Repurpose a Dead iPod

If you should find yourself the unfortunate owner of an utterly dead iPod that is out of warranty and beyond resurrection as that music player you once loved so much, there is still a variety of things you can do with it.

You’re past the denial stage where you sat rocking back and forth in the corner of your room for hours, cold and alone, clutching it close to your chest, repeatedly holding down special key combinations, hoping that suddenly your iPod would turn back on. You took it to a friend skilled in the art of soldering. He opened up your iPod, gently reconnected all the aged connections, and perhaps even replaced the FireWire port on your first-generation iPod, all to no avail. You tried new batteries and even an odd voodoo ritual that you discovered online. Nothing has worked. You’ve finally come to grips with the dreadful reality of it all: your iPod is dead.

Although everything has seemed hopeless during your futile attempts to resurrect your iPod, don’t throw it away in frustration. There are several different things you can do with it, and this hack will discuss several of the possibilities.

Using Your Dead iPod to Get a New iPod

You’re already in serious withdrawal from the days and days of personalized music you are used to having streamed to your ears by your little white friend. You need to replace your iPod. Here are three ideas for ways to recoup some of the money you invested in your dead iPod, either to help in the purchase of your next iPod or simply to pad your wallet:

Repeat after me: eBay ( is the seller’s friend.

If you have a broken iPod, chances are, there is a technician obsessed with buying things on eBay who is willing to spend some money on your iPod just to see if he can resurrect it. A quick search on eBay for “broken iPod” will turn up lots of results. As I write this, there are 43 minutes left on an auction featuring a dead 20 GB iPod with 17 bids on it that is currently going for $83. That’s almost a third of the way to an iPod mini!

Mantra #2: people pay more for iPod parts than for an entire iPod.

If you decided to build your own iPod from scratch, you would quickly discover that buying all the necessary parts would cost you more than buying it complete from Apple. Why? Because Apple is a big corporation with the resources to buy in serious bulk, which helps drive down the prices on the materials. You are just you with a dead iPod. However, there are probably lots of other people in similar situations to yours who still think they can fix their broken iPods with that magic part. Pop open your iPod and carefully remove any parts that aren’t broken. Sell the screen. Sell the hard drive. Sell the earbuds. Sell every bit you can. Make sure you say that you cannot guarantee that any of these items will actually work. It won’t matter. Someone will buy them.

A final tip: international sales might bring a higher payday.

When you’re auctioning off all these items, make sure that you offer to sell and ship them internationally. iPods are more expensive outside the U.S. (and sometimes harder to come by), so if you are selling parts that might help repair some poor Brit’s ailing iPod, he will be likely to pay more than possible U.S. customers. Also, point out to them that the high taxes for importing a fully functional iPod won’t apply to the parts you are selling. Make sure your auction states that the buyer pays for the actual shipping cost, because international shipping is pricey.

If you don’t want to pay eBay’s fees, you could try to barter or sell your dead iPod or its parts on craigslist ( If, on the other hand, you are a wealthy person who has five or more iPods lying about and you don’t want to bother with eBay or craigslist, there are other things you can do with your dead iPod.

Using Your Dead iPod for a Different Purpose

Here’s a short, no-frills list of other things you can do with your dead iPod:

  • If it’s just the battery that is dead, use it as a portable hard drive.

  • Use your dead iPod as a stylish paperweight, bookend (assuming you’ve got two), or doorstop.

  • Open your iPod [Hack #15] , [Hack #16] , [Hack #17] . Gut the iPod, seal the case with a watertight adhesive such as the silicone used in fish tanks, and fill it with water and sea monkeys. Watch ‘em grow!

  • Gut the iPod and seal the case with a watertight adhesive. Leave the space where the screen was out and open. Drill small holes in the back of the iPod for drainage. Fill your deceased iPod with soil and the seeds of your favorite small flower or grass. Water and watch ‘em grow! Voilá—your own stylish Manhattan-apartment sized garden!

  • Use the dead iPod to test the moral fiber of your friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Leave it lying around and watch to see if anyone takes it!

  • Use it as a people-repellant: sure, it might be broken, but nobody else has to know. Put those earphones in and walk around town ignoring people as you please, pretending that you are in your own little portable music world, impervious to their intrusive “Can I interest you in taking a brief survey?” type of questions. This is also a good way to listen in on unsuspecting suspects when you start up your own private detective agency.

  • Find a really small portable color TV. Remove all of its insides. Gut the iPod. Squeeze the TV’s innards into the gutted iPod’s case. Cause a media storm with your announcement that you’ve found the fabled video iPod!

Think of your dead iPod as a crafts project waiting to happen. Be creative, and have fun! The important thing is to make sure that you aren’t focusing on your recent loss. Life goes on.

C. K. Sample III

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