Introducing Answers: A Collaborative Repair Community

November 3, 2009 Answers, Site News — Kyle Wiens

I am proud to announce iFixit Answers, a collaborative repair community of people helping people make devices work longer. We are launching the private beta today, but we will be inviting more people throughout the testing period. To get an invite, add your name to our list (we’ll be sending out invites to people on the list as we have room) or, if you want to be bumped to the front of the list, write a teardown!

The world has a problem with rapidly consuming devices and tossing them aside, ignoring long-term environmental impact. With your help, we are going to change that. I’m confident that we can change our culture of ephemeral ownership.

Fixing a Mac, the iFixit way

iFixit has helped hundreds of thousands of people fix Apple hardware. Just last month we shared our repair knowledge with over a million people in 175 different countries. Our internet-scale troubleshooting and repair documentation has made electronics repair accessible to people all over the world. In this new and exciting time, you can leverage your knowledge about hardware to make a difference not just to people next door, but to communities halfway around the world.

Answers is a natural progression from our successful forums. The community will have complete control over the content on Answers, and the system will be collaboratively managed by you, and other people like you. Every question and answer can be voted on by anyone and edited by members of the community.

As we were designing Answers, we had four guiding imperatives:

  1. It’s important that posts get more useful over time. It’s not uncommon for a traditional repair forum response to become the canonical source for an answer to a problem, only to get outdated and stagnant as technology changes.
  2. It’s important that we recognize expertise. It matters if the author of an answer is a professional technician, or has helped 200 people fix their problems.
  3. It’s important to make helping people fun. There’s a rush that comes from helping someone solve a tricky problem, being recognized by people for the research you put into a question before asking it, or testing your hardware diagnosis mettle against others.
  4. And most important, we need to close the feedback loop between the people answering questions and those asking them. Repairing things is uniquely tangible — when you use a solution proposed by someone, you know for a fact whether or not it worked. Finding out that the answer you gave someone actually fixed their problem is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

Sony Contest: 19 New Teardowns

October 28, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Our Sony teardown contest is complete, and we’re ready to announce the winners!

Most Creative Sony Teardown: TR-63 Transistor Radio

Most Creative Sony Teardown: TR-63 Transistor Radio

We received 19 different entries for the contest, featuring all sorts of Sony products:

The Sony Playstation 3 teardown was voted Best Overall. Author karasumachitose wins a PS3 Slim for a thorough walkthrough of how to get inside the PS3!

The Sony TR-63 Transistor Radio teardown was voted Most Creative. Author bac wins a PSP Go! This was our favorite teardown. The photos inside this historic piece of technology are absolutely stellar.

Best Overall Sony Teardown: PlayStation 3

Best Overall Sony Teardown: PlayStation 3

The judges were six members of the Wired editorial staff:

The judges labored for hours trying to pick the best teardowns. We thank them kindly for donating their time and for partnering with us for this contest. We loved the variety of teardowns you contributed. A good portion of them included tidbits on repair or reassembly, giving the world a useful resource, in addition to the pretty pictures. Good job to everyone who participated!

Want to create a teardown of your own? Get started!

