Ugly Upgrade Keeps The Tunes Playing Longer

[Sam] picked up a Sansa Clip audio player to listen to some tunes while working on projects. He liked the fact that he could run the Rockbox alternative firmware on the device, but thought the 15 hour battery life needed some improving. He swapped out the stock cell with a larger Lithium cell for a long life of 50-60 hours. It’s an upgrade fom 300 mAh to 1100 mAh, but as you can see, the size of the replacement made for some interesting case modification.

The battery swap required more than just taking one battery out and putting in the other. [Sam] is using a cellphone battery as the replacement and he didn’t want to have issues with the internal circuitry. He took the cell out of its plastic enclosure, removing the circuit board in the process. That PCB is the charging circuit, which he replaced with the one from the stock battery. After insulating the cell with a layer of Kapton tape he soldered it to the MP3 player and did his best to adhere all the parts to each other.

Sure, its ugly, but that makes it right at home on the work bench.

25 thoughts on “Ugly Upgrade Keeps The Tunes Playing Longer

  1. That PCB isn’t the charging circuit, it’s the battery protection circuit. It prevents over-charging and over-discharging, by opening the circuit for charge or discharge as necessary.
    Absolutely essential to keep one in circuit, but very surprising that the new cell didn’t have its own. Very few manufacturers will ship Li-ion cells without one, as they’re liable to explode…

      1. All cell phones that have removable batteries have a protection circuit built onto the battery. That is the only way for the pack to be disabled if it is discharged below 2.7v.

        In a shrink wrapped cell it is often part of the connector and in plastic cased cells it is often a little board on the end of the battery.

        If the battery is soldered to the board the battery management IC is usually part of the main board.

      2. I once had taken apart a Nokia BL-5C battery clone ….Could’nt find any sort of circuitry in there….the cell was directly connected to the terminals….Might have been ‘coz it was a cheap clone ,the circuit might be present in the original ones i guess……Will open up an original one.

      3. I have a whole stack of genuine cellphone batteries. They all have the protection PCB. It would be really foolish of the phone manufacturers to ship a removable battery without one fitted in case you decide to charge it outside the phone and it explodes.

        I guess the one you found was a knock-off, in which case it was pretty irresponsible. Wouldn’t like to have one catch fire in the house or in my pocket.

      4. But people do have keys and other metal objects in their pockets that can short out a battery. without any kind of protection circuitry in the battery would lead to a fire in your pocket..

  2. One day I predict seeing a hack involving an old 80s brick phone which has had the guts replaced with a large battery capacity and a modern day phone, giving a standby battery life you count in weeks (months?) not days.

    1. Modern day phones have terrible battery lives thanks to color displays, J2ME and/or fully featured OS’s (excepting Symbian). 12 years ago, 3 weeks’ standby time was pretty average from a 750mAh battery.

    2. You don’t need a hack for that. Meet the Philips Xenium X600: 2 months standby. You could probably augment that by using a battery powered external charger, wouldn’t really require any hacking of the phone itself. Or, you could get a SpareOne: Shelf life of 15 years on a AA battery. I’m sure there’s some fun things you could do hacking up an old brick phone, but it’s worth being aware of capabilities that exist so you have a better idea of how high to aim, I think.

    1. I agree. That said, I think were I trying to make it battery powered, I’d be more inclined to build a battery powered enclosure which attaches to the unit’s charging jack, leave the original unit more…svelte.

  3. I have done something similar (although much prettier) to my iPod video.

    I upgraded the battery to the biggest battery i could fit behind the thin 80GB 5mm harddrive I installed when the old two platter 80GB broke. I found a 1800mAh battery and it fits perfectly, although its not as long as the harddrive itself. The ipod now lasts much, much, MUCH longer, and it still looks stock! There is actually room to spare for a headphone amplifier or transmitter maybe?

    1. I have an old Ipod nano G2, it’s the exact same size as the lipo cells in most macbook batteries. i just taped one of those to the back of it. now it’s double the size and has several days battery time :P

      However the charging circuit was not dimensioned to charge a cell of that size so it burned out…

  4. Does the Sansa Clip with the round control and button inside, work with Rockbox. On their site it wasn’t clear weather it would or not.
    I am all for hacking big battery on to silly slim devices, for weeks of playtime.

      1. A friend gave it to me, so I never saw the packaging. The D-pad and center button are round not squarish. In tiny letters on the bottom edge is says model: clip and BB0805AUYK.
        I would like to play flac files.

  5. Good hack. Did it to my old Sansa and I used a power module that was produced by my previous employer. Disabled the controller and run the (protected) lithium battery to the Sansa wires. No need for the internal Sansa charging circuit as the module had its own. Much better looking since it is a finished product. I tapped holes and screwed the Sansa back in for a solid mount.

  6. I also did this with a 2ndGen iPod(also running rockbox) whos battery would last 1min. I took a 1150mAh cellphone battery whos circuit was corroded, took off the old one and replaced it with the circuit to the ipods batt. and glued it to the back with the wire going between the metal back and plastic front. the battery lasts but it cant source enough power so if you turn up the backlight the voltage drops so something is messed up.

  7. Hi, I know this is unlikely to get any kind of response as it’s a decade olde thread.. But, I thought I’d try my luck regardless. So I finally got round to replacing the dead battery in my Clip+, I’ve hooked up a 2000mAh pack using the three wires. However there are two issues I’m struggling with.

    1) There is a hiss audible through the headphones even when the volume is turned right down, when there is nothing playing. I’m not sure if its interference from the charge controller on the new battery, or a component on the board that’s dried up or whatever.

    2) The battery shows that it is half charged, when left to charge, although it looks like it is charging it ultimately doesn’t change.

    I’ve printed a new back that clip’s on to the original unit, If I can solve the above issue’s I’ll probably make it so there are slots for extra micro sd card storage built in. If anyone’s interested in the case I’ll stick the files on thingyverse or something.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.