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Who ever said that play can’t change the world? The Soccket ball, developed by two Harvard alumns, is a regulation-size soccer ball containing an inductive coil mechanism that captures and stores a small electrical charge. With a tiny flip cap that reveals an 1/8″ input, after less than 30 minutes of play, the Soccket will power an LED light for 3 hours, charge a battery, or operate other small devices, including an iPhone or portable CD player.

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I don’t know if this is the same contest that TM noted in 2008 (TM 10/27/08), another episode because they made three of these trucks for a national tour, or some glitch due to the economy — if it’s a continuation of the earlier one, they’re taking forever to pick a winner, or maybe this is turning into a perpetual contest.

In any case, if you’re “a professional contractor or skilled trade worker in construction and currently employed in the construction industry,” you can enter the Lenox Site Commander Sweepstakes before 5/1/2010, and you could win a pimped-out work truck. The basic truck is a 2008 Dodge Ram quad-cab, four-wheel-drive 5500 HD with a 6.7L Cummins turbo diesel engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and a Reading Spacemaster Classic II service body.

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Aldi probably isn’t the first place you’d look for an emergency generator, but they’re running a fine deal on a Kingcraft model as we speak. Specifications include 2,500W continuous output (20A at 120VAC), 3,250W peak output, two AC sockets, 12VDC terminals, and a 6.5HP motor. Claimed run time at half load is eight hours, requiring four gallons of fuel.

Kingcraft probably isn’t the best generator manufacturer, but the asking price is less than half that of comparable models. A similar Troy-Bilt model retails for $429, and Generac’s 3,250W unit costs $469. Both Troy-Bilt and Generac rate their products by continuous output rather than peak, so they have a leg up on the Kingcraft from the start. The unit is produced by the daintily-named Chong Qing Dajiang Power Equipment Co. LTD, a Chinese industrial engine manufacturer. No surprise at the price. Still, a discriminating rifleman has good things to say about the Kingcraft.

Kingcraft 3,250W Generator [Aldi Foods]

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Sure you can run a battery charger with a portable generator, but why not cut out the middle man, especially if you’re off the beaten path where you don’t want to haul around a large generator? This would be especially great for charging up an electric trolling motor battery or camper battery when you’re 150 miles from the nearest outlet.

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Airplane mechanics keep detailed service and maintenance records in the plane’s logbook — it helps ’em prevent that long drop with the short stop at the end. But a logbook can also remind you to do routine maintenance on your car, or it can help you diagnose the reason for loss of gas mileage before a serious problem develops. For tractors, combines, bulldozers, graders, generators — the machines that run and build civilization — logbooks can save jobs and lives. Mechanic Support makes this Mechanic’s Logbook software that you can configure for almost any application.

You can put Mechanic’s Logbook on your computer for $16 — you might pay more than that for a dead-tree logbook.

Mechanic’s Logbook [Mechanic Support]
Mechanic Support [Corporate Site]


Now until May 29th, Home Depot’s offering a sweet deal for anyone who’s in the market for a portable generator. You can get ten percent off, plus free shipping, on selected online generator buys. For instance, the Pramac S7500 (pictured) is marked down from $1,633 to $1,469.

It’s not a “buy one, get one free” deal by any stretch — but if you’re in the market anyway, this makes it a bunch less painful on the wallet and gets you a little breathing room to buy gear to go with it. Just remember: online only.

Generator Selection [Home Depot]

Milwaukee 4943-24 Generator

Milwaukee unveiled their new line of gas-powered generators this month, so if you’re in the market for one, now might be the time to pre-order. Ace Tool Online is taking orders and have priced it at $1,770 which is a deal considering list price on this generator is over $3,000.

The generator’s power plant — an 8 HP, 240cc Honda GX engine with a 7-1/2 gallon gas tank — provides 4,300 watts of power. The generator sends the juice to several outlets: four 20A/120V three-prong outlets, one 20A/120V twist-lock, one 30A/120V twist-lock, and one 20A/120-240V twist-lock. A dedicated, branch-rated breaker protects each circuit.

Thanks to the hand truck design, you can move the generator easily around the job — it also has a fold-away lift hook. Milwaukee provides a two-year warranty on both the generator and engine.

Press Release [Milwaukee]
4943-24 [Milwaukee]
Milwaukee 4943-24 [Ace Tool Online]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


Imagine a world without wires. Konarka’s Power Plastic converts light energy into electricity for your portable devices, so you never have to plug them in to a wall socket. The light-weight plastic technology offers a cheaper alternative to the current silicon-based cells which currently dominate the solar energy market.

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Duracell DPP-600HD Powerpack 600

After losing power during a snow storm this winter, I’ve been taking a second look at these portable powerpacks. Amazon is selling this one from Duracell for $130. The Duracell Powerpack 600HD features three three-prong AC outlets, one DC outlet, a built-in 600W inverter, a built-in AM/FM radio, emergency lights, and jumper cables. This unit comes in handy when you’re camping, working on the job, jumpstarting your car, or coping with an emergency.

Via Amazon [What’s This?] (B000TKHMWK) [What’s This?]
Duracell [Corporate Site]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

Freeplay Weza

When batteries finally die and you’re not near an outlet — and a full-sized gas generator is massive overkill — the Freeplay Weza offers a human-powered energy source. And it’s powerful enough to jump-start cars or power small- to mid-sized electronic devices like cell phones radios, and LED. lighting. Think of it as a back-up to your back-up.

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