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Media (Apple) Media Businesses Apple

iPod Dangerous When Wet 531

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the potential-hazards dept.
puggsincyberspace writes "What do you do when your mom washes your iPod? Fix it, of course. A teenager in Australia found out the hard way that messing with the insides of his iPod is dangerous and needed medical attention after it exploded."
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iPod Dangerous When Wet

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:44AM (#12517691)
    Or Killer iPod?
  • by The Jabberwock (882129) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:44AM (#12517692)
    ...the primary choice of militant geeks everywhere.
  • by PurpleXanathar (800369) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:45AM (#12517697)
    getting wet for electronic devices is a dangerous thing.
    • by kthnx (838060) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:47AM (#12517716)
      as is opening up any electrical device which was not designed to opened by end users... Hints such as no screws on the outside case spring to mind.
      • by 88NoSoup4U88 (721233) on Friday May 13, 2005 @06:19AM (#12517883) Homepage
        Not being able to open a device doesn't always constitute the device itself being dangerous though.

        More times I've seen devices that don't even have the power to lightly shock you, but are , imo, just made that way so once it breaks, you're fudged, and you have to buy a new one (long live the quick-consumer society we're living in).

        For example, my Logitech mouses, all are a hell to get opened : Once opened, it's even more trouble to get them closed up again.
        While a mouse isn't a million dollar investment, I find it very consumer-unfriendly that I am not able to, for example, replace my right-mouse-button myself after it fails to work properly.

        • I had a similar problem with my Apple ibook power supply when it stopped working one day. I passed by my local Apple repair shop who fixed it by breaking it open with a screw driver, changed a transistor (or something like that..), then glued it back.

          It cost me 5 Euros instead of ~ 90 Euros. (Power supplies are strangely more expensive in European countries rather than in North America).

          The tech told me he does this all the time and it's simple as hell.

          I know that, from all things, non-tech people should
      • Hints such as no screws on the outer case are as likely to mean that the device was designed to either be made cheaply (snap-together assembly) or hard to fix/modify by end-users (keeps dealers in business and users buying new devices).

        Conversely, I was able to unscrew the cover of my last CRT monitor and get inside quite easily (after it had been off for a week). Anyone who knows anything about monitors knows that an end-user should *not* be messing around inside on of these (ob-warning: The capacitors i
    • getting wet for electronic devices is a dangerous thing.
      And never, ever, feed them after midnight.
    • I heard somewhere that getting wet for electronic devices is a dangerous thing.

      Actually, I heard that getting wet for electronic devices is a common occurance among the females of the species. Admittedly, it can be dangerous when they come to prefer them to the biological alternative, but shorting out the batteries to the metal casing usually takes care of that after one application.

      However, getting electronic devices wet is probably a Bad Idea. Stabbing them with your screwdriver just makes it worse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:45AM (#12517705)
    The kid pierced the Li Ion battery with a screwdriver. It wouldn't matter if this was an iPod, rio, nomad, dell dj, mobile phone or the interior of a LiIon laptop battery from any manufacturer.

    The kid tried to argue with the laws of physics, and as always - lost.
  • What?! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:46AM (#12517708)
    You mean batteries made out of combustable metals can be dangerous? They should put warning lables on them. And this could mean the end for my forthcoming line of Rubidium dildos!
  • Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:46AM (#12517712) Journal
    Good bye iPods in planes, trains, work-places and public buildings...
    • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, 2005 @06:26AM (#12517903)
      Well, might as well wave farewell to cellphones for the same reason then.
    • I'm pretty sure that airport security people already know that Lithium Ion batteries can explode...
    • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Solder Fumes (797270) on Friday May 13, 2005 @08:08AM (#12518292)
      Due to demand for higher power and longer life, batteries in all mobile devices are approaching power densities of explosives. It's a chemical compound that is designed to hold a lot of energy in its structure, and be able to release it at varying rates. This is only going to become more of a problem as battery technology improves. Fuel cells especially will be tricky to get aboard aircraft.
      • Re:Great (Score:3, Interesting)

        by turbosk (73287) *
        insightful? INSIGHTFUL?

