Monday, July 8, 2013

How to Replace the Hard Drive in a 160GB IPOD classic Model A1238

   My daughter dropped her Ipod classic, and hard, on concrete, while roller blading. I took a look. The display had a red "X" on it and the text "contact Apple support. I agreed to take a look inside.
  The music player has to come apart. The bad news is that there aren't any screws. It's a very tight snap fit, designed to be sleek and sexy, not to be taken apart easily. The good news is, we can get this apart anyway and replace the hard drive.
     Here is an excellent You Tube video on opening an Ipod Classic.

     After taking it apart I noticed the hard drive making odd intermittent whirring sounds as it was repeatedly rebooted. I tried some online advice and tried to re-jar the drive back to life as others have been able to do. Not this one. It would need to be replaced.
     Once apart, notice that there are just 5 parts in there. One is the audio jack/hold switch assembly. Two is the battery. Three is the hard drive. Four is a small flat flexible wiring circuit between the hard drive and the logic assembly. Part five is the logic assembly consisting of the screen and thumbwheel sensor and associated electronics. The battery is connected to the main electronics pack with a flexible circuit that plugs into a little black clamping connector. It needs to come out to remove power while replacing the hard drive. Use a small fine tool (I use a dental pick) on both ends of the connector to gently pry up on that black clamp till it disengages and the flex circuit can be removed. See below. Be gentle.

Lift up on the battery cable clamping connector

   Now the back cover can be can be set alongside the front half on the bench. It is connected only by the audio/hold switch flexible wiring harness. Flip the hard drive 180 degrees. I recommend disengaging the back cover from the main board while working on the hard drive. Disconnect the flexible wiring harness from the main circuit board by pulling up on the locking connector with a dental pick or some such tool. Again, be very careful with these tiny and fragile locking connectors.

     Now we can remove the bad hard drive. First disconnect the small flexible connector from the logic assembly by gently, very gently lifting up the locking lever on the connector until it is 90 degrees from it's down and locked position. 
Disconnect this flexible connector from the logic assembly
   The replacement hard drive will likely not come with the little flexible harness attached. I got mine from from an E-Bay seller called I-demigods ( It worked great. We must remove the harness from the old hard drive and transfer it to the replacement and this is tricky, owing to the very fragile lever lock on the drive connector. The instructions with the replacement drive called for using both thumbs (not fingernails, the meaty part of the thumb only) with even pressure on each end of the little black lever and gently, gently pulling upward until  the black lever is up at 90 degrees from the drive. I could not get under the lever with my thumbs, so I fabricated a very thin piece of stiff plastic from an old notebook cover and filed it thin on one side. I gently pushed the filed edge under the lever, while lifting it with even pressure, until it released.
The orange plastic piece worked great for dis-engaging the harness. Don't use it to install, though

   To transfer the flexible board to the replacement drive, carefully slip the connector into the slot on the hard drive. I would use some good magnification and illumination while doing this. There are is a double white line on the upper side of the connector that will disappear when inserted all the way. This time use one thumb (not fingernail!) on each end of the locking lever and apply even downward pressure on the connector until it snaps into place (you won't actually hear that from this tiny part). I tried using my homemade release tool and managed to separate the black lever. If this happens, don't despair, it can be re-inserted as long as you didn't break it. It took me about twenty minutes to get tiny back in place, though. Use your thumbs on this part.

1) Install the replacement hard drive by plugging it into the logic board. Put all the cushions and bumpers back on the new hard drive.
2) Plug the Audio Jack harness back into it's locking receiver.
3) Flip the hard drive 180 degrees and seat it into the frame.
4) Plug the battery back in. Check to see if the new hard drive is functioning before snapping the cover shut.
Mine said "Go to I-Tunes to configure hardware" and I knew it was going to be alright. Snap it together.
5) Get it online with I-Tunes and follow instructions to format the hard drive and start installing music files.



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