Stepping behind the display cases of Ali Athari’s watch and jewelry store is like changing dimensions. Watches and jewelry glisten in their cases only feet away, but they are only a facade—intricate disguises designed to hide the real artistry: the watchmaker’s workshop. Ali is a lifelong student of watch design and repair, and it shows. The shelves of his workspace are lined with antique tools, calibration machines, and measurement devices—all designed for the repair of ailing timepieces.
You may have heard the term “spanner” used for wrenches before, but it also refers to security screws with multiple pinholes or slots on the screw head. The pinholes and slots act a bit like a lock. A specific bit is required for removal, making them difficult for hooligans and ne’er-do-wells to tamper with. (You also can’t jam a common flathead into the screw to turn it, as you might with a pentalobe or security Torx screw.)
The pentalobe is a five-pointed, flower-shaped screw—and it’s famous for being Apple’s tiny security screw of choice. Mechanically, the pentalobe tends to be inferior to other screws. It has a shallow draft that makes the screw prone to stripping out. And back when it first started popping up, the pentalobe was pretty good at locking down Apple devices.
Trusty. Iconic. As all-American as Ma’s apple pie. Yes, the Phillips screwdriver. Bearing the name of a Portlandian businessman who didn’t even invent it, the Phillips is the reigning standard in most American toolboxes. Henry F. Phillips bought the screw design from inventor John P. Thompson, who wasn’t able to muster up any commercial interest for his screwhead. Phillips was obviously a better (or luckier) salesman—or we might all have Thompson screwdrivers in our toolboxes now.
March is Women’s History Month and today is International Women’s Day—so we thought we’d take this opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the great women who work at iFixit and its sister company, Dozuki. When you go to a website like iFixit and scroll through the guides, it’s easy to forget that real people keep all those bits and bytes running smoothly. We’re an incredibly diverse team, split between two continents—but we’re united by a love of tinkering and repair.
When you’re designing a portable console, you need a huge battery, you need to keep it cool, and you need to be ready for the inevitable tumble. If you carry something around, you’re gonna drop it. The Nintendo Switch seems to hit all these points and more. The lion’s share of space is given to the batteries and the heat dissipation system. The fan is vibration-dampened to let it quietly run as much as needed.
I learned at an early age that Phillips is a pretty great screwhead—that it was invented to enable unskilled factory workers to assemble products much more quickly and effectively than was possible with slotted screws (the centuries-old reigning champion). At iFixit, we praise the Phillips’ accessibility and know it as the enabler of repair and the friend of DIYers. Turns out that’s only half the story—and Canada has been hiding the other, fantastic half from the rest of us for years. Before the Phillips, there was the Robertson.
We’ve gotta hand it to you, y’all made this Valentine’s Day one for the iFixit history books. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Cupid’s favorite holiday than by swapping repair tales with all you beautiful people. We received so many wonderful photo contest entries that we couldn’t pick just one winner—so we picked 5!
The flathead is unapologetically utilitarian. Which makes sense, because of all the drivers, it’s apparently the oldest—dating back to the Middle Ages. It’s gone by many names over the years: the standard, the common blade, the flat-blade, the slot-head, the straight, the flat-tip, and, of course, the “flat-head.” Learn more about the history of bits on our blog!
As fixers, we pride ourselves on teaching consumers how to make their tech last as long as possible. But recently, we had the chance to do something a little different. Two of us teardown engineers headed to MD&M West in Anaheim, the “World’s Largest Annual Medtech Event,” to talk about manufacturing with real-life manufacturers.
If you’ve read Lance Ulanoff’s new Mashable article about Right to Repair, you know one thing for sure: Ulanoff thinks you’re too stupid to fix your own phone. Ulanoff argues that ordinary people (and third-party shops) shouldn’t be allowed to attempt consumer electronics repair. He thinks it’s possibly dangerous, and definitely too difficult to be practical. “Right-to-Repair? What a ridiculous thing to say,” Ulanoff scoffs. The only ridiculous thing here is Ulanoff’s argument.
The dominos keep tumbling. Last week, two more states—Illinois and Tennessee—introduced Right to Repair legislation, bringing the total number of states considering pro-repair laws this year to eight (up from three last year). But don’t break out the victory dance; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride from bill to law. According to Motherboard, Apple is gearing up to oppose the legislation in at least one state.