Project 1: Disassembling things that get hot

You should refer to this page instead of iFixit’s “student roadmap”, since we’re doing a modified version of the project.


  1. Get started by creating your accounts and sending a project proposal to iFixit.
  2. Disassemble your device and draw a schematic of its electrical internals.
  3. Plan and execute your photo-shoot.
  4. Create your iFixit pages
  5. Revise your pages based on the feedback you receive from iFixit and myself.

Due dates

Deliverables are due at 11:59pm unless otherwise specified.

  • Sunday, 9/18: Project proposal (so you can have feedback on the proposal by Wednesday)
  • Monday, 9/26: Draft device page and disassembly guide
  • Monday, 10/3: Final device page and disassembly guide, updated based on feedback from iFixit

Getting started

  • Create an account on using your Tufts email.

  • Follow the information on this page to join a team. Your team tag will be TUFTS-BELL-F22-S1-GXX where the final XX is replaced by your team number. Please use your team tag in all communication with iFixit and myself related to the project.

  • Create your iFixit profile

  • Draft your project proposal. You can use this Word template as a starting point. Read the iFixit proposal guide for details on what you need to include in your proposal.

  • Send your proposal as a PDF attachment to iFixit. Remember to include your team tag in the subject line, and to CC me on the email.


As you disassemble your device, try to answer the following questions:

  • What is the resistance of the heating elements? Does this match your expectations, based on the current that you measured?
  • If there are multiple heat settings, how is this controlled? Are there multiple heating elements, or something else?
  • If the device turns off after a certain point (e.g., a toaster), how does it know when it’s done?
  • If there are indicator lights, what turns them on and off?
  • What safety mechanisms are included in the design?

Schematic template file (Right-click to save to your computer)

I use Inkscape for drawing schematics and diagrams. You’re also welcome to use Adobe Illustrator, PowerPoint, or other diagramming/flowcharting software.

Planning your photo-shoot

A little planning before you start shooting photos will save you time and trouble:

  • What order will you remove things?
  • Measure and record the lengths of screws (in millimeters) as you remove them. This is important information to include in your guide if you end up removing more than one kind of screw.
  • Are there steps that would benefit from multiple shots? You can use up to 3 photos per step to create “flipbook-style” animations.

Photo shoot

Before you head over to Nolop, please read the iFixit guide to taking awesome photos.

Once you’re at Nolop and have the camera in hand, read the guide to using the documentation station.

There are a handful of common mistakes when shooting photos. Use this checklist to avoid having to go back and re-do any shots:

  • Are your shots action-oriented? The photos should show the disassembly in action, not just the intermediate steps.
  • Are the photos too bright or too dark? This is a common problem when you’re shooting dark subjects on a bright white background. Depending on where you focus, the camera’s auto-exposure algorithm can get very confused. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the EV (exposure compensation) setting on the camera to compensate, and take lots of photos.
  • Did you accidentally get too much background? A well-composed shot should have only the white paper in the background, not the table, wall, or clutter from previous disassembly steps.

After you copy the photos to your computer, take a minute to look through them. It’s much easier to re-shoot a few photos before you leave than to come back later!

  • Do the photos illustrate the process, or are there some gaps?
  • Are the photos well-focused? Photos can appear fine on the camera’s tiny screen, and then be out of focus when you view them on a larger display.

iFixit pages

Follow the iFixit guide for creating your device page.

Follow this guide for creating your disassembly page. Although we’re doing a disassembly instead of a replacement guide, the basic structure and requirements are the same.

Your disassembly page should conclude with a step that describes how the device is supposed to operate. What makes the various components turn on and off? What do the lights indicate, and how are they switched on and off? Is temperature regulated, and if so, how?

Attach your completed schematic to the device page.

When you’ve finished the draft page, send an email to iFixit letting them know. Don’t forget to include your team tag and CC me!

Past examples