Howto: Nonviolent Ipod Shuffle Disassembly

shuffle disassemble hack
while most shuffle owners don’t know it yet, in a year or two there will be a lot of folks wondering where their battery life went.  applecare’s battery replacement service for normal ipods is available for the low, low price of $99.  think they will have a cheapo shuffle battery replacement service?  think different.

we mentioned earlier that someone posted photos of an ipod shuffle disassembly.  the previous disassembly left a few key questions unanswered, namely:

  • do you need to butcher the buttons to take your shuffle apart?

  • will the average joe be able to replace the battery?

  • what else is under the hood?

  • can it be cleanly reassembled?

this howto will attempt to answer these questions while disassembling the shuffle in a non-destructive manner.

tools required

  • xacto knife
  • ballpoint pen
  • pliers (optional — not recommended)
  • patience

step 1: all your base

shuffle base

freeing the base of the shuffle from the rest of the body is the hardest part of this whole process.  the
previous disassembly suggested just pulling on the usb connector with a pliers until the base breaks free.

mine appeared to have been glued quite liberally and i was worried about damaging the connector, breaking the
connector from the base, or tearing the ribbon cable with too overzealous a yank.  if you choose to go this route,
you’ll probably want to cram a strip of plastic in the usb connector so that it doesn’t bend when you grab it with the

shuffle base removed

i ended up trying a different approach, which i think works a little better.  i used an x-acto blade to slowly
make my way up the inside wall of the case.  once you can dig in a little bit, a very light twisting of the blade
will cause the wall to free from the base.  you’ll be able to hear the glue crackle as it breaks free.

it takes a lot of time and patience to do it without scarring the ipod, but after you’ve worked your way around the
entire base 20 times, you should be able to remove the base by gently rocking the usb connector up and down with your

remove the on/off switch

shuffle switch removal

nothing new here, just tuck a blade or a fingernail under the switch and carefully pry it free.

you don’t have to remove the play buttons!  the guts can slide out without damaging anything

slide off the case

shuffle case slide

nothing new here, either.  just use a ballpoint pen to push on the audio connector.  it should slide out
fairly easily.  if it gets caught, you can use a needle nose to squeeze in the end of the usb side of the

i recommend doing this with the play button side facing up.  the charge indicator button will fall out otherwise
and it’s a slight pain getting it back into place.

replacing the battery

at this point, you should be able to replace your battery and reassemble the shuffle.  instead of soldering
directly to the motherboard, you may just want to clip the wires generously and solder to them to the wires for the
replacement battery.  this leaves a little more room for error if you are like me an unskilled in the finer points
of soldering.

with a little care, it’s a pretty easy job.

so far i haven’t seen any replacement shuffle batteries for sale anywhere.  in two years time i bet they will
be really popular.  lion batteries really suck in that respect…

more details

ipod shuffle circuit
the flash ram and the cpu sit on two seperate circuit
boards and are sandwiched together.

ipod shuffle board disassembly

to get them apart and see what is inside you’ll need to remove the whole unit from the plastic sled.  this can be
accomplished by first removing the ribbon connector, peeling back the tape that holds on the button contacts, and then
carefully freeing and bending the sides of the sled away from the circuit sandwich.

once you have this removed, you can pull the two halves apart.

ipod shuffle flash

i have the 512 mb shuffle and the flash chip used is a samsung k9k4g08uom.  i suspect that the 1gig shuffle’s
only difference is that it has a k9w8g08u1m instead.  here is the pdf
for both.

it looks like it would be a real pain to attempt to upgrade this to a 1gig shuffle.  however, if you have the
tools to do it, give it a shot and let us know how it works.

ipod shuffle processor

the processor is a sigmatel stmp3550b.  you can read more about it

closing thoughts

shuffle reassembly

everything reassembles painlessly.  just be careful not to pinch the ribbon connector as you slide everything
back together.  you can clean up the scuff marks and old glue on the base with the x-acto and then resecure the
base with a couple drops of super glue along the seam.

it’s unreal how tiny the shuffle’s electronics are.  with a little adjustment, it should be able to fit
alongside a 9volt inside the usb battery case, bypassing
the lion battery altogether.

or it could be sewn into some clothing, perhaps a hat or a parka.

anyway, those are just some ideas to get you started.  send in your own shuffle hack.  i’d like to see

107 thoughts on “Howto: Nonviolent Ipod Shuffle Disassembly

  1. ya know, i just ripped apart my ipod trying to fit it into the PSP theater experience from pelican(i think) and this kinda pissed me off that i had to find this right after i tore mine apart. my fault though and a good guide.

