether it supports 128GB CF cards? I've seen confirmations online that it supports 64GB - but I haven't seen anyone that actually went for the full 128GB.
  13. rgarjr macrumors 603


    Apr 2, 2009
    Southern California
    I don't know. I've never opened one before. You do run the risk of bending the back plate which is why u need to have one as a spare just in case it gets messed up.
  14. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    There's probably an easier way to do this, but what I do is I take the end quote (HTML code) and paste it at the end of each blurb that I want to comment on, and the start quote (HTML code) at the beginning. That way, when it posts, it'll only quote what I want quoted at each blurb as I've done here.

    I may very well start off focusing on making a few 128GB Flash-based iPod classics from these models, if, for no other reasons than (a) I personally don't need larger than that from an iPod classic and (b) used and working 80GB and 120GB iPod classics will probably be easier to find used on eBay for not an arm and a leg (don't you think?).

    Though, I guess this begs a more philosophical question:

    Buy broken or buy used?

    Even beyond that, if the 160GB thin classics are in such high demand right now, wouldn't it be more lucrative to buy them, take them into an Apple Store, pay for them to swap it (assuming it's not covered by Apple warranty) and then take the replacement (an otherwise Apple Certified Refurbished iPod classic) and sell it on eBay to make a killer profit - rather than mod them?

    I guess, furthermore, by that token, should I be targeting the 30GB 5th Gen or 5th Gen enhanced iPods instead? I recognize that the firmware is older and there's no Genius support (which I guess debuts in the 120GB classic), but that shouldn't matter much. I'd imagine that it is just as easy to get new front plates for the 5th Gen/Enhanced as it is for the "iPod classic" models?

    Is there any reason at all to consider a dedicated PATA SSD? Or are they too expensive/obscure? I'd imagine they're not practical for the 256+GB capacities, but how about for 128GB?

    Otherwise, are we also saying that SDXC (by way of CF to SDXC adapter) > CF, if given the choice?

    As best as I can tell the video-capable non-nano/non-touch iPods are as follows:

    2005 - 5th Generation iPod (30GB Thin and 60GB Fat)

    2006 - 5th Generation Enhanced (30GB Thin and 80GB Fat)

    2007 - iPod classic (80GB Thin and 160GB Fat [this being the only one that doesn't use 1.8" PATA and therefore impossible to do storage mods with])

    2008 - iPod classic (120GB Thin)

    2009 through discontinuation - iPod classic (160GB Thin)

    Really, I don't want any kind of impact or heavy shaking (or who knows what) to cause the Tarkan board and adapted drive/card to dislodge and/or shake due to being lose. Similarly, I want whatever circuit board to be protected from whatever other crap in there that it ought to be protected from. It sounds like this worrying is unnecessary on my part. Really that's all I'm trying to do there. As for aftermarket batteries (which I'd more consider for anything older than a 120GB classic), I was thinking of using the NewerTech Batteries sold from OWC as I remember hearing that they were decent. If the stock battery is rated to last a while, I'll go with that. Or if the knock-off batteries on eBay are reliable, I'll go that direction too. Really, I'm looking to supply myself with batteries that will go for a while. Apple is not going to replace my modded iPod classic should there be a problem, so I want to be prepared for that eventuality and/or rebuild the thing so that I don't have to worry about it.

    Sweet. Yeah, I think a thin-only policy makes things a little bit easier. 30GB (5 or 5e) and 160GB (thin classic) if I want larger than 128GB; 80GB thin and 120GB thin if I don't and/or if I want to mod the firmware. That sounds simple enough. Do you have any insight and/or otherwise know what causes the limitation on the 80GB and 120GB classics? I'm sure there's an explanation and it'd be interesting to know for sure.

    I see iFlixIt sells the front plate (as well as everything else), but not the back plate. Incidentally, when following noodle's thread (as well as doing a simple search on eBay) there were far more eBay listings for back plates coming from China than anywhere else. Second most common was from Hong Kong, and then a few from the US. Are you saying that I should avoid these other ones? I'd figure that these are the actual OEM parts (seeing as those must've, at some point, been kept en masse in China). Do you have any opinions on those?

