After Hours

Cracking open the 4GB iPod Nano (3rd generation)

By Mark Kaelin

The iPod Nano is a great little music player from Apple Computer. Besides playing music, it can also display movies, television, and other video content on its two inch screen. TechRepublic cracked open the iPod Nano to see what makes this device so special.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

52 comments
Johnexo
Johnexo

You have completely dissected this player. I am seeing for the first time. iPod Nano 3rd Generation

james_orkins
james_orkins

Mark, Thanks for video on taking apart the Nano. Great video and pictures! I have a related question: where can I find the specification for the Nano interface (the flat long plug interface on the bottom of the iPod Nano)? I'd like to play around w/ activating functions like Play/Pause, Volume, etc. through this interface but can't find an interface spec. I'm assuming Apple would publish this for 3rd party developers... Do you know where I would find this? Thanks- James james_orkins@yahoo.com

baijokull
baijokull

Can anyone please help me to get it working again

lord_cedis
lord_cedis

Good news to nano users but can you now repare ipod nano?

Sydesh
Sydesh

There were bound to be all kinds of traps set by the industry

ragglestein
ragglestein

Can he put it back together again...LOL

hopecenter1
hopecenter1

what is that little plastic thingy that comes with the pod in its jewel case?

warren.hamilton
warren.hamilton

I found a completely fake but externally identical Fakepod in the back of a taxi in Shanghai. Spent ages trying to get it to sync with iTunes until.... It even reported the disk space at 8GB. I don't know which is cooler, finding a real iPod, or the best fake item I have ever seen. Even the menus are similar...

otenboy
otenboy

The unfamiliar logo is QIMONDA, is a memory company offshoot of Infineon. It is HQ in Germany, and 75% owned by Infineon.

devchooramun
devchooramun

Dear Mark, I recall having run into the same problem twice, first when unmounting and then reassembling a Motorola Vv series, then a Casio digital diary... It seems that the ribbon cable manufacturers do not add enough anti-static coating to the cable surface. That surely explains the static discharge that might have gotten into the video chip. Like in PC's, and that reminds me of my experience with my WORK laptop, a Dell Lattitude, which I disassembled, and accidentally burnt the graphics processor, if the self-diagnostic finds something wrong with the video display, it halts to a stop with the white screen. Anyway, keep trying, while I securely keep my iPod away from my own curious mind to crack it open based on your instructions... Cheers hey...and Happy NEw Year 2008

litw
litw

Thanks very much for let us know the inside of the Ipod nano. I like your presentation and your hard work. The chip is so small and tidy. I'm sorry that you could not make the ipod nano work again. Hahaha ...hope Steve Jobs can compensate a new ipod to u. He can hire u to join their engineer group to invent the 5th or 6th generation ipod stuff. Anyway, thanks a lot! Good Job and take care!!

dave
dave

re: the 3rd to last picture in series: the unknown chip is for data , while the chip to left next to the Schottky diodes is the video processor and the remaining chip under the data chip is the sound chip

dave
dave

re: the 3rd to last picture in series: the unknown chip is for data , while the chip to left next to the Schottky diodes is the video proccessor and the remaining chip under the data chip is the sound chip

ben
ben

Here's a geek question: Notice that the Flash memory chip is an 8Gb part according to the PN...so why does the 4G ipod have 8G of flash memory?

dud
dud

IS/IT guys...sheesh real men are programmers and electrical/computer engineers

abhishek442
abhishek442

i certainly woould not do it with my ipod...

shankarkumar8
shankarkumar8

Wow, buddy , Its Hard To Open this, As many Had not seen this MINI POWERHOUSE "GLAD AFTER WATCHING THIS "

weiqiang
weiqiang

Cool.I certainly won't want to crack open my iPod nano if I have the money to buy it. Haha. I thought the battery is as small as a handphone battery. Anyway, any luck making it work again? If not... can send me? lol... just kidding.

swain_stephen
swain_stephen

I would guess that the Apple BGA chip next to the Qimonda RAM is an SOC (System On Chip) which does all the processing i.e. audio/video decoding, MMI etc. The other Apple chip (QFP or something similar ie a package with visible legs) appears to be a power management IC, as it looks to be connected to what are maybe power mosfets (6 pin IC-like packages), and is on the other side of the PCB to a bunch of caps and inductors. The shiny bluish coloured device is another IC in a chip scale package but I cannot guess at its function.

rob_cranfill
rob_cranfill

The sentence "The battery is the dominate piece of equipment" should embarrass the writer. The proper word is "dominant", as in "The battery is the dominant piece of equipment" - rob

jlewis(at)planits.com-1321678
jlewis(at)planits.com-1321678

The chip that has an unidentified logo is from Qimonda which is the memory chip spin off from Infineon Technologies.

ktrotta
ktrotta

can the nano be cloned?

