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.

Video Review

Hi team,

Here are the transcribed notes for the videos we viewed in class today!


  • Shows product being used
  • diagram overlay
  • combining close-up shots (detail) with medium shots (context)
  • Shot composition
  • Shows software workflow
  • Leads viewer to where to find more information
  • Tripod to stabilize
  • Shoot during daytime -> diffused lighting
  • Establishing shot
  • Giving/restricting “personality” of characters/objects
  • Surprise and humor
  • Music changes to fit theme


  • Over-the-top acting
  • Too slow/fast
  • Hands shaking
  • Background noise / poor audio
  • Irrelevant music
  • Extraneous b-roll
  • Too long
  • Too much motion

Video Notes : from class


Here are the notes we took during last class on the video examples Becky orchestrated for us. In the comment section, please add anything I left out and I will amend this post.

AUDIENCE : (get to IT in the first 15 seconds)

  • potential customers
  • gadget freaks
  • tech industry folks
  • entertainment
  • other makers


  • write a script
  • story arc
  • implying thought through close-ups (intrigue)
  • manual focus
  • variety of shots
  • point of view
  • perspective
  • white balance
  • depth of field
  • call to action
  • concise editing
  • audio quality
  • tripod
  • free-hand camera (not a tripod)
  • split screen


  • intrigue
  • cool subject
  • provocation
  • humor
  • clarity through repetition
  • don’t leave the audience hanging
  • nuance
  • object as character
  • empowerment
  • emotion
  • empathy