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Maker's Bill of Rights

Don't be misled by the word "Maker's" in the title. "Maker" comes from Make magazine, the website that originally posted "The Maker's Bill of Rights" as created by Mister Jalopy, Phillip Torrone, and Simon Hill. The trio's collective lament and peeve is the manner in which so many manufacturers (aka 'the makers,' but not the object addressed in the title) produce products that are essentially unserviceable by users. It has been a topic of concern by many consumers ever since miniature and integrated components hit the product scene in the 1960s. "The Maker's Bill of Rights" was published around 2006. Permission has magnanimously been given to broadcast and promote it far and wide using the poster contained in this PDF document.

The Maker's Bill of Rights - RF Cafe

As I read down the bullet list, I find myself agreeing with each and every point. Who wouldn't? In fact, I would add to it the obvious "Replacement parts shall be made available for a minimum of ten years." Yes, that would be an ideal world, but there are two big problems. The first is that incorporating any hardware-related item in the list would almost certainly increase the size, weight, and expense of our dirt cheap, made-in-China electronics and appliances. The second is that incorporating any of the remaining items would impair or prevent competitive advantage and thereby reduce overall quality and functionality. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

You might know that I spent nearly seven years performing product teardowns and reverse engineering of competitors' products. During that period, as well as before and after that period while working on personal items, I have routinely encountered frustrations described by every item in "The Maker's Bill of Rights," so I fully appreciate the demands of the author. In fact, I wish I had known about his excellent credo back in 2006 while I was doing the work professionally, because a big poster bearing the message would have been framed and prominently hung in my cubicle (I didn't rate an office). I spent many hours figuring out how to pry open cellphone, wireless router, PDA, notebook computer, and other types of cases without inflicting physical damage. My toolbox included just about every type of specialty screwdriver and prying device available - plus a few I fabricated myself. On more than one occasion I meticulously sanded through LTCC substrates to generate a schematic diagram that included discrete and distributed components. In fact, I should probably thank the manufacturers for making their products the way they do because it provided a great job and income for many years.

Accordingly, I have created a different version of "The Maker's Bill of Rights" (below) where this time the 'makers' are the manufacturers who make the products.

The Maker's Bill of Rights (original 'Maker' = website name)

  • Meaningful and specific parts lists shall be included.
  • Cases shall be easy to open.
  • Batteries shall be replaceable.
  • Special tools are allowed only for darn good reasons.
  • Profiting by selling expensive special tools is wrong, and not making special tools available is even worse.
  • Torx is OK; tamperproof is rarely OK.
  • Components, not entire subassemblies, shall be replaceable.
  • Consumables, like fuses and filters, shall be easy to access.
  • Circuit boards shall be commented. Power from USB is good; power from proprietary power adapters is bad.
  • Standard connectors shall have pinouts defined.
  • If it snaps shut, it shall snap open.
  • Screws better than glues.
  • Docs and drivers shall have permalinks and shall reside for all perpetuity at archive.org.
  • Maker's Bill of Rights - RF CafeEase of repair shall be a design ideal, not an afterthought.
  • Metric or standard, not both.
  • Schematics shall be included.

Drafted by Mister Jalopy, with assistance from Phillip Torrone and Simon Hill.

The Maker's Bill of Rights (new 'Maker' = manufacturer)

  • Most of you are too dumb to service your own stuff anyway - even if we used all leaded parts that plug into sockets - so we'll keep building it in a manner in which we can stay in business and continue to feed your appetite for small, inexpensive, made-in-China stuff.


Posted  June 16, 2014

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Copyright: 1996 - 2024


    Kirt Blattenberger,


RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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