Fast Start: Overview
In the Fast Fix project, you’ll work with your teammates to choose something you think people should know how to fix. Then, you’ll research and design a repair, and create and share that procedure with others.
You are finished with this section when you:
- Sign up for an iFixit account using your school email address
- Join a student team
- Create a profile
- Choose a fix for your project that is not already documented on iFixit
- Email a PDF of your proposal to techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com
- List the four main requirements in your proposal
- Include the correct header in your proposal
- Check out the Putting It Together: Building A Successful Project infographic
Join a Team
1. Click here to create your account and add yourself to a project team on iFixit.
- Even if you are working alone, you need to be on a team. Being on a team, even a team by yourself, gives you student privileges that allow you to complete your work.
- Use your name and school email when signing up for the account.
- Make sure to select the appropriate information from the drop-down menus. If you add yourself to the wrong team, just select the correct team and click "Update My Team."
- Team tags follow this format: School-ProfessorLastName-T#S#G#. For example, if you are attending Cal Poly in Dr. Jon Doe's class, in Fall 2014, assigned to section 4, group 7, your team tag will be: CPSU-DOE-F14S4G7.
2. Go to your profile and add an avatar.
- You can click on your name in the top right corner of the home page to view your profile. To view your profile from other pages on iFixit, click on your name in the top right corner of the site and select “My Profile” from the dropdown menu. On your profile page, you'll see all the guides you've created.
- On the same page, click the team tag below your avatar to view a list of your team members and your team's activity.
- Click on the "Edit" tab on your profile to add an avatar or update your profile summary.
Here at iFixit, repair is our way of life. It motivates us to do what we do. We live in a throwaway economy, where people simply chuck things in the trash when they break. Those things end up in huge landfills and wreak havoc on the environment. We want to provide people with the information and tools that they need to repair anything that might need fixing. (For more information on why we care, see our Blog.)
CHOOSE YOUR FIX
Teaching repair is fun, empowering, and—most importantly—saves the planet by keeping consumer goods out of landfills.
The ultimate goal of your project is to create a repair guide that teaches the best practices for repair. In other words, a Fast Fix is not a "hack"—your guide should be thorough, effective, and worth documenting for real people to actually use.
A good rule of thumb is that your guide should require six or more steps (individual actions or instructions).
Here are three outstanding examples of completed guides:
Before you choose your fix, complete the Repair Experience Inventory with your team. The information you collect will become part of your proposal, so don’t skip this crucial step!
What’s the point of the inventory? We’re glad you asked. As we like to say around iFixit, not everyone knows how to repair everything, but everyone knows how to repair something. This inventory will help you dig up the secret repair superpowers and knowledge buried within yourself, your team, and your community. Your project will be more successful if you choose a Fast Fix project that taps into this collective repair knowledge.
To begin your project, choose one main topic and two alternate topics that align with your Repair Experience Inventory worksheet. These Fast Fix topics should be physical items (not software) in your life that you'd like to show how to fix—preferably something that has a straightforward solution (for example, a broken flip-flop, scratched CD, or leaking sink). The main requirement is to choose something that is not already documented on iFixit. You will need to use the Search tool to make sure your fix isn't already documented on iFixit.
Remember that iFixit's audience is focused on repair, so your guide must show how to fix something. In general, you should avoid writing guides for merely cleaning or lubricating items that are otherwise in working order. (We’re not opposed to maintenance procedures, provided it's something that real people would likely need a guide for, and that it helps prevent the need for repairs in the future.)
That said, the item you choose doesn't necessarily have to be broken. In the examples linked above, the record and zipper guides didn't require damaged items in order to show the correct repair procedure. On the other hand, if you wanted to do a drywall repair guide, you'd probably need some damaged drywall in order to show what's being fixed. Use your best judgment, and plan your guide carefully.
We want you to be able to pick a topic that genuinely excites you and aligns well with your skill set, but we need to ensure that your topic and procedure is safe. Again, use your best judgment here. Fixes that involve the following are off-limits:
- Car jacks or stands
- Open flames
- CRT monitors/TVs
- Drug paraphernalia
- Any fix that can result in fatality or permanent injury
If you're not sure what to fix, think about the following questions:
- What is something you wish you knew how to fix?
- What things have been broken in the home? Why did they break, and what was the cost to replace them?
- What things could you not live without?
- What things have been thrown away? Why?
For more ideas, including a list of common household items that need all manner of fixes, have a look at the Choosing Your Fix document. Or consider working on one of the many possible fixes listed on the Bicycle Fast Fixes document.
Have an idea that you're not sure will work? Think about this:
- Does it restore the item to a condition where it will work for a long time?
- Is it how a professional would do the repair? Or at least a process that you’d find recommended as a DIY solution by a professional or handyman?
