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Restart Radio: Materials we use to hack and fix

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In this week’s episode, Isabel Lopez and Dave Lukes talk about the materials we use to hack and fix. We will discuss the most basic tools and materials we can use for these tasks, from the usual tapes and glues to more sophisticated techniques and materials.

First we discuss some news. Jessa Jones, a popular repairer based in the US, has had 24 aftermarket iPhone screens seized at US Customs. US Customs and Apple have justified this seizure by labelling it as ‘counterfeit’. They have called attention to the Apple logo in these screens – a very tiny logo inside them which is not visible to consumers. Now, is refurbishing the same as counterfeiting?

The overarching question here is: why are these repairers getting spare parts from third parties or the ‘grey market’? We talk about the Right to Repair movement, in which Jessa Jones is particularly active. As she insists, she would rather buy spare parts directly from Apple, but this is not a possibility. Car manufacturers are obliged to make spare parts available – and at reasonable cost – to car repairers, why is this not the case with our electronic devices?

Next, we talk about stuff we use to repair. We start with screwdrivers, which are one of the most basic tools to carry around. We mention issues with opening up our devices, such as Apple’s pentalobe screws, or the change in design of our laptops and phones that makes it way harder to take out and replace their batteries.

Then, we talk about ‘sticky’ materials. Dave tells us about the use of tapes, (super)glues, or more fancy materials such as Sugru, a very mouldable silicone-based material which can be used for multiple hacks and fixes; or the bioplastic Formcard, which can be easily carried out in our wallet and, once heated up, can be moulded into any shape and then reheated for reuse.

We then shift to more complex techniques, such as soldering. Soldering is used to join two pieces of metal together by melting a tin wire (or ‘solder’). Soldering irons heat up the solder up to 200 degrees so it becomes liquid. We talk about alternatives to this technique, such as cold soldering or crimped copper tubing. Dave also discusses some incidents – great narratives that even made our Resonance 104.4 FM engineer laugh – and important health and safety procedures.

Finally, we give some advice to those of you who want to get started fixing things. Beyond the joy of getting things working again, at Restart we want devices to keep working for longer to reduce the environmental impact of electronic waste.

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[Featured image by Sugru]

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