U2 iPod Video 5th Generation

iPod 5th Generation logic board replacement

As regular readers will know, I love my 5th Generation iPod video. I bought this iPod back in 2006 while on holiday in San Francisco & it has seen heavy usage daily since. The iPod has always been kept inside a protective hard case, a Belkin case, and generally well looked after. Over the years it has required a new Battery to be fitted which I did myself & also I’ve replaced the original 30GB hard drive with an iFlash Quad unit. The iFlash Quad allows the use of cheap Micro SD cards for storage & mine currently has 256GB worth.

Over the last few months I’ve had a crackling over the headphones when playing music, which steadily got worse. And only a few weeks back I lost all audio. I was gutted!

It turns out that the very reason I love this iPod, the wolfson DAC, was also the culprit. Over time, the audio chips de-solder from the logic board. This could be due to changes in temperature when using the iPod in hot conditions, such as in a car. I tried to reflow the logic board but to no avail. It was time for a new logic board.

This iPod is now 11 years old & spare parts aren’t easy to come by. I managed to find a Canadian seller on eBay who had a refurbished iPod video 5th generation logic board for sale. The board was £55 delivered & took around 4 weeks to arrive after getting stopped at customs (without extra charges).

Fitting a logic board into a 5th Generation isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires stripping down the iPod into its component parts, including un-pealing ribbon cables which are attached with glue & completely dismantling the chassis. It’s not an impossible task if you take your time, and I’d advise you take pictures along the way to keep track of component & cable locations.

Once I had the logic board in place I reassembled the iPod and plugged it into my iMac. I instantly had an issue. After restoring the iPod software in iTunes I found the iPod stuck in a reboot loop. The Apple logo would display on-screen, followed by the screen flashing and the iPod rebooting. This would happen indefinitely.

At first I suspected a faulty logic board, but I managed to get the iPod into Disk Mode and the screen displayed fine & was recognised by the iMac. This demonstrated that the logic board was fine. I then entered the diagnostic secret menu on the iPod and ran some self tests. Again, all came back as normal. I suspected a formatting issue, so I plugged the iPod in to the iMac in disk mode & used Disk Utility on my mac to format the disk. After formatting the disk iTunes again wanted to restore the iPod, I let it do its thing & the iPod booted first time. This could have been an issue with iFlash quad, or it could be that the storage device is somehow paired to the logic board. Either way, formatting in Disk Mode using disk utility, then restoring in iTunes fixed the issue.

I was happy to see my Ipod boot up quickly & I started to sync my entire library (over 140GB) over to the iPod. This takes a long time as the USB interface on these old iPods is slow. I let it sync overnight and came back to it the next day.

As soon as I started scrolling through the menus it felt different. Only slightly, but I noticed a search option. To my surprise I had been sent the logic board from an iPod 5.5 generation. These where the last of the 5th Generation iPods, the last with the Wolfson DAC which is so sought after, and the one with many improvements. We now have search & brightness controls, and the menus feel snappier.  This now means I’ve got a 5.5 Gen iPod with 256GB of flash storage and a fresh battery. Gone are the days of not carrying all of my music. No longer am I bound by 3G/4G signal for my music. This iPod is perfect for travel, ideal for the airplane. Last time I flew to Berlin when the iPod was broken, I only had my iPhone 6. To my dismay I only had 12 songs stored locally, which meant a long travel time with only a handful of tunes I hadn’t even chosen.

I generally hate streaming over cellular. It’s unpredictable, costly & dependent on Signal. It also ruins battery life. I’m so glad to have my iPod up & running again & I can see me using this for another 10 years. If you have a 5th Generation iPod & still use it, let me know in the comments.

John Large

John Large - Uber Techie!

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