Thursday, January 28, 2016

USB type-c cable from Blitzwolf

Get your own from Amazon

You can never have too many charging cables; especially when your phone uses a newer standard like Type-c. We've found ourselves moving cords around the house to charge wherever we happen to be at the moment but that had to end. Blitzwolf has delivered in this cable and I'm very pleased to have it around.

Build- While I'm a fan of the braided coverings to protect cords the fact is they cost more. Blitzwolf has delivered a solid cord that has stood up for me. I've had it about a month nos with no issues. It's made of a pretty forgiving rubber that doesn't show any indications of being prone to cracks. Otherwise it's your standard Type-C cable.

Function- Many people will be tempted to complain if their phone says is "Charging Slowly". My Nexus 5X will tell you in those exact words. I would recommend making sure you have a power supply that can handle the current your phone wants. We were worried at first and thought it was the cord but after looking at the things we had it plugged into noticed that they had a max of .2-.5 amps where the stock charger could supply 3 amps. Once I got it plugged into a supply that could deliver the phone charged very fast through this cord. It can handle anything you can give it.

I have nothing but praise for this one. Once I figured out that I was using under-powered plugs it works great and I might get more. When buying these cables you don't want anything fancy; it just needs to work. Blitzwolf nailed it here. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Modifying the mounting plate of a router table

I've been putting off finishing the cabinets that I've been promising my wife for what may or may not be about 2 years. Getting close now but I need to put together some raised panel doors and that requires using a gigantic router bit. The thing terrifies me when it's spinning. I'd built a homemade router table that basically consists of the router base screwed to a board and then dropped into the cutout of a bench. It technically works but things aren't quite even and nothing is a good fit so it moves around. Even with a fence that I put some work into I was getting bad results and decided to bite the bullet and buy a commercial table. 
I'd used the Bosch before and I liked it so it was the obvious choice. I rushed into it though(hey, it was on sale!) and when the description specifically called out the Dewalt routers it was compatible with I just assumed my DW610 would fit. They can't be that different right? Wrong. After I got it all assembled as the last step I go to attach it and no matter what angle I turned the plate there was nothing that lined up. There is supposedly a plate that Bosch sells to fit other routers but I've seen debate about it ever existing and in any case you can't get it now. The best there is is a flimsy plastic one. Fortunately I noticed that the plate had three un-drilled areas that looked to line up with the pattern on my routers base. "Hey, I've for a drill press, lets do this". 

With minimal planning I was able to get wonderful results so I would recommend anyone in a similar position consider this approach to either returning a good table or shelling out more money for an inferior solution or at worst a custom job from someone else. Check out the video but I've outlined the basic steps below. There are better and more precise methods but these worked for me.
  1. Remove the base plate from your router to use as a template
  2. Eyeball the intesection of base plate's holes locations to the mounting plate's un-drilled areas
  3. Tape them together like that and turn them over
  4. Use a center punch to mark the holes and give your drill-bit a good place to start
  5. Find a bit that fits the mounting holes you are replicating and put it in the drill press
  6. Make sure your bit is centered and drill out the holes
  7. Text mount the plate before going further in case you screwed it up
  8. Flip it over and find a bit that matches the countersink hole
  9. Line it up the best you can and drill just enough so the machine screw head will sit below the surface
  10. Try the included screws and if they fit, you're done.
The one Issue I had was that the mounting holes in my base don't go all the way through so the included screws bottomed out before they were tightened. A quick trip to Lowes on the way home from work solved that problem and now I have a perfectly mounted router and a good base.

Action Camera Kit round 2

Get your own set here

If you don't have the attachments, an action camera doesn't really do you much good. The problem is figuring out which ones to buy but this set lets you try them all without breaking the bank. I was impressed with the sheer range of things you get and their quality as well. This is the second of similar sets that I've tried and while much of it is the same(a few of the included parts are the same item) I actually think this one is a better value due to a few choices I'll outline. Side note: if you have a crawling baby around, you'll get great footage to share if you put your camera on the headband and put it upside down on them diaper style and facing forward. FPV baby crawling!

