Sixteen years ago, Sony released the first Aibo—an adorably lifelike robot dog. Just like real dogs, Aibo responded to commands, played fetch, did tricks, interacted with owners, and had its own personality. Some owners grew very attached to their surrogate pets. But, it turns out, robot dogs can die, too—just like real dogs.
I love my Hubsan X4 107L—a 30-gram micro-quadcopter that is supposedly built to take all the abuse you can throw at it. But a series of bad crashes left my poor little drone in shambles. I was determined that my X4 would fly again. So, I did what any determined tinkerer would do: I pulled my tiny drone apart and broke out the soldering iron. Things did not go as planned …
You can’t miss the engineering marvels when you walk into the hangar at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. When I was at the facility, I saw various vintages of aircraft scattered throughout the hangar. Cranes scuttled about. Staff hustled along marked walkways, running tests and preparing instruments—a beehive of activity. What you can’t tell at first glance, though, is that these beautiful machines—new and old—aren’t just marvels of engineering. They are also masterpieces of repurposing.
Jason Kingsnorth does a bus-load of repairs. Like, a school bus-load. He’s a Technology Aide/Coordinator at Bradley Schools in Bradley, Illinois—and half of the IT team that manages maintenance of the district’s technology fleet. All told, Jason helps keep 300 MacBook Pros, 250 iMacs, 150 PCs, and over 300 iOS devices running under what you might call … challenging circumstances (school kids, after all, can turn iPads into juice boxes before you can say “recess”). Read his story on our blog!
My name is Mem. And I’m a gamer. Over the years, I have collected a dragon’s hoard of games and consoles. Amongst the collection: a much-beloved Xbox 360. But after years of gaming sessions, our old Xbox overheated and stopped working. Ah, the Red Ring of Death—the scourge of the Xbox 360, destroyer of gaming dreams. We exiled our console to the closet, and that’s probably where it would have stayed. But then I came to work at iFixit. And I learned that I could fix my game console myself.
At Pacific Lutheran University, a student-run help desk will service “anything with a current.” David Domask has trained 17 student techs, many of whom arrive with no prior repair experience—and together, they keep the university whirring, buzzing, and ticking.
When Jessa’s kids flushed her iPhone down the toilet, she decided she was going fix it herself. After all, the only thing wrong was a tiny charging coil on the motherboard. Such a little thing. But that process—picking one micro-component off the board and replacing it—requires micro soldering, a skill not widely practiced in the US. So Jessa taught herself to do it. Now, she is now a micro soldering expert, and a proprietress of a thriving board-level repair business: iPad Rehab.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Fixing things yourself saves you money. But how much money? We heard recently from six fixers who got quotes from repair professionals before deciding to crack open their devices themselves. And together, these six DIY repair folks saved over $4000.
What do you do when your laptop has persistent heat issues and all the usual fixes fail? iFixit programmer Sterling describes how he fixed his MacBook Pro with a drill and the oven: he reflowed the solder and increased circulation through the case.
Sometimes, repairing electronics requires more than just swapping out the offending parts. Sometimes batteries are soldered to the motherboard. Other times, the connectors themselves need to be replaced. And that means you’re gonna need to be break out the soldering workstation. Fear not, intrepid repairer! We get it: Waving a molten lava wand over your prized possessions can be intimidating, but soldering is actually pretty easy. And it’s an essential skill to have in your repair toolkit.
My husband and I have a set of two classic iPods, and they’ve come along on grueling runs, incredible hikes, and long road trips for almost six years. But when both headphone jacks broke, the soundtrack to my life suddenly went mute. Since then, our iPods have been sitting in a drawer, collecting dust. The hundreds of songs on each were left trapped inside their digital prison, dying a peaceful death—never to be thought of again. Then I figured out how to fix them.