        The power density of a *jelly donut* is higher than TNT, FFS! Batteries can't even hold a CANDLE to a JELLY DONUT!
  • by JohnnyBigodes (609498) <[morphine] [at] [digitalmente.net]> on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:46AM (#12517714)
    ... playing with fire will get you burned, suprisingly!
  • by richardmilhousnixon (515595) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:47AM (#12517719)
    "We treated him on the scene for minor breathing difficulties but he was fine and then we scooted out and helped save the rest of Melbourne,"

    The kid was trying to fix his ipod on his BED after his MOM washed it . . . he is far from fine.
    • virtual insightful mod for parent, that kid should've been shot for trying to do something THAT stupid.

      At least we now know the name of one next year's nominees to the Darwin Awards
  • by khrtt (701691) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:47AM (#12517721)
    ..if your cell phone falls into the toilet... duck and cover...
  • by fven (688358) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:51AM (#12517743)
    A fireman that rescued me (barely sensible) after an electronic device exploded, said that BeO was probably the culprit. I had been in the room when the device(s) exploded and was the first one to ring for help.

    About 15 minutes later (I hadn't been feeling too good), I collapsed and was taken to hospital.

    BeO is highly toxic by ingestion and inhalation (Material Safety Data Sheet: http://physchem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/BE/beryllium_oxide.h tml [ox.ac.uk]
    ).

    Apparently it is one of the more common toxic substances emitted in smoke/fumes. Particularly in domestic / non-chemical-factory settings.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:52AM (#12517746) Homepage
    ...as a Toyota Prius mechanic.
  • In my experience, if your cell phone falls into water, it would stop working.

    If you take the battery off right away, and don't put it back on until everything dries thoroughly, it will work fine at least for a while. If the water was dirty, some connections inside may go bad after a few months from corrosion, though, so it does make sense to take the phone apart and clean the contacts with alcohol.

    If you don't take off the battery, it would probably never work again.
    • I had a pager about ten years ago - one of the chunky number-only things that were around before SMS got really popular.

      One drunken evening it got put into the wash - a full cycle. When I found it in the shirt pocket afterwards, it was full of water... there was a bubble in there too so it was more useful as a spirit level.

      I tried to turn it on (you never know) but no joy - so I put it in a cupboard and forgot about it.

      Four years later I found it again (thoroughly dried out) and tried turning it on -
  • .. i've always considered Melbourne to be the 'city of superheroes', and well .. now its supported in print.

    horrible place.
  • by t_allardyce (48447) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:55AM (#12517766) Journal
    Is this anything like exploding capacitors? I remember a class where my teacher accidentally turned a capacitor into a toxic smoke-grenade, it was a pretty impressive sight to see all that stuff come out of one little cylinder.
    • Have a look around rcgroups.com and other RC modeling sites. Usage of Li-Ion and Li-Po batteries is increasing and so is the number of burnt models, cars and houses due to the LiPo fire.
    • try that "smoke grenade" on a multilayer printed circuit board.

      Way the hell back when multilayer PC boards were so expensive that technicians had to fix them instead of tossing them (1980s), an human PCB assembler put one in backwards and it exploded on first powerup. I suppose I should count myself lucky that it only destroyed about a square inch of printed circuit board.

      Had to rewire all the burned traces by hand over a couple or 3 unpleasant hours.

  • iPod? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    More like iPwnd.
  • Two words (Score:4, Funny)

    by dos_dude (521098) on Friday May 13, 2005 @05:58AM (#12517784) Homepage
    Natural selection.
    • by McDutchie (151611)
      Alternatively, the religiously inclined may prefer a new theory of origin named Stupid Design, which the teenager in question may soon be patenting.
  • If you don't know what you're doing thend on't play with it. Some kid did and got burnt, wheres the news here?
  • by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro@gma i l .com> on Friday May 13, 2005 @06:06AM (#12517821) Journal
    Shockingly enough
  • by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Friday May 13, 2005 @06:09AM (#12517829) Homepage Journal
    .. that the iPod is also a choking hazard if you attempt to swallow it.
  • nice title (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dr.Opveter (806649) on Friday May 13, 2005 @06:30AM (#12517921)
    FTA (page title)
    Teenager's iPod goes boom - Breaking - Technology - theage.com.au

