Upcycled iPod Mini

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For Christmas 2004 I received an iPod mini, the last Apple product with a monochromatic display. I’ve been wearing white earbuds almost daily ever since. Sadly, my mini was stolen only a year after I got it.

Later, I’ve had an iPod Video, Touch and iPhones, but the mini has always been in my heart. And I’ve never lost anything ever again. When I saw a nostalgic review for the product on Minimally Minimal, I decided it was time to repossess one of these masterpieces of industrial design. I bought a used 2nd gen green mini for $30 on Amazon.

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The original mini used a Microdrive with 4GB. The battery had 570 mAh, which lasted for 8h of music playback. These drives have the same connector as CF cards (the big ones used in DSLRs). I got a 32 GB CF card, a 1700 mAh battery and an original clickwheel with grey controls replacing the green one that matched the body. I paid about $40 for all these parts. The card not only increased space but also battery life and made the iPod lose a few grams.

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My friend Ben Chaloupka has a metal workshop and helped me clean the extruded aluminium body with sandblasting. I thought it would be nice to show off the customisation of the iPod by changing its colour. So it was powder-coated with a matte black. I cleaned all the plastic parts of the body with an organic degreaser.

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This project taught me a new appreciation for industrial products. The way all the parts slide into the body is impressive. To be working with such tight tolerances and yet to be able to replace components yourself is a thing of the past. Since the iPod mini is over a decade old, all parts were relatively cheap to acquire. This made the whole project a fun and regret-free experience.

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I now get days of battery life, can store more albums than I can listen to in a month and can claim to have built a third generation iPod mini.

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