    At this point, it seems like my fears of ruining the front or back in getting them open are somewhat silly as, even in the best case scenario, it'll still just be better cosmetically to replace the front and the back with brand new plates.

    That's absolutely fantastic. I feel like, in that case, it makes sense to stock up on a ton of these parts. That way if any of these frankenPods die, it'll be pretty easy to revive and have it running good as new. I'd imagine that the logic board is typically the last part to die on them, yeah?

    That makes sense. I'm also finding that in many of these eBay listings for either broken or used iPods, that the front plate is not in the best cosmetic condition. It'd be nice to replace the center button on the 5th Gen iPods as those get scuffed fairly easily too. I'd imagine that the center button on the classics largely don't get much in the way of serious scuffing.

    Sweet. Again, from China isn't necessarily a bad thing, is it? Because that's most of the listings?

    That makes sense. I'm guessing that there is a slight difference between the two. It'd be nifty if there wasn't; though it looks like the back plates to either are everywhere on eBay.

    I haven't watched the video, but just browsing iFixit seems to back this up. That's awesome. Seems like prying it open will be the hardest part, but that there are enough elements to protect me from anything that could go wrong along the way.

    What kind of batteries are there? What should I be looking for? I was thinking of getting the NewerTech batteries that OWC sells and primarily for any 5th Gen iPods that I'd be doing rather than iPod classics. Or do you not recommend these? Is there anything I can do to test battery health?

    No seriously man, you've been quite helpful. And I'm sorry to keep the barrage of questions coming. I think I'm nearing the end of them.

    Yeah, the small monochromatic screen, I'd imagine, would be a bit of an eyesore. I was more curious since it already had the CF slot there. Though it might be too old to be worth it seeing as I'd probably want to replace the exterior and the battery right off the bat (given its age). Realistically, I'm not going to be buying an iPod mini to do this. 160GB classic will be my target for high-capacity and 120GB for low-capacity…though I may very well do 5th Gens in there too. It sounds like I may be doing quite a few of these as, at worst, I may be able to get good money for them and from people that would really get good enjoyment from such a thing.

    That's fantastic. I'm toying with the idea of buying a lot of like 5 of them. If you have any recommendations as to which listings to do this with, I'd love to see them.

    Again, that's awesome. No reason to not just buy the backs and use them always…the end result will look much nicer, no?

    Yeah, mSATA sounds like the more experimental approach. Great if the goal is to maximize storage, but not great if the goal is to have something truly solid and robust. Again, while I'm largely leaning toward SDXC, I'm wondering if there's any merit to simply finding a CF card with the right capacity instead of bothering adapting to SD. Similarly, wondering if it makes any sense at all to find a PATA 1.8" SSD.

    And no worries man, you've been insanely helpful. If there's anything I can do for you, you let me know.

    Matthew, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that if you are not careful you will likely more mess up the front of the iPod rather than the backing. That said, you could always remove the engraving backing to save as a memento and install a new backing. Not the same, I know, but not bad.

    Oh sure, and I appreciate it. Am also curious mainly from a standpoint of how well it'd work. I very likely won't go the mini route, but I'd be lying if I said that it didn't cross my mind.

    Would be interested to know this as well...
  15. noodles5666, Jan 22, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015

    noodles5666 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010

    In my post has all the places I got my parts. The aftermarket metal housing feels just as sturdy as the OEM one that I took off. I just purchased a used 1st Gen Mini that I am putting my 256GB SDXC card into and turning my 7.5G Classic into a 512GB SDXC upgrade. I have decided I am not at the point for needing 1TB of storage so I am selling the 80GB 5.5G Video I have with the mSATA adapter and thick 1TB metal backing.

    Every iPod Classic I have opened, I have ruined the back plate. Which I why I have a spare on hand at all times. Now the iPod Video back plate comes off rather easy with a little prying.

    Going the SD card you limit yourself from putting an upgraded battery in. Going with the mSATA you can use the 2000mAh extended battery.

    And Matthew is incorrect about "Fat" iPods. All 5G and 5.5G iPod Videos are able to handle 128GB+ with stock firmware.
  16. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    A couple questions here:

    1. Which 512GB SDXC card are you going to be using? I'd imagine you did your homework and found one that is compatible? Or are you braving where no one has gone before?

