Gadget Repair: Keep it, Fix it and Save More

Gadgets. What would we do without them? It seems like the entire world runs on a collection of gadgets designed to keep us connected to everything digital. So when a gadget breaks, it's a problem. The good news is that it is not an unsolvable problem. Anyone can try a quick gadget repair first. If that doesn't work, then new gadgets are readily available.

We'll be honest and say that we prefer gadget repair over replacement. If there is any way to repair a broken gadget, we think that's the better way to go. Repairing things accomplishes two important goals: saving money and contributing to environmental protection. Both goals are well worth pursuing in earnest. At least that's our position.

Do you have broken gadgets at home? If so, have you ever considered DIY gadget repair? With the right tools and a little ingenuity, you can fix things like:

  • Headphones
  • USB cables
  • Speaker feet
  • Camera tripods

The possibilities are literally endless. Just try a little creativity and figure things out for yourself. You will get a great sense of accomplishment with each completed project. You will also save some money and keep things out of your local landfill. And by the way, Sugru is one of the tools you should keep around the house for gadget repair.

Fix a Pair of Headphones

One of our favourite gadget repair projects involves fixing a broken set of headphones. In today's digital world, headphones are more popular than ever. We plug them into our mobile phones so we can listen to music or watch videos in private. We use them when we exercise, when we travel, and so on. But every once in a while, a headphone user ends up with a broken plastic frame. Then what?

Going out and buying a new pair can be pretty expensive – especially if you're the type of person who won't settle for anything but top-of-the-range quality. Enter a gadget repair project. It turns out that fixing a broken plastic frame is not hard at all. All you need is a utility knife and some Sugru mouldable glue.

Sugru is an interesting material. It is flexible enough to be moulded with just your fingers. You can mould it into just about any shape. Once it sets up and dries, it turns into a strong rubber material that's also durable, temperature resistant, and waterproof.

How to Do This Gadget Repair

So, how do you do this actual gadget repair? You start by using the utility knife to trim the edges of both broken pieces. The point of trimming is to get rid of any sharp pieces of plastic protruding from the break. You can also shape the two ends so that they fit together tightly.

Next, you take a small piece of Sugru and work it in your fingers to loosen and prepare it. Then shape it into a ball and press it on to one of the broken pieces. Next, use your fingers to transform the ball into a cone shape. The point here is to prepare the Sugru to receive the other piece of broken plastic. Press that piece into the Sugru to join the two pieces together. You should notice excess glue oozing out from the connection. Don't worry. This is good.

Next, use your finger to smooth out the excess glue and wrap it around the entire joint. This will seal and strengthen the joint. If necessary, use your finger and some warm soapy water to smooth out the Sugru for a better aesthetic finish.

Job Done, Money Saved

Complete this gadget repair and you have just saved yourself a bit of money. How much depends on the amount you would have otherwise spent on a new set of headphones. We know that's a lot to some audiophiles. But even if you are not the type of person to spend hundreds on new headphones, you'll still save money. That's the whole point.

Meanwhile, you won't end up throwing those old headphones in the bin. That means less plastic and wire in the landfill. If a million people all did this same gadget repair, far fewer headphones would have to be manufactured. That helps the environment by reducing the negative impacts of mass production.

Fixing a Broken LCD Screen

Quite a few household gadgets utilise LCD screens. Sometimes those screens appear broken because they only display partial letters or digits. Guess what? This sort of problem might not represent a major disaster. Affecting a DIY gadget repair might actually be pretty simple. Let's look at an example by way of a remote control for a popular type of bed.

A Sleep Number system is a type of bed that utilises advanced air mattresses. Air pressure within the mattresses is controlled by a pump which, itself, is controlled by a wireless remote. Sleep Number remotes feature LCD screens that tell users what the current pressure is. Sometimes those screens fail to display numbers completely. Instead, you just see bits and pieces. If things get too bad, it is impossible to tell what the current pressure is.

Unfortunately, some older models cannot be replaced. But what if your bed is working fine otherwise? Why spend thousands on new bed just because a cheap plastic remote control doesn't display numbers correctly? Well, you might not have too.

Just a Connection Problem

In many cases, these malfunctioning LCD screens are not actually broken. It is just a connection problem. You can find the details here, along with an easy gadget fix, but it boils down to the fact that the glue holding the ribbon cable to the actual LCD screen dries out, thus allowing the connection to separate.

The fix is as easy as heating up the connection with a hairdryer and then pressing the ribbon cable firmly back in place as the glue cools. Sometimes you need to heat up and press three or four times to get a good connection. But once that connection is made, the LCD screen returns to life. You will be able to clearly see all those numbers again.

Talk about a money saving gadget fix! If you have an older Sleep Number bed for which you cannot buy a replacement remote control or pump, you are either left to use the bed without being able to make adjustments or forking out thousands for a new bed. We prefer the gadget repair method. It is a lot cheaper!

Get to Know Your Gadget Repair Tools

Given that this post is primarily about utilising gadget repair to save money, here's an extra tip: you'll save even more money if you get to know your gadget repair tools. Knowing exactly how your tools work allows you to use them more efficiently. When you use them in the right way, you ultimately spend less money repairing your broken gadgets. Sugru mouldable glue offers the perfect illustration.

There are different ways to apply Sugru depending on what you are working with. Sometimes you want to form the glue into a tube shape. Other times a ball or cone shape is more appropriate. Furthermore, there are different ways to apply Sugru to smooth surfaces as opposed to porous ones. We offer an introductory guide here if you want to know more details.

The point of all of this is to say that learning to use Sugru efficiently allows you to affect more gadget repairs without using too much of the glue at any one time. This saves you money by reducing or completely eliminating waste. You use only as much Sugru as you need for any given repair.

It's the Same With All of Your Tools

This idea isn't limited just to Sugru. It is the same with all your gadget repair tools. Maybe you've learned to solder so that you can repair some broken USB cables or speaker wires. There is no need to use more solder than necessary to affect your repairs. Yet using just the right amount of solder requires a bit of learning and some practice. Get your technique down and you'll be able to solder just about anything with very little waste.

Even learning how to use something as simple as a utility knife can make a difference. Just think about the previous gadget repair involving the broken headphones. Trim away too much plastic and you may have to use more mouldable glue to get a strong joint. On the other hand, a precise trim that creates two surfaces that fit extremely well together can actually reduce the amount of glue you'll need. You save money by using less Sugru.

Gadget repair can be complicated at times. There is no argument there. But more often than not, preparing broken gadgets is simpler than most people realise. We just think it's difficult because we've gotten out of the habit of fixing things. It's easier just to throw broken things away and buy new ones. That's too bad. Learning basic gadget repair techniques can save a lot of money and help protect the environment.