    That's breaking technology alright.
  • iPod-icide (Score:3, Funny)

    by dark grep (766587) on Friday May 13, 2005 @06:32AM (#12517928)
    I will have to remember not to commit iPodicide by stabbing it to death with a screwdriver while I am filling the car with petrol (gas for you North Americans). Jeeze Bruce, but us Aussies can be dumber than a bag of hammers. From what was reported, the ambulance service spokesperson hammed it up a bit too.
  • by cianduffy (742890) on Friday May 13, 2005 @06:34AM (#12517935)
    In my day, when you washed your (1st generation, flash-based) mp3 player, you just put it on top of your (17", radition levels that burn out brains) monitor with the memory card out for a few hours to dry

    Same with cellphones, flash keys, etc. But noooo, someone had to go and put rustable moving parts into mp3 players...
  • by Harker (96598) on Friday May 13, 2005 @06:41AM (#12517957)
    Teenager's iPod goes boom

    You don't see what really happened until much further down the article (around 3/4 of the way through) emphasis mine:

    "It wasn't working, the young fella tried to undo it or fix it with a screwdriver and at that stage there was an explosion, or more of a pop.


    Gotta love the media. Anything for a sensational headline.

    H
  • Maccas (Score:5, Funny)

    by mattjb0010 (724744) on Friday May 13, 2005 @06:43AM (#12517962) Homepage
    Did you also know that McDonalds coffee is hot?
  • by inflex (123318) on Friday May 13, 2005 @07:01AM (#12518025) Homepage Journal
    The iPod uses lithium poly batteries, they're slim, they're powerful and they pack a punch when you rupture them.

    With model aircraft, we use them a lot for our electric motors however they carry with them a lot of cautions. If you should happen to rupture or over charge them it's time to STAND CLEAR.

    Typically a lipo will puff up for a bit then have a fairly impressive flame out (as the lithium starts burning). I'd personally be worried about the guy if he inhaled too much of the fumes, it's fairly toxic.

    Oh, he probably ruptured the battery with the screwdriver. Normally if we have a "dud" cell, we put the cells into a bucket of salt water and then puncture the cells (UNDER WATER), the cells will bubble quite a bit and eventually after a few hours settle down.

    • by dubdays (410710) on Friday May 13, 2005 @08:10AM (#12518302)
      Next, we'll see the headline:

      "Man decapitated while puncturing batteries in bucket of salt water"
  • To quote the article:

    Metropolitan Ambulance spokeswoman Lirije Memishi said it was unclear what the teenager had ingested.
    "We treated him on the scene for minor breathing difficulties but he was fine and then we scooted out and helped save the rest of Melbourne," she said.
  • by Demerara (256642) on Friday May 13, 2005 @07:12AM (#12518069) Homepage
    ..Darwin, would he?

  • Warranty anyone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mboos (700155)
    I knew someone who got into a kiddie pool with his iPod still on himself. He simply sent it back to Apple who fixed/replaced it and EXPRESS shipped it back to him for free. No questions asked, even though it was his own fault.

    Now why couldn't our exploding friend do the same?
  • DRM (Score:2, Funny)

    by freeplatypus (846535)
    We had DRM'ed MP3, now we have DRM'ed electronic equipment - intentional self desctruction?
  • Any electric device can be dangerous to health - if it is not tottaly closed/water-proof etc. Even very low voltages can be harmfull if f.e. applied in long peroid of time.
  • Shit, I have those walking up the stairs. NEXT!
  • I think a great many people share my opinion that even if Apple decided to use a proprietary battery type, they should have made it removable.