    2. Which 256GB SDXC are you using. Tarkan's site seems to favor the PNY card; so it seems as though I will as well.

    3. I perused your thread and found the seller. It seems like he's got quite the assortment; though primarily classics and fourth generation iPod touch stuff. And of the classic stuff, most of it is for the silver model. Do you know if the backings and fronts for the 5th/5thE iPods are as common? Also, might there be a reason why I'm seeing more listings for silver classic parts rather than black ones?

    Interesting. I just perused iFixit's guides and they also seem to indicate that the iPod classic's opening procedure is substantially rougher than that of the 5th/5thE iPods. I think I'm going to get a set of fronts and backs regardless of which iPod I go with.

    One question I have for you, Matthew, or anyone else reading: is there any adhesive that I need to remove to free components like the hold switch or the headphone jack or the battery and what methods of replacing that on the new backing do you recommend?

    Right, but it sounds like the upgraded battery is really only worth doing (or even possible) on the Fat iPods and for the purpose of mSATA, or am I misunderstanding here? It sort of sounds like the SDXC route means that on a stock or like-model battery, I'm getting more battery life than I would've gotten with the stock 1.8" PATA Hard Drive, in which case, I only really need to give thought to replacing the battery if I just want a newer battery. Or am I wrong here? You seem to have done this multiple times, so I'm asking you as I have yet to do it once.

    I don't seem to recall him saying that the fat 5th/5thE iPods can't handle greater than 128GB, just that, for the sake of simplicity and lack of complications, annoyances, sticking to thin iPods would be best. It sounds like you're saying that the thick 5th/5thE are perfect if the goal is to do mSATA (provided one uses the 2000mAh battery over the stock 850mAh), or am I misunderstanding you there?

    Actually, given that the 160GB Fat Classics are not even an option due to them not having the same PATA connector, I guess that would make the fat 5th/5thE the only iPods that can effectively do mSATA without suffering the power drain issues. Given the 1TB iPod potential, I have to say that makes them very tempting. I will likely be trying multiple builds, especially as I get better at the whole process.

    Also, Matthew, thoughts on any of this? I trust you both and I thank you both for your time. This is probably one of the more fun tech projects I've undergone in a while and I'm finding that I'm learning ever more about it each day.


    Another topic that is sort of related that I'm wondering about:

    With specific regards as to which iPod to use for this, and even with further specificity to the 160GB thin classic from 2009 through 2014, (and given the recent surge in value on this thing in light of its discontinuation,) is it sensible to use this iPod for modding?

    I'll further clarify what I mean here: Basically, I can buy a 160GB thin classic used or broken (brand new is too expensive to be worth it). Used go for anywhere from previous retail cost (for brand new) and up (of note, the 120GB thin classic sells for at least $100 less on average). If I buy broken, I can take it to an Apple Store, pay them the out-of-warranty cost to get a brand new (Apple Refurbished) replacement and then sell that for boatloads. Given this, if I want an iPod classic/5th/5thE with more than 128GB of formatted capacity, does it make sense to go with the 160GB classic over any of the 5th/5thE iPods? It seems like the latter would be cheaper and easier to come by for less than an arm and a leg. Firmware differences are there, sure, but aside from Genius and recording features that will likely go unused, is there a reason to spend more money and go for the 160GB thin?

    Curious as to what you all think about that.
  17. noodles5666 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    1. I am braving being a beta tester. I am purchasing the SanDisk 512GB SDXC

    2. I use the 256GB PNY card with no issue.

    3. Currently I am using a thick 6G/7G 1TB back on my 5.5G iPod

    4. All my mods I have done use the stock battery. When I do my 1TB I will be getting the 2000mAh battery.

    5. Yes I would go with a 5G/5.5G/7.5G if you were going to go the 1TB route, especially if you wanted to use the stock firmware.

