Do you get fed up with today’s “the bonnet is welded shut” mentality to consumer electronics? I do.
Part of the issue, is that the drive for compactness is making the designs optimised for size rather than maintenance – so you get circuit boards shaped and interleaved around larger components, small ribbon connectors and carefully routed cables and so on. You also find that you need to know the exact order in which to unscrew things and pop them apart, and then work out if something is fixed by a clip, glue, screw or something else.
But it doesn’t need to be as hard as it is. There is also an annoying trend for hidden screws (often behind rubber feet or blanking panels that pop or stick on/off), speciality screws and one-way plastic fixings which makes the whole thing a lot more complicated than it needs to be.
But there is some hope. The excellent site ifixit.com has a massive range of guides for many popular consumer electronic devices. It is practically the haynes manual for electronics. Haynes themselves do have some computer related manuals, and a wide range of novelty manuals (sold ‘for kids’ – but they don’t say how big or small the kids have to be) – including Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, the Millenium Falcon, Thunderbirds and a few others.
But the nice thing about the ifixit.com website is the community around it – you can see comments from fellow fixers and see how many people have rated and attempted the fix. It also lists the tools you need, and if you don’t have any you can help support the site by buying tools through them. You can also buy spare parts.
So, with a slight twist of irony, whilst my car is wide open to home mechanics, I’ve long since got fed up with getting my hands dirty, and seeing what look like simple steps in a haynes manual, which are performed on prestine, clean, non-rusted-up parts, turn into hours of frustration and finding out I’ve not got the right replacement washer or something. So today, I rely on a local, small garage round the corner and pay for their expertise and collection of tools and parts.
However with consumer electronics, I have most of the tools, already have the ‘well if its broken anyway I have nothing to lose’ mentality and enough of a background in basic electronics and computers to challenge the consumer electronics industry attempts at stopping me having a go. And the parts are rarely rusted shut or covered in oil (the odd exception being something whose last moments might have been spent left in a rainy sandpit! That tends to be fairly terminal). With a little dust to clear here and there and some basic static precautions I’m quite ready to have a go. In fact the most risky part is keeping the kids away from the carefully laid out screws and fittings as the thing comes apart – especially if something has to be taken apart and then left until a new part is sourced and delivered from some speciality online store or ebay.
And so, courtesy of a new drive from ebay. a tri-wing screwdriver, a range of small phillips screwdrivers, the ifixit.com guide for replacing the drive on a Wii, and some peace and quiet from the kids, we have a functioning Wii again and can now try out some of the new games the kids got for Christmas.
It’s not as hard as you might think but naturally you will void warrenties and everything is done at your own risk – but as I said, if its broken, you can either pay for repair (cash for someone else’s time), just buy a new one (what a waste) or at least see how complicated it will be to have a go yourself.
Like a great many this christmas, we succumbed and bought a Wii. Its great, but why, oh why, did Nintendo assume that your Wii will sit next to your display? Yes, I’m talking about the Wiimote sensor bar.
We like to use a projector, which is just made for Wii gaming – large screen, cheap price, large movement area in front, etc, but with a projector, all the AV equipment is at the back end, away from the screen. At the moment, we have several long AV extension leads to let the Wii sit under the screen, just so that it can plug into the sensor bar (unfortunately, this also means that the Wii is rather exposed … not what you want when you are taking part in games with lots of physical movement).
You can get Wii sensor bar extension cables, but they don’t seem to extend it very much, and why did Nintendo put a daft proprietory connector on it, when almost any connector would do, making it hard to make-your-own-cable.
Oh well. Maybe doing the DIY option could be a possibility.
Will have to see what I can do, before I rearrange all our other equipment just to accomodate the Wii …