Saving money by doing more silly things

The iPod I fixed by banging it hard against a wooden chest
Our iPod works (again)!

As reported earlier, I managed to use a few drops of nail polish remover to postpone my iPod Touch’s trip to the great pile of electronic waste that is one of the banes of our modern world. In the comments Matt Carlson mentioned that he’d had a similar experience reviving an MP3 player with a stuck hard drive head by smacking it — smacking it so hard that it flew out of his hand!

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but we happen to have a nice 80Gb iPod Classic (pictured above) that died over the summer with the telltale clicking sound of a stuck head. So I tried out Matt’s trick & whacked quite firmly (& quite loudly) multiple times on an old wooden chest and voilà – it came back to life! We thought we’d be travelling without the benefit of our huge shared pile of music, but it’s worked beautifully for many hours (all the way down to Arkansas & back).

Huzzah! Big thanks to Matt for the suggestion – banging on hardware beats the heck out of having to buy a new iPod. Again, I was only willing to risk this because this puppy was well past warranty, and there was no chance of repairing it. Obviously beating the tar out of electronics is something one should think carefully about and do with some care; your mileage definitely may vary.

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I just saved several hundred dollars with a drop of nail polish remover

I fixed a non-responsive home button on my iPod Touch using a drop of nail polish remover. Your milage may vary, however.

Our family iPod (which is truly dead due to a bad hard drive, but that's another story)
Our family iPod (which is truly dead due to a bad hard drive, but that's another story)

I’ve had my iPod Touch for about 1.5 years and can’t really imagine living without it. I had a Palm Pilot at two different times in the past, and I never felt the need to replace either of them when they died. Life without the Touch, however, has quickly become unthinkable.

Thus I was pretty seriously distressed when the home button quit responding yesterday. It had been acting a little touchy for a while, but I could always get it to respond if I was persistent. Yesterday, however, it just went dead. Kaput. The end. This is the kind of thing you don’t repair, and I wasn’t super keen on spending a few hundred to replace it, especially since everything worked fine except that one crucial little button.

A little searching turned up this forum thread, which boils down to two recommendations:

  • Blow compressed air into the connector slot at the bottom
  • Put a drop of contact cleaner, nail polish remover, or other water-free solvent on the button, and then work the button to try to get the solvent to wick around to the where the contacts are

Both of these are based on the assumption that the problem is some dirt or or gunk that’s collected under the button and is interfering with the contacts. Since my iPod lives pretty much permanently in my jeans pocket (along with pens, keys, lint, and various other experiments in the spontaneous generation of life), that assumption seemed pretty reasonable.

Some of the people that tried the solvent approach got too much in there, and it seeped along the screen, giving them an undesired aquarium effect. Consequently, I tried the compressed air first, since that seemed least likely lead to some unfortunate side-effect. Sadly, it also didn’t lead to the desired effect either. Consequently I moved on to nail polish. I put a drop on the button, and then clicked and wiggled that little button to try to work the liquid around. And after maybe thirty seconds of fiddling … voila! It started working!

It’s now been most of an hour, and the fix seems solid. I’ve had it propped up with the button end down, so if there’s any liquid still in there it’s headed away from the screen and the bulk of the electronics, and by now I would assume that most of the liquid has evaporated anyway.

I’d think twice about trying this at home, especially if you have a working piece of electronics. Mine was completely unusable without the button, so I was willing to take the risk, but I can imagine a lot of ways in which this might not go well, so tread gently into these swamps.

For me, though, it’s all happy, happy, happy :-)

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