Cool Tools Episode 5: Digital Edition

Technology has brought improvements to every area of life, and tools are no exception. Even traditional tools like the humble tape measure haven’t escaped the digital era. There are some digital tools that I can’t live without. Without further ado, let’s go.

The Wixey WR300BT digital angle gauge is the perfect tool to calibrate table saws, mitre saws, bandsaws, pillar drills and a myriad of other tools. It allows angles to be set to within a tenth of a degree. Most importantly for me it has a Bluetooth interface which in combination with the dedicated Wixey Talk app for iOS allows the readings to be spoken. It is extremely simple to use with only two buttons – power and zero – and is durable enough to withstand heavy use in the workshop. Most users who are sighted can find similar products without the Bluetooth function for less, an example being the below model from Neoteck.

Digital calipers are another essential measuring tool, allowing measurements to be made to a hundredth of a millimetre. Calipers from iGauging have a Bluetooth function that outputs data just like a Bluetooth keyboard. When paired with a smartphone or computer, data can be read by any app that can receive text input. As an accessibility solution it is not as seamless as Wixey’s implementation but beyond some astronomically expensive adaptive models stretching to over $1000USD, and a similarly expensive talking calliper in kit form, there aren’t many options for a calliper with accessibility support.

Naturally most users don’t need smart functionality, and can access much cheaper options. Here is another example again from Neoteck.

A digital multimeter (DMM) is an essential tool for anyone who works on electronics or prototypes using embedded microcomputers such as the Arduino or even the Raspberry Pi. This highly accurate model has every feature you could want.

For those of us who can’t see the display, there are a few options on the market. A US firm sells a DMM with speech output, though notes that it is not recommended for the vidigsually impaired. I’m told that if you inform them of a visual impairment they will not sell you one. Presumably a visual impairment also impairs your decision making, and your right to engage in whichever activities or interests you see fit. If you’re interested, that model can be found Here.

That said, This multimeter is a variant of a Chinese ‘Winhy’ branded ‘890S’. The Tasi TA8301, Nktech NK-51F and Winhy 890s all seem to be the same basic design and variants of it are sold under various names. Searching Chinese outlet sites like Aliexpress for terms like “voice multimeter” will bring up these three models, as well as the Tasi TA8302. The TA8302 has a higher 6000 counts resolution. I purchased one of these and when it arrived it appeared only to speak Chinese. I’m not sure if an English or bilingual version is available. I found the Nktech NK-51F being sold via Amazon, and when it arrived it spoke in a clear English voice.

Talking digital multimeters are not just useful tools for people with visual impairments. They’re great for situations where you’re working in tight spaces where the display of the DMM isn’t visible, or where looking away from your work could prove dangerous; for example when working on a CRT or in a switch-mode power supply.

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