Assignment 1: Teardown

Your first assignment is a Teardown, where you’ll take apart a product with electronics inside and document it. The best candidates for this project are devices that play sound, light up, and have buttons. This year I’m supplying the devices for you, sourced fro my local Buy Nothing group on Facebook. We will do a Yankee Swap in class to distribute the devices.

Some devices aren’t complicated enough for this project, like hairdryers, wired headphones, and most kitchen appliances like toasters.

Warning! Do not select something that is dangerous to take apart, like a CRT monitor (if you even know what that is anymore). Ask me if you are unsure if something’s unsafe. Be careful not to puncture or bend any lithium batteries that may be inside your object, especially if it’s a phone.

You’ll likely need a small screwdriver and other small tools.

Check on the iFixit website (Links to an external site.) to see if your device already has a teardown guide you can follow.

You will be evaluated based on the following guidelines:

  1. Take lots of well-lit photos during the disassembly process
  2. Consider taking video as well (optional but encouraged, consider timelapse)
  3. Photograph all the parts spread out on a table in some kind of order (consider knolling your parts)
  4. Identify the materials used for each component
  5. Identify the manufacturing techniques/equipment used to make it
  6. Look up part numbers on chips and find out what they do (searching the part number + “datasheet” helps)
  7. Make a list of the tools and techniques you used to take it apart
  8. Select two design elements that interest you and describe why you think the designer(s) made it that way

Your assignment will be turned in as a blog post on, with the following requirements:

  • Blog post title will follow format of Object Name + “Teardown”, for example “CD Player Teardown”
  • Blog post must be in the Teardown category
  • Due by 8:00 pm ET (14 hours before class) Sept 13.

For inspiration:

Here’s my first teardown from 2006, much simpler than the ones you’ll turn in but hopefully encouraging anyway!

Next week we’ll have informal presentations and a group discussion about your results. Let me know if you have any questions, either on Slack or email.

Hi, I’m Becky Stern

Hi, I’m Becky! I’ll be your instructor for Making Studio. Here’s a little bit more about me: I love to make things and share them. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved to do all sorts of crafts, like sewing and knitting. I learned some DIY electronics in college at Parsons School of Design and fell in love with combining electronics with soft materials to make art, costumes, and other gadgets. I’m a self-employed content creator. I’ve published several hundred step-by-step guides about everything from jewelry making to internet-connected displays. Before striking out on my own, I was product manager at Instructables, director of wearable electronics for Adafruit, and senior video producer for MAKE Magazine. You can find more of my work on my website and my YouTube channel and Instagram. After Parsons, I went to Arizona State for grad school, where I dropped out twice– once from a Ph.D. program and the second time from an MFA in sculpture. I’ve lived in New York City for 17 years, and I was raised in Connecticut. I’m really excited to get to know you and your creative work.

I ride my scooter to get to class, although it’s less fun since losing my brother to a motorcycle accident earlier this summer.

I love animals, and I’ve got two dogs and two cats.

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time. I’m always happy to schedule a 1:1 meeting or help over slack or email between 8 am and 10 pm.

I’d love to get to know you a bit more, as well as get you set up on the class blog. Please check your email for a WordPress invitation to, create your account, and introduce yourself in a new blog post. Please include a recent photo of yourself, and let me know where you are from, what you were doing before coming to PoD, any other info about your background that you care to share, some of your favorite things to make, do, and eat, what you are most looking forward to in this course, and what you are most apprehensive about in this course. I’d also love to follow you on social media if you want to share your links.

Final project requirements and presentation schedule

Please post up your final project to the blog by 5pm the night before your presentation date. Please include:

  • A link to your published Instructable
  • Your video embedded/linked
  • Some photos (final, in progress, sketches)
  • A brief description of your project’s purpose, function, form, construction, and future projections

As a reminder, your materials and final class dossiers are due 4pm on 12/18 (last day to submit grades) and required for a passing grade, so don’t be late. They can be built around your Halloween costume or final project, it’s up to you.

Continue reading “Final project requirements and presentation schedule”

Week 12 Homework

Great job on your project brainstorms and wifi work, folks! For homework this week, you should build a prototype circuit for your project, and continue developing its final form and code. Don’t forget to take in-process photos and video! Many of you have two parallel development tasks (form and function)– don’t put off any unknown part of your project! It’s unacceptable to say “I couldn’t do X because Y had to be complete first”. The sooner you uncover the unknown parts of your project, the sooner the finish line will be in sight. Please feel free to schedule a 1-1 with me if you need one, or email with any type of questions.

Write an outline for your project tutorial, including an introductory paragraph describing the use case, a materials/tools list, and single sentences describing each likely step. If you are able, write more by fleshing out each step with instructions. Please write with complete sentences (except your materials/tools list) and do your best with grammar and punctuation. Work in a Google Doc at first, since we’ll use it next class for peer-review.

Draft up your instructions into an Instructable (do not publish it yet), including any process photos that are ready. I have composed a sample draft to help guide you (you must be logged in to Instructables to view this unpublished preview).

Next class we will have a peer-supported writing workshop, work time, and 1-1 meetings. In preparation, please make a blog post (Works in Progress/Proposals category, due 5pm Nov 26) containing the following:

  • Link to Google Doc version of your draft tutorial
  • Link to your draft Instructable (get this from your Drafts page by right-clicking on the project thumbnail)
  • Description and/or storyboard for your project video
  • Your circuit prototype/parts needed to work in class
Continue reading “Week 12 Homework”

Week 11 Homework

For homework this week, please complete the remaining lessons in the Internet of Things Class:

Lesson 4
Lesson 5
Lesson 6

and create the following for your final project (select your idea by Friday):
-Bill of Materials (BOM) (list of components and parts)
-Circuit diagram (made using Fritzing, Tinkercad Circuits, or drawing)

Please make a blog post with video or photo evidence of your lesson completion, and your proposed BOM and circuit diagram for your project (Works in Progress/Proposals category). Due 5pm Tuesday 11/19.