The Do it Yourself (DIY) community covers just about every topic imaginable—from robotics and printed circuit board creation to cell phone “hackers” (not hackers in the bad sense, but hackers as in modifying their phone’s code legally) and home installation. There is literally something for everybody. However, DIY projects can be hard to complete, especially on one’s first attempt with no prior knowledge. This is what fuels collaboration between Do it Yourselfers (DIYers) and gives rise to online forums and communities.
These communities typically highly specialized or generalized. For those new to DIY projects I recommend that they join maybe one or two general communities. Perhaps the most popular general DIY online community is Instructables. The site has thousands of active members, and a category for just about everything! One can view completed DIY project instructions in a step by step manner and chat in the forums.
Joining a site like Instructables will give new DIYers an additional community to rely on, as well as an additional perspective. From here I recommend that new DIYers join one or two specialty communities based around their DIY interests.
There is no better place for DIY robotics than LetsMakeRobots and the Arduino/Picaxe forum (depending upon one’s chosen microcontroller). LetsMakeRobots is, in simplest terms, a show and tell site dedicated to helping others learn to create robotics. They have active forums, as well as an upcoming shop. Additionally, users can view how others have made their robots! The community consists of users from middle schools all the way to professional engineers. The Arduino and Picaxe forums are not as specialized nor in-depth, but they are still an irreplaceable resource for those new to building robots and other projects utilizing a microcontroller. All of the sites listed above include helpful tutorials. Be sure to check them out!
Those interested in joining a DIY community for cellphones will greatly benefit from the CellPhoneHacks online forum. The forum has categories to discuss Apple and Android, as well as Windows OS, Blackberry, and even PalmOS! They also have a place to discuss mobile carriers. However, this community is nowhere as large as any other listed here, so discussion will be slow, but helpful. Other places to check include Hack Forums (a larger community) and Hak5. The above will prove to be irreplaceable, as users will be knowledgeable and point others in the right direction in finding those hard to find tutorials.
There are numerous other forums and communities, in fact there are too many to be discussed here. However, a quick Google search should help one find active communities around their chosen DIY niche. When in doubt ask on the Instructables forum. Alternatively, check out HackaDay to find projects related to one’s niche and follow the links listed. Through careful research one should be able to find a do it yourself community for almost anything. If one cannot, however, they have no reason to fear. Sticking to the general communities will provide more than enough help and support for even the toughest of DIY projects.