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iPod and iTunes Hacks by Hadley Stern

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Hack #17. Replace Your iPod Mini's Battery

Has your iPod mini run out of gas? You can replace the battery yourself.

If it seems ridiculous to you to send your iPod mini back to Apple (or a qualified third-party shop) just to have a new battery installed, you might want to have a go at doing it yourself. The procedure is similar to that for changing a G1 or G2 iPod's battery [Hack #15] . It might sound daunting, but with the right tools and the instructions in this hack, you'll be able to accomplish the task in no time at all.

Tip

Before you get started, be sure to check out the disclaimer in "Replace Your Generation 1 or 2 iPod's Battery" [Hack #15] .

Here's what you'll need if you decide to undertake this battery-changing mission:

  • A thin, flathead screwdriver; I strongly recommend the Wiha brand (http://www.wihatools.com)

  • A #000 Phillips screwdriver (Wiha strongly recommended)

  • A hair dryer

  • Needle-nose pliers (the smaller, the better)

  • A new battery

Removing the Plastic End Caps

Turn off your iPod mini and place the hold button on (so orange is showing).

The white plastic end caps on the iPod mini are held in place with an adhesive substance that will give up some of its stick when heated, so use your hair dryer to gently warm up the end caps to make the job much easier. By gently, I mean you shouldn't turn the dryer onto High and blast away; start on a low power setting and move the dryer back and forth. You want to avoid changing the iPod's temperature too quickly to avoid even the slightest chance of thermal shock.

Working on one end at a time, once the plastic bits are warm/hot to the touch, use the thin-bladed screwdriver to gently pry up the end caps. Start by inserting the blade at the middle of the enclosure and work your way around. Take your time and be careful not to slip. The top cap is held on with nothing more than the adhesive, but the bottom cap has two plastic tabs on either side. They are relatively strong, but be careful when prying on the edges. The bottom cap also has some tiny plastic standoffs that will probably break off when you remove the cap. I broke off most of them when I disassembled my minis, but it doesn't seem to have had any ill effect.

Once the caps are off, try not to handle them too much, and place them somewhere clean so the adhesive doesn't get mucked up and lose its effectiveness.

Opening the iPod Mini

The top of the Mini has two Phillips #000 screws that hold the main electronics board in place, as shown in Figure 1-49. Remove these with, you guessed it, a #000 Phillips screwdriver. I like to stick such tiny screws to a piece of Scotch tape to ensure I won't lose them.

Top of the iPod mini with the plastic cap removed

Figure 1-49. Top of the iPod mini with the plastic cap removed

The bottom of the mini has a custom-designed clip that fits into four slots machined out of the aluminum case. Insert the tip of the #000 screwdriver into each of the four holes in turn and disengage the clip while pulling it up, as in Figure 1-50. If you're having trouble, use the flathead screwdriver to exert upward pressure with one hand while disengaging the clip with the other. As with everything in these instructions, don't use too much force!

Finally, there is a pin connector at the bottom of the mini that connects the button assembly to the main board. You will see it on the mini's lefthand side when you remove the bottom clip. Use the needle-nose pliers to unplug this ribbon connector.

Unclipping the lower retainer spring

Figure 1-50. Unclipping the lower retainer spring

Removing the Battery

Are you positive you disconnected the ribbon cable at the end of the previous step? Good. Now, gently press on the dock connector and the mini's main electronics board, LCD display, hard drive, and battery will all slide out in one integrated unit, as shown in Figure 1-51.

Installing the New Battery

With the main components out, turn them over and place the LCD display on a clean, flat, soft surface (such as a couple of paper towels). You'll see the battery. Apple connects the battery to the main board with a double-sided adhesive neoprene block that you need to pull in half when you take off the old battery. Use the needle-nose pliers to disconnect the battery, and then pull it off.

Plug the fresh battery into the connector (it will plug in only one way) and place it on the main board in the same orientation as the old battery. You'll have torn the neoprene block in half when you removed the old battery, but it really doesn't make much difference; there is still enough of the block left to hold up the new battery, and Apple glues them in place only to make mass-assembly easier.

The mini fully taken apart

Figure 1-51. The mini fully taken apart

Putting It Back Together

With the fresh battery in place, slide the main electronics back into the aluminum shell. You'll notice two rails inside the aluminum; you want the green main board to be under these rails. You'll meet some resistance about halfway through, so carefully insert one of the screwdrivers up through the bottom of the case and press down on the center of the main board. Be gentle, and never force anything. If you continue to meet resistance, pull the main board out and start over again.

Once the main board is in, make sure to reconnect the ribbon connector for the button assembly. Nothing would suck as badly as getting everything back together only to find out you forgot to make this connection. Install the bottom clip by placing the top two clips into their respective tabs and then pulling the bottom two tabs into place with your #000 screwdriver. Snap on the bottom cap.

On the top, make sure to line up the tiny Hold switch (the actual switch on the main board) with the actuator (the plastic/metal switch on the top cap). Once you've done this, just stick the top cap back on and press it down until it's smooth. Your iPod mini should be working like a champ again!

Greg Koenig

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