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Power Your Phone … Colorfully!

Also, here’s an unconventional use for your spare cable straps

Fig. 1: A colorful power bank keeps things charged. It can also promote your business. The latest and greatest tech gadget comes in your choice of shades, as seen in Fig. 1.

John Manchester of Screaming Logos sent along this really useful tool. The Power Bank 500 and its siblings charge via USB cable to your computer; in an emergency it can provide a full charge to your iPhone or a 75 percent charge to most other smartphones.

These devices are reasonably-priced and make a great gift. John can add your logo or slogan to it. Contract engineers: Think about something like this for your best clients and consider the Power Bank’s bright colors (pink, lime green, blue and white), which will get noticed and are less likely to get lost.

For details, contact John Manchester at Screaming Logos, (978) 834-0066.

Paul “Hitchhiker” Lyons, KD8YRH, is a senior broadcast technician for Clear Channel Dayton and Southern Ohio. He writes in with a quick tip for Workbench readers.

You probably have some of those Velcro brand “hook and loop” cable ties around the shop. Last month we mentioned a use for these; Paul has his own unconventional take on the possibilities.

Fig. 2: An inexpensive slip collar for your screwdriver. He takes one tie and wraps it loosely around the handle of a screwdriver, as seen in Fig. 2. He says it makes a great slip collar to hold onto. The driver spins freely, and the fastener is more comfortable than letting the plastic slip between your fingers.

Paul says there’s a bonus: If you need a cable tie, you now have one at your fingertips. Because of the hook and loop design, you can fit the ties around any diameter screwdriver.


Fig. 3: The hallway at Bravo Mic’s Las Cruces facility is clutter-free. Looking for a different approach to lay out a rack room or technical operations center? Fig. 3 shows one creative idea. The hallway doors keep technical equipment hidden and also help to save on air conditioning expenses while still permitting quick access into the TOC.

Fig. 4: But see the tech room that is hidden behind the decorative doors. Although the racks shown in Fig. 4 aren’t messy, many are less than spick and span. Usually there’s a door to the tech room, but this is the first time I’ve seen the equipment hidden behind its own door within the rack room.

Not only does this setup make the room look neater, there is also less likelihood that someone passing through will fiddle with the knobs or settings.

Mike Smith, executive vice president of Bravo Mic Communications in Las Cruces, N.M., passed along the tip.

We’d like to also congratulate Mike and his staff for KXPZ(FM) being selected as “station of the year” by the New Mexico Broadcasters Association.


So when was the last time you changed your air conditioning and transmitter air filters? Although the worst of pollen season is behind us, your filters may already be clogged, if they haven’t been maintained. It’s easy to forget about them — but don’t make this common mistake.

Set up a regular inspection and filter change-out program, with either you or a service technician handling the regular maintenance. Air-starved transmitters will literally bake your tube due to inefficient filtering. Dirty air, coating solid-state RF devices, reduces efficiency too and will lead to premature failure.

The subject of filters is especially important when we don’t visit the transmitter site as often we might have in the past. Don’t set yourself up for a catastrophic emergency; make some time to inspect this critical aspect of your plant.

Warm humid summertime conditions also can be a breeding ground for algae in the air conditioner condensate drains. An air conditioning supply store can sell you quarter-sized tablets that, when placed in the drain pan, prevent algae formation. A less expensive solution is a little vinegar in the drain trap.

If you’ve ever had a condensate drain clog due to algae formation, you know how tough that stuff is. Clearing the clog is not easy. Again, a little preventive maintenance will save you time and money.

Got a cooling horror story? Tell me about it, preferably illustrated with high-resolution pictures. Send to [email protected].

Contribute to Workbench. You’ll help your fellow engineers and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Send Workbench tips to [email protected]. Fax to (603) 472-4944.

Author John Bisset has spent 44 years in the broadcasting industry and is still learning. He handles West Coast sales for the Telos Alliance. He is SBE certified and is a past recipient of the SBE’s Educator of the Year Award.