Yellowed kitchen appliances, dust-streaked radios, unresponsive DVD players: the table was strewn with stuff that even a local thrift store’s discounts couldn’t make enticing. Most of the electronics were broken and all of them had outlived their usefulness. But you wouldn’t have known it by the number of children—screwdrivers in hand—who crowded the table that day just to get a look inside of them.
The demographic at the last USA Science and Engineering Festival was a little different from the one I usually cater to at iFixit—a free online repair manual for everything from cracked iPhones to DIY oil changes. My company’s mission is to teach as many people as possible how to fix the stuff they own—kids included.
And kids were just as eager to learn as we were to teach them. The festival warehouse was crowded and noisy, but once they pried up the hood of a device, the world faded to mute as pint-sized tech magellans explored circuit boards and examined old motors. One middle-schooler spent two hours working on an old VCR. Time well spent, because he got to watch the old relic whir back to life—a mixture of surprise and elation on his face.
Kids are born tinkerers. They have the natural inquisitiveness of engineers. All they need is someone to put an iPod in one hand, a screwdriver in the other, and ask, “Do you want to take this apart?” And when I ask that question, their eyes go wide with astonishment. After all, their parents have been telling them not to take things apart their entire lives. Read the rest of this article »
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When is the last time you saw a teardown of a Zenith CH 650 aircraft? Unfortunately, the iFixit teardown room isn’t large enough to accommodate a small plane (yet…), but that’s where Todd McLellan’s book Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual For Modern Living comes in handy.
Don’t be fooled by the title—the book isn’t a step-by-step manual on how to disassemble objects. Instead, it’s literally an inside look at what McLellan calls “fifty design classics,” ranging from the everyday (mechanical pencil) to the forgotten (push lawnmower).
McLellan painstakingly photographs an orderly mess of internal components—each piece arranged and displayed like some new form of object archeology. Add five essays on repair and disassembly from various voices in the repair world, and you have a book that finds a unique way to advocate for the importance of disassembly, investigation, and reuse. Read the rest of this article »
We do our best to get new hardware the moment it hits the market, and trying to figure out where to get the S4 this week has been a headache — to say the least. We’ve never seen this many flip-flopping announcements (outside of the US Senate, of course).
But good news! The Galaxy S4 is here… and we’re glad the wait is finally over.
The reports are true. Samsung didn’t go to great lengths to reinvent the wheel with regard to the S4’s internal construction. The design is very similar, if not identical, to the Galaxy S III — which is a good thing, since the S III is a pretty fixable device. The Galaxy S4 receives an interstellar 8 out of 10 repairability score for its replaceable battery and straightforward disassembly.
The Gaia Foundation released a new report yesterday on electronics and the environment. The report, Short Circuit, was funded by the European Union—a sign that governments are increasingly aware of the environmental ramifications stemming from electronics manufacturing.
First the good news: 90% of the world’s population and 80% of the population living in rural areas currently have access to mobile technology—including half of the population of Africa. These devices are responsible for the huge growth of mobile commerce, governance, and banking in Africa.
Unfortunately, as a global community, we’re pretty bad at managing gadgets. Here’s your mind-blowing tech prediction of the day: By the end of this year, the total number of electronic devices in the world will surpass the number of people on it, The Foundation asserts. Read the rest of this article »
It’s no secret that at iFixit we’re pretty excited about Apple-related news. So when a pair of Apple’s top iPod engineers left the company to follow their product development dreams, our interest was slightly piqued. When they released a refined, second-generation Nest thermostat, we couldn’t resist—it had to be torn down.
Opening the Nest revealed a clutch of pleasant surprises. First moment of joy: the thermostat is held together with Phillips screws, handily removed with the included driver. Next, the rechargeable battery is easy to access and replace, with convenient directions printed inside the device. The icing on the cake: all of this great design is nested in a tough steel case, making for a long-lasting product that’s both repairable and durable. With these considerations in mind, we happily assigned the Nest Learning Thermostat a 9 out of 10 on our repairability scale. Read the rest of this article »