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Audio Players: Store More Music

Pack More Drive Into Your Creative Nomad Zen Player

Whether the original 20GB hard drive in your Zen has crashed or you simply want to be able to pack more MP3 files into it with a bigger drive, replacing the Zen's hard drive requires little more than a small screwdriver and about 30 minutes. The Zen does all the hard work in its firmware, formatting the new drive so that it can store more MP3 files. Many Nomad-related forums mention this hack--and unlike with many hacks from techie forums, the conclusion in the real world is that this hack really is that simple.

Note: This hack will void your Zen's warranty.

The first step is to find an appropriate replacement or upgrade hard drive. Since Creative, the makers of the Nomad Zen, use commonly available 2.5-inch Fujitsu laptop hard drives, you should have no trouble finding a 20-, 40- or 60GB replacement at a well-stocked local computer shop or online retailer.

Make sure you have the Nomad Zen software installed on your PC before you begin, and transfer all your music to the PC first so you can load it back on the device when you're done.

With a new drive on hand, it's time to start the drive-ectomy on your Zen player. You will need a #0 or #00 cross-head screwdriver, steady hands, and a place to keep the parts from getting lost on the floor--a baking sheet works wonders. Set the player face down on a soft cloth to prevent marring the face. Then access and remove the current drive as follows:

  1. Remove four screws that hold the Zen's back cover in place--two at the top and two at the bottom of the player.
  2. Separate the cover from the body of the player. You will see the hard drive held in place with a metal retaining strap.
  3. Remove the strap by prying the edges gently away from where they catch the player body at the top and bottom of the drive. Set the strap aside. It will be put back over the new drive.
  4. Carefully lift the top end of the drive (at the opposite end from the connector) away from the player body and up to gain access to the flexible circuit and connector.
  5. Gently pull the drive out by holding the flexible circuit and connector steady and rocking the drive slightly side to side.
  6. At this point you will see the thin sheet of foam padding (Figure 12
    Figure 12: A sheet of foam padding protects the Nomad Zen drive.
    ) that provides the drive a modest amount of mechanical shock protection. Keep the padding in place.

That wasn't so bad now was it? You're almost halfway through the project and no doubt excited and eager to finish and fill up the new drive; but first we have to install and format it:

  1. Once again holding the flexible circuit and drive connector steady, carefully plug the new drive into the connector.
  2. Lay the drive into the player body.
  3. Replace the metal retaining strap around the drive and securely snap it onto the player body (Figure 13
    Figure 13: Replacing the metal retaining strap on the Zen.
  4. Replace the back cover and secure it using the four screws you removed in the step above.

So far, so good. The next steps to complete the hack and ready the player to take on music are much easier:

  1. Connect the AC adapter to your player so you'll be sure to have enough juice to get the drive prepared, the player properly reconnected to your computer, and its firmware updated. Do not connect the USB or FireWire cable yet.
  2. Power on the Zen. It should display a "rescue mode" menu. If not, hold down the Play/Pause button and reset the player.
  3. Select option 2 (Format All). The "format" process takes but a few seconds. It's not really formatting the entire drive--just preparing it for the player's firmware, which you'll reload next.
  4. Now connect the Zen to your computer. If you've previously installed the Nomad Zen software on your PC, Plug and Play should detect the presence and status of the player. The "ZenUniversalUpgrade" dialog should appear. If it doesn't, disconnect the player, reinstall the software, and then reconnect.
  5. Select Yes to proceed with the firmware upload. After a few seconds you should be able to access the "JukeBox Information" to see the firmware version and the new storage capacity.
  6. Load up your new drive with tunes and get jamming!

Save Your IPod With a Guitar Pick

If your IPod gets wet, Apple suggests refraining from pushing buttons for a while so moisture doesn't creep inside. Users who have self-recovered dunked IPods have left them turned off for 24 to 48 hours to dry out, charged them up, and carried on as usual. Opening the case should accelerate the evaporation of any moisture tucked inside.

The simplest way to get inside the stainless-steel case is to use a guitar pick to wedge and wiggle between the metal back and the plastic frame pieces to separate them, taking care to avoid damaging the connectors in the process.

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