A software engineer upgraded an old iPod for 2022

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Image: Photo by Ellie Huxtable.

State of Repair is Motherboard’s exploration of DIY culture, device repair, ownership, and the forces that struggle to lock down access to the things you own.

When software engineer Ellie Huxtable decided she was tired of listening to music on streaming services, she remembered the glory days of the iPod. Armed with iFixit’s diagrams, good tools, and an idea of ​​what they wanted, Huxtable update the old school iPod for 2022, with a bigger battery, a custom operating system that can run Lossand 4 SD card slots.

The iPod was a revolutionary device that gave people unprecedented control over their listening habits. Released over 20 years ago, the original iPod with its click wheel and basic interface, is now a technology we feel nostalgia for. Apple still sells iPods, but they’re just iPhones with features removed and most of us listen to music through streaming services.

Huxtable got the idea for the iPod when she realized she hadn’t listened to some of her favorite artists in a very long time. “Not because I had stopped liking them, but because they weren’t suggested by the algorithm that dictates my listening,” Huxtable said. “The variety of genres I listened to also dropped, and I didn’t enjoy the music that much. It started to become more and more like background noise with a beat. I ‘rediscovered’ a few of them. -some on Spotify, but I always felt like I was guided to let someone else choose for me.”

For the project, Huxtable disassembled a 5th generation iPod. Its biggest improvements were battery and storage. Old iPods had big hard drives and Huxtable wanted something sleeker and bigger. She used a slim iFlash Quad which allowed her to insert four SD cards. “SD cards consume less power + emit less heat than comparable SSDs,” she said in her blog explaining the project.

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SD card support. Photo Ellie Huxtable.

The battery and front case are more traditional, although the front of the case is clear and shows the circuit board underneath. Huxtable told Motherboard that she was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to work on the older iPod. “Opening the device wasn’t too bad, and everything else fit together for the most part,” she said. “Some of the cables were a bit difficult to remove, just because of their size and my fear of breaking them.”

Huxtable’s first memory of an iPod is his dad’s Nano in 2006. He then moved on to a classic. “In fact, he still has it and uses it pretty much every day,” she said. “Every road trip we had as kids had this iPod on it.”

When it comes to nostalgia, the Click Wheel stands out in its mind. “The clickable scroll wheel noise hit me 100%, and from the responses I got, it did the same for a lot of other people,” she said. “It’s still one of my favorite input methods, and it’s way better to scroll than a touchscreen.”

She had to buy the iPod on eBay and the other parts cost an extra $340. “Most were SD cards,” she said. “Otherwise the most expensive part was the iFlash storage adapter. Everything else was pretty cheap. The whole project took two hours, although she thinks she could do it faster a second time. Huxtable used software called Rockbox to control the iPod, which freed it from the tyranny of Apple music. player Loss.

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The project completed. Image: Photo by Ellie Huxtable.

The project gained a lot of attention online when Huxtable posted a topic detailing his work on Twitter. “I think it’s a lot of people’s nostalgia,” she said. “I got a lot of responses from people who said they had one in a drawer somewhere and wanted to try modifying theirs. For others I think it harkens back to a time when the technology was a little simpler, and not so always connected and always on.

The new device, with its transparent front and click wheel, changed her listening habits as she wished. “I’m much more picky with what I listen to now and will take more time to choose something that matches the vibe,” she said. “The variety has really increased too; for example, I’ll often have electronic music while working, but something more lyrical while I’m walking around. I think it’s probably better for the artists too, because my money goes straight to the source.

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