Can someone please explain to me why I always seem to find fiber optic cleaning supplies so fascinating? While I have a very decent understanding of the fiber cleaning and termination processes, they’re by no means tasks that I carry out on a daily basis, so why do I tend to stop and say “ooooh!” every time an innovative new fiber cleaner happens to come my way? It’s probably a mystery better left unsolved, but it comes in handy nonetheless – if I weren’t a big enough cable nerd to find these things cool, I’d never be able to yack on about them to you. So, without any further ado, let’s get down to today’s latest and greatest.
The AFL Telecommunications One-Click Cleaner captured my fancy just yesterday, mostly because its convenience and portability factors are through the roof - it’s basically a pen-shaped cleaning tool for fiber optic connectors and adapters, and to be quite honest, it reminds me of those One-Touch blood glucose meters that one always sees TV commercials for. Now, the One-Click won’t do anything to help monitor your blood sugar levels, but it does have a design that’s compact, all-inclusive, and intended for multiple uses (500, to be exact!) – just like the portable blood sugar testers. But the nice thing about the One-Click is that it doesn’t involve sticking your fingers (phew).
So, as for how it works – it’s very easy really. One of the chief charms of the One-Touch connector cleaner is that it has no need at all for things like isopropyl alcohol or cleaning solutions – instead, it relies on a self-forwarding cleaning tape to take care of the so-called dirty work. And you’ll really like this – the cleaning and tape-advancing take place all in one step – you just insert the One-Click’s tip into a fiber optic connector, and push until you here a click (hence the name). That’s it. In the time it takes to hear that sound, the cleaning tool automatically forwards to a fresh section of tape, makes solid contact with the connector’s backplane, and rotates to pick up dust, oils, lint, and other debris. You don’t even have to bother twisting your wrist.
Filed under: Test Equipment, Tools and Cases, Workplace Safety
I hate to break it to you, but it looks like the Hard Way, as we know it, is about to go the way of trans fats and non-recyclable grocery bags – that is to say, waaaaaaaay out of style. At least when it comes to gauging the temperature of hot objects, that is. There will be no more hesitant outstretching of shaking hands as you wince in anticipation of singed fingertips. There will be no more blisters or reddened skin to announce to the world, “I should have known better.” So sit up straight and listen up, kids – it’s time to meet the Triplett ProTemp 12.
So what exactly is the ProTemp 12, anyway? Five fun words to pique your excitement: a gun-style infrared thermometer. That’s right. You just pick it up, aim, pull the trigger, and get an instant and precise temperature reading on whatever the thermometer’s laser pointer happens to be resting on. Pretty cool, right? When there’s no need to get too close to hot engine components or pressurized pipes, that automatically means fewer burns for you.
The ProTemp 12 is perfect for use in industrial plants, boiler plants, and garages, but it’s also great for cooking. Specifically, measuring the surface temps of pots and pans. This may sound crazy, but as soon as I found that out, I though of someone who could have really used one of these about 20 years ago. I grew up watching cooking shows on PBS, and mixed in somewhere amongst Julia Child, The Frugal Gourmet, and Yan Can Cook was a show called Madeleine Cooks, hosted by a petite and charming French lady by the name of Madeleine. Now, Madeleine made great stuff and I loved the show, but she did one thing that even I, a kid, considered un peu crazy (albeit extremely amusing). She tested the temperature of her pans with her knuckles. C’est dangereux, non?
I, of course, intend no offense or disrespect to the chef – I just wished she wouldn’t have sacrificed her poor knuckles for perfectly cooked crepes. So this one’s for you, Madeleine – may you let infrared rays do the dirty work, and enjoy life without peeling knuckles.
Filed under: Cable Pulling, Raceway, Duct and Conduit, Tools and Cases
When you think of pulling cables through conduit, what do you imagine one of the biggest problems to be? Working the wiring through tight bends? Or how about friction damage? Both of these are undeniably conduit-related pains in the, ahem… tokus, but there’s another possible pulling snafu that’s even more obnoxious: twisted cables.
Now, when I say “twisted,” I’m not talking about a little benign spiraling. I’m referring to the hard core wrapping and tangling that sends conduit friction levels through the roof, and can even cause your cables to start attenuating. The kind of mess that demands a do-over every time.
Spare yourself a lot of frustration, not to mention that overwhleming sense of deja-vu with every re-pull, by enlisting the assistance of a Rack-A-Tiers® Wire Puller Strap. This simple but ingenious cable-pulling implement actually staggers the wires you’re pulling, so while they’re technically together, they stay distinctly separate (read: knot-free and running parallel to one another). The cables enter the conduit untangled, and emerge at the other end the same way. Quite the winning concept, isn’t it?
Here’s how it works. The Wire Pulling strap is approximately 4 inches long, and has triangular wire holes cut out along its length. You just attach a cable to each of these holes, rig the pulling strap to your fish tape or wire puller, and haul away. Having the cables staggered just that little bit with the pulling strip makes a huge difference – as a matter of fact, it can actually cut labor time in half.
