Fig. 1: The SOG Kilowatt slices through wire insulation with no nicks. Chuck Bullett, market chief for the Cumulus San Francisco stations, made a great find at the local West Marine store the other day whilst shopping for a good rigging knife for sailing.
SOG Knives (sogknives.com) makes the "Kilowatt." Pictured in Fig. 1, this knife is intended for the electrical contractor, but it's now found a home on Chuck's belt. (SOG originally stood for Studies and Observation Group, a military group for covert operations in the Vietnam War.)
Not only does the knife slice and dice his California orange at lunch, it has multiple wire stripping tools, from #10 to #24 conductors. It is not a multi-tool, which the company made famous among broadcast engineers. It does not have screwdriver implements but will be a quality instrument in the hands of a skilled wiring craftsman.
Chuck finds the tool great for stripping Cat-5/6 cable, as you can see in Fig. 2. But the knife will also work on good old Belden 8451, which is the same size as a piece of #14 THHN. Zip, and the jacket is off.
Chuck writes that he simply can't speak highly enough about the knife. He's been stripping a lot of RG-58/59 and RG-6 of late, and this meets the need as well. Insert the coaxial cable into one of the appropriate through-holes and use the tool's knife blade while rotating the tool around the cable being stripped; there will be a clean strip with no dreaded nicked conductors.
Fig. 2: In addition to its cool look, the knife is practical. It also has a great sculpted handle with a cool, albeit meaningless, schematic as well as a belt clip that resembles an electrical or radio tower (you decide). The special "flip to strip" Cat-5/6 razor stripper feature on the bottom of the tool is what sold him in the end.
Thanks, Chuck, for sharing this great find with Workbench readers. It sounds like SOG and West Marine will earn a few new customers through this knife.
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Not long ago I wrote that the simple ideas are really some of the best. Buc Fitch also reminds us that what is old often is new again.
Buc recently realized that there was no audio coming out of the speaker in his CT Technology two-way radio test set.
He knew he should be receiving NOAA through the speaker, but the box was mute. It turns out that the problem was a blown speaker. Apparently the damage had occurred because the volume ran at max for long periods of time so he could hear the audio in loud and noisy environments such as transmitter buildings. The speaker is only 3 inches and the "grill" is a couple of slots cut in the cabinet side.
What he needed was a flexible external audio jack that would accommodate both a speaker and readily available pair of stereo headphones.
Fig. 3 shows a little circuit application. Buc says although he hadn't used it in 15 years, it works perfectly in this circumstance.
Essentially, one uses a 1/4-inch stereo (ring and tip) headphone jack to solve the problem.
Buc offers two solutions. What he installed, and prefers, is the top version. If you want to power a small external speaker with a single circuit connector, you insert the plug until you connect with the "ring." In this situation the amplifier output is available in parallel with the internal speaker.
Fig. 3: An easy jack modification for multiple uses. If you want to power a stereo headset, you insert that plug until it is fully seated. When the tip connection is made, the in-circuit switch puts a 150 ohm resistor in series between the amp output and the two channels (ring and tip to ground) of the headset running in mono. The resistor protects the headset from excessive level and provides more vernierity on the volume control.
The second wiring version pictured operates the same as the first, except the in-circuit switch of the ring removes the feed to the internal speaker. This puts the total amp power into the external speaker.
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Ray Fantini works for Salisbury University's Television Department but also does broadcast contract work on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
He writes that for the last few months he has been doing work on a couple of old transmitters, a Gates BC-1 and a Collins V-20. A couple of hams he knows got these transmitters and have disassembled them. They are in the process of restoring them to almost new condition, and Ray lent a hand. You can see some of the BC-1 restoration in pictures here.
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Steve Tuzeneu is a staff engineer for the corporate offices of WAY-FM. Steve writes to express concern about new broadcast equipment and RS-232 connectors.
Steve observes that many broadcast equipment manufacturers are still making equipment with RS-232 connectors, which are a dying breed.
When you purchase a new laptop or desktop, your new computer only comes with USB ports. Although you can often get a USB to RS-232 adapter, many times they won't work. It is Steve's hope that manufacturers will keep the USB connectors in mind as new products are developed. Manufacturers, tell us what you think.
John Bisset has worked as a chief engineer and contract engineer for 39 years. He is a past recipient of the SBE's Educator of the Year Award. Reach him firstname.lastname@example.org. Faxed submissions can be sent to (603) 472-4944.
Submissions for this column are encouraged and qualify for SBE recertification credit.