If you’ve ever had an iPod die on you, there’s a good chance it was due to a hard drive problem. The software may have gotten corrupted or the drive may have had some mechanical issue…all kinds of things can go wrong with your beloved mobile music machine. The good news is, there is hope. With this 1.8″ to 2.5″ IDE adapter, pointed out by a user in the Command-Tab Forums, you can connect your iPod to a laptop IDE bus. With yet another, but more common adapter, you can connect that whole assembly to a regular, rune-of-the-mill desktop IDE bus. In short, you can plug your iPod drive into your desktop and run standard disk repair software on it. My personal favorite is Hitachi’s Drive Fitness Test under Advanced mode, which will run a full scale hardware and disk surface scan test of the drive and allow you to repair any bad sectors. For an easy way to run this test (on PC hardware), download the free Ultimate Boot CD which contains a myriad of utilities. Burn and boot the CD, then hit F2 followed by F1 to launch the program.
So the next time your iPod stops working and all seems to be lost (as far as Apple suggested fixes go), try opening it up and running a test. You might just be able to repair your iPod’s drive with a little work and a handy adapter or two.
Jon pointed this item out to me. It’s a bit dated, but still worth a look. In June of last year, Steve Jobs gave a speech at Stanford, of which I linked to audio version. Recently, on Stanford’s podcast, they published the video of the speech. Like the audio-only version, it’s worth saving for a day where you find yourself lacking inspiration and enthusiasm for whatever it is you do.
Less than a week ago, my iPod Shuffle gave up on me and refused to play any music. Pressing buttons resulted in flashing orange-and-green lights, and plugging it into various computers had no effect. I started thinking that maybe the refurbished 1 GB Shuffle wasn’t such a good deal after all.
At a loss, I went to Apple’s iPod Support page and requested some help. I submitted my issue in the hopes that they could either fix or replace my iPod. Two days later, a brand new iPod Shuffle arrives at my door, courtesy Apple and DHL. All I had to do was post back my non-functioning unit. I packaged it up, included the requested cap (what they do with them, I don’t know), and sent my dead Shuffle back. Earlier today, I received an email from Apple Support stating that my shipment arrived and that they hope I’ll be happy with my new iPod Shuffle. Indeed I am. Never have I had such a great customer service experience with any company. This, among other reasons, is why I don’t mind paying a little extra for Apple hardware.
A small follow-up to my earlier post about the Xbox peripheral adapter… Here you’ll find a pinout of the Xbox controller expansion port, as well as a diagram of the headset unit itself. I found them to be quite helpful when wiring up the adapter.
While working on a small audio project, I dicovered this Easter egg on a microphone preamp board out of an old Mac. Printed on the back of the board is “© Apple Computer” — text you’d expect to find on any piece of Apple hardware of that date. However, you’ll notice that the letter L in Apple is the ichthys symbol colloquially referred to as the “Jesus fish”, and can be seen on vehicles nearly everywhere in the country. The sybolism has been around, on car bumpers at least, since the 1980s (credit to my girlfriend for finding out this fact). So, it’s entirely possible that someone slipped this into the circuit silkscreen before the boards went into production. I wonder what the real story is…
While I’m on the topic of adapters, here’s one I just made that allows Xbox peripherals to be connected to a computer. Right now, the two main items are memory cards and the Xbox Communicator headset, both of which have drivers for Windows available. Hopefully, some kind soul will put together a Mac driver for the headset, as I’d like to be able to use it with Skype (otherwise, yet another adapter is in order to make use of the standard audio plug alone). See more images at Flickr, including a shot of the simple electrical connections.
Back when Command-Tab first started, I did a hack where I managed to connect a full size hard drive to a 3G iPod. I’m happy to present today a much easier solution — the “iPod Junior” — using a laptop hard drive and a nearly pre-built adapter. The end result is an iPod with an attached 2.5″ hard drive with next to no soldering.
In my earlier hack, I noted that the 1.8″ hard drive inside the iPod runs on 3.3v (see for yourself) instead of the 5v used in slightly larger laptop drives. Again, some external power source will need to be connected to power the drive, as the iPod alone can’t even spin up the laptop drive, much less a full desktop-sized drive. What I discovered is that the hard drive caddy inside IBM ThinkPad 240 laptops are almost a perfect iPod-to-laptop drive adapter, with the exception of power. On the front of the adapter is a female 1.8″ hard drive plug normally used for connecting to the laptop bus, and on the back is a standard female laptop hard drive connector. With some slight modification to route in the correct power, this modified adapter can easily attach a laptop hard drive to your iPod’s ribbon cable — ready for formatting and use.
You can see more photos of the modification in my Flickr photoset. To do the hack yourself, you’ll need to acquire a ThinkPad 240 hard drive caddy off eBay, like I did. Cut the +3.3v power trace that leads to pins 41 and 42 on the 2.5″ hard drive bus, and also scrape some of the green coating off both positive and ground traces. With the positive lines cut and some bare copper exposed on both traces, you can then solder on whatever power connector you prefer to run 5v to — I used two simple pins from a pin header, as a floppy drive power connector will easily plug onto them. From there, connect everything up, power up the drive, and then the iPod. Format and use. Rinse and repeat.
It’s been almost two weeks since I posted here, and I’ve been busier than ever. I just moved into my first apartment and am now living on my own for the next few months until my girlfriend finishes school. It’s a lot to manage all at once, but I’m doing well so far. As an added bonus, there’s open WiFi access nearby, so I’ll be able to post here regularly again.
And what better way to ring in the new year than with goodies from Apple?
The rumors were mostly true, predicting the announcement of an Intel-based Mac portable. Surprisingly, it came in the form of a Pro notebook instead of an iBook. With the new dual-core processor comes a new name: MacBook Pro. I’m not sure I like the name yet, but it will likely grow on me. A nice touch that I’m impressed to see is the addition of a built-in iSight into the MacBook. How Apple managed to fit all the hardware of a video camera into such a thin space is beyond my comprehension. The iMac also received a new chip as the first desktop machine to take advantage of the offerings from Intel. As expected, new versions of iLife and iWork debuted, with new features and “Apple Designed Themes” abound.
I’m very interested to see what Mac+Windows virtual machine or dual-boot environments can be concocted with the new native x86 processor. What I don’t want to see is too seamless interaction, such that Windows and Mac OS X use the same file system. My reason for this is the absurd amount of spyware and total junk that pollutes the internet and is just waiting to latch onto a host Windows machine. Ideally, I’d like to see Microsoft Virtual PC lose the windows-in-a-big-box interface and work like Classic does (did…), but keep the separation of systems. I want the Windows environment on my Mac to live inside a virtual partition, just like Virtual PC currently arranges it. In that way, if Windows were to ever become infected or corrupted, blowing away the file and replacing it with a backup will restore it to working order. We’ll see how this pans out in the very near future.