Build- Having used another set for a while I've found that this plastic holds up fine for what it's used for. All the elastic straps are really wide so they stay in place better and the headband even has a rubbery texture on the inside to keep it from slipping off with movement. The only minor-est of things that I wish was a little different is that the wrist strap is just a piece of velcro and I can imagine it chafing after a little while. My last note build wise is that the selfie stick is built like a tank. I'm serious that thing could be a weapon so if you're the sort of person who likes selfie sticks, this one will hold up well.

Function- Again, there's a ton of stuff here. You've got the basic parts that allow you to orient the camera any way you need but those are expected. The real gems are the main mounts. I'd been wanting a head mount for a while now and this one was my favorite. It adjusts well and stays in place great. The chest mount lets you have a solid placement while knowing it will never fall off. I tried the wrist mount and while it works well, having the large camera sticking off made it a little unwieldy. If you're going to be around water you have a floating grip that lets you set it down around water, but still not worry about it sinking. Really three main things set this group apart for me 1. The included mini tripod is larger and the legs hold their shape much better 2. The suction mount is something I've seen missing in some other sets and 3. An included memory card. Many Go Pros and their clones don't include a card so it's nice that this set really does give you everything you need.

Beyond those you've got your helmet mounts(flat and curved) and other little add-on doodads that are just nice to have. That being said it doesn't include things just to say there is more than competitors. You have everything you need but nothing more. This isn't a name brand set but I think for the most part things will hold up fine for average use. If you do happen break something it's not like you paid 100 bucks for the set and it can be had for even less that less impressive sets. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Car Shades by Ace Sun Shades

 Get some for yourself on Amazon

When I first opened the package for these I was a little bummed because they weren't what I was expecting. I was thinking these were the mesh type shades but they are actually a thin tinted plastic Granted if I had actually read the description better and looked at the pictures closer I would have known. In any case putting my assumptions aside they actually work quite well. You may see in the pictures I included that they look a little sirty and that's the nature of the film but they look fine once that stick smooth to your windows.

Build- Like I said these are not mesh but are instead a plastic film. Don't get me wrong though this doesn't make them "cheap". In fact I could argue it's a better method all around as instead of using suction cups to attach to a window you're using the static cling property of the film to stick right to your window. The shades are given form but a small amount of spring steel around the outside which also lets you twist them up into a much smaller size. They can then go in the small included pouch for storing in a seat pocket. One thing to check is the available size of your windows. We have a 05 Camry and they didn't quite fit the rear windows. Remember though that the outside is spring steel so you do have a little freedom to squeeze them.

Function- As shades they do quite well, blocking out a ton of light and keeping the sun out of our daughters eyes. Setup was a breeze as they just stick right to the window. Then for taking them off you just pull on it and twist it to get it to fold in on itself. No suction cups to pick off and then lose in the car when you're not using them.

The only concern I have is if you don't put them in the bag when they're not on the window it would be pretty easy for a child to poke and rip it. As with all things though take care of them and it'll last a long time. While they weren't what I expected I think I'll recommend these over the old style because they are just so convenient. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Monday, January 18, 2016

TR Industrial Anti-fatigue Floor Mat

Grab one here

I've tried a few of these mats before but all had been means for in the house. Things best suited for being in front of the sink or in the laundry room. This one has industrial int he name so you'd probably imagine it is meant for the garage or similar and I'd have to agree. When it arrived my wife even claimed it for in front of the sink but later admitted she'd prefer something else there.

Build- A lot of the ones your see in a kitchen are a fairly soft foam but you'll find that this product is much stiffer. It is a very, to use their marketing word, durable and I can see walking on it with even dirty boots wouldn't hurt it. It is a dark black so every spec of that dirt will show up which is something my wife didn't like when she had it. As a generally messy guy who will have it in front of a workbench it doesn't bother me as it will be the cleanest thing out there for a while. You'll find a diamond pattern on it that improves grip but I wonder if it even needs that due to the material being fairly grippy. In either case it at least lets liquids settle out in the grooves so it doesn't become slick.