    6. I toyed with the idea of buying up used/broken 7.5G Classics but it doesn't come out to much profit.

    7. I am selling an 80GB 5.5G with with an iFlash SATA adapter and an extra thick 1TB metal back. $135 shipped to the USA.
  18. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Please let me know how this goes. I've e-mailed Tarkan to ask if he's tested any 512GB SDXC cards yet. Will be interested to see how and if this progress has been made.

    The 256GB PNY card seems to be the one to go with. I'd like to find one that is similarly favored for 128GB. I think I will be fashioning a 128GB flash iPod for myself with a 120GB iPod. The limitation won't bother me personally as my music library is still barely under 40GB. Making larger capacity iPods will more be something I do for friends and eBay.

    Ah, so the backings are interchangeable between generations then? Forgive me for my confusion here.

    I thought you already did it/have it? Again, forgive my further confusion.

    Right, at this point that seems to be a must. The 5th/5thE seems to be the better call for this, though I guess it doesn't REALLY matter too much.

    Of interesting note, apparently Apple will still do paid replacements on broken 120GB iPods for $130 each. Incidentally, I happened to buy three broken black 120GB iPod classics that I was going to use for this project. I paid $50 for one, $75 for another and $95 for another. Even with the $95 one, it seems like I stand to make at least $100 per. I don't think I'll be buying broken iPods for this project. It would be nice to know that the parts that are not the hard drive, front plate and back housing are all working...also, with that kind of profit potential it seems like I really ought to not be using broken 120GB classics or the resulting brand new 160GB classics to this project.

    That's just the shipping cost? Or is that your total price? If the former, that seems steep. If the latter, that seems really low.
  19. noodles5666 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    $135 shipped in the USA.
  20. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    For Noodles, Matthew or anyone else tuning in now:

    To recap:

    Here's what I know:

    - The task of putting in some form of flash storage in lieu of the traditional 1.8" PATA hard drive into an iPod classic or 5th generation (or Enhanced) iPod is very doable

    - For the 5th Generation iPod, 5th Generation iPod Enhanced, and 160GB thin iPod classic from September 2009 through discontinuation: the formatted capacity is not limited when using any known compatible firmware (Apple's or otherwise)

    - For all iPod classic models that precede the 160GB thin iPod classic sold from September 2009 through discontinuation: there is a formatted capacity limit of 128GB when using the stock Apple firmware. This limitation on those iPods doesn't exist if Rockbox (with the emCORE bootloader) is used instead.

    - The 160GB thick iPod classic does not use a PATA drive, but rather a proprietary connector for which compatible products are virtually non-existent; it should not be considered for this type of modding project

    - The ways of doing so are: (a) using a 1.8" PATA SSD; (b) using a 1.8" PATA ZIF to CF card adapter with a CF card; (c) using said adapter with another adapter that adapts CF to SDXC and then using an SDXC card; (d) using a 1.8" PATA ZIF to mSATA adapter

    - Using (a) carries the pitfalls of being expensive and compatible drives larger than 128GB being scarce or non-existent.

    - Using (b) comes with the pitfalls of CF cards not being as compatible as the SDXC cards and drawing more power

    - Using (c) is the most economical and reliable method. However, the stock battery must be used (if using a thin iPod)

    - Using (d) will work but cause a power drain issue that is offset only by using a thicker back and a 2000mAh battery and/or the USB+FireWire cable from the third generation iPod days; this is easiest done with the thicker 5th/5thE iPods, though the thin 160GB classic will work as well provided a fatter back is used

    - Replacement backs and fronts are sold on eBay; custom ones that have "128GB" and "256GB" markings also exist on eBay and work just as well

    - The procedure for cracking open the iPod classic is substantially more difficult than that of the 5th/5thE iPods and while it is possible to not damage the casing of the latter iPods, doing so with the latter iPods is almost assured and purchasing the replacement fronts and backs and using them is recommended

    - Tarkan makes said adapters and sells them on his site

    Am I good so far?

    Here's what I still don't know:

    1. Replacement backings don't seem to have the colored (black if black, white if silver) dock connector bezel on the bottom of the backing. iFixit is also vague about whether or not this gets transferred to the new backing.

