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. Bonsoir! Post intéressant. J ai trouvé sur votre site un peu par chance. Apres cette lecture je vais faire une sieste dans ma veranda :). Malgre tout je vais penser ce que cet article m’a permis de decouvrir. Bien à vous

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