We’ve shown you the software you need to turn your iPod touch into an iPhone, and reader Kevin has taken it a step further, modding the iPod’s packing materials to turn it into a “phone” you can hold up to your ear.
I’m using VOIP on my iPod touch, but I was annoyed by the mic attachments available for my third-generation iPod, like this one. I bought three of them and they were all defective. Plus, even if the mic worked you have to change your “speaker out” settings each time you use it, which would be a pain if you used it often. That’s what drove me to think of this mod: with a bit of tweaking, you can turn the plastic packaging from an iPod touch into a phone-like device you hold up to your ear. Even with the earbuds near your ear (and not in them) its plenty loud enough. Here’s how to do it.
Modifying the Original Apple iPod Touch Packaging
The inner tray from the 3G iPod touch packaging has rather sharp corners (and edges), so the first step is to round the four corners on the back surface of the tray to 1/4-inch radius or larger. Next, on the same surface, create two grooves spaced 3/4 inches from each other in the end of the tray that has a recess for the power button. The contour of the groove should match the shape of the earbuds.
Then, drill a single hole centered in the tray and 1-1/8-inch down from the edge with the earbud grooves. The hole will be for a rubber grommet with a 1/4-inch groove diameter available from Ace Hardware. The grommet can be left out, but just make sure the edges of the hole are sanded down so the earphone cable’s insulation isn’t cut.
Place your iPod in the tray by inserting into the power button side first then snap in the the other side (it will go in the other way, but you risk damaging the power button), then mark out and remove material on the tray so the headphone jack can be accessed. Finally, using 220 grit or finer wet sandpaper, sand all the edges of the tray smooth.
Route the standard Apple supplied earphone cable with microphone
Run the grommet over the headphone jack and up towards the earbuds. Insert the headphone jack from the backside of the tray, and work the grommet into the hole. Rest the earbuds into their grooves and tighten the cable so the earbuds are locked in place.
Next, route the cable to the lower left. This should place the mic near the home button. Going counter clockwise, route the cable around the tray twice ending back at the lower left corner. Continue routing counter clockwise one additional time, but only around the lower portion of the tray. Also, on this pass, go underneath the previous passes.
Finally, use a cable clip to pin the cable to the lower right side or route to the lower right side and loop once around the previous passes.
To use the “phone”, just plug in the headphone jack when using Skype or another VOIP service. No need to adjust speaker settings (Unlike when using a plug in mic). The earbuds, even though not in your ears, are plenty loud enough. Simply unplug the headphone jack for standard iPod use.
Of course, you could always buy the official Apple Earphones with a built-in remote and mic, but this’ll save you a few bucks because it costs next to nothing. Plus, many people — myself included — prefer not to use hands-free headsets on their phones, so this is a pretty clever alternative.