Fix your old iPhone instead of buying a new 5S/5C

And just how am I going to do that then?

iFixit – The free repair guide for everything, written by everyone. iFixit is a global community of people helping each other repair things. They want to fix the world, one device at a time. With their free, community written service manuals you can fix your own hardware by following the step-by-step photos and instructions which make it easy for anyone.

OK, but where am I going to get the bits? Can’t see Apple selling them to me

No problem. iFixit have that covered too:  iPhone Parts – A cracked iPhone screen doesn’t have to be a disaster!

But I don’t have the tools

You do now: Essential Electronics Toolkit – Repair tools for everybody. Just stop making excuses and get stuck in! If she can do it, so can you:

Confessions of a Female Fixoholic
Confessions of a Female Fixoholic


The Maker Movement

What is it?

The opening lines of the Wikipedia article about ‘Maker Culture’ (at the time of writing of course) are a pretty good description of the ‘Maker Movement’. They say:

“The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping. There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively.”

Make Magazine Volume 1 - 2005
Make Magazine Volume 1 – 2005

How did it start?

Maker Faire describe the early days in an article about the movement in which they suggest that the launch in 2005 of Make Magazine “provided the catalyst for a tech-influenced DIY community that has come to be identified as the Maker Movement.”

On the electronics and computing side of the movement there is no doubt that both the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi have given it a massive shot in the arm. Making sophisticated open source embedded computing platforms easily available with pricing that anyone can afford and massive community support is surely the most likely way to enthuse both young and old alike about the endless and fascinating possibilities for such devices. The number of well documented fun projects available for the technical tinkerer are endless. For me these particular bits of open hardware and software have been key to rekindling my own passion for making things.

Is there a Maker Faire in the UK?

Yup. Actually there is one in Brighton on 7th and 8th September!

RepRap – a self-replicating open source 3D printer


Well, it’ll print the plastic bits anyway, and they are the hard bit in my book. Why is that the hard bit? Because I don’t have a 3D printer – that’s why! So, what I need is to find someone who has a RepRap (Replicating Rapid-prototyping machine) who will print the bits for me so I can build one. Otherwise I might just buy a kit of the printed parts for about £100 from one of the people on this list of vendors like eMaker in the UK.

The RepRapPro Huxley model
The RepRapPro Huxley model.

OK, but which one?

There are a number of popular designs, but the RepRapPro Huxley looks like a good starter kit. It can print things up to 140mm x 140mm x 110mm (the build volume) and I can just picture it on it’s own stand in my shed. Full instructions for building this model are available on eMaker and the full kit is available from RepRapPro Ltd for under £400. This is beginning to look like a serious project!

And what exactly will you use it for when it’s built?

Well as it happens I have exactly the project to use it on. I need custom cases for both the emonTX board and the NanodeRF Base Station for my Open Energy Monitor setup. Especially if I am going to start offering these open source hardware and software products in pre-built, pre-programmed form. So there!

AirPi – an award winning project

What is it?

AirPi is an open-source weather and pollution monitoring system, with the ability to record and stream data. Its a shield for the Raspberry Pi capable of recording data about the air quality and current weather conditions, coupled with code to upload its recordings to the internet in real time. Including the Pi, it comes in at £55: tens of times cheaper than equivalent off-the-shelf equipment.

The AirPi
The AirPi

Who developed it?

It was developed by Alyssa Dayan and Tom Hartley, a pair of sixth formers from Westminster School in London. AirPi won the PA Consulting Raspberry Pi competition earlier this year, where entries had to “make the world a better place”

What Next?

After many requests for a kit, they’ve started a fundraiser on Tindie (sort of like a Kickstarter, but especially for electronics). If you’re interested in ordering a kit to measure temperature, humidity, UV, NO2, CO, light and air pressure for £55, then you can go to this page – they’ll be shipping them out in late September.

Open Utility – changing the way we buy and sell energy

What is it?

Open Utility is a start up in the very early stages. From reading the, naturally, rather sketchy information available on their site, it seems that they are building a platform directly to connect buyers and sellers of electricity. ‘More peer to peer, less middlemen’. They say:

“The current energy system was built in the late 19th century when distributed renewable energy and the internet did not exist. We are making the electricity industry fit for the 21st century. We are building a service for buying and selling electricity which makes it easy and rewarding for everyone.”

More peer-to-peer. Less middlemen.
More peer-to-peer. Less middlemen: Open Utility

Sounds great. Not sure quite how they are going to break into the current market with all the regulation that surrounds it. However, the two guys involved do seem to have, between them, the right background to do it.

Who Are They?

James (CEO) has a PhD in Future Power Systems and used to run a sustainable design company. Over the last 4 years he has worked with utility companies and research organisations looking into the implementation of Smart Grids. James is leading the business development and is co-developing the P2P engine.

Andy (CTO) is a programming expert who has developed technical solutions for reducing energy use through behavioural change in the workplace. He has experience in handling real-time Big Data for social and energy monitoring applications. Andy is leading the user-experience design and is co-developing the P2P engine.

And another thing…

Someone seems to think that, eventually, they might just achieve their goal to ‘transform the centralised, polluting and expensive electricity grid into a low-cost, sustainable and resilient energy supply that benefits everyone’ because, as of June this year, they have received seed funding from the Bethnal Green Ventures group.

We wish them well and look forward to monitoring their progress.