Hypothetical iPod Dock Hacking


I own a 3rd Gen 20gig iPod. It's really really nice. But they're easily scratched. The shiny silvery back has fingerprints all over it the moment you remove the protective plastic. You would expect something that's designed to be taken everywhere to have a more robust finish.

Thankfully there's a wealth of cases available. The Apple case that comes with the iPod is OK, but it gives you no access to the front, and you have to take it out of the case to connect it to your Mac. So it's pants really.

I initially used a Speck iPod skin. This is a good rubber sleeve that slips over the iPod, and the bottom opens so you can sit it in the dock. It doesn't protect the screen at all though, so I stuck a PDA screen protector over it, keeping it scratch free. Being paranoid, I also stuck a couple on the shiny back.

I then bought a Contour iPod Showcase . It's a hard shell that keeps it well protected, including the screen. It makes the iPod a little bulkier, but it'll still easily fit into a shirt pocket.

Contour Showcase

The only downside of the Showcase is that fact that it makes the iPod too fat to sit in the dock (see below). It's still easy enough to plug the cable straight into the iPod, but it's not as convenient as the dock. Drop it in and the iPod remains secure and stable while it's connected.

Too fat to fit.

So I wondered if the top could be 'popped' off the dock, allowing the FattyPod to sit in it again.

As it turns out, the top of the dock does indeed 'pop' off quite easily, but you must be *very* careful, as the plastic is quite soft. By inserting a couple of flat blunt things of your choice around the underside edge, the plastic can be prised gently to release the tabs which fit into the dock itself. It's a little fiddly, as they tend to pop back in, but once you get a couple out they'll stay out. I've circled the tabs in the picture below.

Inside the top

But once the top is off, instead of finding quite a large opening around the connector, you find a cast alloy weight, with an opening hardly any larger that the plastic one.

A naked dock

That was it for me, job stopped.

The copper strips are stuck down. I'm not sure if the center strip is just an earth contact, or whether there's a ribbon connector underneath. If not, then the ribbon must go under the weight, and the strips could be removed quite easily.

Back of the Dock

If you did remove them, then it looks like the metal weight is just screwed to the base, so it should just lift off, allowing the FattyPod to sit in the dock.

All you'd need then is something to support the FattyPod when docked, otherwise you risk breaking the connector.

It seems a shame to destroy the dock though, so that's why I decided against it. Plus I think it would be much easier just to make your own dock. All you need is something that will hold the cable in a fixed up position and support the iPod while it's connected. Hmmm.