Nifty $5 power outlet tester

Use code QAXI6QOK at check out and get this power outlet tester for $5 on Amazon. It'll indicate if an outlet is wired correctly and, if not, what the problem is. Read the rest

Fantastic $13 set of accessories for using and cleaning your cast iron

These three tools are invaluable when cleaning up, or cooking with, your cast iron skillet.

This threesome of scraper, chainmail scrubber and a silicone hot-handle-holder is pretty great. I use all three of these tools frequently, and certainly paid more for them individually. The pot-handle and hard plastic scraper are wear items and will eventually be tossed, but the chainmail should outlast you.

Chainmail will not hurt your cast iron.

Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber XL 8x6, Cast-iron Cleaner + Silicone Hot Handle Holder via Amazon

Image via Amazon Read the rest

Grill mats are excellent for cooking vegetables on an outdoor grill

I never cease to be amazed when I put one of these flimsy, plastic-feeling mats on my charcoal grill to cook chopped vegetables. Somehow, it withstands the heat of the red hot coals just inches below. They are great for grilling corn, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, etc. I pour a little olive oil on the mat and salt to taste. I bought a 4-pack of mats last year for $8 on Amazon and all four mats are working perfectly after many uses. I now consider them an essential part of my grilling equipment now. Read the rest

Small wireless keyboard with built-in touchpad for $10

My daughter and I are building a portable device to play the 1981 RPG computer game, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. We're running it on a Raspberry Pi using a a DOS operating system emulator called DOSBox. Here's what we've got so far:

Next, we have to design a case using TinkerCad, and then print it out on our Prusa 3D printer.

I've been looking for a small wireless keyboard and it looks like the one shown in the above photo will fit the bill. It's on sale on Amazon for $10 if you use the promo code BQZZXVBB. It also has a trackpad, which is not needed for Wizardry but will come in handy when using the Raspberry Pi's GUI. Read the rest

Self-adjusting wire strippers make removing wire insulation a snap

This is a good price for self-adjusting wire strippers - just $11 when you apply promo code YM3I4WHC. It will strip wires between 10-24 AWG. I've used them before, but didn't own a pair, so I bought some. Here's how they work:

"It really is a clever bit of kit." Read the rest

This Dremel rotary tool clone is a great deal at $21

Dremel rotary tools are useful but pricey. I bought this $21 clone in 2017 because the Dremel tool I owned was cordless, and not really strong enough to rough out the wooden spoons I was whittling. It accepts Dremel bits (If you don't have any Dremel bits, no problem -- it comes with a good starter assortment). It has plenty of power. I have never turned it up more than halfway. I really like the flexible shaft, because it gives me more control than I have holding the relatively heavy tool itself.

Sample spoon:

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Good deal on a basic Stanley Toolkit - $11

If you click the coupon checkbox on the Amazon page for this Stanley Home Repair Mixed Tool Set it'll cost just $11.

Here's what it has:

12' Measuring Tape, 7oz Hammer, 6" Long Nose Pliers, 6" Slip Joint Pliers, 4 Mini Screwdrivers, 1/4" Drive Spinner Handle, 10 1/4" Drive Specialty Bits, Torpedo Level, Full Picture Hanging Kit, 8 SAE Hex Keys, 8 MM Hex Keys , Durable Tote Carrying Case

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Itty bitty Bluetooth speaker on sale for $7

This 3-ounce Bluetooth speaker is highly rated on Amazon (and Fakespot gives the reviews an A grade for authenticity). It also comes with a built in mic so you can use it as a speakerphone. It's normally $13 but if you use the promo code Y98TGMLD at checkout it is only $7. Read the rest

Get the Anker PowerCore 20000mAh charger for $35

The Anker PowerCore is on sale on Amazon for $40 today, and you can get it for $35 if you click the link that says "3 Applicable promotions" to the right of the product photo. This is the one I use when I'm walking around an unfamiliar city all day and need to use my phone's map to help me get around. I keep it in my daypack with a charging cord dangling out. With 20000mAH it'll last for a very long time without having to recharge it. Read the rest

Clear plastic cases for iPhone 7 and 8 on sale for $5

My iPhone 6 Plus was glitching out and a restore wouldn't help, so I took the easy way out and bought an iPhone 8 (not a Plus this time, I was sick of stuffing it into my pocket for years). I didn't want to buy a case at the T-Mobile store because they are grossly overpriced. Instead I went to Amazon and found that the Amazon choice for a no-frills clear plastic case is on sale today for $5, including shipping. Read the rest

I interviewed science fiction author Madeline Ashby about her favorite tools

The guest this week on my Cool Tools show is Madeline Ashby. Madeline is a science fiction writer and futurist living in Toronto. Her most recent novel, Company Town, was a finalist for the 2017 CBC Books Canada Reads prize. She has also developed science fiction prototypes for the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Data & Society, Nesta, the Atlantic Council, NASA, and others. (We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $365 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute!)

