Breathing new life into an old iPod with a few thoughtful upgrades

Editor’s take: Streaming services may seem like the holy grail of music delivery but they do have their shortcomings. Recurring fees can add up, and fluid licensing agreements mean content comes and goes without warning. Plus, there’s no guarantee your provider will have everything you want, especially if you are into more obscure tunes. And what happens if an artist you like gets into a spat with a provider?

There are two schools of thought when modifying an old iPod: modernize it to make it compatible with music streaming services like Spotify or… make it more iPod-like. Ellie Huxtable chose the latter route.

The software engineer recently set about upgrading a 5th gen iPod Video for 2022. Huxtable selected this model due to its plastic front and the fact that it was the last to feature a DAC from Wolfson. Armed with various guides from iFixit and a set of iPod tools, the first order of business was to crack open the shell and remove the 80GB hard drive.

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Huxtable replaced the spinning disk drive with an iFlash Quad, which is a microSD adapter with four microSD card slots for the iPod. It can be used in standard mode with one card or with a full set of cards in JBOD (just a bunch of disks) mode for greater storage capacity.

The adapter consumes less power than a HDD or SSD. It also generates less heat than either of the aforementioned drive types and is thinner, meaning you can cram in a larger battery – wins all around.

Speaking of the battery, Huxtable opted for a 3000mAh unit from eBay. Also sourced from eBay was a clear front bezel and a new rear case to reflect the updated storage capacity.

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It buttoned all up without issue. Huxtable promptly installed Rockbox and a theme called “FreshOS” for a more modern look. As an added bonus, the iPod no longer needs to connect with iTunes – it simply mounts as an external storage drive, so files can be copied over with ease.

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