Sunday, April 18, 2021

Fixed is Better Than New

At today's Zoom Fixit Clinic we saw Kim from USA-CA-Oakland: "Battery Operated Pencil Sharpener Panasonic KP-2a I had left batteries in it a few years ago, and it no longer works, even with new batteries I have looked for youtube videos. I managed to take it apart AND I think I have it put back together correctly. I tried cleaning the battery contacts but not sure what else to try. It is a fabulous pencil sharpener when it's working. I've returned 2 new ones in the last 2 weeks, junk."

Kim's repair was not complete by the end of the Zoom but later in the day she emailed the photo below: "Well, after 2 hours in the breakout room and another hour after, the battery pencil sharpener is fixed. After we figured out that the motor worked, I finally realized that one of the copper strips in a switch that connected when the pencil was inserted was out of place and needed to go into a little hole, which helped the other strips connect. My thanks to the fixers in the breakout room who were so patient and offered many suggestions even as I wrestled with my funky webcam. Not sure I got everyone, but D [P?] Ramoutar, Olivia in Berkeley, Tony, and Des, you rock! Connecting via phone cam might have made it easier for me to show a closeup. I'd show the strips and how they fit but now that all is together and working, I'll leave it be!"


We believe that older items that are fixed (or well maintained) are more and more often of higher quality and durability than items that you can purchase new that perform the same function: Do you agree?

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Box Fan: Bad Thermal Fuse

Sunday afternoon's project was a Lasko box fan: not working at all. It was easy enough to disassemble. The problem turned out to be a blown thermal fuse which was nestled deep in the motor near the motor windings.


The thermal fuse is rated 115° C, I had that value on hand and replaced it, the fan works again. It's a fairly straightforward repair but care needs to be taken working around the delicate motor winding wires.



We see thermal fuses nestled next to motor windings in all sorts of appliances: coffee grinders, food processors, blenders, etc. It's a common part to fail, it's often a mystery why it goes bad.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Vacuum Clogs: Check Carefully for the Root Cause

Saturday morning's project was a Dyson Ball Multi Floor vacuum with two nasty clogs: one in the hose from the brush head, one in the wand.


The wand had a Canadian Quarter wedged deep inside, I was able to yank it out with a wire coat hanger modified with a hook


The brush head vacuumed up a needle that stuck in the soft flexible plastic hose between the head and the main body of the vacuum, I was able to fish that out with a pliers.

Neither item was immediately evident as a root cause for the clogs and poor suction: there was a lot of fluff that had accumulated around both items. After the fluff was cleared both the brush head and the wand immediately had good suction and one might've been tempted to declare victory at that point. However: without further inspection to find and remove the quarter and the needle the clogs would have re-occurred.


From a maintenance perspective this vacuum was designed for relatively easy access to and inspection of the places where a clog might develop. This video was helpful too: https://youtu.be/YgR-hfT2Mhk

We see vacuums with poor suction all the time and the root cause is almost always a rigid or semi-rigid item wedged in a hose that accumulates fluff around it until it clogs the hose.


 





Saturday, January 9, 2021

Joining Zoom Fixit Clinics or the Global Fixers Discord Server

 Fixit Clinic has gone virtual and global with two offerings:

- Zoom Fixit Clinics open to everyone and hosted from around the world

- A Global Fixers Discord Server that's open around-the-clock around-the-world

To join either or both:

Got something broken you want to try to fix? Participant registration: http://bit.ly/fixitcheckin

Want to help fix or just observe? Fixer/observer sign-in: http://bit.ly/fixitcoachsignup

Friday, October 9, 2020

Welcome Guardian Readers!

Welcome Guardian Readers*: Want to try fixing something from home like Anya above**? Here’s how it works: show your item to the global assembly of community repairers and get suggestions for things to try; then we move items/participants and repairers to Zoom breakout rooms to implement the suggestions and, hopefully, fix the items.

We also have the Global Fixers Discord Server for synchronous/asynchronous around-the-clock around-the-world repair.

Sign up with things to fix at http://bit.ly/fixitcheckin to get scheduled for an upcoming Intergalactic Fixit Clinic (or to set up repair via Discord); and please encourage your family, friends and neighbors around the globe to sign up too. (And remember: we can look at large things like dishwashers, TVs and furniture now.)

Hope to see you at an upcoming Fixit Clinic (virtually, that is!)


*Fixit Clinic was mentioned in today’s Guardian: scroll down towards the bottom of the article:
---
...Finally, after reading our hugely popular (but quite ancient) repair cafe story, Anya Hart Dyke in Scotland had a further tip.

“Given current restrictions, it would be good to mention the amazing Fixit Clinic team who help with repairs via Zoom. I did a session with them for my hand-held blender last weekend and they were amazing. It’s all free, of course.”

