Tinkerer takes hobby to a new level with electronics fix-it shop

MIDDLEBURY — As a child, Joshua Chamberlain loved to take mechanical things apart and put them back together again. He wanted to see what made them tick and make sure they kept ticking when he had reassembled them.
Now 41, Chamberlain is still taking stuff apart — only he is now getting paid for it. He has just opened The Laptop Shop on Middlebury’s Merchants Row, where he works out bugs in computers and a variety of other electronics for customers who might otherwise have to make the trek to Rutland or Chittenden counties.
“It motivates me that I can repair something for someone so that it is not frustrating them anymore,” said Chamberlain, a Middlebury Union High School graduate and Salisbury native who now lives in Bridport with his wife, Maija, and their five children.
Chamberlain has had many years of practice and training in his craft. After graduating from MUHS in 1991, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy to become an aviation electrician’s mate. He served aboard an aircraft carrier and visited numerous ports of call in the Pacific during a four-year stint, all the while gaining an understanding of electronics.
He returned to Addison County after being honorably discharged in 1995, starting his first in a series of stints with Vermont Electro-Mechanical Assembly Services (VEMAS), formerly based in Middlebury and now in Poultney.
“I tested circuit boards and also troubleshooted them,” Chamberlain said.
The ensuing several years would see Chamberlain divide his time between Wisconsin and Vermont, during which time he would meet his wife and begin to raise a family. In Wisconsin, Chamberlain worked for a company called Dynatronix, where he would test and troubleshoot power supply units.
He and his family returned to Vermont permanently seven years ago. He again joined up with VEMAS, but eventually had to stop working after becoming ill. That prolonged illness — characterized by allergies, dizziness and fatigue — forced Chamberlain to go on disability. But he got bored and soon found himself back tinkering with computers and electronics. That tinkering led to some referrals of people with equipment that needed fixing. Chamberlain was happy to do it.
“People would say, ‘I heard you fix electronics, could you fix this, or that?’” Chamberlain said. “I started getting more and more experienced.”
And he started getting more work dropped off at his Bridport home.
“I was getting enough (work), and said to myself, ‘This could be a legitimate business,’” he said.
Chamberlain took a course in repairing computer hardware and received his certification.
That’s when he decided to make the next leap — to his own Middlebury storefront, where he reasoned he would have a higher profile and more foot traffic. He found a spot on Merchants Row, near Steve’s Park Diner. The space is enough for his workshop and some wifi-equipped computer stations. He hopes to get the word out that he can repair computers and a variety of electronics, ranging from cell phone screens to flat-screen TVs. He also will sell repaired, pre-owned laptops and other electronics. And he is also offering to set up computer systems for customers and give guidance to people wanting to learn how to become computer-literate.
More information about The Laptop Shop can be found at www.acecomputerservices-vt.com.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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