DIY: iPad Screen Repair

A cracked smart phone or tablet device is an all too common occurrence these days.  The gorgeous iPad Retina that I got for my mom last year got well acquainted with Mr. Pavement several months back.  She had dropped her bag where she had the iPad and screen cracked. The damage was bad but not so bad that it rendered the device unusable. The LCD was undamaged, and it seemed only the screen (i.e. the digitizer screen) was affected. Having applied some scotch tape, she was able to continue to use it, albeit it was quite ugly and the cracks gradually expanded over time.

As with anything, there are several options when one looks to get something like this fixed. Option 1)  Go to the Apple store and spend close to $300 to get it repaired. (Yikes!); Option 2) Go to a specialist (either local or mail it in) and have it repaired for $120-$250… for option 3)  get the parts and DIY.  Guess which route I took? :)

Here’s a run through of how it was done.  Here you see the cracks before the repair.  iPad took a hit on the corner and you can see the screen crack was quite bad.

IMG_3480 IMG_3479

This happened to be an iPad 3rd generation Retina.  iFixit had a very good guide and they sell an excellent iPad screen repair kit but it’s quite high end and is around $100.  Another vendor call iPadscreenrepair.com (http://www.ipadscreenrepair.com/) was less expensive and they were kind enough to sell a similar but less convenient repair kit for $69.  They also give their customers a repair guide as well as a video for showing how it’s done. Alternatively, if you rather have them do it, you could also send it to them and they would do it for $120.   I opted for their repair kit. Now you can go even cheaper, I’ve seen repair kits on Amazon for as low as $28 or less, but they are going to be crappy (poor screen quality). Another vendor I would recommend is eParts for iPads (http://www.etechparts.com/Parts-for-iPad-s/312.htm)  They have a different quality screen digitizers. Their premium one is the iBic series (higher quality screen) and I actually highly recommend that. Even though I went with one level cheaper, if I had to do it all over again I go with the iBic screen with all the parts and adhesive already applied. Nonetheless, the middle of the road screen I got was decent enough and one can’t tell the difference under normal use.


New digitizer screen with adhesive strips that I had to manually apply


Tools: hair dryer, packing tape, guitar picks, spudger tool, micro screw driver, metal opening tool.

Open sesame, old cracked digitizer screen is removed revealing the LCD. LCD screen is then removed to reveal the batteries and components (exciting stuff here).  I felt a bit like a surgeon here.


open sesame, digitizer screen is taken off!


LCD is off, revealing the batteries, and the logic board with shield


Had to move the LCD aside to access the digitizer cable and remove it


Errrr. Frustrating delicate connector

Detach the old digitizer screen cable. Attach the new digitizer screen cable. Test, test, test, test, test, and test… Okay everything works. Put it back together with the new adhesive. I won’t bore you with the details. You can get that out of iFixit or the repair guide that I used with iPadscreenrepair.   I had to use some vices and the hair dryer again to activate the new adhesive and to get to bond to the new screen better.


Had to use my vices and the hair dryer to activate the adhesive and really get the screen to stick to the aluminum body


the finished result

And there you have it the finished result.  It’s not perfect like the original (if you really scrutinize it, I wasn’t able to repair the scratch/damage on the aluminum body on the lower right corner)… but it’s 97%.  It did take me a while (~3.5 hours). Let me know what you think.


It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for most people and far better than the crack screen before


up close view of finish result



Anyone who’s known me long enough since owning my 2007 GTI have heard me described my love-hate relationship with this car (or with VWs in general).  First of all, IMHO, VWs are fun to drive and sleek cars with great design, interior quality, low end torque, grunty engines. Honestly, overall I do like the way my car looks and the way it drives/handles.  However, from my experience and from other VW owners I’ve talked to, when it comes to parts or electronic reliability they are subpar when compared to the competition (e.g. Honda, Toyota, etc.)  I’ve had windows motors gone bad, ventilation fans gone bad, replaced head lights and tail lights and lots of little things that don’t generally break or fail so soon (as compared to other previous cars I’ve driven).  Furthermore, some of the parts can be more expensive as they’re parts “Made in Germany”. And asking the dealer to repair things (outside of the warranty) is even more expensive.  The last thing I had to do was replace head lights. The stock lights on the GTI are Xenon gas HID bulbs, which retails for over $100 a bulb. And had I asked the dealer to repair it, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to spend as much as $300-400.  Luckily, doing some DIY tasks can help save you some dough.  Albeit, some of these can be quite tricky and there’s seldom documentation in the owners manual for how to fix thing (most entries simply tell you to take it to the dealer).  After some digging around, I generally find that I can order the parts from a company call ECStuning.com and just do a DIY. Thus, I order the right bulbs for around $60 each and when the  process of replacing the bulbs.  So far so good.

This time however, the issue was with the hatch door. Apparently, I found that the struts or springs no long supported the weight of the door, such that each time you open the hatch door it would close on its own all while trying to slam down on your fingers. Thus, I had to order new struts at $60 a piece and just installed it myself. The DIY was pretty straightforward to figure out what to do, but there are some parts that were difficult to deal with. Ultimately, I was able to install the new struts and the door is working like new again. I probably saved a couple of hundred by not having the dealer replace them.