    I suspect they didn't to avoid creating an iPod battery third party market, but the result is that once the iPod battery is bad, the whole (expensive) thing is essentially bad. I think it's not very consumer friendly. ...and now could it be considered consumer hostile?
  • Don't tell the RIAA, you'll just give them ideas...
  • by standards (461431) on Friday May 13, 2005 @07:49AM (#12518209)
    Most all batteries - from in your car, to your watch, could potentially explode if you short it.

    Trust me, a broken battery makes quite a mess.
  • by Phleg (523632) <stephen AT touset DOT org> on Friday May 13, 2005 @07:55AM (#12518238)
    Breaking news: capacitors found to exist!
  • My guess is that it was just a capacitor that blew up.

    There was probably a short from the water getting in, and the constant voltage / current built up the charge on the capacitor which eventually was too high for its design, arced across the insulator, and blew up... I used to do stuff like that in Electronics class in high school. Big puff of smoke and paper debris.

    Hopefully it wasn't a battery... then you get into some nasty chemicals.
    • Are you kidding?! It's quite obvious that Jobs installed an explosive device to keep people from opening their iPods. I'd guess that in a few weeks the kid will get sued by Apple for violating their intellectual property.
  • by HansF (700676)
    I mean, it's just a kid. His expensive Ipod was dead, he prolly panicked. And he messed with stuff he knew nothing about.
    It's a stupid accident I have to admit. But isn't mucking about with stuff you don't (yet) understand one of the trademarks of the true hacker?
    Cut him some slack. It could well be possible he could've gotten the moist out before the oxidation got too worse. With a bit of luck he could have re-assembled it and be listening to it right now.
    He's learned a lot of things now, maybe he'll do
  • Another wet ipod (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FirienFirien (857374) on Friday May 13, 2005 @08:23AM (#12518404) Homepage
    My ipod went into a river as I was jumping from boat to bank at one point. It was in for maybe 10 seconds, so presumably shorter than the washing machine and without the associated stresses; I popped the back off, poured the water out, detached the battery and tilted the HD away from the motherboard, put it above a radiator for a few days to be sure, then put it back together again and it worked absolutely fine, with no loss of battery life or memory errors.

    There may have been something happening with the washing powder in solution or water being forced into various places by the high Gs at high spin; however as I opened up my ipod it was completely inert. Something really strange must have happened to pierce his battery (solid Li skids around and pops a little when placed on top of water); however then you would expect it to have happened inside the washing machine. The implication there is that he pierced the battery with the screwdriver, which is no mean feat since it's around a 180 corner when you're trying to get in. Makes me wonder exactly what he was trying to do at the time.
  • by the_rajah (749499) * on Friday May 13, 2005 @12:06PM (#12520568) Homepage
    Any time you have energy storage, there's the potential for this sort of thing and modern batteries store a LOT of energy in a small volume.

    Waaay back in the early 70's I worked as an Engineer in the Texas Instruments Calculator division. We purposefully tested calculators to destruction to see what sort of trouble people could cause by doing stupid things. One thing we learned early on was that it was stupid of **us** to use the standard 3.5 mm jacks for chargers if the jack was connected directly to the batteries because you can short then during normal insertion. This was brought home to us graphically when that scenario happened on a desk model scientific calculator that had NiCad C-cells! Nobody was hurt but the calculator was destroyed internally. This led to the use of the barrell type connectors you see nowadays for power connections. Another design thing we did was to use small gage wire to connect the batteries so that the wire would "fuse" before other "bad stuff" happened.

    Back to the destructive testing.. We tried using the wrong chargers, including those from various other manufacturers and escalated on up to applying 120 VAC to the charging terminals. We also, where the batteries were in an externally accessible holder, tried other similar sized batteries, alkaline and carbon-zinc dry cells. All testing was done inside a sturdy wooden enclosure. The worst-case situations sounded like someone had fired a 12 gauge shot-gun in there. In that case, where 120 Vac was applied to carbon-zinc cells, the carbon rods had gone through the side of the plastic calculator case.

    It's clear to me that people can mess up most anything. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.". I'm in agreement.

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