Function- Like I pointed out the makeup of this one is sturdier. When you stand on it you don't sink in all the way to the floor but there it still enough give to conform to your feet and give that relief it's designed for. I'm 5'11 around 200lbs  and I had to concentrate all my weight on my toes before I hit the bottom. Its just the right size too; basically a large door mat. It means if you tend to move around a little you wont be stepping off it all the time.

This is exactly what I'm looking for in a mat. While I don't really stand in one place enough in my garage to warrant it, I reload my own ammo so I look forward to trying it at my press. In the end though the combination of sturdy design and materials, with just the right amount of give mean that I can't think of anything to improve. Add int he large size and the fact that it's waterproof mean that it'll be right at home in our garage. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Two piece packing cube set by CFG

Get a set for yourself

I'll be honest; when we're traveling it tends to be my wife who packs for me. When we get to the destination though we've found these cube things to be pretty useful. If you separate types of clothing between different cubes digging for the right thing makes much less of a mess. We'd previously only had smaller ones but the large ones work very well for my jeans and shirts.

Build- The construction is the only thing that doesn't have me gushing over these. It's not bad but could use some improvement. The strength of the material I just feel could be a little better. When it comes down to it these live in a suitcase so should be exposed to any beating so it may be that they are strong enough. The only other issue is that the mesh has a single stitch to hold it to the rest of the bag and while I'd like to see something more sturdy again, all they need to do it keep your clothes divided so there shouldn't be an issue.

Function- It may not seem like a big deal but the mesh is a must for seeing which cube you're looking at and I'm surprised some manufactures don't include it. Never fear; this one does. Just flip through a few and you can quickly find what you want. The ones I tried are a large size which is most suited for something big or that you have a lot of. We have the large(not huge) rolling carry on bags and you can fit four well packed instances of these in one of our bags with a little room left over depending on the depth of yours.

My wife is a fan of the smaller sizes for her things and our daughter's but for a guy these are perfect. The bulk of what I take is t-shirts and jeans so there's no need for any extra division. Even with my thoughts on the cube construction I'd still recommend these to anyone. They're working fine for us. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ballroom Dancing Mastery System

Want to know a secret? I don't like dancing. I'm a Computer Engineer in every sense of the word and lazy on top of it all. That being said; if your wife wants to learn ballroom dancing with you this is a great way to do it.

With 12 hours of instruction we've only skimmed the surface so far but even if we were done I wouldn't be able to judge the accuracy of instruction as the whole reason this works for me is that I'm a beginner. I can comment however on the quality of the instructors and how it is presented. Overall my wife and I liked it. We were interested in the swing portion so I'm speaking from that point of view.

Instruction wise I couldn't ask for anything more. There is a man and woman who start every part out making full use of a skill ad showing what you are working for. They are dancing at full speed too so don't expect to pick this stuff up right from the beginning. They then slow it down so you can better see what each instructor is doing but even here isn't what you should be focusing on. The best part is that each person then shows their steps individually. For instance in the case of Swing the man will show his part and while they are very similar for basic Swing, the woman then shows what amounts to her mirror image steps. Both start out very slow and work you up to full speed before joining again and working up to the end result you saw at the beginning. When we "Mastered"(need a lot of practice) basic Swing we then moved on to East Coast Swing which is just a modified version of the steps. They use the exact same process here but if you've completed the basics it's easier because it's very similar to what you already learned.

Our only complaint was that what you're watching feels outdated in that the set is in full-screen so if you're watching on any modern wide-screen TV you'll have big black bars on either side. Certainly not HD either. It's not a huge deal because it's still perfectly watchable; as I said the instruction itself was great, but these days you come to expect a certain picture quality and it's the one thing that could be improved. If you just want good instructors to walk you through dance steps at a perfectly reasonable pace(and if for some reason too fast, just pause it) then there is no reason I wouldn't recommend this for anyone. I'm sure my wife will be asking me to take it further and try the other discs now too. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.