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Clarisonic Mia ($169)

"The Clarisonic is a device that uses the same technology as something like a Sonicare toothbrush … and other sort of ultra sonic cleaning devices to wash your face. It's a device that has a brush on one end of it and basically vibrates across your face at a certain frequency and vibrates the bristles on a brush head to exfoliate your face, and it works like a dream. And I've owned one for about four years now, and it has yet to die, which I suppose I'm jinxing myself. But all of those four years have been wonderful. ... I bought it when I turned 30 as a gift to myself because I wanted to actually start taking my skin seriously, for once. Read the rest

Good deal on a car diagnostic scanner: $11

When the "Check Engine" light turns on, you usually have to take it to a mechanic so they can diagnose the problem and reset the light. Sometimes the problem is as simple as forgetting to screw your gas cap tightly enough. Other times the problem is a not a problem but a glitch and the light stays on anyway. Instead of spending time and money taking your car to a mechanic, "this scanner will tell you what the problem is and allow you to reset the "Check Engine" light. I have a Bluetooth scanner that connects to a phone app, but this is a simpler solution -- just plug in and Google the diagnostic code. And it's just $11 on Amazon. Read the rest

9 useful electronics tools under $13

Donald Bell made a great video for Cool Tools about 9 must-have tools for electronic hobbyists. I especially recommend the flush cutters, which cuts wires poking out of circuit board holes. In the video, you'll see how nice boards look when you use flush cutters. The USB soldering iron is also very handy.

Aven Adjustable Circuit Board Holder Hakko Flush Cutters A-szcxtop USB Powered Soldering Iron Wearable Magnifying Glasses Digital Servo Tester Controller with Voltage Display General Tools 481 Swivel Head Deburring Tool Poster Tack (any brand) Mini 60x Microscope Magnifying with LED Heat Shrink Tube Assortment Read the rest

The Light Phone 2 is designed to be used as little as possible

The makers of the Light Phone 2 want you to leave your smartphone at home, and use this simple phone with calling, messaging, and an e-ink display instead. You can pre-order one on Indiegogo for $199. If it also had a Kindle app, I might buy one, but I guess that goes against the whole point.

The Light Phone 2 is a 4G phone with a beautiful black & white matte display. It's a more reliable, durable, and practical phone than its predecessor. It brings a few essential tools to the Light Phone, like messaging, an alarm clock, or a ride home, so you can 'go light' more often... or for good!

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Toner 2-pack for Brother laser printers: $8

Life has become immeasurably better ever since I swore off inkjet printers and started using a laser printer exclusively. Unless you must have color print outs, laser printers are faster and less likely to have problems. I have an older model similar to this one. Brother sells toner cartridges for $54, but you can buy a 2-pack of toner cartridges for $8 when you apply coupon code AZ18LV2P at final checkout on Amazon. Read the rest

My interview with Nelson Dellis, USA Memory Champion

My guest this week on the Cool Tools Show is Nelson Dellis. Nelson is one of the leading memory experts in the world, traveling around the world as a Memory Consultant and Keynote Speaker. A four-time USA Memory Champion, mountaineer, and Alzheimer's disease activist, he preaches a lifestyle that combines fitness, both mental and physical, with proper diet and social involvement.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Jacket

"I like to climb, I'm a big climber, and through my charity I do a bunch of big expeditions. So I’ve been up Everest a few times … where you’re dealing with the elements, trying to stay warm and not get cold in different circumstances. You're trying to find the perfect gear that's not too heavy and gets the job done. So I’ve experimented with a bunch of stuff, and in 2016 I was on Everest, and I was introduced to this jacket … and I haven’t stopped using it since. It’s just this really lightweight kind of down jacket that folds up super small, it's super light, and it just has so many different uses. I wear it kind of in between layers, on top of layers, it just stops the wind and just keeps you toasty.”

Peak Design Anchor Links for Camera Straps

"I love taking video of when I travel, when I climb, even for some of my memory videos, I'm shooting them on the go, interviewing people or trying to get a shot while I explain something and sometimes, I like to go really hand-held to get these angles or to just be run and gunning. Read the rest

Good deal on the classic Huntsman Swiss Army knife

I had a Fieldmaster Swiss Army Knife ($35) all through my teenage years. I brought it with me on my Boy Scout camping trips. I loved the toothpick, and I used the scissors to trim my nails. I lost it in college and didn't replace it because it was too expensive. I eventually forgot about it, but my sister bought me a replacement as a Christmas gift last year, and I happy to have my old friend back. I just noticed that Amazon has a sale on the almost-identical Huntsman II knife for $20. Here's the difference -- the Huntsman has a corkscrew instead of a Phillips-head screwdriver. If that's OK, $20 is a great price for a knife that will last for many years. Read the rest

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