  2. Great guide. I was able to open the shuffle and make a solder repair to the earpod jack. I only snapped the USB connector without glue. Was fully functional until daughter pulled it from USB jack and tore the ribbon cable. I know its been asked with no replies but where can I get a ribbon cable. Thanks!

  3. I have resoldered 1 GB flash chip to my 512 MB Ipod shuffle.With no luck.It is comming into Ipod recovery mode. While trying to restore Ipod with standard Ipod updater it starts procedure and than dies saying error writing into the memory. Guess for such things need to have special factory cable and special soft. Any body have one?

  4. I have resoldered 1 GB flash chip to my 512 MB Ipod shuffle.With no luck.It is comming into Ipod recovery mode. While trying to restore Ipod with standard Ipod updater it starts procedure and than dies saying error writing into the memory. Guess for such things need to have special factory cable and special soft. Any body have one?

  5. Some new info about upgrading the 512MB Shuffle. Today I have done a bit of surgery…. I have placed the 1GB memory board from a dead Shuffle, to a 512MB Shuffle, and it works at the first time!!!!. Even the music from the dead 1GB shuffle was still there. Therefore there is not need to make any changes to the firware as some people has sugested, it seems the CPU just scans to see how much memory it has on. I even din’t have to do a Firmware reload, it simply works. I had taken some picture and I will send them to any one who ask for them. If you want any extra info, just let me know before I close the 512MB (with 1GB) Shuffle. Before I close it for good, I want to make another upgrade, and that is placing a couple screws by the USB connector and forget about glueing the case, so the battery can be easilly replaced in the future. I shall take some pictures of that upgrade too.

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  7. this site and the ipod shuffle “autopsy” pictures are very informative! thanks to the people that have sacrificed their time (and shuffles) so that other shuffles may live!

    i am wondering if anyone knows if the 512 and the 1 gig have the same chip (just modified at the factory into either a 512 meg or a 1 gig Shuffle)? one site featuring info on the shuffle stated that it was a 4 gig chip!

  8. The 512 MB and 1 GB Shuffle will have different capacity NAND chips (The Samsung one). All other components will be identical.
    So, to upgrade capacity, you will need to replace the NAND chip with a larger one, or adding one, if the hardware, firmware, and your skills allow.

    What I am somewhat confident of is that there is a recover mode that will allow you to reprogram a new chip with firmware (which you back up before hand).

    The full datasheet of the STMP35xx is available, if you look.

  9. For car apps: Buy a stereo unit/head unit that takes a stereo jack aux input, like Alpine, JVC and others also called MP3 aux inputs. Buy a headphone not mini caple on both ends, and plug it in your iPod and head unit and enjoy. Don’t waste money on anything else. Stay safe and use a shuffle for your commute. No screen to distract from driving. I also plug in my Sony PSP into same cable for music or to watch shows while waiting for better half to finish errands.

  10. ……………………………………………………………………

  11. Hi, i just ripped the usb ribbon on my ipod shuffle 512MB, I have all my college work on it and i dont have a backup for it expect the ipod :( I have deadline for monday which i have to meet and i cant access my work cause of the broken ribbon on the ipod. does anyone know how i can fix it? take the 512 flash out and put it in another ipod shuffle 512mb maybe? or replace the ribbon some how? PLEASE HELP!

  12. hi- does anyone know how to fix or replace a broken/split usb ribon wire cable inside the ipod- ??? where can you get them – how can you fix them – i know its a hard one!