Rack-A-Tiers® cable pulling straps are made of powder-coated steel, and come in sets of 3 (one each of red, blue, and green). Having the multiples lets you attach 2 or more together if you have a large number of cables to pull, and the mix in colors helps you to keep different groups of cable visually separated while they’re being simultaneously pulled into the same pass-through or junction box.
Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Tools and Cases
Say you have a cable bundle to route along the surface of a wall. Say that the wall just happens to be made out of unsealed brick or aerated concrete. Say that the adhesive cable tie mounts you had stashed in your tool kit for just such an occasion refuse to stick. Say… a few really bad words.
No, wait, I take that back. Hold on to the profanity, and save it for a more worthwhile situation – one that there isn’t actually a solution for. Because there’s a really quick fix for the little cable tie mount/brick wall incompatibility problem you’re having right now. And it’s called the Mille-Anchor™ Cable Tie Anchoring System, by Millepede™.
Because of the rough and porous texture of brick and concrete, it’s pretty tough to mount anything to these materials with adhesive, because, simply put, it just won’t stick. But Mille-Anchors™ surmounts this annoying little detail by going straight through that uncooperative surface and driving the cable tie mounts right into the wall.
Don’t let this put you off, though, because unlike drywall anchors, you don’t have to pre-drill before you can use Mille-Anchors™ – they hammer right in, no power tools required. And once they’re in, they’re incredibly low-profile, so when your cable bundles are lashed onto them, the cables won’t jut out extra far from the wall. Nice design feature. And they’re very resistant to pulling out, so once they’re in place, they’ll stay there until you deliberately remove them.
You can never have enough laser gadgets in your toolbox, right? I didn’t think so. That’s why today we’re going to talk about a nifty new tool I recently came across: the Laser Plumb Bob by Rack-A-Tiers. It may still work off of the same bullet-shaped suspended weight that a regular plumb line does, but here’s the catch: it doesn’t have to hang from the ceiling or a beam to work.
I know what you’re thinking: say what??? Remember that I said this is a laser plumb bob, so there’s no string involved. Instead, the “line” is made of light. Here’s how it works: the brass weight is suspended in a frame, in which it can move until it finds its center of gravity, and is hanging perfectly straight. Built into the top of the weight is a small laser that beams a ray of light upward to the ceiling, and leaves a red laser pinpoint showing exactly where you need to work. And did I mention that the laser plumb bob just sits on the floor or a worksurface? That means no more balancing on ladders with your hands full – yeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!!!
This is it, ladies and gents. The one that almost got away. I don’t know how I let this one slip between the cracks, but let’s just say that it’s a good thing that I received an e-mail from a coworker this morning, asking me which tools, out of all that we sell, I think are the coolest. Because that’s when I remembered the Super Wrist Magnet. Honestly, I don’t know how I could have forgotten it, especially since I just about busted a gut the first time I heard its name. I mean, the thing sounds like it shoud be wearing a cape, or like it might be a prime secret weapon for the X-Men to whip out against Magneto. But after I stopped snorting with laughter and had wiped the tears of mirth from my eyes, I realized that the Super Wrist Magnet is actually an extremely creative and useful product.
If you’re wondering why one would ever want to wear a powerfully magnetic wristband, I have two words for you: runaway hardware. How many times have you ever shrieked in despair as you watched nails, screws, drill bits, nuts and bolts roll or skitter away just when you needed them most? Personally, I really would have dug having one of these last year, when I was helping my sister assemble an apartment full of IKEA furniture. We carefully counted and separated all of the hardware, but things started to get a little tricky when those little silver-colored pieces began to fall onto the mottled gray carpet, and then roll away across the slanted floor (it’s a really old building). Needless to say, frustration and profanity ensued.
But if I had had one of these on hand (literally), things would have gone a little (okay, a lot) easier. The Super Wrist Magnet is the perfect for keeping all of the small hardware for a job right where you need it, so you don’t have to keep stopping what you’re doing to grab parts. My suggestion is to wear this ingenious contraption on the wrist that corresponds to whichever hand you’re holding your drill, hammer, or screwdriver in. That way, your free hand can just grab one screw or nail at a time, and you’ll never miss a beat – or have to crawl around looking for escaped pieces.
The Super Wrist Magnet is made of steel covered in comfortable neoprene, with 6 extremely strong neodymium magnets providing plenty of magnetic pull. And despite the whole “made of steel” thing, the wristband is actually very lightweight, so wearing it around won’t tire your arm out.
Talk about having an arsenal on your hip. No, I’m not talking about firearms or any other family of weapons. I’m talking about cable installation tools – just about every major type you could need, all packed into a compact holster that you can clip right onto your belt. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no pro cable installer, but I have learned quite a few basic cable terminations, and in doing so, used all of the required tools firsthand. And just from my hands-on experience in class, sitting at a table, I can imagine that searching for, and then juggling, tools in the field can get pretty annoying. That’s why, today, I’m turning the spotlight onto the Black Box Professional Technician’s Kit.
