Image via iFixit user Bac’s fabulous Sony TR-63 Transistor Radio Teardown
For Ken Smith, electronics repair is a lifetime obsession. He was just six years old when he bought a radio for a quarter at Goodwill. It sounded funny, so he took it apart and discovered a bad switch, which he bypassed with a wire. The radio was fixed, and Ken sold it to his brother for $5—a hefty profit for a kindergartener.
Ken runs a vintage radio and electronics museum out of his home in Eugene, Oregon. He keeps hundreds of jukeboxes, phonographs, and televisions in working order. The Register-Guard has a great profile of Ken’s workshop and museum. From the article:
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Nous sommes heureux de vous annoncer que iFixit est enfin disponible en français ! Après avoir usé quelques dictionnaires Anglais-Français, et après des mois de travail, nous avons réussi à traduire, manuellement, une bonne partie de l’interface du logiciel. Il vous suffit de vous connecter et de changer la langue de l’anglais au français.
Nous offrons des milliers de pages de guides “Comment Faire” que nous aimerions partager avec tous nos amis français. Malheureusement, le contenu à traduire est trop important et nous n’avons pas les capacités—du moins pas encore—qui nous permettraient de traduire manuellement chaque guide. Nos programmeurs travaillent sans relâche afin de permettre une traduction manuelle, mais cela prendra du temps pour acquérir cette faculté.
C’est là que vous intervenez !
Nous faisons une expérience. Nous essayons de voir à quel point nous pouvons améliorer la Traduction Google en nous servant d’un glossaire de traduction personnalisée. Jetez un coup d’oeil sur quelques guides. Quelles phrases spécifiques sont charcutées par Google ? Quelle traduction semble absurde dans ces guides ? Envoyez un courriel avec une meilleure traduction à firstname.lastname@example.org. Ensemble, créons une liste, corrigeons la traduction de ces phrases, et voyons si les choses s’améliorent.
Peut-être arriverons nous à quelque chose de mieux ! Ou peut-être pas. C’est une grande et nouvelle expérience. Nous devons essayer—c’est toujours mieux que de n’avoir que l’anglais pour s’en sortir.
It’s been a long time, but after six years Nintendo has released a brand new revision of the Wii console: the Wii U. With all of its shiny new features and redesigned internals, we needed to get our hands dirty with an in-depth teardown of both the console and its innovative new GamePad controller.
Anxious to get a look at the new hardware, we dove into the console first. No big surprises here, as it’s assembled in typical Nintendo fashion with an abundance of hidden Tri-wing screws—no match for our teardown experts, but a pain for modders and repairers.
The GamePad controller’s imposing size is a result of the large screen and buttons, with plenty of room for the internal circuitry and even room for a much larger battery in the user-accessible compartment.
Aside from the use of Tri-wing screws on both the console and the GamePad controller, the two devices impressed us with their repairability and modularity. Designers opted for screws over adhesive or clips, most components can be replaced independently of their respective motherboards, and the battery is easy to get to and replace. In light of this, the Wii U scored an admirable 8 out of 10 on our repairability score. Read the rest of this article »
Photo by Eric Craig Doster
We got our disassembly-obsessed hands on the Nexus 4 today, and we didn’t even have to send anyone to Australia this time! This little beauty showed up in our mailbox — early delivery courtesy of UPS!
After removing some screws and prying with our trusty plastic opening tool, we made quick work of the Nexus’s outer case. Good news: the Nexus 4 earned high marks for repairability. Some heavy adhesive slowed down battery removal, but every other component (including the speaker assembly and the motherboard) came out with relatively little effort. Keeping pace with Apple’s iPhone 5, the Nexus earned a solid 7 out of 10 on our repairability scale. Read the rest of this article »
It’s a sad day for free repair manuals.
Toshiba just took down one of the most popular sources of repair information for their laptops, Tim Hicks’ laptop repair manual repository at Future Proof. Tim’s site is one of the only places online to get ad- and malware-free, manufacturer-authorized manuals. Check out the full editorial I wrote on the situation for Wired.
We’re not surprised by Toshiba’s actions: we’ve known about manufacturers’ iron grip on repair documentation for a long time. We’ve known about the infuriating and elaborate ways manufacturers will keep users out of their own hardware. We’ve known about the unfortunate extension of copyright law to repair documentation—that’s a big part of why we got started, after all.
But we are upset. Taking repair information away from users means less repair: only the very brave, very experienced, or very stupid will try to service a laptop without a manual. And less repair means more disposable culture, more toxic mining and manufacturing, and fewer jobs in independent repair shops.
Manufacturers always say that providing repair documentation will lead users to hurt themselves, and that’s what Toshiba told Tim. But when people do attempt repair, they are far more likely to damage themselves or their equipment if they don’t have a good manual with appropriate safety warnings.
So, here’s what we’re going to do. We want to write a free and open repair manual to replace the manuals that Toshiba took away. We currently have manuals for just a few Toshiba laptops, but we need more hardware to take apart. You can help:
- Send us your Toshiba hardware and we’ll write a manual for it. (We’re looking for laptops that are less than four years old, and we just need one of each model. These are the devices we want.)
- Donate a couple bucks here and we’ll use the money to buy old Toshiba hardware and write manuals for it.
- Want to write a manual? Great! Let us know, and we’ll send you hardware once we get it in.
E-waste is a tricky problem in part because it’s so complex: for a computer to end up in the infamous Ghana dump site Agbogbloshie, it has to pass through hundreds of hands—from assembly line workers piecing it together, to retail salespeople, to users, to exporters, to importers, to scavengers. The problem can be overwhelmingly abstract. But documentaries make it more real and immediate—and it’s been a while since we last reviewed an e-waste documentary. Terra Blight, a recent release from independent documentary film production company Jellyfish Smack (the folks behind “World of Trash”), gives the problem a human face and unravels some of its complexities.