  13. I’ve repaired a torn ribbon cable before, it’s a pretty tedious and nasty job even for someone who’s good with a soldering iron and has a lot of patience. I couldn’t find any place that sold a replacement cable, so I just used 30awg Kynar wire and redid all 9 of the connections the ribbon cable makes up (only 4 need to be done if you’ll never use the headphone lanyard or plug it into anything other than the PC) It’s still a ROUGH repair no matter how you do it though. –
    If anyone wants one looked at or has quwestions about repairs you can contact me at rondcrasher[at[

  14. hey
    – your email address dont work – it says its too long – anyway
    heres what i was gonna say – emmail me at jgminis@AOL.COM

    :hey p

    yep i bought a 1gb faulty shuffle as in the torn ribbon – on the idea i could fix it –

    1st question

    if the cable is torn — can the shuffle still turn on ? and lights come one etc?

    to figure whether theres another fault-

    um and yes its pretty minute this cable – i was thinking of peeling the plastic off the old cable under a magnifying glass – and revealing the endes of the tiny wires – to resoldier back up – wow its tiny –
    um and how did you repair with the wire was it preinsulated ? how did you stop all wires touching together ??
    and what are the 2 unnecessary cables for if you only do 4?

    picts would help thanks

  15. My e-mail address is fine, remove the [at[ and replace it with the @ symbol, ya know, like a real e-mail address and it’ll work.

    If the cable is shot and the battery is still charged it’ll work just fine, until that thing dies.

    30awg Kynar wire is insulated.

    and it’s 5 unused wires if you only do 4, not 2 since there’s 9 in total.

    Pics wont help at all if you’re trying to strip down and solder on the flex cable (ribbon cable) that’s left in there. The heat needed to melt the solder and make it stick will torch the plastic of the cable. It has to either be replaced, shich isn’t really even an option if you could find one since it’s fitted on the USB connector from the factory and there would be no easy way at all to attach even a brand new one without ruining it in the process.

  16. Here’s a few I took during the process. For real though, it’s NOT something anyone with so-so soldering skills should even think about attempting. You have to remove the flex cables connector, that in itself is about the roughest part of the whole thing. Getting it removed without ruining the board, pads under it or any of the oh so many tiny SM parts around it is NOT EASY as all. If it’s not removed properly you can pretty much kiss the whole thing goodbye because fixing that mess would be about 10 times harder.

  17. hi, yeah I have 2 shuffles with torn ribbon cables. I bought a broken one hoping to use it 4 parts only to find out it had its ripped slightly and it wouldnt respond when connected to a PC. Im looking 4 the ribbon cable but can’t find it… just like everybody else with the same problem. Can anybody help me out??

  18. I have 2 ribbon cables from bad 512mb Shuffles that I bought for parts. The encoder boards were bad on them, but the memory, batteries cables are in perfect shape. e-mail me if ya wanna discuss it more and name a price, replacing them is VERY delicate work as well and tearing the new one while installing it is as easy as ripping the old one up, gotta be careful.

  19. good guidlines shame i didnt read them to closly i forgot to take off the switch and have broken the switch inside does anyone know where i can get one to replace it with as i am compertant with soldering.

  20. my shuffle stopped charging, and loading. so i had to take it apart. found a tear in the data usb cable just near the motherboard connector. does anybody have a usb cable they want to sell. i plan to repair this one with conductive silver paste. but would prefer to install a working one. John

  21. Looks like alot of other people broke their ribbon too, I just broke mine the other day.
    The ribbon is very delicate and because there’s not much room in the shuffle there’s a good chance of it breaking as you slide it in/out.

    The ribbon is not repairable!!!

    IMO, not worth disabling the whole ipod to save a few $ on an expensive battery pack. More moneys to apple.

  22. The ribbon itself isn’t repairable, but it can be replaced with another that’s undamaged or with seperate strands of wire.

    One end of the ribbon cable has a connector (at the main board) the other end, at the USB board, is glued to it, so you can’t just replace the ribbon by itself.

    You have to either remove the connector at the main board and solder wires in place of the entire ribbon cable (VERY HARD TO DO), or get a new ribbon cable that still has the USB board attached to it.

  23. ————–

    Do not do this


    it is extremely difficult to disassemble a shuffle without ripping the ribbon cable, which is irreplacable (unless you somehow contact one of the manufacturers in asia and, i dont know, promise to buy 200 parts or something, maybe not even then)

    yes, you can cut out the glue. but depending on which worker glued the thing, there could be so much in there that there is no way it will come out ‘easily’.

  24. any suggestions on getting the “down” volume to work. my shuffle went thru the wash….twice! 1st time plugged it into a usb port for a day and it was a little finicky for the first day, another nite on the usb and it was perfect. 2nd time around everything is all set, except the down volume button. my 5 y.o. son cranked it up (listening to the ramones, good boy!) and now i can’t turn it down….

