Pop Ups!

Are you interested in learning about how to become a more empowered consumer and are you interested in technology? Would you like to learn tinkering skills that will serve you well throughout life?  If so, the Illini Gadget Garage is looking to mobilize its services and can come directly to you. Host a pop-up clinic–we can tailor our demonstrations and assistance to the needs of your organization.  At a pop-up clinic we can troubleshoot cell phone repair, laptop teardowns, solve software issues, or demonstrate how to solve a wide array of other issues. There is no need to worry about having the right tools or equipment, we are well stocked and all you need to do is show up.

In addition, we are open to helping all groups of people and you need not feel like you have to have prior experience with sustainability related topics. For example, on March 14th we set up a pop-up during Teenspace, an after school program for local middle and high school students. Our interactions with the adolescents helped foster a fun learning experience. Students not only worked with tools, but also learned about the accessibility of technology and the right to repair. Some students even stated that the experience made them, “want to work with technology one day.” There are many people around campus who have yet to decide on a career path and as technology is an emergent field, someone may find that they are naturally inclined towards it.

Our pop-up clinic service is free for on-campus entities thanks to funding from the Student Sustainability Committee.

Fill out the “Host a Pop-Up Clinic” online form to indicate your interest and to provide some basic information about your situation. We’ll be in touch for scheduling!

Tinkering Teens

This past Tuesday, two staff members had the pleasure of going to the Champaign Public Library and setting up a fun Pop-Up during Teenspace, an after-school programming for middle and high schoolers.  The intention behind this Pop-Up was to show local teens how fun tinkering is, and in turn, how easy it is to repair your own tech with the right tools and resources.  With the intention of disassembling and putting them back together with the teens, we brought in two Dell Venue 8 tablets, one iPad, one MacBook Pro, and one Windows Surface.  We had our usual Pop-Up kit in-tow, including our iFixIt Toolkits, Magnetic Project Mats, and some guitar picks.  When the kids came in, we paired two or three teens with one device.  Using tear-down guides from iFixIt.com, they gradually took apart and put together the devices.

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Unscrewing the motherboard off a Dell Venue 8.

Most of the teens were ecstatic about “breaking apart” the devices, but were hesitant on what tools to use.  There were a few who let us know how easy it would be to simply stab the pieces out of the device, or that they would be willing to jump on the device in order to bypass the tricky opening.

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Working on a Dell Venue 8.

The best part about the event was seeing the teens realize that opening up an intimidating device was not only easy, but a lot of fun!  They dismantled the devices collaboratively, some unscrewing, while the others told them where and why they should unscrew.  Others applied circuitry basics learned at school in identifying parts and let their knowledge guide them in disassembly.

Teens working on an iPad.
Teens working on an iPad.

The teens were utilizing the tear-down guides, but all of the tinkering was led, and done, by them.  The IGG staff stepped in when they needed help with stripped screws or especially frustrating ribbons, but the majority of work was youth-led.  While the teens worked, they asked two main questions, “Why is this so hard to open?” and “Why can’t I just use one bit to get all the screws out?”  These questions started conversations that focused on usability and accessibility of technology and hardware, their right to repair, and the lifespan of technology.  We talked about patented screws (check out our blog post on the history of Right to Repair), what happens when phones or other personal devices get recycled or thrown away, and how they can help the environment by fixing their devices instead of getting new ones or upgrading.  The teens were pushing their boundaries on how they interpreted and reacted to technology, and analyzed how they used their devices and what happened to their devices when they were done with them.  This was all due to simply opening and exploring the components of devices.  It’s pretty amazing what individuals discover, and what questions are asked, once they get involved with how their device works.

Interested in opening up your own devices? Want to tear down the devices that the teens worked on? Or looking to host a similar Pop-Up with your organization?

We want to hear from you! Send us an email or follow us on Facebook to connect with our staff!

Tech Tuesdays!

So you have some faulty technology, but you have class or another commitment during our open hours, we understand and that is why we are hosting “Tech Tuesdays” at the UGL. Every Tuesday, from 6-9 PM, we will have one of our associates in the media commons. Feel free to bring your damaged device or discuss the issues that you may be having. If we can’t help you on the spot, we can at least advise you on the best course of action and you may find it worthwhile to bring your defective item to our Research Park location. Furthermore, this is a good opportunity to discuss volunteering options, for any of you that may be interested. Additionally, we are looking to add “pop ups” at other locations. If your organization is interested in having us, just fill out the following form, https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1xp8I4lK_CWeW8cM2PwqKkBhExyq0mvxkzJc_WtmvVDI/edit.  Don’t strain your budget or fill a landfill with harmful electronic waste, instead check us out on a “Tech Tuesday” and see what we have to offer!

Sustainability Celebration Repair Demos Needed

As mentioned in a previous post, the Illini Gadget Garage will have an information table at the upcoming Campus Sustainability Celebration, Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Alice Campbell Alumni Center Ballroom here on the UIUC campus, from 4 to 6 p.m. See the Facebook event for the celebration on the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment (iSEE) Facebook page.

