Volunteering with the Gadget Garage for our Community Collaboration project was a great experience. The project itself was to be a Repair Workshop which we planned, promoted, and participated in, but the project quickly grew to encompass far more than just the workshop.
This website is designed to showcase what we were able to do with our community partner with some time, collaborative energy, and elbow grease.
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Prepping the Space
Connect with the Garage
What is the Illini Gadget Garage?
The Illini Gadget Garage is a collaborative electronics repair center located in Research Park on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Its main goals are to empower individuals to fix their own electronics, no matter what the tech’s size, age, or type is, break the "cult of the expert," and start conversations with the community about sustainability and technocentricity.
The Gadget Garage encourages patrons to come in with electronics they do not wish to part with, or even if they just wish to tinker. Making things last or repurposing technology is better, in the Illini Gadget Garage’s opinion, than buying new, throwing away, or even recycling, since high amounts of energy and resources are put into all of these processes.
Illini Gadget Garage
1833 S Oak St,
Champaign, IL 61820
Research Park: The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Workshop Promotional Blurb for Gadget Garage Website
With a fresh coat of paint on the walls, the Illini Gadget Garage will be hosting an Open House workshop on Saturday, November 12, 2016 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Gadget Garage in Research Park. This will be a public introduction of the space, where we’ll learn some tips and tricks on how to speed up your tech, watch videos of tech tear-downs, and observe live tear-downs of individuals who will be walking through repairs of their own tech. If you have a broken device you would like to work on for the Open House, fill out our Google diagnostic form to save yourself a spot. We only have 10 slots available, and they'll go quickly. If you don't want to work on your device at the Open House, feel free to stop by and chat with our volunteers and consider bringing in your own broken tech at a later date where we can set up one-on-one appointments.
If you’re tech is a bit beyond repair, we encourage you to visit the Illini Gadget Garage pop up that will be at America Recycles Day on November 19, 2016 from 11:00am to 3:00pm. We are collaborating with U-Cycle and the Urbana Park District to promote the sustainability of electronic as well as their safe and would encourage you to stop by to explore re-purposed creations by local artists, enjoy games, and participate in recycled electronics craft projects.
Teardown Video & Workshop Research
Teardown Video and Workshop Research
The Garage was in rough shape when we first arrived as we worked on converting it from a Natural History storage building to a welcoming space for collaborative repair. The walls were scrubbed clean from years of dust and gunk, and the space was also patched, sanded, taped, and repainted.
Promotional Open House Flyer
Promotional Open House Bookmarks
At the first workshop, I worked on looking up a problem for someone’s MacBook Pro 7 keyboard. It was frozen but her mouse was still active. I found multiple different ways the patron could fix the problem including restarting her computer or going into the settings on her computer to make sure that key-reactions were set to 'normal' instead of 'click five times'. The most helpful, however, looked to be a combination of two seperate discussions. The patron would have to follow two certain links in order to restart her PRAM and NVRAM. You can find these answers quite easily by searching ‘MacBook Pro 7, frozen keyboard, working mouse’ or similar vocabulary in Google. Unfortunately, I never witnessed how these fixes worked out for the patron as she never came in for the fix-it-session during the November 12th workshop. However, Madeleine Hall felt confident these links that I left up for her would work, saying she thought this might be the problem as well.
A prospective Gadget Garage patron notified us that their 2013 MacBook Pro 13" laptop was having problems charging. Many times when there are charging issues, a good cleaning - wiping out the accumulated dust in the charging port - can get it back to working order. Some further research into the problem suggested resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) by first shutting down the Mac, then pressing Shift+Control+Option+Power at the same time. After releasing the keys and restarting the machine, many users find their charging problems to be repaired. There are a variety of references to be found online some of the ones which I utilized were Apple Support pages, iFixit Repair Guides and Answers Forums, YouTube, and a few other sources to try and make the most accurate assessment for the machine based on the problem as it was described by the patron.
For the first workshop on November 12, I was assigned two listed problems to fix for people who were going to stop by with their technology. The first was a Lenovo computer that had black bars on the screen when booted up. I was told by our liaison that it would be best to search for the warranty information. There was no other information provided on what kind of Lenovo it was, so I brought up the webpage with all the various warranties in preparation for whichever model it was. I also did some searching on the aforementioned display issues, though the lack of information on the model was again a hindrance. My second assignment was a Mac Mini computer that shut off when booted up. I researched the problem, but the lack of specificity here was, again, an issue. I found some useful links and forums that provided several solutions. But, neither patron came to have their computers properly examined and troubleshot. For both, a Google search was able to bring up possible solutions to the problems described, but context would have made for more efficient searches.