TR Dojo Cracking Open: Behind the scenes
April 25, 2011, 9:50am PDT | Length: 00:06:38
Ever wonder how TechRepublic cracks open the latest tech gadgets? Bill Detwiler gives you a behind-the-scenes look at our TR Dojo teardown process. Once you’ve watched this TR Dojo video, you can find a link to the original TechRepublic article and print the tip from our TR Dojo Blog.
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What!!?! No Bloopers!!?!
Just kidding... Thanks for the behind the scenes look. Is it possible to get your IT Dojo server room background for a Desktop Background?
iPod Touch teardowns have been problematic
TR Dojo Cracking Open: Behind the scenes
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>>Bill Detwiler: Whether you support a piece of technology for your employer or just for your family and friends, learning what's inside the device can help. Well I'm Bill Detwiler entering this special episode of TR DoJo. I'll give you a behind the scenes look at how we crack open the latest tech.
Music Before I show you how we crack open all these smartphones, servers, game consoles, and tablets, I'd like to answer all of you who are wondering why we disassemble perfectly good working devices. Well beyond satisfying our own curiosity for knowing how things work, we believe that understanding the hardware inside a device is fundamental to providing good tech support. And while it's true that many IT pros will never take these things apart, seeing the hardware inside gives you an understanding of the device's possible points of failure, hopefully making it easier for you to diagnose potential problems. And if the device is out of warranty and you want to replace say a cracked glass panel or broken button, then tear downs like this will give you a good starting point. Also, I always try to dissect these devices in a manner that lets me put them back together in working order. Now that I've explained the "why," let's get to the "where" and the "how." And the first step here is to leave our TR DoJo data center behind and move in to our real world studio; come on let's go.
Pause So here we are in the TR DoJo Cracking Open studio which is basically just a corner of the larger TR video studio. And we have two areas here; we have a table where we crack open most of the devices, and then behind me we have a photo area where we take most of the photos. Now let's look at some of the tools that we use to crack these things open. First, we have the standard Phillips and flat head screwdrivers which we use on our desktops, servers, and some larger devices. But unfortunately manufacturers don't always use standard screws, so we have this driver and a series of specialty bits used to remove tamper-resistant screws. And then we have specialty screwdrivers like this little tri-wing screwdriver used to remove screws on some Nintendo devices. And lastly, we have this pentalobe screwdriver used to remove screws on the new iPhone 4s. Speaking of screws, we deal with a lot of different sizes from this large standard desktop size screw to this really tiny screw out of a Smartphone. To help us see these screws we use a device like this jeweler's loupe or magnifying glass. And since we work with screws of so many different sizes, it helps to have a bit and driver set like this one from our friends over at iFixit. It can handle really small screws with its Phillips triple zero bit or really common ones with the Torx T5 and T6 bits. Now manufacturers don't always use screws to hold their devices together. When we have to pop plastic tabs or remove adhesive covers, we use specialty tools like this pair of metal tweezers or these thin metal blades or these plastic spudgers. And when those don't work, sometimes we have to get a little creative with these utility knife blades or even this butter knife which I famously used to crack open the original iPad. Now that we've looked at the tools that we use to crack open our devices, let's look at the process. When working with devices like this small $180 Android Tablet, we look for an easy entry point; hopefully external case screws. Unfortunately on devices like this, the manufacturer didn't put any external case screws on it so we have to look for another entry point such as the seam between this metal edge and the display assembly. And using one of our thin metal blades, we can try and pop this metal ring off without damaging the device. Throughout the cracking open process, we like to take photos of each step. So now that we've removed our first component, let's take a photo and talk about the equipment that we use. When we take our photos, we usually have our devices on this roll of seamless paper here that's laid across a table underneath to raise them up off the floor. We actually have these clamp lights that we bought at a hardware store and to provide the lighting, we actually use these little CFL bulbs that are daylight balanced. To take our photos, we use a Nikon D80 DSLR camera here and we have two fixed focal length lenses; a 50 millimeter lens for those really wide shots and 105 millimeter lens for those close-ups, for those really small chips inside smartphones and tablets.
Camera Clicking Sound Now we've gotten the device completely disassembled and we've taken all the photos that we need, it's time to put it all back together again.
Music Well, here we are at the end of our "cracking open" and this little Android Tablet is back together and working perfectly. We'll use it as a test machine, or send it back to the vendor if it's a loner. Now unfortunately, not all 'cracking open's" end as well. Some devices like this little iPod Touch here were never meant to be taken apart and unfortunately, it's the only device that I've actually broken during a "cracking open." So it will join the ranks of TechRepublic's gadget graveyard. Well that does it for this special behind-the-scene edition of TR DoJo. Be sure to check out the TR DoJo blog for links to several of our tear down galleries. And as always for more TDs on your path to becoming an IT ninja, visit trdojo.techrepublic.com. Sign up for our newsletter or follow me on Twitter. Thanks for visiting the TR Dojo.
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