    Does anyone have any insight on this? It seems as though backings for the silver iPod (i.e. ones that have the white dock connector bezel) are more common. Can anyone shed light on this? I'd prefer it to match cosmetically. Similarly, if this means that it is better to do my modificiations with silver iPod classics, that's fine by me.

    2. Reinstalling the front and back plates (or rather installing the brand new ones) should be simple, right? It should just snap back together, right?

    3. 512GB iPods are most commonly done via mSATA as Tarkan and others have yet to test many 512GB SDXC cards, yeah? Otherwise, if mSATA the biggest iPod I can make is 1TB and if SDXC, the biggest I can make is 256GB. Am I correct in this?

    4. Is there any adhesive that I need to remove to free components like the hold switch or the headphone jack or the battery and what methods of replacing that on the new backing do you recommend?

    5. Otherwise, I know all I need to know going into this, right?

    Any further info is obviously appreciated and is insanely helpful.
  21. noodles5666 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010

    1. Correct, I have only seen 5/5.5G replacement dock bezel. I just transferred mine from my 160GB backing to my 256GB backing and soon to be 512GB backing.

    2. The front faceplate has 6 screws, 3 on each side. But yes putting the front to the back is as simple as snapping together.

    3. Yes. Greater than 256 best route is mSATA. I will be getting a $450 refund from Starbucks soon so I will be testing out the SanDisk 512GB SDXC soon.

    4. There are 3-4 screws on the hold/headphone assembly. There also is a small piece of tape on the ribbon from the headphone jack.

    5. Pretty much.
  22. matthew2926 macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2013
    Sorry for my absence, my internet has been down since late Thursday night since the modem got fried when we blew a fuse. Just got the new modem working today. It looks like noodle has you covered for the most part. The only thing that I would like to add is that I have personally tried the 2000mah battery mod and despite being told by the Chinese company that the battery that it would fix, the battery was simply too big and I couldn't get the iPod Video to snap closed. And yes, I was attempting this with a thick back. Just didn't fit, no matter what I tried.
  23. Yebubbleman thread starter macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I e-mailed Tarkan and he replied telling me that he currently hasn't been able to test 512GB SDXC cards. It sounds like this is also partially why custom backings exist for "128GB", "256GB", and "1TB", but not "512GB".

    Similarly, my dad looked up 512GB SDXC cards and apparently they are still crazy expensive for still being bleeding edge SDXC technology. I suppose that I'll probably be doing an SDXC-based 256GB iPod with the 160GB thin iPod classic for others unless 1TB is requested, in which case I'll be doing an mSATA based 5th/5thE with the thick backing and the 2000mAh battery backing. Seems simple enough.

    I think I may stick with silver colored iPod classics for dock bezel simplicity. That and apparently the 80GB-thin/160GB-thick black classics used a different front color than the 120GB-thin/160GB-thin classics did and it sounds like trying to find the correct one will be that much more work and I'm already going to be looking to stock quite a few kinds of replacement parts as is.

    No worries. I do think that I'm nearing the end of my questioning. The discovery of the different colored black classics was a bit of a plot twist, but I think that barring that, and questions I have about Rockbox, I think I'm good to go for the most part.

    Said question about Rockbox is simple and probably on their site, but here it goes: there are software differences between the 80GB-thin/160GB-thick classics and the 120GB-thin/160GB-thin classics; are there any software differences between Rockbox running on, say, the older classic (maybe the 80GB model) versus the 120GB model? Or is it all the same there? I'm thinking of also making a few Rockbox iPods and if there's no difference, I might as well hunt for 80GB classics for that task.

    Thank you both, by the way, for your help! The research phase of this has been extremely fun and rewarding and it couldn't have gone on as well without your help. I'm excited to get going with this project!
  24. noodles5666 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010

    I have a 512GB thin back for when I get my 512GB SDXC card.
  25. matthew2926 macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2013
    The Rockbox tool is pretty straight forward, just plug in your device and it will detect everything for you. Plenty of YouTube on how to do this simple process. Also, as I said, I have had some trouble with the 2000mah battery upgrade. If you still wanna try this, I would at least advise ordering a regular battery in addition to the 2000mah battery in case the 2000mah battery doesn't fit like mine didn't.

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