After school today, Matt and Anthony came in with Anthony’s busted Ipod Video. They asked me how good I was at fixing iPods. Never having been inside an iPod before, I replied, “well let’s see what you’ve got.” It appears that the back came off the ipod, and now it was bricked. Anthony was pretty upset, wondering if all his songs would be missing, and what he would do without his beloved tunebox. It would not power up at all. He showed how it could be opened by grabbing at it with his nails and separating the back. so much for specialized antimar tools.

We did a few searches on replacing ipod batteries. One page that looked promising turned out to be about the wrong generation. Not knowing which model it was, we looked up the various models to get the generation right. His turned out to be a 5th gen iPod.

Next we needed to know what to expect inside. I could see a couple of ribbon cables that appeared to have just pulled out of their fittings. If they could be placed properly back into their slots, that would be fine. They needed to go back into place in such a way that the back could actually be reattached.

Inside, there was a bunch of cool stuff. The 80gig hard drive was incredibly small. I couldn’t believe how much capacity could be stuffed into such a small package. The screen was neat too. Real thin, backlight coming from the top. There was some foam and spacers in there to keep things from flopping around. Everything was held together with ribbon cables.

The ribbon cables would be fine as long as they did not get torn. I found the fitting for one of them on the side, and saw that there was a flip latch to hold it together. After securing that one, the next was the one at the bottom. We got it to go into the slot, clicked the case together and hit the power button. About this time, Anthony got about his 50th text message of our short session. The Ipod would not fire up. Anthony was upset. Then his father called. He explained that he was in the middle of fixing his iPod. There was some discussion of Best Buy and their warrantee policy. I was pretty sure that there was no chance of this relic being still covered.

While they were talking, I cracked the thing open again and took a look at the second fitting, down near the charger port. It was stiffer, with reinforcement of a piece of white plastic. I figured that it had to be that the fitting was not all the way in. I used my Warrantee Voider to get the ribbon into the fitting all the way. Once I got it running, I showed it to him, and he reported happily to Dear Old Dad that all was well.

On looking at the catches on the case, we could see that one of them was more worn than the rest. I figured that it would be good for a while, but it would eventually pull apart, so I suggested that we make a skin for his newly functioning Ipod. He said he had nothing planned, but I could tell that now that his iPod was running, his daily routine was about to resume. We didn’t have a whole lot of time.

First we looked up the dimensions for the 5th generation iPod. The thing I was looking for was a good, full dimension drawing that I could use to make the image for the skin. I wanted to make it so that the sticker on the front would reach over to the back and hold the two together. The image and dimensions did not jump out of the browser at me, so we grabbed a ruler and went over to the computer to design up a skin.

We used CutStudio, which comes bundled with the Roland CAMM1. I don’t like the software much, but it ports right to the cutter. Once you have the thing designed, you can only cut it, I have not been able to find a way to export it for editing in a more powerful program like Gimp or Inkscape.

Rather than having him do the design work, I chose to do it myself. His texts and calls were coming with increasing frequency, and I knew word had gotten out that he no longer had an excuse to be absent from his pressing duties. We had to work fast. A couple of quick measurements, some alignment of shapes, and the overall design was done. To add tabs to the sides so they would reach over the back, I had to trace over the outline and duplicate most of the shape. Anthony was impressed that it was possible to design something that was so close to the outline of his beloved.

When I sent the file to the cutter, it was done in a few seconds. He couldn’t believe it when I showed it to him. Then we weeded it and put it on transfer tape. It took a few tries to get it onto the iPod squarely, but eventually it went on fine. In looking at it, I told him that it wasn’t such a great fit, and looked kind of unprofessional, but would keep the back from falling off. I invited him to come back on Monday to make a better looking skin, maybe with a picture that he made on it as well.

He cruised out the door about 45 minutes after coming into my room for the first time ever, happy as can be with his resurrected iPod in one hand and buzzing phone in the other. Problem solved.

Do you have tales of repairs and making things right? How about advice on how to get the right patterns for skins to fit various models of phones or audio players? Would you like to make new skins for your laptop, digicam or even dashboard? Share your ideas in the comments or add pictures and video to the Make Flickr pool.