A robotics engineer made the AirPods Pro case repairable with a USB-C conversion

Ken Pillonel designed an open-source PCB that is available to buy online.

Ken Pillonel

The original AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro 2 are popular among iPhone users for their convenience and compelling mix of features. However, your options are limited if something happens to the charging case, and your earbuds aren’t under warranty. Apple will replace the case for a fee. If you own a first-generation pair of AirPods Pro, you’re probably better off buying the new model to get a fresh set of batteries. In any event, there’s no easy way to repair a set of AirPods Pro and limit your electronic waste. Replacement parts are either hard to find, expensive or non-existent, and Apple didn’t design any of its earbuds with repairability in mind.

Robotics engineer Ken Pillonel, who became internet famous in 2021 for creating a working USB-C iPhone, is trying to fix that. With his latest DIY project, Pillonel has effectively created an end-to-end solution for those who want to swap the battery in their AirPods Pro case rather than replace it altogether.

Pillonel designed a replacement USB-C PCB he says is possible to install in an undamaged case without milling. If you’ve been following Pillonel for a while, you likely know that he also designed a USB-C PCB for the first- and second-generation AirPods and uploaded the design to GitHub. This time, he’s selling the AirPods Pro part to make the repair as easy as possible for anyone who wants to attempt it. You can get a single PCB from his online store for about $38.

If you damage your AirPods Pro case trying to access the internal battery, Pillonel has thought of that too. He’s uploaded a schematic to GitHub that you can use to 3D print a replacement. The USB-C PCB and case are fully compatible with one another. The only part you need to source independently is a replacement battery. You can find those online for about $20. “The goal of this project is to maximize the number of successful repairs to minimize the quantity of electronic waste,” Pillonel said in a statement. Obviously, most people won’t have the patience or confidence to service their AirPods Pro charging case, but a project like this is invaluable for those who do.

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