Friday, September 10, 2004

Note: Due to the slashdot effect on this site, I posted smaller images on this page. If you need more detail, you can click on each one to view the larger size. I've also deleted about 80% of the referral link list below for performance reasons. There were more than 5,200 unique referall links listed on this one page. I've cut that down to about 600.

People who have tried to use a solid-state Compact Flash card in place of the hard drive in the Carbon have reported it is not working for them. I have not tried this myself. If anyone has been successful in getting a standard CF card to work when replaced in the Carbon, please email me and let me know: gregATgreghughesDOTnet

In addition, I have posted a followup with some real-world test results, using the drive in my Nikon D70 digital camera.

Want to use it in a PocketPC maybe? Check this out and see if it's for you.

As I described yesterday, I bought a very nice MP3 player, the new Rio Carbon 5GB model. It's awesome, and I already like it a lot. My original intent, though, was not to buy an MP3 player to listen to music, but instead to rip apart for its compact-flash size 5GB hard drive, for use in my Nikon D70 digital camera. I got the idea from a post on a message board. But once I saw the Carbon, I decided it was time to own an MP3 player, so I got two.

Rather than eating lunch today, I decided I would share my story of destruction. In part two of our saga, I tear into the second of the two Carbons I bought, pictures included.

Update: I had to reduce the image sizes due to a sudden and unexpected spike in traffic. I will put links on eack of the small images so you can load the larger version of each.

Note: If you decide to spend $249 on one of these things and tear it apart yourself, you do so at your own risk. Its value to Rio and the store where you bought it will instantly become $0, and your warranty will be a thing of the past. At your own risk, your mileage may vary, do not pass go, please tip your waitress. Oh, and whatever you do, don't come yelling at me. It's your own damn fault. In fact, you will probably end up with $249 worth of useless junk. You have been warned.

Okay, so first of all let me tell you right up front that I broke the thing to the point where I will have to use a little glue to put it back together. The Carbon has a metal back plate, and a plastic front plate, with a rubber surround. What I did not realize is that the front plate is in sections, as well. Not realizing this, I didn't remove the front plastic facing (the silver plastic with the LCD window and the Rio logo) from the body of the MP3 player. It is held in place with some adhesive. Just be careful while you remove it and it will come right off. Once off, it may be that there is a better way to get this thing apart than the method I used. If I will have to use some glue inside where it used to have screws holding things together, because I broke a few plastic threads on the plastic case where the screws were attached as I pried it apart.

While it looks from the outside like the rubber portion is a section all on it's own, it in fact is not. The rubber part is just glued to the plastic front plate, which is under the silver plastic front cover just mentioned.

How I got it apart (your mileage may vary, be careful): I started by working a small screwdriver around the case, prying very gently between the metal back plate and the rubberized section. There are a number of metal tabs that you will see inside as you go. Those hold the drive in place. Be careful and don't go too deep or apply too much pressure inside with your screwdriver, you will break things if you do, or you might crack the case. If you don't care about reusing the Carbon, you can afford to be a little more indiscriminate, but things are packed together pretty tight in the small case, so caution and taking one's time is warranted.

Once I worked all the way around with the small screwdrivers (I used 2, it helped keep things working along), I peeked inside to become a little bit familiar (there's a lot you just cannot see, though). Then I used a screwdriver inserted from the bottom of the case to get good leverage as pictured below, and worked the case loose.

In the end, I used my fingers, after loosening with the screwdriver, to take the case apart. Again, note that I broke the plastic threaded screw posts in the process. The end result was a front plate, a loose power button (just insert it back in place later), the top chrome-like trim plate (that has the holes in it for USB, earphones, etc), and the back plate with all the electronics attached. The front panel navigation button is loose when you disassemble it - it's held in place by the front plate.

There are two screws that you will need to remove from the face of the circuit board (the side with the LCD screen), and then you can start to swing the circuit board away from the hard drive. Below is the view from the side, pulling the circuit board up and away from the battery (lower left) and hard drive (in the lower center of the picture under the circuit board). The white block on top is the LCD.

Using a small flat-head screwdriver, I gently released the frame holding the hard drive from the back plate by prying the tab clips away slightly.

Taken apart, with the electronics removed from the metal back plate:

The black frame holding the hard drive simply pulls off. The 20-hour battery is shown folded away in the foreground of the below image, and the ribbon cable attaching to the Seagate 5GB drive is visible and accessible:

I used by thumbnail to gently disconnect the drive from the ribbon cable, releasing each side of the connection a little at a time. Be careful not to bend the pins if you intend to reuse the Carbon.

With the hard drive removed:

You simply peel the copper foil away from the drive, along with the foam padding:

In the end, parts parts parts:

The whole point of the exercise was to get a 5GB hard drive that I could insert directly into my Nikon D70 camera. I tentatively took the drive, crammed it in the CF slot of the camera, powered it up and formatted. After a nervous little period of flashing screen on the camera (FOR-FOR flashing over and over), the screen changed, as pictured below. That's showing the number of pictures I can take now using the hard drive. I was a little confused when it read 1.4 on the display, but then I noticed the “K” above the number. That's 1,400 images (estimated by the camera) at 6 megapixels. Wow!!! Cool!!! After taking a few pictures, I confirmed it works. Nice!!

Next thing will be to put a 256MB or 512 MB CF card back in there and load the Rio software on it, put it all back together, and see what happens.

Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments section, by clicking below. Please keep it clean and reasonably polite. Thanks. :-)



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Friday, September 10, 2004 1:08:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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