By Mike Sokol
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of Mike’s favorite things
If Oprah can do it, so can I. Here’s a list of a few of my favorite things from the last year that would make a great Christmas (or any other holiday or birthday) present for your significant other camping buddy (or yourself). All you have to do is leave your web browser open to the appropriate page and they’ll get the hint (wink, wink – nod, nod…). So in no particular order except of my sometimes derailed train of thought, here are a few things I’ve recommended that have stood the test of time.
I just reviewed this cart last week in my JAM Session, but I’ve used one of these on and off for more than 10 years and they’re simply the best hand cart you can get for moving gear around your campsite (or rock ‘n’ roll stage). The RocknRoller® cart comes in a variety of sizes and price points, and they fold up into a very compact form factor for ease of storage. Like the Ford Model T you can get it in any color you like as long as you like black, and that’s just fine by me. Get one of their many models on Amazon HERE or at many fine music retailers.
This is exactly the same digital meter I use to teach my RVelectricity seminars, and it’s in my favorite go-to affordable kit. Yes, I have thousand dollar Fluke meters for the really detailed calibration work, but for less than $40 you get a great meter kit that will certainly measure your campground power to any degree of accuracy you’ll ever require. I like that this kit has a manual ranging digital Volt/Ohm meter, a Non-Contact Voltage Tester in the appropriate voltage range for general hot-skin and outlet polarity testing, plus a 3-light outlet tester for quick checking of polarity and grounds. Get it at Lowe’s or from Amazon for less than $30 HERE.
I use this so much in my general testing that I just ordered a second one for my test bench. Want to know how much wattage your residential refrigerator is using? Or how much that electric space heater is costing you to run? Well, don’t just guess about it, meter it like I do and know for sure. This is as simple as it gets since you just plug the Kill-O-Watt meter into your standard 15-amp outlet, then plug your appliance into the face of the meter. Now you can instantly see the outlet voltage, current draw, wattage usage, and even monitor the amount of kWh of power you’ll soon be paying for. It’s a great tool for $20 or so. Get it on Amazon HERE.
I simply hated Bluetooth speakers until I got one of these cute little guys. Built like a brick with a battery that will last for days, and a surprising amount of bass response for such a tiny 3″ driver, I love the clarity of this small yet powerful speaker cabinet. I use it nearly every day if I take an afternoon siesta and don’t want to be disturbed by the traffic on the street. And it would work great in your RV or on your picnic table for background (or even foreground) music streamed from your phone or any other Bluetooth source. Klipsch has been making speakers for nearly 75 years, so they know a thing or two about what sounds good, and this little powerhouse won’t disappoint. Get it on Amazon HERE.
As we’ve discussed many times, the biggest cause of shore power plug meltdowns is probably oxidized contacts, and here’s the spray cleaner I use on some of the largest (and most expensive) pieces of sound gear in the world. Did you know a mixing console can cost as much as a house or Class A diesel pusher ($500,000+)? But even for more modest gear like your $100 shore power cord, this is a great product. Just a little spritz every month or so not only removes oxidation, it coats the contacts to retard future corrosion as well as lubricates it for easier plugging and unplugging into the pedestal outlet. For general use you’ll want the D5 version, but there’s also a G5 for gold plated contacts, and an F5 for faders on a mixing console or pots on your Marshall guitar amp. Yes, I know that some of you are guitar players, so don’t be shy about it. Here’s the latest version with the “Perfect Straw” for spritzing inside of receptacles. Get it on Amazon HERE.
I’ve received a lot of emails saying how cool this gadget is, and it certainly helps you find which 12-volt fuse has blown in your RV, as well as troubleshoot the cause of the short circuit. This fuse has a built-in LED light that stays off as long as everything is working properly. But blow the fuse from an overload, and that LED comes on showing you the way to the blown fuse. You can even use it to monitor for the short circuit by flexing wires to see if the light goes out (you’ve opened up the short). At only around $1 each, these fuses are a great investment in your sanity. Get a pack of them HERE in assorted colors and amperage ratings.
Finally, here’s what my wife, Linda, offered last Christmas, and it became a huge hit, both with the six family members she gave one to as a gift (seriously, six of them), as well as hundreds of them bought by our extended RVtravel family here. This cool silicon pad can be used as a turntable mat in your microwave, or a heat-resistant grabber to remove a hot pot from an oven, or even as a quickie trivet for setting hot things down on your table. Spilled something on it or did your marinara sauce boil over? Just dunk it in soapy water and it’s clean and ready to go in seconds. We use ours every day and it’s survived many hundreds of hot food events and is still in perfect shape. (Remember, my wife was a catering manager until she retired, so she has little use for kitchen gadgets that fall apart in a few months. This one is built to last.) Get at least one (plus a few extras for extended family presents) HERE.
Let’s gift safely out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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