Jxoco
Jxoco

Have you tried connecting it to a pc with Itunes and telling it to 'Restore' the ipod to it's original settings?

tnahas
tnahas

Thouroghly enjoyed this! Sad to hear it doesn't work now! Expensive little "throw-away" item, huh?

chernand
chernand

Figure out which chips does what? : The HYE18M256 chip is probaly some kind of RAM memory for video frame buffer. You can see a bus connecting it to the Apple chip which is probably the Apples GPU (Graphics Unit Processor). The other apple chip (lower side of image) is probably a device IO controller chip for USB, Firewire, click wheel control, power managent, etc.

philchoo
philchoo

view television?? are you just double dipping the kudos or does this ipod really have a tv tuner?

fjp
fjp

Now you know how the back fits on, would it be possible to remove without damage? Presumably the battery has a finite life...

alan
alan

Apple has simply gone back and copied Sinclair, who created calculators and computers before there were Comodor Pets and Apples. Sinclair found he could get memory devices MUCH cheaper than anyone else by simply buying manufacturer's REJECTS that were twice as large as he needed. Sinclair found that scrap devices worked perfectly if he carefully selected which have of the address map he used. My work colleague found he had a good Spectrum computer after only 7 weekly return trip exchanges at Currys !!! Long term reliability is something you lose with reject devices that have already not got the functionality they should have. Question - could these "special" memory devices have shorter lives than the non-replaceable batteryies ? Warning - those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it !!!

ben
ben

Just a bit o'memory... Ultra low Power DDR Mobile-RAM optimized for battery-powered handheld applications.

dskeene
dskeene

hold in center button and menu at the same time until apple appears (may take more than just a few seconds)----i had no response from mine, was considering sending it back to apple for new one...did this a its worked!!

ben
ben

Little shape of Tejas? TI does custom screened packages (as will most any of the silicon vendors)

flyer1187-techrep
flyer1187-techrep

What's up mate ? Did someone piss in your wastepaper bin today ? The forum is for technical information not to help readers improve their English language skills !

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

It is strange - the PC recognizes the iPod as fully functional. It is the controls and video screen that is kaput. My guess is that I scrambled something. Next time I have one of these things, I'm going to make sure the power is gone from the device.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

I was thinking along those lines myself. I think that small chip near the audio jack must have something to do with the audio system.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

You can download TV shows after they air and view them on your commute into the office. Of course, I trust you are using some form of mass transit and not driving a vehicle.

public
public

Thanks for the pics. Any tips on getting the case open? I have a nylon case tool, but don't seem to be making any leeway with the case. The tool doesn't seem to insert far enough to make any difference, and the back of the case doesn't seem to budge.

brucelparsons
brucelparsons

Perhaps you are expecting to see canister type or the type with little legs. In this case, where SMT (Surface Mount Technology) is used, the capacitors are the little beige chips that have a band of solder on either end.

don.stittle
don.stittle

Odd that you can not see capacitors in the photo - I can see a dozen plus..

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

Thanks for the suggestion, but we tried that too - many times. We have declared it dead.

dskeene
dskeene

hey, try holding down the center and menu buttons together until you see the apple and it should reboot just fine. (mine did the same thing and i was ready to send in back to apple and a friend showed me that little trick) ~d

Jxoco
Jxoco

From reading your replies about the battery it sounds to me that you unplugged the ribbon connectors from a mainboard that had power on it. You didn't disconnect/unsolder the battery first. Other than plugging a USB cable in when the power is on, I would almost expect something to go wrong. There is probably good reason that the only things that can be plugged in/out with the power on are USB ports and hot swappable hard drives. They were made for it. The Ipod not so much...

jeff.allen
jeff.allen

Pity it doesn't work... I bet someone is upset... Was it your's? I believe that it is repairable - it will be a connector... Well, you said you don't like them.... I'd be rechecking these first. By the way, despite re-reading the article, I can't find an answer to the most important question... IS the battery easily replaceable? What about some specs? - Voltage, amp/hours etc??

Bixxo
Bixxo

I found the disection of the Nano iPod very instructive---something that can and maybe should be done of just about every electrical or mechanical device--as educational tools. For example, I'd like to see the inside of my Sony Memory Stick--digital IC recorder and MP3 player. I use it for notes then with Dragon software get computer print outs. Most interesting presentation with wry comments--thanks again for a good job, well done.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

I thought there must be some form of capacitor system -- I just wasn't sure which chips were doing the job. Thanks.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

I think because we still had power flowing when we disconnected parts we fried something beyond bringing it back. The next time (or we already have plans for a next time) we will disconnect the power if possible.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

The battery has soldered connection so it is not replaceable in the normal sense of the word. I'm sure there are some enterprising folks who can do it and may even provide the service, but it would probably be easier to buy a new one. The iPod was purchased by TechRepublic for the specific purpose of cracking it open. So the fact that it broke, while disappointing, is just part of the process.