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Tips, tricks, hints and more for Oct, 2008

Tips, tricks, hints and more for Oct, 2008

Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By John Landry, CSRE

More Cool Tools

Last month I highlighted some cool tools � and here’s another one. The Dremel hand held rotary drill kit is a mainstay in many shops. As shipped, the tool comes with small drill bits and some small grinding wheels. Many attachments and special tools have come out for use with it.

The 409 series cut-off wheel is especially useful for cutting into hard metals. It can cut small screws (such as 4-40 or smaller) cleanly without damaging the threads. It can also cut notches into Atlas microphone booms to make cable outlets into the pipe. It makes cutting and preparing Heliax cable easier. The 409 wheel requires a 402 mandrel (screw type). The EZ476 cut off wheel is similar, but makes use of a quick change mandrel that doesn’t require a screwdriver to change the wheel (the EZ402).

Dremel also offers a right angle adapter (#575) that makes cutting or drilling in tight spaces easier. The 670 Mini-Saw also makes sawing in tight spaces easier. And the MS400 saw turns the Dremel into a miniature Hilti saw. All of these attachments will fit most older model Dremel tools.

While not an attachment for the rotary tool, the Dremel 671 Flex light with magnifier can make emergency repairs at the transmitter site easier. Equipped with a bright LED lamp and a magnifying lens, it brings the repair bench anywhere. Even out to the antenna site!


No matter how precise we are, at one time or another we need to be able to convert measurements. Inches to feet (in fractions or decimals), millimeters and areas all require a trip to the resource book now and then. We have a page of conversion tools in the Engineer’s Notebook at, but there are several specialized converter tools available as well.

Calculated Industries manufactures handheld converters for area, time and even the scale of a drawing. The Time Master II is a versatile calculator with a built in stopwatch. It can add the different minutes and seconds of the timed segments to make production tasks easier. The Construction Master Pro can add linear lengths and calculate drywall or wallpaper areas, locations of studs-on-center and many other construction figures. They also make a variety of �take-off� tools, like the Scale Master II. This pen-shaped device can be dragged across a surface and it will calculate area and length measurements to scale for drawings.

Adding time values is not a simple task. There is a trick to adding and subtracting time values with a calculator, called the 940 rule. Check out the Radio magazine time calculations link below for more.

More for the toolbox

How many times have you had a stuck key on a keyboard or something else cause trouble? A quick spritz with a cleaner may help, but usually there is something under the key cap and you need to remove the cap to clean underneath. Needle nose pliers and greenies sort of work, but sometimes the cap or the switch is broken. The Techni-Tool Keycap Puller #7581E0100, which resembles a kitchen utensil, turns out to be just the thing for removing the cap easily without any damage.

More and more connectors use contact pins that are crimped on and pushed in. These can be timesavers, but every now and then the wrong wire is in the wrong place. Extractors are available, but each manufacturer makes a slightly different connector, which means you ultimately have a drawer full of extractor tools (if you remembered to order one). Techni-Tool 7-in-1 extractor #104PR010 has seven interchangeable extractor blades that fit most of the common D-sub, Military, circular and other connectors.

Hanler Corporation’s Wrap-Lock ( is a build-to-fit steel strap system used by two-way radio installers for years. It can make clamps, brackets and holders in any shape or size on-site in minutes. The steel strap is strong and rust resistant. It can be used to hang pipe, patch leaky pipes, put up signs and lights and lots of other uses. A simple ratchet key tool and a patented D-shaped locking buckle are unique to the Wrap-Lock system.

Engineer’s Notebook

Time Calculations

Calculated Industries

Landry is an audio maintenance engineer at CBS Radio/Westwood One, New York.

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