27″ iMac Teardown

October 22, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Kyle Wiens
We spared no expense to bring you internal photos of Apple’s latest and greatest. We have in our studio, in pieces, the biggest iMac money can buy:
http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iMac-Intel-27-Inch/1236/1
Lightning-quick teardown slideshow:
XXXX
Highlights:
* The power supply puts out 25.8 amps at 12 volts, for a total output of 310 watts (365W input, 85% efficiency). That’s the biggest power supply we’ve seen in an iMac.
* The GPU and CPU are quite far apart, and they have separate heat sinks leading to opposite sides of the computer. This rather complex feat of thermal engineering allowed Apple to upgrade the iMac to use Intel’s desktop line of processors.
* The lack of Blue-ray support in this iMac is a bag of hurt. Fortunately, this is a drop-in replacement: http://www.panasonic.com/industrial/computer/storage/optical/models/UJ-135A.asp (Of course, until Apple releases software support, you’ll still have to boot into Windows to play movies.)
* There is a Wi-Fi antenna leading into the Apple logo on the rear of the iMac. Aside from the ports, this is the only spot on the rear of the machine that isn’t solid Aluminum. This is quite clever, and while it seems like the obvious place to put it, we’ve never seen Apple do this before.
* This thing is BIG. The desktop processor / GPU need three large fans and two huge heatsinks to dissipate heat.
* The new iMac’s edge-to-edge glass can slide around. After upgrading the RAM in our iMac, we noticed the glass was slightly out of alignment on one side. You can push it back into place by hand.
* There’s no direct line from the external Mini DisplayPort connector to the LCD. The signal will need to go through the logic board, so you’ll need to have your iMac powered on if you want to display from an external video source.
* Our 3.06 GHz E7600 Core 2 Duo processor is a LGA 775 Socket T CPU. There are some Core 2 Quad chips that use the same socket, but we don’t know if they would work. The i5 and i7 quad-cores included in the high-end 27″ iMac use a different socket, LGA 1156 Socket H.
Overall Photo
http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/UZQRO2ARtsvgaDkP.huge
No screen
http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/TLfSqZEZWnTwKylR.huge
Removing logic board
http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/avNjZSRYK3eaWBm4.huge
Logic board w/2 heat sinks
http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/igi/ktLKDUFPyGmyPPQJ.huge
As always, I’m available for questions or interviews. You are welcome to use up to three photos in your story, as well as the video embed.
Cheers,
-Kyle Wiens
iFixit CEO
P.S. Check out this user-submitted Sony transistor radio teardown: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Sony-TR-63-Transistor-Radio/1219/1 Retro cool!

We spared no expense to bring you internal photos of Apple’s latest and greatest. We have completely dissected the biggest iMac money can buy. We also made a super-fast YouTube video slideshow, replete with banjo music, for your enjoyment.

Highlights:

  • The power supply puts out 25.8 amps at 12 volts, for a total output of 310 watts (365W input, 85% efficiency). That’s the biggest power supply we’ve seen in an iMac.
  • The GPU and CPU are quite far apart, and they have separate heat sinks leading to opposite sides of the computer. This rather complex feat of thermal engineering allowed Apple to upgrade the iMac to use Intel’s desktop line of processors.
  • The lack of Blu-ray support in this iMac is a bag of hurt. Fortunately, there is a drop-in replacement. (Of course, until Apple releases software support, you’ll still have to boot into Windows to play movies.)
  • There is a Wi-Fi antenna leading into the Apple logo on the rear of the iMac. Aside from the ports, this is the only spot on the rear of the machine that isn’t solid Aluminum. This is quite a clever design, and while it’s an obvious place to put it, we’ve never seen Apple do this before.

  • This thing is BIG. The desktop processor / GPU need three large fans and two huge heatsinks to dissipate heat.
  • The new iMac’s edge-to-edge glass can slide around. After upgrading the RAM in our iMac, we noticed the glass was slightly out of alignment on one side. You can push it back into place by hand.
  • There’s no direct line from the external Mini DisplayPort connector to the LCD. The signal will need to go through the logic board, so you’ll need to have your iMac powered on if you want to display from an external video source.
  • The 3.06 GHz E7600 Core 2 Duo processor is a LGA 775 Socket T CPU. There are some Core 2 Quad chips that use the same socket, but we don’t know if they would work. The i5 and i7 quad-cores included in the high-end 27″ iMac use a different socket, LGA 1156 Socket H.

Magic Mouse Teardown

October 21, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Kyle Wiens

We took apart the new Magic Mouse. We didn’t find any fairy dust inside, just a lot of capacitive sensors.

We took the opportunity to try a new technique with our photos. Make sure you click the ‘view as slideshow’ link on the teardown, or install CoolIris. (All of our guides are CoolIris enabled so you can see them full-screen.

Highlights:

  • From the Apple logo up, the entire surface of the mouse is covered with capitative touch sensors.
  • The mouse uses a Broadcom BCM2042 Advanced Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Bluetooth Chip.
  • There’s not much Aluminum in the mouse; we weighed just 10 grams. That’s compared to 37 grams of plastic and 47 grams of batteries. Nearly half the mouse’s weight comes from the two AA batteries.
  • We were really expecting it to pop open when we said ‘Open Saskatchewan!’ Alas, the mouse’s magic was too arcane for our humble wizards.

