DIY 12 steps

1. Don’t fear trying something new –

When you are new to modding, you might be afraid to use a soldering iron, you might be unsure of where to start at first. That’s ok, start with general areas instead. What interests you most? Do you like electronics, computers, woodworking or knitting? (yes there are mods for woodworking and knitting.) But start in your preferred general area and get to reading.

Start with Google and search for for what your interested. there is always plenty of info there.

2. Start with something small –

Rome wasn’t hacked in a day. So if you are just starting out don’t start with a build your own personal helicopter project. Start with something manageable like one of the many LED projects you can find at Instructables or Make.Then as you learn, try more challenging projects.

2. Find the area you love –

Some people like LEDs, others like robots, I’m a connection guy myself. I like connecting different gadgets and making them work together. As you begin your quest as a master modder, then you’ll start to discover what focus you like best. Stick with that area so you can increase your odds of inventing something new.As a master DIYer, you’ll increase your odds of inventing the next big thing.

3. Build before you buy –

Isn’t it sad the day you pick up your iPod or remote control and suddenly it isn’t working? Not necessarily if you are a DIYer. Broken stuff presents a great opportunity to get under the hood and see if you can fix it.Once my son’s iPod wouldn’t start. I tried charging it, soft and hard resetting it. Still, all I saw was the sad mac face. 😦

So I did some surfing and found a trick that just might work. I pulled out my Leatherman, opened up the iPod and placed a business card folded up underneath the hard drive. Low and behold, once I put it back together, the iPod booted and played music! In fact, I tried it again just this morning and it works fine.

4. Conserve your cash –

I think most passionate DIYers don’t like buying new stuff if there is a chance they can fix or make better what they already have. If you can just go out and buy a new Tivo any time you want it, there’s no real benefit to building your own PVR.The master at DIY knows electronics and gadgets decrease in value faster than a new car in a blasting zone. So if we can save money by repairing what’s broken, we have more money to spend on new gadgets and hacks.

5. Teach as you go –

One of the best ways to embed knowledge in your brain is to teach others. This enhances your creativity and once you’ve got others who know what you know, then there is great problem solving power in bouncing ideas off of each other.

6. Write procedures –

Unlike an elephant, humans can forget. You might remember a time when a great family recipe was lost because your aunt passed away or developed Alzheimer’s . I know there are countless great recipes lost forever due to the lack of a written recipe. My Grandmother’s gooseberry pie? Lost for eternity. My grandfather’s fried chicken? Nevermore…How better would it have been if they handed down written recipes. I could have archived it in a family recipe booklet for this and future generations.

When you create a new hack, be sure to write up procedures. Procedures let you go back in case you forget a resistor, measurement or solder joint. Plus, procedures are an easy way for you to teach others. You can even post your procedures to your blog to teach thousands of people your hack.

7. Take photos –

Photos of the steps in your procedures are perhaps the most powerful descriptors. You save time, by not having to write every last nuance of detail. Also, pictures cross all language barriers. You don’t have to know French to understand the Eiffel tower. The picture says it all.

Photos will allow you to also communicate your craft effectively with people from different countries and backgrounds. Additionally, there are a few of us who can’t read our own handwriting, a picture can rescue that DIY from being lost forever.

8. Study the Art of DIYing –

When you’ve found the area of hacking you love, study it. Collect books, articles and You Tubes of projects that interest you. You never know when you might have a rainy day and a box of LEDs just begging to be put together into a new Infrared headset.

9. Collect Parts –

Let’s face it, gadgets break. They age, and they become outdated. That doesn’t mean you have to throw it all away. An old (out of warranty) MP3 player is a good excuse to do some hacking. Take it apart and collect some of the more valuable parts inside. LEDs can be reused. USB ports can be reused. Some memory cards are good too. But don’t go too crazy with saving every last part and broken gadget.

A desk drawer full of spare parts is good – a shoe box full of parts is better. A garage cluttered with parts is a sign you don’t know how to separate the wheat from the chaff, so you are collecting everything. If that’s the case, it’s time to go back to studying.

Professionally, I’ve cleaned up server rooms where the admin(s) saved every last piece of broken equipment. Stuff piled 5 foot high where you couldn’t even walk. This is a sign that they don’t understand the equipment, what’s valuable and what’s not. When I get done, all that’s left is a filing cabinet of hot spare storage, Software licensing and a drawer full of emergency parts and cables. If an entire network DIY setup can consume just 1 filing cabinet, your home parts should fit into a desk drawer.

Note: Use caution when taking apart something that plugs into a wall – especially monitors. I don’t recommend taking apart old tube monitors because the tubes carry a charge and you can electrocute yourself. Just use common sense and read up before delving into an area you aren’t experienced.

11. Finish your projects –

Don’t be like the guy who has a car up on blocks in his front yard for 2 years. Finish your project or throw it out. Master DIYers always complete their experiments – even if they fail. If you fail, no biggie, throw it out and start something new. But what’s important is finishing. You can’t reach anuber -level of hacking expertise if you don’t finish your projects – plus, having a bunch of half finished projects lying around is an eyesore.

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