The repair cafes waging war on throwaway culture


Becky

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We live in a time where technology is relatively cheap and not expected to last for long, and this results in a massive amount of broken and out-dated tech being thrown away. Manufacturers often seem intent on discouraging repairs because they would rather you spend money on their latest model than make do and mend. Repair cafes have been springing up to try and change this way of thinking:

Globally, the amount of e-waste generated is expected to hit 50m tonnes by the end of 2018. This is partly driven by consumers’ eagerness for new products, but there are also concerns about built-in obsolescence, in which manufacturers design products to break down after a certain amount of time and are often difficult or expensive to fix. In December, Apple admitted to slowing older models of phones, though it claimed it did this for operational not obsolescence reasons.

Repair cafe volunteer Stuart Ward says that when fixing items is actively discouraged by manufacturers, repair becomes a political act. He is vehement about the “right to repair”, a movement opposed to the practices of companies like the machinery company John Deere, which, under copyright laws, doesn’t allow people to fix their own equipment or take them to independent repairers.

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Read more here.

What do you think - should we be putting more effort into repairing tech, or should the burden fall on manufacturers to make it easier?
 
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With the amount of waste just being flung away nowadays YES we should be repairing things. Then when it is past it complete use it should be recycled. Many many components can be reused in thousands of electronic items. It just takes a little now how and equipment to remove them
 

nivrip

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One of the big problems with modern technology is that things are often so complex and intricate that repairing them is usually more expensive than replacing them with a brand new one which has been mass produced and therefore relatively cheap.

However, I think it is up to the manufacturers to ensure that as many things as possible can be recycled and that may mean them having to contribute to the costs of getting rid of the junk. We are going to end up under a layer of tech rubbish one day if we're not careful. :)
 

floppybootstomp

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I've spent several years in the past repairing audio visual equipment for a living - CRT TV's; VCR's; Cassette and reel to reel tape recorders; reel to reel film projectors; slide projectors; Overhead projectors, hi fi equipment; disco equipment and much more so know a little bit about repairing stuff.

I recently had an audio interface device fail on me, A Focuswrite Scarlett USB 2i2 that cost me £120 about 5 or 6 years ago. After a bit of a struggle to get the thing apart I looked inside and saw nothing but tiny surface mount components meaning repair was virtually impossible unless you had the correct repair equipment and at the very least a circuit diagram.

So I gave up and binned it, I was quite miffed about this as this unit worked well before failing, I used it to record vinyl records and cassettes to WAV or FLAC using dbPower Amp Aux module software, a freebie from years ago.

I replaced it with a similar unit made by Behringer which cost £65 and so far this has been working very well.

I doubt the failed Focuswrite unit could have been repaired for less that the cost of the Behringer.

But I do, whole-heartedly, support repairing electronic and mechanical equipment. I have done and still do repair equipment and have kept some things working for years beyond their supposed sell by date.

I'm a member of some local neighbourhood scheme thingie and received an email today asking for volunteers to do repair work at a one day workshop asking local people to bring along their busted stuff to see if it can be fixed.

I'm thinking about volunteering but what if I can't fix diddly-squat? I don't fancy being seen as a fool, bit nervous tbh. But, maybe I will volunteer. If I fail perhaps I can sneak out a fire exit and go home without anybody noticing...
 

muckshifter

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Sir Floppicus, from what we have seen you 'build' here at PCReview, I for one have no bout a doubt it you'll find something to fix ... if not, just build a replacement. ;)
 
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Ian

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I'm thinking about volunteering but what if I can't fix diddly-squat? I don't fancy being seen as a fool, bit nervous tbh. But, maybe I will volunteer. If I fail perhaps I can sneak out a fire exit and go home without anybody noticing...

I think you should definitely give it a go - you've posted so many things on here that you've fixed, and I bet a lot of people will be bringing along similar items. I imagine most people will be bringing along AV stuff precisely along the lines of where your experience is, it sounds like you're a perfect fit :).
 

Becky

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I think as consumers we should put more effort into looking after equipment and fixing it when it goes wrong, but there is a lot manufacturers can do to help make this easier. The reliance on cheap components can't last forever, so we can either change our approach now or wait until we have no choice.

I'm a member of some local neighbourhood scheme thingie and received an email today asking for volunteers to do repair work at a one day workshop asking local people to bring along their busted stuff to see if it can be fixed.

I'm thinking about volunteering but what if I can't fix diddly-squat? I don't fancy being seen as a fool, bit nervous tbh. But, maybe I will volunteer. If I fail perhaps I can sneak out a fire exit and go home without anybody noticing...

Sounds like a great idea! I'm sure they won't be expecting you to know all there is to know about everything - and I bet you'll know far more than most ;)
 
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What do you think - should we be putting more effort into repairing tech, or should the burden fall on manufacturers to make it easier?

Honestly, I believe we should be repairing the old tech and repurposing it if possible. Google bought thousands of old PCs and created a datacenter with them. The system was so powerful that it powered their services for a while. I am sure that they have upgraded to newer, more powerful systems by now to keep up with demand. But imagine how much power we could get out of all the old technology that only needs a small repair to get it running again.
 

Becky

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Honestly, I believe we should be repairing the old tech and repurposing it if possible. Google bought thousands of old PCs and created a datacenter with them. The system was so powerful that it powered their services for a while. I am sure that they have upgraded to newer, more powerful systems by now to keep up with demand. But imagine how much power we could get out of all the old technology that only needs a small repair to get it running again.

I didn't know that Google had done that, it's a good idea :nod:
 
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