I love smart kits like this. All too often, combination-type items (everything from compilation CDs to candy mixes) seem to fall short on the things you really want, but load you up with other products you could do without. But with the Professional Technician’s case, that isn’t even an issue. It’s got everything that you need, and nothing you don’t. Enough said.
Included in the kit are must-haves like a punchdown tool, a reversible Type 110/66 puchdown blade, a combination cutter/stripper for UTP and STP cables, utility scissors, a mini flashlight (AA batteries included), a multi-use spudger, and even a Sharpie marker – all packed into a molded PVC holster that holds it all in place, and perches securely on your belt. You just pull out the tool you need, when you need it, and put it back in its place when you’re done, so it’s ready to go for next time. Nice.
It’s a rough choice that no music lover should have to face: do I listen to my iPod, or do I pack it away into a protective case so it doesn’t get wet/banged around/broken? A basic sense of responsibility would dictate that you protect your expensive miniature electronics when you travel or venture out into wet environments, but as is the case in most situations, responsibility is no fun. How could it be, when taking care of your MP3 player means that you have to cut yourself off from those must-have tunes? Sigh.
Well, don’t get yourself down about it for long, because the pros at Pelican have accomplished yet another feat of case engineering, and this time, it was all done in the name of the almighty iPod®. Pelican’s i1010 iPod® cases let MP3 player owners take their stuff on the road without worrying that their portable music libraries will get scratched up, destroyed by water, or smashed to smithereens. If you’re not familiar with standard Pelican gear cases, you’ll probably be impressed to hear that they’re crushproof (you can drive over them with an SUV and nothing will happen), dust/dirtproof, and in most cases, watertight. These miniature versions are crushproof and dustproof just like their full-sized predecessors, but are only classified as “water-resistant,” as opposed to “watertight.” But we’re not complaining about that – the reason for the slight step down in moisture protection is due to one of the case’s coolest features: the Funjack.
The Funjack is what lets you listen to your music even when your iPod is securely closed inside the case – it actually lets you plug your earbuds in right through the case’s side wall. Pretty cool, is it not? So even though the case isn’t completely watertight, it does seal out most moisture, and is virtually indestructable in just about every other way. Oh, and I should probably mention that it comes in 7 iPod® matching colors. Sounds like a win-win situation for both you and the iPod® , doesn’t it?
Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional contractor, if you’re in the habit of working with sheetrock, you have to check out today’s featured products: the RockEater® and Compass saws by Sharksaw. These things are designed to rip right through a variety of different materials – in addition to both saws cutting through sheetrock/drywall, the RockEater® can also tackle cement board, and the Compass Saw has the power to handle wall paneling, plywood, and even desk and table tops.
Equipped with pointed tips, the blades of both these saws are built to punch right into the material you’re cutting, so getting a cut started is really easy. Both types of saw have chrome-plated, electrically hardened blades in common, but their respective blade designs are also what differentiate them from one another. The RockEater® has a thicker, wider blade that makes it perfect for cutting sheetrock to size, or cutting out sections for outlet boxes or pipe repairs. On the other hand, the Compass Saw has a narrower blade that can be easily maneuvered through more detailed operations, like making curved or circular cutouts in wood and furniture.
Both tools sport industrial-stength handles that have molded-in fingerholds, which let you get a firm, comfortable, and non-slip grip while sawing.
There was a time when I only equated heat guns with heat shrink tubing and shrink wrap. Sigh. How sad and narrow-minded I was. But this limited thinking can be excused – until recently, the only heat guns I had used were the lighter-weight arts-and-crafts versions, which only have so much power. Not the kind of tools you’d use for anything remotely heavy duty. But then, the Weldy Plus heat gun came along, and I learned that there are so many more uses for heat tools (provided that they have enough power, which the Weldy Plus has plenty of).
While it still tackles lighter jobs like heat shrink and drying paint, it also has enough heat and muscle to strip stubborn varnish when you’re refinishing furniture, help with automotive repairs and customization (Dynamat installation, anyone?), and even thaw frozen pipes. Come to think of it, a heat gun probably would have come in handy during my growing-up years in Connecticut, when I’d hear my parents run frantically down to the basement on really cold mornings and try to thaw out frozen pipes with a hair dryer. Oh, Weldy Plus, where have you been all my life?
Okay, maybe I’m getting a little too dramatic here, but this really is a great heat gun. Perfect for pros – it has a temp range that goes from 180°F to 1200°F, and its overall weight is ergonomically balanced to prevent wrist strain during heavy use. There’s a standby power setting so you don’t waste electricity, and you can even adjust airflow strength according to what type of project you’re working on.