MacBook Unibody Teardown

October 20, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

After three and a half years, the venerable plastic MacBook finally received a makeover — and we took it apart to sneak a peek inside. Apple has added an LED display, upgraded processor speed, added curves, increased battery life, and made things more fun to disassemble by using a combination of Phillips, tri-wing, and Torx screws.

Unfortunately, it’s not all positive news. Apple has also quietly removed the FireWire port, IR port, and the useful external battery indicator.

We also made a YouTube video slideshow of the teardown for everyone to enjoy.

Interesting tidbits from the teardown:

  • The Bluetooth antenna has been relocated to the display assembly. This is likely an attempt to improve the MacBook’s notoriously dismal Bluetooth range. On previous MacBooks the Bluetooth antenna was located above the optical drive.
  • The battery is 60 watt-hours, the same capacity as the 13″ MacBook Pro. The previous plastic MacBooks featured a 55 watt-hour battery and claimed a 5-hour run time. With this machine, Apple has added 5 watt-hours of battery capacity and two hours of claimed run time.
  • The new MacBook’s battery boasts a power-to-weight ratio that’s 23.5% better than its predecessor.
  • Some disassembly is required to replace the battery, which is readily accessible by ordinary users with the right tools.
  • Apple removed the IR port for a remote control. As far as we know, that makes this MacBook the only currently-shipping Apple laptop that doesn’t support a remote.
  • FireWire is gone! If you need FireWire, only a MacBook Pro will do.

The final layout

By the way, there’s still a week left in our Sony Teardown contest. To win, take apart anything made by Sony, take photos, and use our editor to post a teardown.

Two lucky people will win a Sony PS3 Slim and a PSP Go!

Blendtec Total Blender Teardown

October 13, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We partnered with Blendtec to bring you an extra-special teardown today: the complete disassembly of a Blendtec Total Blender! This is the same model that is featured in their famous (infamous?) “Will it Blend?” viral videos. We’re excited to show you exactly what makes the Blendtec blend, so we made a video of the result as well!

Teardown highlights:

* The shaft is made entirely of metal. Other blenders use plastic shafts as a safety mechanism. If the blade gets stuck, the blade/motor connection will sever, as the plastic will either break or melt. The Blendtec blender relies on electronics instead. Should things get out of hand, a sensor will shut off the motor.

* The speed sensor uses inductive pickup to tell the control circuitry how fast the shaft is spinning. This is the same mechanism used by an electric guitar to pick up string vibrations.

* Blendtec informed us that the Total Blender includes what they call a “hammer-fire” system. The main microprocessor will trigger this system if it detects that the blade stopped spinning. The processor will send a series of strong electric pulses to the motor to free the blades from the obstruction. If that fails, it will shut off the motor to prevent any damage.

* We did not reassemble the blender to see if worked. 13 Amps, spinning at 28,000 RPM (that’s a 270 MPH blade tip speed) on a slightly-unbalanced shaft just strikes us as a bad idea!

Win a PS3 Slim or PSP Go!

October 9, 2009 Events, Hardware, Site News — Kyle Wiens

Last week, Sony clearly indicated that they’re not the biggest fan of our teardowns. That didn’t stop us, of course, and our new PSP Go teardown is currently online, revealing the innards in detail. The process got me wondering what is inside other Sony gadgets. Growing up I took apart just about everything I could get my hands on, and I know I’m not unique. If you’re reading this, you’re probably curious about gadget innards, too.

PSP Go Teardown

PSP Go Teardown

So we’re hosting a contest, judged by five notoriously picky staffers at Wired! We want you to take apart a Sony device — you can disassemble anything you like, as long as it’s got a Sony logo. Take pictures of the process and post them online.

What’s in it for you?