Besides being present to explain more about the project, we’re hoping to be able to sit down with a few folks during the event for “do-it-together” troubleshooting and repair so that celebration attendees can get a feel for how our process works.

So if you’re a student, faculty or staff member with plans to attend the celebration, you have a small electronic device or appliance that needs some repair or troubleshooting, and you don’t mind others observing work that’s done on your item, contact us at illinigadgetgarage@gmail.com to inquire about being part of a demonstration that day. We can only work with a couple of people on demonstration projects during the limited time of the event, and there are some space and other restrictions to consider, so email and provide some basic information on the device and issue you’re having. If we can’t accommodate you during the sustainability celebration, we’ll work with you to set up an alternative time for you to come into our physical location to work on your device.

campus sustainabiity celebration logo

Fall 2016 Hours, Upcoming Events

The renovations to make our physical location, INHS Storage Building 3 (SB3), are completed, and while we’re still in the process of rearranging and sprucing up the interior, we do have fall open hours scheduled. We’ll be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 AM to 1 PM and Wednesdays from noon until 3PM. Please note there will be no open hours during the week of Oct. 3rd. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Pardon our dust while we slowly work to make the interior of the building more inviting! Note that there are some metered parking spaces in the graveled lot adjacent to the building, and an accessible parking space on the building’s east side. You can access the graveled lot/yellow pole barn area either from Oak Street, Hazelwood drive, or from Griffith Drive. If you take the bus to the corner of Oak and Hazelwood, follow the sidewalk leading west from Oak Street; this will join to a sidewalk that leads straight back to SB3. Our lovely new signs will be up on the north and south sides of the building soon to help you locate us. When all else fails, just look for the pole barn with the large antenna attached!

We’ll also continue to host pop-up clinics at various locations around campus. We’re planning have a table at the upcoming Campus Sustainability Celebration (Oct. 26) at Alice Campbell Alumni Center from 4-6PM as well as at the Urbana America Recycles Day Celebration on Nov. 19 from 11 AM to 3 PM at Anita Purves Nature Center. We’re working on having sign-up available for pop-ups at these events–check this site, our calendar, and social media for details in the near future on these special events, and for other pop-ups.

While our project team is exploring business considerations, including membership fees, to make this effort financially self-sustaining after our seed funding from SSC is spent, for now all services remain free for UI students, faculty and staff. The America Recycles Day celebration pop-up will also be free and available to the broader community. We want to spread the word about this project and get people comfortable with the idea of repair and considering the impacts of the products they own and our “throwaway” culture. If/when any fees become part of our operations, we’ll post that information on this page then. Until then let’s celebrate the opening of our physical space and product stewardship with free assistance!

If you’d like to make a donation to the SEI Various Donors fund to support the continued efforts of the Illini Gadget Garage in the future, see http://www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu/SEIdonation.html. Be sure to note “Illini Gadget Garage” in the “Comments or Other Instructions” field on the form. Thank you!

Illini Gadget Garage Closing Physical Location for Renovations, Hosting Pop-Up Clinics

This post originally appeared on the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) Blog.

The Illini Gadget Garage, a collaborative repair center for student and staff owned electronic devices, will be closing its physical location (INHS Storage Building 3) for the summer on Monday, July 11, to allow for renovations associated with making the site compliant with ADA requirements. Renovations should be complete prior to the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester, and there will be a grand opening of the site at that time. Be sure to check the new Illini Gadget Garage web site, as well as its Twitter and Facebook accounts for details of the grand opening later in the summer.

We appreciate the ‘test pilots” who have come in this summer to work with us on their devices! To continue to serve the campus community during the renovation process, we will host pop-up clinics at various locations until the physical location is open for the public. Pop-up clinics will continue, even after the physical location is open, to make it more convenient for the campus community to practice sustainability through electronic product stewardship.

Two pop-up clinics are scheduled at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC; 1 Hazelwood Drive in Champaign), in the Stephen J. Warner Conference room:

  • Monday, July 11, from noon to 5 pm
  • Monday, July 18, from noon to 5 pm (Note: a Sustainable Electronics Campus Consortium meeting will occur in the conference room from 1:30-2:30 PM; feel free to come early or stay after the meeting to work on your devices!)

If you plan to come to either of these clinics, we suggest you fill out our online diagnostic form ahead of time. This will allow volunteers to do some preliminary research on the problem you’re facing, and make use of your one-on-one time more efficient.

If your department, residence hall, or student organization would like to host a pop-up repair clinic, please fill out the “Host a Pop-Up Clinic” form to express your interest. We’ll be in touch to work out the details.

Students, faculty, and staff with any degree of technical skill–including none whatsoever–are invited to sign up as Illini Gadget Garage volunteers. We want to empower everyone to feel comfortable with the idea of troubleshooting and repairing the electronics they own, to keep them in service longer and thus, out of the waste stream. Even if you’ve never fixed anything before, you can be part of our process of coming together to solve problems. We also could use help with marketing, social media, arranging pop-up clinics, developing educational programs, and other tasks, so if this project intrigues you, come be part of it! Stop by one of the pop-up clinics, or fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch.