a glob of nerdishness

September 12, 2009

1 working home button in my pocket

written by natevw @ 7:07 pm

My iPod touch’s home button was growing gradually unreliable, and finally stopped letting me switch between apps right before this week’s iPod press event. I was hoping Apple would finally announce a new iPod touch that could serve as an iPhone without the phone, with a camera and mic and compass and GPS. Instead they announced the opposite.

This was the second time the iPod touch’s home button had failed me. The first one failed under warranty, but between two bad hardware experiences (actually three, long story…), a lack of compelling new features, the lack of independently published applications and my own lack of income, buying an expensive replacement seemed like a bad idea.

Instead I spent $3.98 to have OWC ship me some nylon iPod case opener tools. Once inside I found a lot of lint, dozens of tiny screws and chips and connectors, and underneath it all:

Disassembled iPod touch home button mechanism

My iPod’s home button!

I used some rubbing alcohol on a q-tip to clean it and its target off a bit, then used a very short slice of electrical tape to hold the little clicker sticker back in place.

First generation iPod touch home button homebrew fix

Take a look at this iPod Touch repair guide for a better walkthrough of the internals. Because of the way the lower assembly is glued down, the screen does need to be taken off to safely pry the button board from its sticky bondage. There was dust under the glass anyway, so it was nice to get a PEC*PAD in there for some cleanup.

In addition to the case opener (good for prying PCBs from their glue as well) and a very tiny Phillips screwdriver, I found a brownie cutter useful. Its large surface area helped me pry up the battery pack without the acute pressure of a flathead’s blade; a metal spatula or wide paint scraper could work as well.

After reassembling most of the device, I was relieved and more than a bit surprised to see it spring back to life. Despite the second-rate button, some impressive engineering went into this device. It is incredibly small, yet was able to survive an hour of my (very careful!) amateur hamfisting. I can now return to my Home screen at will; all other systems are still go, too!


  1. Do you know where I can get the “clicker sticker”?

    or a way to replicate it? I cant seem to find mine once I tried to reassemble my ipod touch.

    Comment by Dave — November 25, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  2. Hi Dave,

    Sorry I do not know of a great source for the metal dome itself. I think it’d be difficult to replace it with something homebrew, but then again I’m not incredibly creative with mechanical stuff like that. You need it to reliably close the connection on the PCB board when pressed, and reliably NOT short it when it’s undergoing normal pocket forces. The click of the dome does both, and also gives a nice feel.

    A search for metal dome switch turns up a number of manufacturers, but they probably prefer to deal in large quantities. They may also be known as “tactile dome switches”. Maybe you could find one in some cheap toy? Lots of battery operated deals to browse in stores this time of year!

    Comment by natevw — December 5, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

  3. Hi, excellent post! It helped me to go trought the whole process, however my clicker sticker seems to not to click anymore, do you have a better zoom in of this clicker thing? I believe mine is not what it used to be :) Thanks for your help!

    Comment by Javier — March 4, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  4. Hi, I’ve posted two full size pictures to Flickr that show the home button before and after I taped it down better with a sliver of electrical tape:


    I can’t believe it’s been half a year already since I did this! My 1G “iTouch” is still working great after this fix.

    Comment by natevw — March 4, 2010 @ 10:32 am

  5. [...] Home Button od środka (niestety nie zrobiłem swoich zdjęć). [...]

    Pingback by iPod Touch: Naprawa Home Button i digitizera dotyku « iknowsomething.com — March 28, 2010 @ 1:54 am

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