So, I’ve been meaning to make this for a while now since having read about it several months ago. You can actually quite cheaply make an ultralight backpacking alcohol stove from a used cat food or tuna can.  The greatest advantages to this kind of stove is it’s light weight, simplicity, and low cost. It’s highly effective for most situation. Denatured alcohol is quite cheap and readily available most places. If pressed and necessary, you can also use high alcohol liquor such as Everclear or Bacardi 151.  There are some drawbacks; it’s doesn’t work well at high altitudes, works poorly in heavy winds (unless you have a good wind screen), somewhat slower than other stoves. Also, it’s tricky to extinguish and refuel (you shouldn’t add more alcohol to the stove without extinguishing first).  One of the better guides on how to build an alcohol stove is via  Andrew Skurka (one really interesting ultra distance trekker – heard him deliver a lecture at National Geographic once).

I did two tests after making the stove. Under ideal conditions, at home, mild but cold winds, using my home-made windscreen… I was able to bring 2 cups of water to a full boil in about 12-15 mins. I also tested it on top of a summit of a weekend hike. At the summit conditions were much harsher, with really freezing wind. Using the wind screen and two stoves at once, and almost double the fuel, it took around 30 to bring 1.5 liters of water to almost the start of a slight rolling boil.  Better performance could have been achieve with a better windscreen, higher capacity can, more fuel, and more heat efficient pot… not to mention less water. Nonetheless, it did get the job done and the water that it heated up was able to make 3 cup of noodles which was tested by 3 friends who claimed the soup was still plenty hot enough.

DIY: Ipod Adapter For Car

When I bought my car, there were still no options to have an iPod adapter even thought by then they were already pretty common in most other cars. So, this DIY has been a long time coming. I’ve mostly been able to manage by just sticking with the CD changer which actually plays MP3 cds!  The other times, I mostly listen to the radio on NPR.  But with a black Friday sale, I finally decided to pull the trigger and retrofitted my car with an iPod adapter. I’ve had previous experience with this installing on my dad’s Honda SUV, which he actually uses quite often.  The install on his car involved pulling out the head unit and reconnecting the cables and his adapter is pretty simple (but very good) with no text display or controls on the factory radio, rather control is only on the iPod.  The adapter I installed on my car is from DICE Electronics and is actually their new Silverline DUO line (DUO-103-AVW). It allows for retaining of your SAT radio (Sirus/XM) in addition to the iPod interface. It can display artist, song title, album title, etc. on the factory radio and allows for control (skipping, rewind) on the radio and steering wheel controls!  The product isn’t perfect and it’s not the most simplistic systems to use (some quite confusing menu options, setup and navigation procedures – I’m still trying to figure it out after reading the manual like 9 times). But it was somewhat easier to install. This time, I didn’t have to pull the radio head unit out, the connection was made with a wire harness right at the Sirus/XM satellite tuner.  As an added bonus, I notice the iPod adapter cable plug didn’t have a protective cap ( to prevent the delicate metal jack from being bent, dirtied or damaged). So I made one using an old cap I found from an included iPod usb cable, a small black plastic string and some electrical tape. I must say it came together well. And now, I can enjoy the occasional podcast and iTunes library music on the road now!



DIY: Skylight on a budget

My upstairs bathrooms have no windows and because of that, there’s no sunlight during the day.  When I got the roof redone recently I asked the contractor to make two 10 inch holes on the roof.  With his help, I installed these Velux Skylights, which are really affordable ($160 at Lowes on sale), surprisingly easy to install, and adds a decent amount of sunlight during the day.  These work by reflecting sunlight from the opening down the reflective tunnels. The 14″ would have offered even more light but was a lot more expensive, so I opted just for the 10″ which is still great.  Now the bathrooms have some natural sunlight during the day and at times I don’t even have to turn on any lights when I walk in them! Definitely a very worthwhile and doable DIY.



If you’re part of the 95% of the population that have ceramic tiles in the bathroom and/or shower stall, you’ll recognize like most of us that the grout (stuff in the gaps between each adjacent tile) tend to wear out over time. They get stained or worst yet parts of them will actually fall out leaving holes or missing grouts. Periodically, one must re-grout the tiles. And thus, it became another weekend project of mine to re-grout the bathroom shower stall. Learned a few things from trial and error. First, if you have 1/8″ inch gaps between tiles that you want to fill with grout, you need specifically a “non-sanded” grout vs a sanded grout which is more for filling up bigger gaps (with sand which makes sense).  Most standard bathroom and kitchen tiles will use the non-sanded dry white grout. Second, it’s important to get a scraping blade tool to get out some of the old grout… deep enough so that the new grout bond to a clean surface of the old grout.  Finally, after all is done, it’s crucial to apply a sealant to the grout so that it’s resistant to moisture and staining over time. You may also want to apply some caulk along the edges as well.

Also, the best youtube detailed “how-to” I found was the following:

New Doors

Finally, worked with a contractor to put in two new patio doors.  A sliding patio door out to the deck and a Fench door on the lower level. The thermally sealed internal mini-blinds are so awesome…  (goodbye ugly old vertical blinds!) Both doors are Energy Star rated (Low-E glass with Argon gas) and qualify for the Energy Tax Credit! Doors are a bit tricky to install correctly. To do it right, you have to make adjustments to the opening, check for levelness at all times, add insulation in gaps, use shims and construction adhesive. Then there’s putting in the right trim. One bit of advice, if you’re doing this on a nice weather weekend, make sure to rent the flatbed truck (for transporting the new doors and removing the old ones) early in advance…. otherwise, prepare for a nightmare. I ended up not being able to get a flatbed truck and had to run around town a bit to find a Uhaul truck.


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