Disassembling that MP3 player

Almost everyone has one of them. They are cheap, they are convenient, they are a good way to show off. I had one from years ago but rarely use it since I hate anything that isn’t rechargeable (the ISO-14000 kind of guy). The button are a little off since I move it around a lot and must have broken something :/

So, when I have a new set of screwdrivers, it became my first victim :P.

I got off on the wrong foot: I tried to crack open the top side (the side with the screen) when actually I should do it otherwise. I found out eventually, but the casing suffered heavy scratches; and I acidentally peeled of a capacitor too 🙁

The rest is only a few screws, loose them and here are the results

Battery side

Screen side

Nice look inside Chinese manufacturing “technology”. All they’ve been doing is make a cheap (I mean really cheap) processor and bridge between the storage and the USB interface. It’s the Processor you see in the middle. AT is for Actions semiconductor. The storage chip is Samsung’s and the Radio is from Phillips.

It turned out what I’ve worried about this poor thing’s quality doesn’t matter that much. As long as the computer can recognize it, the thing will just work fine, the rest of the parts are from more qualified manufactures 😛

IMO, when stripped bare, the LCD looks a lot sexier, you can see the bright LED illuminating the fiber optics plate beneath. They look pretty good but is covered by the original casing. My guess is they make color by blending 4 LEDs: red, green, blue and white as they seem to be the strongest colors and have only one dot of light to the left side.

Blue

Red

It works fine even when disassembled (and lose a certain capacitor :”>). I guess that control screen brightness, since that’s the only setting not working.

In the end I’m too lazy to reassemble the thing. Furthermore, the buttons are off because the plastic handle inside is swollen and broken. Cheers to Chinese plastic! I can hold it back with glue but why do so when I can hit the circuits directly? So now I have the weirdest MP3 player I’ve ever seen. At least it does not electrocute me 😛 and is about 30% smaller from the original one (the case is damn big =__=).

Also, it’s not until I completely disassembled the thing I found many have disassembled their MP3s too; anh this website. They have a nice guide how to do what I’ve done to recover dead player. The site is a community run by owners of the MP3s. It turns out that they are pretty popular around the world. They have everything you’ll ever need related to these things (circut map, specs, firmware etc.)

The MP3s came under a variety of brands and forms but the internals are just the same. Some folks even made a computer out of it. There are also a resource editor and (code) disassembler so you can modify your MP3’s animation, logo and strings.