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Ryobi heated up competition in the low-to-mid-end tool market with their dramatically improved 12V One+ power tool line. But what about all those other jobsite tasks, like measurement, safety, security, and documentation? That’s the whole point of their new Tek4 line — a collection of everything from a multimeter to hearing protection to a digital camera, all powered via a compact 4V li-ion system.

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Forget stethoscopes and bolt cutters; this is the 21st century. This modern piece of safe-cracking equipment is simply a sensitive microphone, amplifier, and headset designed to work together to make Hollywood’s beloved by-ear safe crack a reality. Apparently, it includes some kind of noise cancellation, since the manufacturer claims you can “tune out distracting noises and hone in on the signals you are listening for,” and it’s sensitive enough to allow a skilled user to determine the type of mechanism he’s cracking.

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If the zombies attack and civilization ends, this Survival Radio will still serve as a flashlight. And while civilization still exists, this tool can help you return to it if you ever get lost. Say you’re hunting javelinas in South Texas, and you get separated from your buddies. Your cell phone isn’t getting any reception, and you run down the battery trying. The Survival Radio can save the day! Crank it up, and charge your phone and listen to the radio while you walk. Maybe you’ll only pick up Tejano stations, but when you finally get reception on your phone, the battery’ll be charged!

It also features a thermometer, to tell you just how hot it really is in South Texas, and a siren to scare away the javelinas.

Survival Radio With Phone Charger [Valor]
Valor [Corporate Site]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?] [What’s This?]


I can’t think of any gadget that’s become ubiquitous as fast as the Apple iPod, with its never-ending array of accessories that run the gamut from high-end earphones to toilet paper holders. Now Whatever Works offers an accessory especially for toolies: a decent tool box that offers protection to your Ipod or other MP3 player as well as an amplifier and AM/FM radio for your listening pleasure.

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Back when I was playing in dive bars, the 14-year-old opening act would always start their set by playing, all together and on stage, the tuning song: E, E, E, E, A, A, A, A, D, D, D… you get the idea.  By the time they become closers, they discover plug-in tuners.  Now Planet Waves offers an even smaller and easier (on the ears) method of tuning up: the pick-sized sound-on-string tuner.

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Andy, a theatrical audio engineer, commented on our previous post regarding the Behringer CT-100 Audio Cable Tester, bringing to our attention that Berhringer borrowed the design from smaller audio firm Ebtech’s Swizz Army 6-in-1 Cable Tester, pictured above.  They certainly appear identical to me.

While I’m aware of Behringer’s past with Mackie and Aphex, I’ve never really been a Behringer hater.  When I was first struggling to pick up a mixer for my band, I was happy to find a Behringer that sounded pretty decent — it was a Mackie ripoff, after all.  Sure, it was built poorly, wouldn’t last as long as the Mackie (which I bought later), and Behringer couldn’t provide the same level of support for it.  But I couldn’t afford that level of quality and support, anyway — at the time.

Often we make choices like this not as much based on ultimate morality as we do the need to find something readily-available that we can afford and’ll do the job.

I remember when the company Eagle starter producing the first IBM PC clones way back when I was a kid.  (My parents owned part of a computer store, so I worked there on weekends.)  Eagle was sued — the boards we’re layed out identically — and eventually they worked out a deal that opened up the PC market to what it is today.  If IBM’d had its way, we’d still pay $3500 for a desktop PC — without any other options.

So while I don’t feel particularly bad for Mackie or Aphex, I have to admit that I do feel bad for Ebtech.  This tester’s a great idea, and I could totally have afforded an extra $30 or so to buy from the original creator — had I known they existed.  Sadly, Ebtech didn’t have the same kind of relationship with Guitar Center (or Mars, back when I was buying), which means I didn’t see it until Andy posted the other day — after I’ve had my CT-100 for about seven years.

Thanks, Andy, for pointing this out, and here’s a post with the Swizz Army unit.  It streets for around $80, and can be found in most quality pro-audio establishments.  You amateurs (like me) can pick it up from Musician’s Friend, where it’s selling for $90 as of this moment.

The Swizz Army 6-in-1 Cable Tester [Ebtech]
Street Pricing [Froogle]

Note: I really enjoyed Andy’s audio submissions, and I love seeing cool audio tools, so I’ve created a new “Audio” tool-type category.  Hopefully we’ll see more submissions along these lines!


Andy from the blog OneFromTheRoad.com writes: “I work full time as a live sound engineer for theatre and concerts in NYC and on tour, and was pleasantly surprised to see an audio cable tester on here, so here’s my suggestion in that vein.

“In addition to my Ebtech Swizz Army Tester, the other ‘must have’ in my toolbag is the Rat Sniffer (and it’s companion, the Rat Sender) — an XLR cable tester designed by touring sound engineer Dave Rat (sound guy for, among many other big name bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers).

“The Rat Sniffer is a little gadget about the size of a standard XLR connector, with three bi-color LEDs on one end, and a male XLR connector on the other.  When you use it to test a cable, it lights up three green lights for a good cable, and a combination of red and green lights to indicate what exactly the problem is, if anything’s wrong.

“What’s brilliant, though, is that it can work single ended, on a cable that’s already been run — where you can’t get to both ends of the cable at once.  (The Swizz can do this too, but requires an extra DIY piece, and involves multiple steps.)   All it needs to work is to see phantom power on the other end of the cable!  Can I tell you how many times this has saved me precious time troubleshooting before a show went up?!?  It’s repaid for itself many times over.

“If you don’t have phantom available on the cable you want to test, they also make the Rat Sender, which uses a 12V car alarm battery to provide appropriate power to the tester.  (Heck, with a Y-cable it can even provide limited 12V phantom to a mic!)”

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