We’ve got a couple extra Sony gizmos around here. We’re giving away a PSP Go and a PS3 Slim! Yes, the PSP Go is the same one we took apart last week, so the warranty probably isn’t good anymore — but we promise, we only took it apart only once! Our teardown artists will even autograph it for you, if you’d like.

What are the rules?

  1. Take apart a Sony product.
  2. Post photos of the process, and your impressions of the device, online using our teardown editor.
  3. The teardowns will be judged by five notoriously picky staffers over at Wired.
  4. Contest ends October 23rd, 11:59 P.M. PDT so don’t delay!

What are the prizes?

  • Most creative teardown: PSP Go (and an iFixit t-shirt in your size!).
  • Best overall teardown: PS3 Slim (and an iFixit t-shirt in your size!).

Why are we doing this?

Sony, like many companies, would prefer that you leave your hardware just the way they sell it to you: assembled.

Clearly, we disagree with that. In fact, we’ve spent the last several years taking apart every gadget that came our way, showing off their innards for the world to see. We’ve written over one thousand repair manuals for Apple products, and made them available to the world for free. Just because Apple isn’t interested in making repair accessible doesn’t mean that we can’t do it for them. And we have. Hundreds of thousands of people have fixed their Macs, iPods, and iPhones using our repair manuals. But we just don’t have the resources to take apart every single device, and we want to involve the repair community as much as possible.

Why is this important? The electronics that we stop using eventually end up in landfills, often in third world countries. This July I traveled to Africa to find out exactly where electronics go after they die. The picture isn’t pretty — they’re crudely melted down by children working in scrapyards, mining copper and gold from electronics.

I was struck by a sense of inevitability when I took the above photo. All three of these devices no longer exist; shortly after I took the photo they were disassembled. Their plastic casings were used as fuel to burn the plastic insulation off the copper internals. The rate at which we abandon technology is shocking. We no longer have any use for this NEC cassette player, Phillips CD reader, or Sony DVCD machine.

We need your help. Let’s send Sony a message that their products are repairable by ordinary people like us, and that we are interested in using our gadgets for longer than the prescribed 18 month product cycle. What can you do? Easy — just take apart something made by Sony.

We want to get as many teardowns of Sony products on our site as possible in the next two weeks. Everyone’s got an old Walkman or Sony DVD player laying around. Take it apart and show us what’s inside!

Super-fine print: Void where prohibited, no purchase necessary, you’ve gotta be 18 or older, prize is not redeemable for cash, iFixit employees aren’t eligible, and we’re going to give the prize to the first velociraptor to write a teardown. So act quickly, or the velociraptors win. (Don’t be too concerned — it’s hard to hold a screwdriver with claws and no thumbs.)

Nikon Coolpix S1000pj Teardown

October 6, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We were quite intrigued when we heard of the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj digital camera/projector. We wondered how Nikon packaged everything into this little device, so we decided to do what we do best — tear it apart and analyze it!

We also made a video of the teardown. Feel free to to check it out on YouTube!

Interesting stuff we found:

  • A room has to be quite dark to view the projector’s image properly. We expected as much given the size of the projector, but the image quality is mediocre at best. Anything that’s projected looks like it was shot in the ’70s.
  • Surprisingly, both the front and rear outer cases are machined out of aluminum. It’s quite a solid camera.
  • Like most compact digital cameras with no externally telescopic lenses, the S1000pj’s internal zoom lenses move perpendicular to the front face.
  • Light has to travel through at least four glass lenses until it shines on the CCD sensor. What a journey!
  • Disassembling this camera is not for the faint of heart — Nikon definitely did not intend this device to be user serviceable. We had to de-solder a bunch of components including the camera cover actuator, projector LED, and flash bulb.
  • Light for projecting images is supplied by a very powerful LED that even has its own heat sink to conduct heat to the aluminum front panel.
Final layout

Final layout

If you have any questions, please leave us a comment on the teardown!

PSP Go in bits and pieces

October 1, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Opening the PSP Go

Opening the PSP Go

The new PSP Go was just released today, but we’ve already torn it apart to see what’s inside.

