Fixing My Old iPod Color

I still have a 20GB iPod with color screen that my parents bought me for college in the mid 2000s. Recently it stopped working completely and I want to see if I can get it working again. Turns out the old iPod had a bloated battery, and a loose connector port on top of that. Here’s my experience bringing this old gadget back to life.

iPod bad battery
The bloated battery pack explains why the iPod popped open on its own

I’ve used my iPod throughout my undergrad years, and I already replaced the hard drive back in the days. After I went to grad school, I used the iPod to play music in my car during road trip, but it eventually started to randomly restart on its own, to the point I just left it home on the speaker dock. I tried to used the speaker dock recently, and the iPod wouldn’t even turn on anymore. I also saw that the case had popped open on its own, and found that the lithium ion battery pack had become bloated and pushed open the case. Old Li-ion battery are known for expanding when they degrade, and I’m glad this battery didn’t blow up and start a fire. The bad battery would explain why the iPod would restart randomly.

The rest of the components still look okay, so I decided to get a replacement battery and see if that’ll revive the old iPod. Even though this model is so old, it wasn’t hard to find a replacement battery online for $10-15. There are plenty of Youtube videos showing how to replace the battery, and honestly it wasn’t a hard process. The process was slightly more complicated than replacing the hard drive, since you had to loosen the screws holding the bottom circuit board in order to move the battery connector cable. Otherwise, it was just the matter of removing the old battery, seating and connecting the new battery and closing the case.

bloated iPod battery
The bloated old battery
bad iPad battery vs new battery
The new battery (left) vs the old battery (right).

After installing the new battery, my iPod booted up just fine and was able to play music. But then I noticed that I had to wiggle the connector around for the iPod to get charged or recognized by the speaker dock or my computer. Getting the connection to work became more and more difficult, and eventually I wiggle the connector so much that the connector port on the iPod had become completely disconnected. I had to reattach the port since I wouldn’t be able to charge the battery, use the dock or load in new songs without the port.

new battery installed
New battery installed into the iPod
iPod on dock
iPod on the speaker dock after battery replacement. Unfortunately I had to reattach the connector port afterwards.

I didn’t have a soldering iron on hand and had to wait until I got back to my parent’s place to use the soldering iron I bought for prior capacitor replacement efforts. It took a few tries to solder the port back to the circuit board, mostly because I didn’t wait until the soldering iron was hot enough. Eventually I soldered the connector back onto the circuit board, and then I was able to connect the iPod to my computer.

soldering ipod connector
Breaking out the soldering iron to reattach the connector port

I’m glad I managed to fixed my old iPod. I’ll keep it on my speaker dock. It might be a good antique if it still work for a few more decades 😆.

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