  25. Hi ted,

    I have to quote a line form deal of the century on this one, “washing it was sheer stupidity”. And since it was washed twice I have no real clue what to say about it.

    The down contacts are most likely all fudged up now. It may start working again on it;s own, or it may get so bad that it won’t work at all without being taken apart and cleaned.

    There are 2 MAJOR things to worry about when taking a Shuffle apart, which I don’t recommend anyone do unless you’re sure you can fix it. The first is the ribbon cable, it can be torn about as easily as a piece of paper, and the sudden “jerk” that comes along with removing the USB connector is all it takes in most cases.

    The second, and just as bad thing to worry about, is there is asmall FlipFet transistor that can be torn off the main board very easily as well. It sits under the smaller black plastic covering that is opposite the switch. If extreme, and I mean extreme care isn’t taken whn sliding the guts out of the case, that thing can snag on the battery test button and it’ll rip it right off of there, quick.

    So try pushing down on the button and wiggiling it a little bit to see if it makes contact and starts to work again. If not, it’ll have to be taken apart and cleaned up to get going again. Worst case would be that the flash board would have to be replaced, since it has the contacts on it. If it doesn’;t start working I’d say a good cleaning would probably be all it needs, but again, I don’t recommend just anyone take a Shuffle apart, there are risks you need to be aware of before tearing something like it apart.

  26. thanks for the tips. i’ll wait until my kid really has it cranked up before i get brave. i’m usually pretty good with this kind of thing, as long as my wife stays out of the room….

  27. if it worked, then why take it apart in the first place? that’s just plain ignant and is no ones fault but your own.

    if it worked before you took it apart then something hapened to it during that process. If you can put it back together and it doesn’t turn on, plug it into the PC and see if it lights up and if itunes detects it. If iTunes detects it and you can move files on and off it, but it doesn’t work unplugged from the PC, then you’ve ripped off that little Flip-Fet transistor and it’ll have to be replaced.

    If you put it back together and the PC doesn’t detect it at all, then the ribbon cable is most likely damaged and will have to be replaced or repaired.

  28. a most interesting read,however some confusion, the part no of the memory samsung k9k4g….. is in fact 4Gb, is there something in the firmware stopping the Nano from accessing the whole 4Gb??
    ps samsung are now offering up to 32Gb in, I think the same die size!!

  29. how do you plan on putting it in another shell without taking it apart?? that makes about no sense at all.

    If you’re talking about sticking it in something completely different, say like an old NES controller or something, then you still would have to gut the shuffle to get to the buttons enough to be able to rewire them and you’ll also have to redo the USB wiring so it’s still useable.

    what are you attempting to do exactly?


  31. Many thanks to everyone that contributed information. over the last year or so, i’ve “Found” 3 ipods. a 512mb, a 30gb, and today a 1gb. hmm.. how do people lose these things? anyhow, the 1gb worked (played music) but, wouldnt charge or be loaded onto my pc, so i looked this site up, n tore it apart;)i managed to open and separate everything.. with out blades, or pliers. i did mark the edge of the case by gently prying.. nothing major. and i found why it wouldnt charge, etc.. yup.. torn cable. so, for now i’m gonna put it in a drawer somewhere, n hope i remember it when the 512 dies n do some home modifications;) lol
    Thanks guys

  32. If you insert a small strip of paper inside over the inside of the battery button it makes the guts slide in easier and prevents them from getting snagged on the back of the button.

  33. Grrrawwagr, I tore my data ribbon in half, be careful not to play with it when it’s out of it’s casing the ribbon tore in half real easily, my ipod shuffle now has a new home.. in the bin.

  34. I took mine apart. I am an electronic novice and I haven’t ever fixed anything in my life but I took mine apart and figured out that the “two little metal tabs” where you plug in the headphone “thingy” had been straightened from excessive use. But I lost the actual switch i guess? I have the slider but when I put it back together it won’t turn on. but i know before i opened my iPod; both “Headphone tabs” worked out-of-sync when pulling the headphones out slightly.

    P.S. If the battery indicator falls out the light goes on the side with the little battery symbol & is EXTREMELY easy to get back in. Set it down inside and hold the ipod steady while pushing it toward the hole with a very small object (likethe tiny screwdrivers for eyeglasses). if onrotly teh sll ware glasses

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