How to Remove the Microdrive from a Creative NOMAD MuVo2
May 2004 by Shane Conder
Creative has been selling MuVo2 4GB MP3 players like crazy. Besides the fact that it's a very small 4GB MP3 player that's also very inexpensive (less than $200 on Amazon) making it a good music player, it contains an internal 4GB CompactFlash microdrive. However, it's not a user removable or accessible item.
That does not stop the community, though. In particular, the photography community has been buying these devices to get a very inexpensive 4GB microdrive. Normally the 4GB microdrives costs between $400 and $500. Not only do you get the microdrive, but you also get an MP3 player that accepts other CompactFlash cards. Entrepenuers have been using this to their advantage, as well. A 4GB microdrive on eBay will often fetch over $300 and the shell of the MP3 can sometimes fetch $50 or more. This is a return of almost 100%. This worked particularly well when the supply of MuVo2's was slim. However, as the supply increases, demand will drop and using this to make money won't be as attractive. Hopefully this will also lower the price on all other memory cards in the market.
This article is going to discuss how to open the MuVo2 device and get the 4GB microdrive out for use in any other device that will support it. Replacing the CompactFlash card will be the topic of our next MuVo2 article. Having looked around the web for instructions, what we've come to find is that not all muvo2's are created equal and Creative has been adding small countermeasures to make the process more difficult. If you end up with an unusable MP3 player and/or microdrive, we are not responsible. Said another way, follow this at your own risk. If you do not like tampering with devices, opening gadgets, or voiding warranties, do not proceed. Yes, this will void your warranty. These devices are static sensitive, so take normal precautions to elimited static electricity.
The images are all overexposed. I was in a dark room and had to use flash from a close range. If we have time, we'll upload images of higher quality.
Step 1: Locate your tools
In general, you'll only need a thin philips head screw-driver. A small flat head will also be useful for some leveraging and prying. A standard geek tool has a perfect flat head on it's cork screw and an almost long enough, but thin enough, philips head on it's socket tool.
Step 2: Find a work place
You'll want plenty of light as the screws are fairly small. I recommend you work on a desk, with a desk lamp and some trays to hold the various parts. Working in a tray is useful so nothing rolls away.
Step 3: Remove the battery and battery lid
Removing the battery should be as simple as grabbing the pull and, well, pulling.
The lid normally pops down and swivels up. Removing it completely is possible shifting it left or right enough for one side to pop out.
Step 4: Remove 4 case screws
On our model, there were 3 visible screws recessed in the plastic and one screw covered by a sticker saying "Warranty void if seal is tampered". These screws are fairly tight; the whole assembly feels like it's being pressured together by them.
Step 5: Remove case and move the main board
Once all of the screws are removed, the case (the part the battery was held in) will slide of fairly easily. Once it's removed, you'll need to carefully swivel the main board up. It's held down by a connector that you can't currently see. A little prying like show in the picture may be need.
Step 6: Remove 4 more screws
Now that the board is out of the way, you can see 3 more screws. The fourth is covered by a piece of electrical tape.You can now also see the socket that was helping hold down the top board. Why is there a socket and a ribbon cable for two boards? Well, it's actually a third small board that has the buttons and the ribbon cable is not connected to another board.
Step 7: Remove the board assembly
Once the four screws are removed, the bottom board will lift out. Here is where you see that the ribbon cable is actually a CF cable to connect to the hard drive. In the pictures, you'll see that I've already replaced the 4GB drive with a 2.2GB magicstor drive. (Which, incidentally, not only doesn't work with our Canon Digital Rebel, but also doesn't appear to work with the MuVo2).
Step 8: Disconnect the 4GB Microdrive
Very carefully pry the small connector board off the microdrive. Here the geek tool helped again. Handle the drive with care. This is not a consumer drive, so it does not have the normal warnings on it. The most common failure of microdrives is grabbing them by the flat surfaces. Remember, there are delicate moving parts under the surface. The slightest depression of the surface can destroy the mechanisms. The best way to hold a microdrive is from the side.
Step 9: Format the 4GB microdrive
You'll now most likely need to format the microdrive. I recommend attaching it to a computer and formatting it with FAT32. FAT16 will only see the first 2GB of the drive. This does mean whatever device you use it in next will need to support FAT32. It works very well in the Canon Digital Rebel.
Removing the 4GB microdrive from the Creative NOMAD MuVo2 is very easy and quick. However, installing a new CompactFlash card into the MuVo2 is far less trivial. The physical act of doing it is just as easy, but getting it to work has some challenges. Our next article on the MuVo2 will discuss this.