We’ll be expecting great things from that blender, Anya. Whisk like the wind.
---
**(Here's Anya presenting her stick blender: https://youtu.be/f0IOd_8dd04?t=182)

Monday, September 28, 2020

Around-the-Clock Around-the-World Repair

 


We've added a Global Fixers Discord Server to facilitate 'round-the-clock 'round-the-world repair collaboration.

Unfamiliar with Discord? It is a communication and collaboration platform that is popular with gamers. It supports chat, voice, and video, file and image upload, etc.

Any current local community repair volunteer or aspiring repairer -- anywhere in the world -- is welcome to join: sign up at http://bit.ly/fixitcoachsignup, select the “ONGOING: Repair via Global Fixers Discord Server” option.

Looking forward to seeing you online: either in the Virtual Fixit Clinic Zooms, in the Global Fixers Discord Server, or both!


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Remote Rapid Response Repair

2020-10-09 Update: Remote Rapid Response Repair has been folded into the Global Fixers Discord Server (see https://fixitclinic.blogspot.com/2020/09/around-clock-around-world-repair.html)

Calling all Fixit Coaches (and other Community Repairers): can we stand ready to fix shared public property and community-held property during this pandemic?

For example, critical medical equipment, laboratory equipment or emergency service equipment might break with manufacturers' service unavailable. Or it might be as mundane as the toaster in the hospital break room or the local animal shelter's floor polisher (pictured below.)


If you're willing to be "on call" to respond to a community repair request please sign up at http://bit.ly/fixitcoachsignup, indicate where you're located in the "Anything special about your participation?" field.

We'll try to combine this with the newly minted Virtual Fixit Clinics, hopefully we can effect repair remotely or do some sort of online triage to set up ideal conditions for a successful in-person repair visit.

Virtual Fixit Clinics

"Mythbusters meets Antiques Road Show, Top Gear meets Car Talk"


=============================
2020-04-01 Update: We're joining iFixit's Fix At Home Challenge https://www.ifixit.com/News/36647/join-the-fixathome-challenge: here's your chance to show us that big thing you can't carry in to a Fixit Clinic(!)
=============================
2020-03-23 Update: As COVID-19 unfolds we're extending the vision of "virtual" Fixit Clinics to offer “rapid response repair” for medical equipment and laboratory research and/or diagnostic equipment. It doesn't have to be critical care equipment: it might be as mundane as the toaster oven in the hospital staff break room or the hospital’s floor polisher.
=============================

No community repair event near you? Repair event cancelled due to Coronavirus? Can't get your Fixit Clinic fix?

Well we can certainly fix that!

Announcing Virtual Fixit Clinics: the world's greatest troubleshooting talent converging to address whatever's presented; we'll leverage the wonderful magic that is the global internet to hold "virtual" Fixit Clinics using teleconferencing software.

Fixit Coaches: Any community repairers (or wannabe repairers, "fixing families," etc.) in the world are heartily welcome (e.g.: Fixit Clinic, Restart Party, Repair Café, Anstiftung Foundation, etc.). You don't have to participate you can just stay on mute. You're also welcome to present things from your local community or your own broken stuff.
Register at http://bit.ly/fixitcoachsignup and we'll send details on joining the teleconferences.

Have Something Broken? Answer these questions:
- Do you have a computer and internet connection that will support video teleconferencing?
- Can you show and describe the problem / recreate the problem in under five minutes?
- (Optional: Can you have some rudimentary disassembly tools at the ready?)
- Can you fill out http://bit.ly/brokenitemreport afterwards?
If yes, register at http://bit.ly/fixitcheckin (select the "Virtual Fixit Clinic") and we'll reach out about scheduling you for an upcoming Virtual Fixit Clinic.

Looking forward to meeting in cyberspace!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

New Fixit Clinic Video

Heartfelt thanks to San Mateo County Office of Sustainability for producing this wonderful video on Fixit Clinic: https://youtu.be/qJtNrsgtAs0


Friday, January 10, 2020

Four Recent Articles

Is repair going mainstream? Here are four recent articles:

1) The New York Times on how our military can't repair its own stuff:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/20/opinion/military-right-to-repair.html
We've been framing Right to Repair as a sustainability and resiliency issue for communities and individuals; this op-ed in the New York Times frames it as a military readiness and national security issue.
In reality: any community — domestic, military, etc.— that moves away from understanding the things it uses and relies on is at systemic risk. And you have to wonder what it takes for the military to go public with an issue like this. This isn't a rogue captain posting an op ed in the NY Times. It's clearly sanctioned.

