This is a place where those of us in the Restart community with experience and skills in mending appliances and gadgets can share them with those who are starting out, or whose own knowledge lies in different areas.
What it isn't
It isn't going to show you how to fix a particular make and model of device, which we leave to the various fix-it sites and many disassembly videos. Here, we concentrate on basic and widely applicable principles. You can also get help with a particular device on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @RestartProject.
Who is it for
It's aimed at anyone with a curiosity about how things work and how to fix them. No prior knowledge is assumed. In the spirit of sharing knowledge as widely as possible, everyone is welcome to read it. To contribute, just become a volunteer Restarter in your community and contact us.
Like any wiki, this one is work-in-progress. Pages referenced below in red don't yet exist but are projected.
To find out more about the work we do, and our vision of changing the world's relationship with electronics, please visit us at The Restart Project homepage.
- Scared to Repair? Some useful tips for complete beginners.
- How to search - Tips on how to search for useful material.
- Resources - Good sites for fixit or disassemble guides, service manuals etc.
- Diagnosing faults - Common processes for troubleshooting.
- Case Studies - Our favourite Famous Fixes in which we learned something new, or which nicely demonstrated a diagnostic or fixing principle.
- Finding a reliable professional - best practices and some London examples.
Glossary of Terms
- Glossary - explanations of all the technical terms used in this wiki (and some more).
Repairing with others
Techniques, Skills and Tools
Some really basic skills
- Water damage - the best (and worst) ways to rescue your gadget.
- How to wire a mains plug - this step by step guide shows you simply and with pictures.
- How to drive screws like a pro - Using a screwdriver is easy but using it properly may not be obvious.
- Types of screw head and screwdriver - Recognise even the more unusual types of screw so you can use the right screwdriver.
- Rescuing Damaged Screws - What to do if the screw head is damaged.
- How to use a multimeter - the most useful addition to your toolbox after screwdrivers etc.
- Magnifiers and Inspection Aids - You can't fix what you can't see. How to see better.
- A Guide to Soldering from Kitronic is a complete guide to the art, including video demonstrations.
- How to solder is a more light-hearted and amusing but nevertheless informative resource from Technology Will Save Us. (You don't need an expensive soldering iron though - it just makes it a little bit easier.)
- Surface mount soldering - What you can do and how to do it by supplementing the tools you probably already have with a few inexpensive extras.
- Connectors - Various different types you will meet, and how to disconnect and reconnect them.
- Connecting and joining wires - different methods for different situations.
- Sticky Stuff - How to stick things back together when they break.
Understanding how stuff works (or doesn't)
A Restarters' Training Session makes an easy introduction to the following sections down to and including Electronic Components. It consists of a presentation with audio commentary, lasting around 50 minutes.
- Electric circuits, volts amps watts and ohms - what every Restarter should know.
- AC and DC - what's the deal?
- Electronic components - recognition, failure modes and testing:
- Basic electronic components - Resistors, capacitors, inductors and transformers, and quartz crystals.
- Active components - Diodes and rectifiers, transistors, and integrated circuits (ICs).
- Passive components - Switches, push-buttons and connectors.
- Protection components - Various devices for over-voltage and over-current protection. Fuses are only the beginning!
- Batteries - different types, shapes and sizes, what they're good for, how to buy them, use them and dispose of them.
- Light bulbs - the several different types and their various shapes, sizes and bases, all explained.
- Electric motors - different types, how to recognise them, test them and maybe fix them.
- Power supplies - how they work, what can go wrong, and how to test and fix them.
- How radios work - basic theory to help you understand what might be wrong when you can't see it with your own eyes.
- All about SSDs - everything you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.
Learn About Electronics is an excellent site if you'd like a different view of the basics, or if you'd like to go deeper.
Computers and home office
- How to deal with a slow laptop - mainly focussed on Windows.
- Using a lightweight browser to extend the life of a device mainly used for web and email
- Windows miscellaneous.
- Be Your Own Security Expert - helping people stay secure.
- How to speed up a slow OS X computer.
- Apple miscellaneous including OS X and Macs.
- Linux migration - Choosing a distro, and throwing Windows out of computers.
- CD/USB bootable tools - many of them applicable whatever your operating system.
- Disk Wipe Utilities - How to securely erase all sensitive data from an old computer, and why you should never skip doing so.
- UEFI and GPT - Making sense of UEFI, which supercedes the BIOS in all computers since around 2011, and the GPT disk structure which goes with it.
- Yes, you can fix your laptop!
- Laptop power problems.
- Clean up! Cool down! - dealing with dust build-up and overheating in laptop and desktop computers.
- Advanced hard disk tools - and the simpler ones too. Where to turn when the data is in danger.
- SSD Migration and Troubleshooting - Solid State Disks: everything you might need to know.
Smartphones and tablets (except Apple)
- Tablets and smartphones - common problems - just a skeleton page for now. Can you help by fleshing it out?
- Android Tips and Tricks.
- Installing a Custom ROM may enable you to extend the useful life of your phone or tablet.
iPods, iPhones, iPads
- Summary of iPhone, iPad, iPod and tablet repairs.
- How to mend Headphones.
- Quadcopters and drones - just a skeleton page for now. Can you help by fleshing it out?
Household and Kitchen items
- Carbon-based gadgets - all you need to know. (Just for fun!)
- Clocks - Plenty about the theory, but can you contribute any experience of fixing them?
- Digital weighing scales - how they work and what might go wrong.
- Fans and fan heaters - just a skeleton page for now. Can you help by fleshing it out?
- Garden power tools - just a skeleton page for now. Can you help by fleshing it out?
- Grooming products - just a skeleton page for now. Can you help by fleshing it out?
- Kettles and Electric Urns - how they work and the possibilities for fixing.
- Microwave Ovens (This page contains IMPORTANT SAFETY WARNINGS.)
- Mixers, blenders and coffee grinders.
- Paper shredders - how they work, and the mechanical and electrical problems they can suffer from.
- Sewing machines demystified. Trouble-shooting, care and maintenance.
- Steam Irons.
- Table lamps, desk lamps and floor-standing lamps.
- Vacuum cleaners.
In addition to the pages marked above in red as "skeleton pages" we have identified the following subjects that we'd like to cover.
Could contribute your knowledge and experience, even if it's only notes that someone else can refine and turn into a properly organised and formatted page? (Skeleton pages have an associated "Discussion" page where you can add any half-baked thoughts and ideas.)
- Alternatives to iOS for older Apple devices.
- What to do about water damage.
(You can add to this list if you like!)