Take Back Your Gadgets! 6 Reasons to Love DIY

CC BY 2.0. etharooni

etharooni/CC BY 2.0

During July, we've put a special spotlight on the DIY ethic and how it plays out in the sphere of technology. From questions about repairability and empowerment, to diving head first into projects, we wanted to zero in on the importance of DIY in electronics and what it means for people, business, community and the environment. Here's your chance to catch up on everything we covered.

Long Reads

1. The DIY Ethic and Modern Technology: Why taking ownership of your electronics is essential "This small but intriguing trend toward getting comfortable with working on electronics is an important one not only for our self-confidence and joy, but for the planet as a whole. Relying on ourselves to come up with gadgets we need and want to use in daily life, fixing the devices that break, and knowing how and when to repurpose components to make something new are all part of relieving ourselves from the pressures and costs of consumerism. We are avoiding the environmental footprint of constant upgrades and piles of outdated devices, we're participating in the recycling stream by finding value in and reusing old parts, and we're contributing to the creativity of our future world."

2. How The DIY Electronics Trend Is Empowering People, Communities, Businesses
"When it comes to our electronic devices, why would we not demand easy-to-open cases, replaceable batteries and components, screws instead of glues, easily accessible documents and drivers, and so on? Without these things, ownership of a device you've bought and paid for is actually still quite questionable. If you can't -- no, if you are actively discouraged -- to open up and tinker with devices then you don't own it, you're just renting. In a culture that adores ownership, why do so few people care about truly taking ownership of items?"

3. How DIY Electronics Benefit The Environment
"A DIY attitude toward gadgets includes using old parts for new purposes, even to the point of disassembling old parts to use just small components of them for new projects. This kind of focus on reuse -- on knowing how to reuse -- is an important way of minimizing the footprint of electronic devices."

4. 10 Coolest DIY Technology Resources from Tools to Tutorials
"Our gadgets seem to get more refined and complex as technology advances, and yet every day, it gets just a little bit easier to bring the DIY ethic to electronics thanks to some phenomenal resources. While there are many tools, locations, people, online resources and tutorials to help you, we've chosen ten of our favorites. Check out these great devices, websites, events and locations that will help you dive in to hack, modify, repair and rebuild your devices."

5. The DIY Ethic and Creating Technology Independence
"DIY is not just for people who like to get hands on with products. It is a state of mind -- a state of being -- that alters culture and economy. It is the root of sustainability in technology. And it is the root of freedom, of independence from companies like Apple that happily erode the environmental integrity of products and try so diligently to strip self-reliance from makers. DIY is a way to take back our gadgets, so to speak. It is not just for makers and hackers, it is even for people who prefer not to dive in to their devices and rather hand over their old gadgets to someone -- a neighbor or local repair shop owner -- who can fix or reuse them."

6. Why Gadget Repairability Is So Damn Important
"It's incredible to think of the amount of control we give companies over our lives because we buy stuff that we can't hack, modify or customize for ourselves. We give them control over repair services, warranties, how often we replace our devices. We give them control over design, functionality, and features. When we can't even get past the "Will Void Warranty" stickers, then we are simply leasing a device until we buy the next new model. We don't actually own it, it isn't ours to do as we'd like with. Where then, is the pride of ownership? Where then is the responsibility one takes for their devices?"

More Cool DIY Articles and Project Ideas

The long reads are not the only posts featured during the last few weeks of our focus on DIY. We also saw the start of a virtual Maker Summer Camp and the growth of an Etsy-style gadget parts shop called Tindie. Both of these are helpful for getting you on board with the many DIY gadget projects that popped up on the radar, including building a wind-powered water pump from bike parts, making a solar charger from a playing card, and even a battery-free radio from a glass bottle.

From low tech to high tech, we've enjoyed this focus on DIY, and we hope you'll spend the summer thinking about and trying out projects from fixing your own devices to building new gadgets from spare parts. There are loads more projects and ideas on the Do It Yourself page where these articles are collected. Let us know what you create!