Here are some highlights from the teardown:

  • The battery is user replaceable! All that stands between you is seven screws and the careful peeling of the Warranty Void sticker. You don’t even need a soldering iron — the battery has its own connector to the logic board.
  • The Warranty Void sticker will only rear its ugly face (show a “VOID VOID” message) if it’s peeled back more than necessary. Just slide an iPod opening tool between battery and sticker and work gently side-to-side until the battery is free from the sticker.
  • Unfortunately, Sony still uses only an 802.11b chip for wireless internet connectivity. This perhaps did not matter as much in the past. Now that there’s no UMD slot, people will have to rely on an outdated Wi-Fi chip to get content onto the PSP Go.
  • The majority of chips are covered by EMI (electromagnetic interference) shields. We had to remove a total of five shields to access the chips (thankfully, they were not soldered onto the board). By comparison, the 3rd Generation iPod touch has only one EMI shield.
PSP Go logic board

PSP Go logic board

Final layout

Final layout

Microsoft Zune HD Teardown

September 15, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — luke
Following up on our slew of iPod teardowns last week, we’ve just finished taking apart the new kid on the block: the Zune HD. Microsoft has taken a long time to get to market with this device, and the hardware shows it. It’s lighter than the iPod touch, smaller in two dimensions (skinnier and shorter, but 0.4 mm thicker), claims better battery life with a smaller battery, and beat Apple to market with an OLED screen.
Highlights:
* The Zune has a Samsung-manufactured 3.3 inch OLED display. This part is likely the most expensive item on the Zune’s bill of materials, and contributes to the improved battery life.
* The OLED screen is incredibly thin (1 mm) and seems more rugged than a traditional LCD panel.
* We can confirm that the Zune HD does NOT have 802.11n support. Instead, it’s got a super efficient Atheros AR6002GZ 802.11g chip: http://www.atheros.com/pt/bulletins/AR6002Bulletin.pdf
* The Zune has an Nvidia Tegra 2600 processor, supporting OpenGL ES 2.0 and programmable pixel shaders. In a stark contrast to Apple’s relationship with Samsung, NVidia’s product page (http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_tegra_apx_us.html) actually has a link to buy the Zune HD.
* The battery capacity is 660 mAh. That’s about 16% less than the 789 mAh battery in the new iPod touch. However, Microsoft promises a longer run time than the touch for both music and videos. They may have pulled it off– Microsoft certainly had a lot of motivation to push for super low-power hardware solutions in this device.
* Toshiba supplied the NAND flash in our unit, and Hynix provided the SDRAM. However, we’ve had reports that Microsoft is using a few different suppliers for these parts.

Following up on our slew of iPod teardowns last week, we’ve just finished taking apart the new kid on the block: the Zune HD. Microsoft has taken a long time to get to market with this device, and the hardware shows it. It’s lighter than the iPod touch, smaller in two dimensions (skinnier and shorter, but 0.4 mm thicker), claims better battery life with a smaller battery, and beat Apple to market with an OLED screen.

The Zune HD in 9 easy-to-assembly pieces

The Zune HD in 9 easy-to-assembly pieces

Highlights:

  • The Zune has a Samsung-manufactured 3.3 inch OLED display. This part is likely the most expensive item on the Zune’s bill of materials, and contributes to the improved battery life.
  • The OLED screen is incredibly thin (1 mm) and seems more rugged than a traditional LCD panel.
  • We can confirm that the Zune HD does NOT have 802.11n support. Instead, it’s got a super efficient Atheros AR6002GZ 802.11g chip.
  • The Zune has an Nvidia Tegra 2600 processor, supporting OpenGL ES 2.0 and programmable pixel shaders. In a stark contrast to Apple’s relationship with Samsung, NVidia’s product page actually has a link to buy the Zune HD.
  • The battery capacity is 660 mAh. That’s about 16% less than the 789 mAh battery in the new iPod touch. However, Microsoft promises a longer run time than the touch for both music and videos. They may have pulled it off– Microsoft certainly had a lot of motivation to push for super low-power hardware solutions in this device.
  • Toshiba supplied the NAND flash in our unit, and Hynix provided the SDRAM. However, we’ve had reports that Microsoft is using a few different suppliers for these parts.