2) The Wall Street Journal encouraging buying long-lived and repairable goods:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/an-umbrella-that-lasts-forever-how-much-would-you-pay-11578078532?emailToken=81eb8c25ff23701c740f9eb16d38fced/wUyOiLhOkNfpIEY91+Pu5uOp+9iKSiklT/aC9ju8KRrQDMBaEnf2qTipMqBRLEQa3RQMo/bYO6ZcI0yxaMqOiRD91zioaTtDC9liVy9JRPc5dPRHvJtl/jkzroWbVIW&reflink=article_email_share
Good to have this article in the conservative mainstream press. Our variation on this message is: once you learn to repair something you own you essentially bestow it with a lifetime warranty.

3) The Minneapolis Star Tribune notes old non-computerized tractors are now a hot commodity:
http://www.startribune.com/for-tech-weary-midwest-farmers-40-year-old-tractors-now-a-hot-commodity/566737082/
John Deere has long been an opponent of Right-to-Repair, they've gone as far as arguing in court that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows them to assert that when you buy a modern tractor from them you're no longer purchasing a tractor, you're only purchasing a license to operate the tractor. (Interestingly: Canadian farmers are not subject to the DMCA and are still allowed to repair their own John Deere farm equipment.)

4) Forbes on how subsidized phones for low-income people are infected with malware:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2020/01/09/us-funds-free-android-phones-for-the-poor---but-with-permanent-chinese-malware/
We've seen these symptoms at Fixit Clinic but weren't sure it was built-in malware, it's reassuring to get independent verification. As software and hardware merge we're seeing more issues around digital inclusion, digital literacy, digital equity. Should low-income people have to accept less privacy?




Monday, December 16, 2019

A Waffle Iron For The Ages

From Fixit Clinic 500 2019-12-14 Redwood City Public Library: the waffle iron was a present at their wedding 20+ years ago, our Fixing Elves helped them get it working again.




Our sincere holiday season wish is that their great-great-great-grandchildren will be using the same waffle iron.

More photos from Fixit Clinic 500 2019-12-14 Redwood City Public Library at
https://photos.app.goo.gl/ELvdQHDBhM4BKdx17
And a video that features this waffle iron fix: https://youtu.be/qJtNrsgtAs0

Monday, September 30, 2019

Elvis Lives (Again!)

Honored to have the King of Rock and Roll grace Sunday's Fixit Clinic at San Carlos Library. His batteries had leaked and corroded the connections.


Once we got that addressed Elvis was back in action.


Here's video of the King of Rock and Roll once again at his finest:


More photos of Fixit Clinic 475 San Carlos Day of Service here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/pm39muEcnwcs2eVX8

Friday, September 27, 2019

Redwood City Library Fixit Coaches Flyers

The graphic designer at the Redwood City Library came up with this great poster for soliciting Fixit Coaches and made both English and Spanish versions: we love it!


Fixing Fremont Library's Carts

At the Fremont Main Library we asked the librarians to gather up the library's book shelving carts that needed repair. Fixit Coaches Extraordinaire Steve Evans and Steve White (AKA "The Steves") put a bunch of carts back into service immediately with simple lubrication and then explored repairing bad wheels, casters, bearings, caster sockets (plastic or nylon sleeves that support the casters.) We may attempt using the 3D printers in the library's new Makerspace to create replacement parts, maybe modifying the design to make them more durable.

The Steves inventory the library's carts


"For Salvage": this cart's next destination was the Alameda County Salvage Depot. Isn't it better to repair it and keep it in service?
Repairs in progress in the library's new Makerspace

We strive to fix community assets at Fixit Clinic: the things we own jointly through the civic institutions we share. Do you think this is a good idea?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Fremont Library Fixit Clinic Residency

The Fremont Main Library just opened their new Makerspace today. As the inaugural programming for the Makerspace we're holding Fixit Clinics on a regular basis there.


More photos from the Makerspace Grand Opening: https://photos.app.goo.gl/NtqquCX1yrNqByVbA

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Introducing The New Fixit Clinic Video Series

We've launched a new series of instructional videos in partnership with iFixit; the goal is to encourage everyone to repair whether there's a Fixit Clinic happening nearby or not. https://youtu.be/1IJwpFBmTGk

Here are the three videos thus far:

Introducing Repair Tips from the Fixit Clinic with Peter Mui
https://youtu.be/1IJwpFBmTGk
How to Replace Thermal Fuses: Repair Tips from the Fixit Clinic
https://youtu.be/XE-XlDP1wHs
Optical Drive Troubleshooting: Repair Tips from the Fixit Clinic
https://youtu.be/2UqzKlnHGPU

If you have a topic for an upcoming video let us know.



Saturday, February 2, 2019

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Santa Fe Flyer

It's lovely to see the flyers different Fixit Clinics come up with, this one is for the upcoming 2019-02-02 Fixit Clinic CCCLXVI (366) in Santa Fe, NM


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Dakota County Flyer


Stumbled across this flyer from the Dakota County (Minnesota) Fixit Clinics: love the imagery!