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An Awful Apple manufacturing defect

I'm get no sound from my earbuds *or* the docking port on the bottom of the iPod.

If you are not getting any sound from your earbuds *and* your docking port you have a problem with your logic board.

Apple has had a manufacturing defect that has appeared in the 5th Generation Video iPod.

The defect ruins the logic board. The logic board is made of several layers of phenolic board that are plated then etched to form traces. The boards are stacked on top of each other with an adhesive between them and then drilled through where needed to allow the signal to migrate between the discreet parts and as it's routed through the layers of the logic board to different parts of the board.

In this case the logic board has de-laminated after the digital file is converted to analog signal but before the signal is routed to the audio amplifying circuits.

When the logic board is is allowed to remain in extreme heat the board layers in question began to de-laminate, then warp and cup away from each other in such a way that signal is never finished and presented to the pre-amplifier/power amplifier that then sends the amplified sound to the earbuds or docking port. The signal is "driven off a bridge"" and lost.

Almost always the last of the iPods useful life occur in a car with the windows rolled up in the summer baking it. Almost always the faceplate on the iPod is Black.

Look, Apple is getting away with something here, when you spend $250 on even a cheap TV you expect it will last 5 to 7 years. If you spent $250 on a microwave oven you would imagine it to last 12 years. Even a TiVo (selling for less) would last at least 5 or 6 years. This iPod failure is occurring *just* after everyone's 2 year warranty window has lapsed and it's not the owners fault. And the owner didn't hand Apple $250 that was going to spendable for just 12 months.

Apple should be the recipient of a government investigation because this type of failure doesn't occur to laptop makers that also use the same technique, or other MP3, digital voice recorders or cell phones that all use the same manufacturing technique. Apple's Chinese subcontractor in matter's like these, which is making iPods, iPhones, and the Mac Mini is FoxConn which is a wholely owned (actually the manufacturing brand of) by Hon Hai Precision. FoxConn also makes all the Apple laptops and Micro$oft's Xbox360.

FoxConn is a well known logic board maker. They make Intel and Dell's logic boards for God's sake. They can do better and Apple ought to extract a "make good" and replace all 5th Generation video iPods that have this problem.

It is completely not cool that the owner of an iPod should experience this brief an iPod life. In the past when there was a large enough group of people that complained as in the case of the Nano 1st Generation, a law firm started to build a class action suit with all owners of the Nano 1st Gen in the class. Not too far in the process Apple backed up and for a 30 day period (March 2006) replaced anyone's Nano 1st Gen that wanted another. That wasn't enough in my opinion since that device sucked in terms of engineering. Read here:

So Apple has been selling iPods with basically a congenital heart defect and hasn't been prepared to pay for the surgery or a replacement heart. Bad on them. There hangs the question of what to do. Should you consider another MP3 maker? The answer is no. I've looked at and worked on everything that is out there. Every other alternative is a serious compromise. The Microsoft Zune has fewer replaceable parts. Microsoft has designed it in such a way that it is a big project to get into and work on. Most of the parts are wave flow soldered to the logic board obligating a whole logic board replacement for something as light weight as a headphone jack problem. The Zune also has an FM radio in it that you have to carry around all the time, if you already have 5000 songs that you know you want to hear, why do you need an FM radio? Also Microsoft really over sold the "song sharing" ability in their early ads. With an iPod/iTunes you can "authorize" 5 computers/iPods to play music you've bought. In the M$ world you can 'beam' a song for a day to a max of 3 friends which is not close to the way they advertised it would work.

The SanDisk Sansa and Creative Labs Zen player don't have the range of features an iPod has so replace it with an iPod.

Apple has... well really performs a manipulation with their customers who have problems of this type. When any iPod owner arrives at an Apple store at the time of the appointment you made, with a problematic iPod, they will analyze whether it's problem was derived from a manufacturing defect or abuse.

If it's a defect then they determine if it's still in the 12 month warranty window (or you have un-wisely spent the $70 for the extended warranty, where you will have a 24 month window). If it's under warranty they will hand you a "pre-repaired" one is kind of how they describe it. They say it will have belonged to someone that needed it repaired under warranty and now here it is with an empty hard drive just for you.

If it's abuse they will offer to allow you to trade it in for 10% off. That which you paid $250 they will allow you to exchange for a $25 bill. Their manipulation is obvious, what is less obvious is the hidden motivation of wanting to take perfectly repairable iPods "off the planet" so they are not repaired and won't because they've been repaired keep someone from buying a new one. In essence they don't want a repairable iPod to cannibalize a new iPod sale. Get your iPod repaired or sell it to someone who will.

If you want to get a new iPod here's how to get a new iPod fairly cheaply... with a 12 month warranty Read here:

Apple will replace the device for free, if you insist you know what the problem is *AND* YOU INSIST THAT YOU WANT IT REPLACED. I've been telling people that Apple will replace it for free under warranty. Most people give up to soon. This replacement can be done OVER THE PHONE.

On January 13th 2010, I got this message from Ron Weiss who lives in Vermont if I remember right.

Subject: Thank You, Frank

"We phoned you a few weeks ago. We talked about the de-laminated logic board in our 5th generation iPod. After you provided insight, we phoned the folks at Apple. They did everything you said they would do. They tried to sell us a used one. Thank you, Frank... you provided us with confidence in our knowledge of the problem. We got them to admit that, "the de-lamination of logic boards is a known issue". We were told that, "yes, we were replacing them .. but that program ended 90 days ago". We spent a while working up the customer service ladder. We started using the old "I don't believe you can help me with this issue. Could you put me in contact with someone who can?" About 90 minutes later we were informed by contact number three that a free replacement could be arranged. Apple sent us a box to ship them the old one. They wanted to verify that the problem was not abuse. We just now got our FREE replacement by FedEx....Thanks again, .. Ron the dad .. and Ginny the daughter/iPod owner."

You can also have me repair it. There are many reasons to want to repair this model iPod. For quite a few people their iPod is/was a gift from a relative *and* it's inscribed. They want to get it repaired. In one case a fellow contacted me. His iPod was one of the last things his wife gave him and she passed away. He wanted it repaired because of it's connection to her. I've had another case where a fire partially destroyed a grandfather's Christmas gift and it needed to be repaired for the sake of that sentimentality.

This de-lamination problem requires replacing the logic board. Read more about pricing for that here.

Call 707-544-4400


email me at with questions or to set up a repair.


Monday through Friday from 10am to 7pm, and Saturday & Sunday noon to 6pm.

I'm in Sonoma County... Northern California wine country,

    Frank Walburg
    Service Court
    Santa Rosa, Ca 95403-3139

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