Widgets Magazine

Holiday Toys for AV Pros

The holidays are officially upon us and the excitement is palpable,-*despite starting in October this year. But what to buy for your favorite AV Tech?
Integrators and live audio visual folks have to be the easiest folks for whom to buy gifts. Wrap up a couple of mini Maglites and a belt holster and we are over the moon. If you are looking for stocking stuffers that provide the same thrill but provide just a bit more, here is a list of some quirky favorites:
XLR Sniffer
The XLR sniffer -*($55) -*is the pro audio person’s fox and hound. The package, looking like an XLR barrel, includes a sender and sniffer. Used in tandem or with a cable connected to the console, the device senses breaks, crossed pins, phantom power and more. Any audio tech worth their salt will love to find this in their stocking.
AV folks love to tinker, even in their off time. Instead of having your favorite geek recalibrate the surround sound again, give them something to bend their mind and some sound. The Theremin Kit -*($39.99) works off the principle of heterodyning and capacitance where the proximity of your hands generate tones. (I told you it was mind bending.) You have likely heard its sound in numerous sci-fi B-movies. The kit is easy to assemble and includes a cool Japanese magazine on theremins and a music sheet.
Ask any programmer how many lost hours they have lost-*because a DB9 connection was miswired. -*We always blame our code first, but with the RS232/DB9 In-Line Signal Link Tester ($15) we can verify just how badly the wire guy messed up! -*It is also useful for detecting just what pins are in use for the last minute mystery device the client has sprung on you!
John Huntington’s-*Show Networks and Control Systems -*($50) book is a must have bible of all things related to automation. -*From the fundamentals of ethernet networks to a complete MIDI table and more, it is an invaluable resource for any pro. I, personally, cannot count the hours of work this valuable tome has saved me. -*As a bonus, John updates items online. -*
Wireless connectivity of AV gear for control and content is becoming increasingly common. Still, few of us actually know what the airborne traffic looks like. WiSpy ($136 and up) gives you leg up on understanding where the congested channels are and other info to help you set up an optimal system. -*The lower end dongles cover only the 2.4GHz range while the more pricey models offer coverage of 5GHz and more sophisticated tools. Still, as a ,AeoPoor Man,Aeos Air Magnet,Aeo this is one great tool. -*
Wearables are all the rage with pop culture commentators, they are also expected to be a billion dollar industry soon. Like tablets, the influx of wearables and IoT will radically change the integration and stagecraft industries. Adafruit Pi Zero Budget Pack ($30) combines the ,Aeocan,Aeot keep em on the shelves’ $5 Pi Zero computer with a few accessories. Now you can learn to make your own internet of things prototype. An added bonus is that other kits can be combined to make some very complex systems.
With all the talk of White Spaces, 600 MHz, and HD off air channels, do you really have a good understanding where it all fits? The-*FCC Spectrum chart ($26 unframed, $117 framed) will give you a great start. -*It can also come in handy when tracking the frequency auction coming in March of 2016. -*
Make_Soldering_Kit_Box_compactSoldering was one of those essential skills any tech looking to advance their career had to master. -*From positions in service to the shop and behind the stage, solder skills often saved the day. Learn to Solder kit -*($64.99) can help you relearn the forgotten art or learn it from the start. While many new equipment models carry warnings of having no user serviceable parts – if it has solder it can be fixed. -*Plus, the old field dogs will be impressed that you know the secret art. Your new vinyl collection? Not so much. -*
There never seems to be a secure router around when you need one and hotel wi-fi is notoriously easy to hack. -*The -*Nano Pocket router ($19.95) provides Wireless Speed Up to 150Mbps and can function as AP, Router, Client, Repeater, and Bridge. -*The unit measures at 2″ x 2″ x 0.7″, almost small enough to carry in a shirt pocket but packs a punch of much higher priced devices. The ability to create a collaborative and secure connection point makes this device worth gifting to all your AV friends. -*
Yamaha manuals were some of the most complete of any manufacture. A simple amplifier manual, for example, would not just cover the connections but how to solder (with a primer on how it is done) as well as the pinouts. -*Many of us got our first taste from these overproduced manuals. The -*Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Book ($17 – $25 depending on format) -*combines all the easy to read and follow concepts in audio into one book. From the practical to theory, this book provides clear language to explain them. -*
Recording the Beatles ($500 – $1000 depending on edition and format) If you know, or are, an aficionado of the recording arts, this is the ultimate read. -*Following the Beatles through each studio album it shows the equipment used and the techniques needed to get the sound. The band and their engineers, in particular Sir George Martin and the incredible Geoff Emerick, changed how music was recorded and sounded. The book has great full page glossy photos of the equipment with details on each. This is gear porn of the highest class. -*
Feature image used under Creative Common License-*, Copyright Dave Lundy

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