- Does the repair process take at least six steps?
- Most importantly, will this repair be helpful to a real user looking to fix their thing?
We get a lot of proposals for temporary, hackish fixes that we can't publish, so here are five instructive examples:
- Fixing a cord with electrical tape? That’s a hack. Resoldering it and applying heat shrink? That’s a repair.
- Using nail polish to repair a dented windshield? Hackish. Using windshield repair resin to fill the ding? Repair gold.
- Spraying WD-40 on a door hinge isn’t a repair. However, replacing the door hinge would be a great project.
- Degreasing your stove? That’s cleaning, not a repair.
- Topping off your car's windshield washer fluid? That's not a repair, it's about two steps, and most people don't need a guide for it. Replacing a leaky washer fluid tank and/or pump? Now you're onto something.
If you have any questions about choosing a fix, feel free to shoot us an email at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com.
RESEARCH YOUR FIX
Maybe you already know how to perform your fix, or maybe you'd like to gather some information and try to perfect your fix before you share it. Either way, the first step is to make sure you understand it thoroughly so that you can communicate your fix to others in a way that is accurate and free of frustrating setbacks.
Research could include reading articles online, watching videos of similar repairs, or even practicing the repair yourself. You want to gather as much knowledge as you can and find the best way to perform the repair—so take your time, and make certain you really understand your repair. Remember, you’re helping real people keep as much stuff out of landfills as possible!
WRITE A PROJECT PROPOSAL
Once you’ve chosen a repair guide topic, the next step is to send us a proposal. The proposal should describe the project you intend to work on. The proposal doesn’t need to be long, but we’ll use it to help start your project off in the right direction—after all, our goal is to publish your final project for all the world to see!
A proposal is required for the project, even if it is informal. Proposals allow us to give you the necessary privileges to work on the site without problems, and to verify that no one else has selected the same project as yours. You can find a sample proposal here. Also, make sure to include a brief message in the email's body to provide context for your proposal.
Important things to include in your proposal:
- What is the proposed title of your guide? Guides for the Fast Fix project should be replacement guides or technique (how-to) guides. Give your guide a short, descriptive title. For example, "How to Patch a Flat Tire," "Toilet Fill Valve Replacement," or "How to Fix a Squeaky Door."
- What is your repair method? Provide a detailed description of your method, in a short list of steps. Keep in mind that your finalized guide should be at least six steps. (It's okay to modify this later, but sketch out your procedure as best as you can for now.)
- What specific tools will you use for your repair? List any tools and/or materials you plan to use for your repair. We want to make sure that you have the necessary tools available to you and that your procedure uses these tools in a manner that is both safe for you and your readers.
- Why is this guide necessary? Write a brief paragraph explaining why this particular repair needs a guide and how it will help real people.
- How much repair information is already on the internet about your fix? Are there already instructions available? If so, how good are they and how are yours going to be better?
- What are your alternative topics? We can't always approve your initial guide topic, so include two alternative topics in case your first choice doesn't meet the guidelines or has already been covered on iFixit. You don't need to include a full proposal for these other topics. A brief summary of your potential process is enough. Just be ready to write a more detailed overview if your first choice is not an option.
- Which camera will you be using to document each step of the fix? Any digital camera of 6 megapixels or greater that can mount to a tripod is acceptable. If you don't have access to a camera, your smartphone is permitted, as long as it can mount to a tripod and you have the permission of your instructor. You can follow our best smartphone photography tips here.
- What did you discover while completing the Repair Experience Inventory? How will it make your project awesome?
Please include a header at the top of your proposal in this format:
- Fast Fix: Leaky Faucet (or whatever fix you’ve chosen)
- Team tag: CPSU-DOE-F15S1G1
- Camera: Nancy's 16MP Canon PowerShot SX170 IS
- Group email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. (These must be the same email addresses that you and your team members used to create your iFixit accounts.)
Here are a couple of sample proposals to give you an idea of what your proposal should look like:
Email your proposal in PDF format to techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com. Include your team tag in the email's Subject field, as well as a brief message in the email body. (It's a nice professional touch—and a general courtesy—to not send a blank email with an attachment.)
Please note: It can take the iFixit tech writers up to two business days to respond to your email, so make sure to plan accordingly.
Once you've got the go-ahead from our tech writing team, you're clear to proceed to Checkpoint 1!
Don't forget: include your team tag in the subject line of your email, CC your teammates and instructor, and include a brief message in the email's body to provide context for your proposal.
Stop right there!
Do you have the droids you’re looking for? Don’t let a Jedi mind trick fool you—or hurt your grade. Take a moment to review the page and make sure you have met all the proposal requirements. When you are ready, be sure to email your proposal to techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com. We’ll get back to you and let you know when you’re ready to move on.