I watch as workers at BMW’s Recycling and Dismantling Centre fish around for an alternator under the hood of what must have been a mid-sized sedan—except this car doesn’t have a hood anymore. In fact, this car doesn’t have much of anything anymore. Its skeletal remains picked clean of most detachable components, this car is one of about 6,000 BMWs recycled at the centre every year—just a tiny fraction of what BMW actually manufactures every single year. So why isn’t BMW recycling more?
If you haven’t picked up the new copy of Popular Mechanics, here’s another reason to do so: our co-founder Kyle Wiens contributed an article to the print edition! The article, “Why We Fix,” is a dyed-in-the-wool tinkerer’s explanation of why we do what we do—why repair, for us, isn’t just an action: it’s a state of mind and an amazing challenge. Pick up the magazine on any newsstand.
Drones lined with rainbow LED lights zoom pass. Children on steel, mechanical crustaceans charge through packed crowds. A giant metal octopus, named El Pulpo Mecanico, shoots bursts of fire into the sky. We’re on the grounds of the San Mateo Event Center—and it’s Bay Area Maker Faire 2014. Check out some of our favorite Maker Faire moments on the blog.
When something breaks, most people run through the usual gamut of emotions—disappointment, frustration, a feeling of helplessness. But over at the Fixers Collective in Brooklyn, they’re teaching people to approach broken stuff a little differently: with curiosity. For the master techs that make up the Fixers Collective, repair is the new Rubik’s Cube. It’s a puzzle that must be teased out by trial and error—a Sherlockian game of wits that pits man against machine. Can you outsmart entropy?
Back in October, we told you about maker and friend-of-iFixit, David Lang. At the time, David had just written a book for novice makers called Zero to Maker. In the book, David writes about trying to fix a Magic Bullet, a handheld blender with spotty repair documentation. Well, one of our favorite community members read about David’s struggles, found a Magic Bullet, took it apart, and posted a teardown on iFixit. Just because he wanted to help. Gotta love fixers.
Hey, so guess what? We took apart the new-for-2014, $100-cheaper MacBook Airs, and found almost nothing new inside. Our spudgers get misty anytime a new device ends up on the teardown table, but this Air iteration was too uninteresting to warrant a full-blown (or even a half-blown) teardown. The sole change between last year’s and this year’s models: the 100MHz-faster processors—lovely Haswell units labeled SRT16T. We wrote a full set of repair guides for both new models anyway.
Repair is better than recycling. This Earth Day, add “repair” back into your sustainability checklist. To help get you started, we’ve compiled a few smartphone repairs you can do at home. (Most of these repairs require specialty electronics tools like plastic opening tools and a set of precision screwdrivers.) For our repair list, we’ve focused on Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S line, because they are the most popular phones in the US, Find many more phone repair guides on iFixit.
We support your bill, SB 994, which will give consumers the right to access and share the information from their cars. Who owns our vehicles? The answer used to be obvious. Now, with electronics integrated into just about everything we buy, the answer has changed. Copyright is impacting more people than ever before because the line between hardware and software, physical and digital has blurred. SB 994 is a property rights issue. Who has the right to the data from our vehicles?
Hey, great news! We didn’t have to steal a Project Tango unit from a developer, or have someone “accidentally leave it” in a bar. The folks at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group were super-nice and provided us with a non-functional unit, which is otherwise identical to the 200+ developer Tangos now in the wild. We got the chance to sneak a peek inside the Tango and figure out just what makes it tick.
Dell’s products have consistently impressed us with their modularity and repairability. Time and time again, Dell’s products have scored well on our teardown table. The Dell XPS 10 even tops the list of our most repairable tablets, earning a 9/10 for repairability. Now the recycling industry has independently verified iFixit’s findings. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) just announced Dell Inc. as the recipient of its 2014 Design for Recycling (DFR) Award.
Today we focus on taking apart the Gear Fit. This little gus has quite the unique construction, given its round shape. The motherboard is split into three separate pieces, and joined together via interconnect cables. This design enables the motherboard to be curved, so it can be stuffed into the rounded case. A curved AMOLED display rests on top of the unit, and unfortunately you have to pry it off to gain access to the internals. The Fit earned a 6/10 repairability score.