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Upgrading the LaCie DJI CoPilot to SSD

LaCie and DJI have released an interesting collaboration: an external storage medium, that will automatically copy the contents of storage attached to it, internally. It has a battery, so it can operate without mains power, and a screen, so the user can see the available space and battery power. Added to that, it can even charge your mobile device, and has USB 3, USB C, and an SD card slot, with adapter cables for Lightning, micro-USB and USB C.

The design is incredibly well thought out, too: the screen is orientated so that the ports are away from the user, pointing towards - for example - one’s quadcopter, and a thick elastomer wall protects the aluminium housing from the world. There is a line moulded into the elastomer wall that neatly stores the adapter cable, wrapping it around the device, with a magnet holding the end of the cable neatly in place, and a thick elastomer piece protects the ports: I haven’t tried, but it feels like it could be briefly dropped in water without damaging it.

Upgrading the storage

Sadly, the device ships with a spinning 2TB disk, which is slow, hot, and prone to error from vibration. Happily, it’s a standard 2.5” SATA drive, and can be easily replaced with a similar SSD: 2TB SSDs are incredibly cheap now, which makes me curious as to why LaCie put a spinning disk in at all...

Tools:

  • Small cross-head screw driver (I mean small)
  • Larger Torx bit (T10..?)
  • Spudger/guitar pick
  • Scalpel
  1. Format your new SSD as ExFAT: if you don’t do this, the device won’t be able to use the storage.
  2. Peel away the elastomer bumper.
  3. Remove the plastic end pieces: these are clipped in, and can be eased out with a spudger, or guitar pick, or simple torn off.
  4. Remove the four screws that hold the internal assembly in place.
  5. Tease out the battery cable from the circuit board.
  6. Slowly but forcefully, slide the circuit board assembly out, leaving the battery in place, paying special attention to the screen at heat sink.!
  7. Remove the four screws that hold the drive in place.
  8. Cut through the warranty void sticker, voiding your warranty, and allowing you to remove the spinning disk.!
  9. Swap the spinning drive for your ExFAT-formatted SSD.
  10. Replace the four screws holding the drive in place, or as many as you see fit.
  11. Now the delicate part: you need to slide the circuit board assembly back into the case, trying to keep the heat sink tab (grey spongey rectangle of putty) and the display in place. Note that on the bottom of the display there are two small plastic pegs that might have broken off in step 6. Before sliding the assembly back in, check their status: if broken, remove them, as there is very little tolerance, and the screen must fit exactly within the recessed area, otherwise the circuit board assembly will be curved and prevent the ports from lining up with the housing. As follows:
    1. Check that the pegs are either in place, or removed, and that the screen is neatly within the printed rectangle on the circuit board. Trim away any black film that may have peeled off, and taking advantage of the adhesive, press it in place.
    2. Press the heat sink tab firmly onto the CPU.
    3. Hold a piece of glossy paper over the screen (I tore off the front page of the manual), as this will let the screen slide more easily into place.
    4. Slowly, but forcefully, slide the circuit board assembly into the housing, paying very close attention to the position of the screen: try and keep it precisely in place as you go.
    5. Once slid home, carefully remove the piece of paper of the screen.
    6. Check to see if the circuit board assembly is bowed or straight. If bowed, used your spudger to push the screen into its recess: once home, the pressure will be removed from the circuit boards assembly.
  12. Replace the four screws that hold the circuit board assembly in place, or as many as you see fit.
  13. Connect the battery to the circuit board, and press the power button (a small button on the opposite side of the device to the ports) to verify screen alignment and device function.
  14. Clip the plastic end pieces in place.
  15. Slide the elastomer bumper back in place.
  16. Done!

A note on the heat sink pad

When I first put the drive back together, I neglected to put the heat sink pad on the processor (it had got badly mangled on the way in and out). Every time I tried to use the drive to ingest media, it would flash up an overheat warning. Having applied a fresh heat sink pad (I used these ones: https://amzn.to/2BYpQxe), it's working fine again.

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