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Last week IKEA announced that they’ll soon sell furniture featuring an “integrated HDTV.” That’s right: You can now buy a TV stand complete with TV, BluRay player, and stereo for around $950. That’s the 24″ version.

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But wait a minute. The local BuyMore offers a (complete with 1080p display) for $170. (I’m not, by the way, recommending this TV. It’s just the first one I came across. I found lots of them in this price range.) Brand-name BluRay players start around $65. And even though the IKEA offering only offers 2.1 sound, you can buy a pretty nice smallish 5.1 system for under $200. I’m not a math genius, but that adds up to around $435. So you’re essentially paying $515 for a crappy melamine-covered MDF cabinet and the loss of stereo component selection.

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Maybe it’s just me, but this screams DIY.

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The CEL. (That’s what mechanics call the “check engine light.”) The folks over at Lifehacker recently posted a list of “the five most common causes of a check engine light and what you should do about them,” and it’s not a bad list. Check out the article if you wish, but I’ll save you some trouble. The list: faulty oxygen sensor, loose or faulty gas cap, faulty catalytic converter, faulty mass airflow sensor, bad spark plugs and/or wires. They suggest taking your car in for diagnostics (which will work, of course), but most Toolmongers know by now that with a simple reader you can at least see what the computer thinks is wrong. And if you don’t own a reader, you can generally rent one (or borrow one with the purchase price as security) from auto parts stores.

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The Milwaukee Fluorescent Lighting Tester is one of those ho-hum looking tools that will drastically change somebody’s day. It doesn’t look like a big deal, but for the maintenance guy who wanders around your building grumbling about fixing lights all day, this will be forever attached to his belt. What it does is allow you to check exactly what’s wrong with fluorescent lighting without touching it or even getting a ladder in most cases. To our way of thinking, somebody should have come up with this a long time ago.

Here’s the deal — should you come across a dark bulb, just extend the 3′ wand and put the cupped plate in contact with the glass. The wand sends a super low current through to the gas inside the bulb, and if it lights, it’s just a bad bulb. If it doesn’t, switch to “Ballast” mode and wave the wand at either connection point. If it beeps, the ballast is good; if not, you have a bad ballast at that end. You can also do a pin check by inserting the pins of a bulb into the checker located at the bottom of the unit and get a tone for good or no tone for bad.

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Studfinders and wallscanners are a bit of a mystery to me. While I dig them, the requirement for having one is beyond what I have cause to use in everyday projects. But the new wallscanner D-Tect150 uses Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) Radar and for some reason, it’s just cool.

Bosch says that the 150 is the first detector to use Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) radar in a wallscanner and that it

…exceeds all other conventional sensor scanners by bringing superior detection depth and accuracy to the job-site.  The Bosch D-tect 150 is also the only scanner in the marketplace that can display material type, depth & relative width information of ferrous and non-ferrous metal, non-metal objects (i.e. wooden studs and plastic pipes) and live AC wires in concrete, wet concrete, deep concrete, in-floor heating, drywall, metal and signal view.

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We’ve covered OBD-II readers before on Toolmonger, and it’s our experience that they generally fall into two categories: the inexpensive ones which offer a read of instant data only, and the expensive ones which show and record real-time data. It makes sense, as it takes a lot more computing power and design to handle the real-time data than it does to just show you the current readings. But what if you’ve already spent a few hundred bucks on a pocket computing device that has plenty of juice to drive such a display — like, say, an iPhone?

Griffin launched a “car monitoring sensor” this week at CES that plugs into your OBD-II data jack and connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth. Their app records and displays the data via the iPhone’s pretty high-res touch screen. Total cost: about $90.

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The selling shtick for this product touts its ability to keep you informed about the status of your vacation home. But even if you (like us) aren’t loaded enough to have two homes, it’s still damn useful. Plug this sucker into a phone line, stick a 9V in the back, and it’ll call a phone number of your choice when the temperature drops below 45 degrees.

This would make a great addition to any home in the North — or any place where it stays below freezing for a decent chunk of the year. A broken heater (even while you’re alway for work) can make for a bad day. And $50 isn’t much to spend for peace of mind. Plus it’s kinda gadgety, which makes it a fun gift.

Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

Did you know you can install your own tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) on older cars? Turns out it’s a pretty simple system. Most aftermarket (and stock) systems rely on one of three sensor types: They either mount on a metal strap tightened around the center of the wheel, attach to the inside of the wheel right behind the valve stem, or replace the valve caps.

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Some people go to great lengths to keep their work space clean and free of clutter. This may not characterize your habits, but I think we all can agree that a mess of cables on your desk not only looks bad, but can constantly get in your way.  Lee Valley added two promising cable management boxes earlier this year that warrant a look.

The first is a 6-1/8″ by 4-1/4″ surface mount box that protrudes 1-1/2″ above the surface of the desk. Made from powder-coated steel, it can be mounted on the side, back, or top of the desk. It has two 7/16″ and three 1/4″ cable ports lined with plastic grommets to protect the cables. A hinged metal lid covers the cables ends when they’re not in use and is held in place by a rare earth magnet.

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While replacing the headphone jack in my iPod Touch, I was temporarily stymied on how to cut a flex circuit so I could remove the jack, desolder the tail, and resolder the new jack. Then I remembered my wife’s cuticle scissors. In hindsight I could have just desoldered the connector without cutting the flex circuit, but cutting it sure made the whole operation a lot easier.

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Whether you’re drying your own mill-sawed wood or just working with pre-sawed lumber that’s been sitting outside for a while — and maybe got a little rain — the moisture content of the material you use may well make the difference between success and failure in your next woodworking project. But besides waiting around until you’re pretty sure the wood is “dry,” how do you know how moist your stock is? Easy: You apply a wood moisture meter.

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