Okay, in the past three issues of this magazine I have covered a broad line of new and interesting things that I found when I was at the AHR Expo in Orlando, Fla., last February, and now we're down to the service tools, bits, and pieces. So, let's start with something really expensive, the Ti30 Thermal Imager from Fluke Thermography, Santa Cruz, Calif. This is a sophisticated infrared digital scanner and camera that you can use to scan and take a picture of any device, no matter how large. Then it shows the temperature of everything in the picture by its colors - wonderful for motor or compressor diagnostics.

Of course, with the advantage of built-in computer chips, most electronic devices can do more and better things, and this is certainly true when it comes to electrical service meters. That's why I was very impressed with the Model 1000A clamp-on meter from Extech Instruments of Waltham, Mass. It not only reads volts and amps in true RMS (as well as several other standard measurements), it has a built-in laser non-contact thermometer.

The same thing is true of the HS35 True RMS Stick Meter w/Green Backlight from Fieldpiece of Brea, Calif. It reads true RMS volts and amps; it reads capacitors; it reads temperatures; and it also has a non-contact voltage sensor, so like horseshoes, you can get by with just close. But an added little thoughtful idea for service technicians is a magnetic hanger so the meter doesn't have to be handheld.

Do you know any service technicians who want the very best gages and meters? Then they will love the Digi-Cool Digital Refrigeration System Analyzer from Digi-Cool Industries. (www.digi-cool.com). This is a large digital readout that connects to any refrigerant manifold, which not only reads pressures, but also the temperatures of several different (common) refrigerants - and it's available with a sensor to read superheats.

Now, for those people who occasionally need to use a pipe wrench, there's the Internal Pipe wrench from Rectorseal (www.rectorseal.com), which eliminates a lot of the need for pipe wrenches (and they're much smaller and lighter). You slip one of these little devices inside a pipe (they come in 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1- to 1-1/4-inch sizes, and 1-1/2- to 2-inch sizes), then tighten or remove the pipe with a socket-wrench ratchet, and no adjustments are necessary.

Something that I wish was available back when I was in the HVACR service business (30 years ago), is the Therm-Lok Compressor Stake-On Repair Kit from Therm-Lok Manufacturing Co. of Haines City, Fla. Now, you may have never seen a compressor electrical connector burn or twist off, leading to a compressor replacement, but many service techs have. And this little repair kit not only allows them to restore a good electrical connection, it also gives them enough room to put all the safety covers back on.

Next is my (imaginary) Service Award Winner, the Turbo 200 Universal Capacitor from AmRad Engineering of Palm Coast, Fla. It is a single run capacitor that provides taps for six capacitor different sizes, from 2.5-mfd to 67.5-mfd at 370 (to 440) VAC. In other words, this one size fits most applications, so it can serve as an emergency backup part or as the same part for all jobs. What's more, it only measures 4-1/2 by 2-1/2 inches.

And for all those unsung heroes who have to braze and connect copper refrigerant pipe, let's not forget the Power Deuce Brushing Tool from Mill-Rose of Mentor, Ohio. This is two wire brushes in one (one to clean inside the pipe and the other to clean the outside) that fits into a power drill. It has stainless steel bristles and it can be hand operated when a battery-operated drill runs out of power.

And for those other unsung heroes who work in hot attics and other places installing all that itchy insulation, there's the Zip-Ez (from J T Products of Warwick, N.Y.), which is used to fasten the insulation around metal ducts. What's new here? The Zip-Ez is a large plastic washer that fits over a sheet-metal screw and is then fastened to the insulation by running the screw into the metal duct with a drill. And once the job is done, that stuff just isn't coming off.

And finally, let's not forget the guy down below who must cut the holes to put the diffusers into the ceiling - you know, the bleary-eyed person with all the white stuff (gypsum) on his face. Here's another great idea, the Clean Cut from Jade Products of Abington, Va. (www.jadeproductsllc.com). This one is hard to explain. It's a clear plastic bucket that's open at the top and has a hole in the bottom, which is fitted with a rubber glove. Then there's an adjustable metal stand that holds the bucket to the ceiling. The idea is to fix the bucket firmly to the ceiling where the hole must be cut (with a handsaw inside). Then the person slips his/her hand into the glove, grabs the saw, and cuts the hole. Voila! All the dust is in the bucket, not in the person's face on the floor.

So, that was what interested me at the show, and I hope to be finding and discussing what's new at the next AHR Expo in Chicago, late next January. I hope to see you there. <<