No, I’m not talking about getting your dog or cat fixed. I’m talking about the Sansa Clip MP3 player, and my recent foray into the guts of one of them.
A few days ago, my daughter informed me that she’d dropped her Sansa Clip player, and that it would no longer power up. I determined that it would still power up when plugged into the USB port of a PC, leading me to believe that there could be a problem with the battery. A quick Google search didn’t turn up anything particularly noteworthy on the subject of DIY Sansa Clip repairs, but I did find one site that had a number of pictures of a disassembled Clip, which seemed to indicate that popping the case open wasn’t that big of a deal. I also found a number of forum posts from people experiencing the exact same symptoms. Hmm…
Since the Clip was out of warranty anyway, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying to crack it open.
So, armed with my trusty Swiss Army knife, I gently pried at the seam between the halves of the casing until the back cover popped off. I actually managed to get the Clip open without damaging it, other than a few small nicks in the plastic from the knife. And there it was: the guts of a Sansa Clip in all their glory:
The strange silvery object covering most of the circuit board is the internal lithium-ion battery. Closer examination revealed that one of the battery wires had broken loose from the circuit board. The wires are rather thin, and given that a lot of other people seem to be reporting similar symptoms, I think this may represent the weakest point in the Clip’s design.
Picking up my Swiss Army knife again, I stripped about 1/16″ of the insulation from the end of the detached wire:
A few seconds with a soldering iron, and the wire was reattached to its proper location on the circuit board:
After snapping the casing back together, the Clip worked good as new. I also flashed the player to the latest firmware from Sansa’s web site. OGG Vorbis support FTW—and effectively a free capacity upgrade, since Ogg has equivalent fidelity at lower bitrates than MP3s. Kudos to Sansa for providing a free firmware upgrade to support this format.
So this story has a happy ending. My daughter’s Sansa Clip actually works better than before, and I’m not out the cost of a new one!