Before there were smart batteries and tools, it was the test and measurement tools that really started making the jobsite intelligent. Voltage testing is only the beginning for the group of tools that fall into this critical category. Toss in IR temp guns, thermal imaging cameras, and lasers for a category of tools that our grandfathers wouldn’t have dared imagined in their wildest dreams!
2015 Pro Tool Innovation Awards: Test and Measurement
Winner – Voltage Testers
What they said: The voltage sensor detects 12 – 1000V AC and indicates the presence of voltage with both visual and audible signals. The NCVT-3 includes an independent bright flashlight and is rugged enough for any jobsite. When sensing voltage in dark cabinets, panels, rooms, etc., a flashlight is required in addition to a non-contact voltage tester. In addition, we wanted to produce an NCVT that meets Klein’s “tough” standards which are some of the highest in the industry. A vibrant LED bar graph indicates voltage strength (from low to high) for easy viewing. Audible voltage indicator will beep at a greater frequency the higher the voltage or the closer to the voltage source. The NCVT-3 is rated IP67 for ingress protection which means it is dustproof and waterproof. It can withstand a 6.6 ft. drop onto concrete or steel and is CAT IV 1000V safety rating.
What we say: We don’t review very many tools that end up with a perfect rating, but Klein’s NCVT-3 is one of them. For just under $25, the Klein non-contact voltage tester is as close to a no-brainer tool as you can get if you even occasionally do electrical work. For seasoned professionals, it’s a handy tool that one-ups the standard NCVT products on the market by adding low voltage detection from 12-48V and integrating a handy LED light. The fact that it will give you 15 hours of continuous use and 6 hours as an LED flashlight means that you won’t be barreling through AAA batteries either. This is a well-designed tool that does what it’s supposed to and does it well. Pick one up. You won’t regret it.
Winner – Laser Distance Measures: Short Range
What they said: Bosch brings Bluetooth, color screen, customization to laser measure lineup with GLM 50 C. The Bosch GLM 50 C offers a backlit color display with large numbers to easily see measurements, and full-word function description to provide simplicity when using its array of features. In addition to screen enhancements, the GLM 50 C offers Bluetooth functionality. Users can digitally transfer measurements to a smartphone or tablet and easily organize, document and transfer information using free Bosch apps (measure & document and FloorPlan). The laser measure is extremely precise with accuracy of 1/16″. Overall range is 165 ft. The GLM 50 C includes the option to toggle between length, area, volume, indirect measurements and other functions.
What we say: Bosch’s GLM 50 C has joined the list of smart tools that can connect to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. Bosch already has a couple of free apps that create an intelligent layout system. In addition to the wireless connection, Bosch has also improved the screen to be much easier to read than most laser measures on the market, particularly of this size.
Winner – Laser Distance Measures: Long Range
What they said: The Leica DISTO S910 is the first handheld measuring device that can capture measurements in 3D from a single location. The 3D measurements are made possible by the SmartBase, which allows the DISTO S910 to measure distances and angles between multiple points. The DISTO S910 can transfer discrete measurements via Bluetooth. It can also use WiFi to send three dimensional measurement data with images into a live CAD environment. These innovations are revolutionizing the handheld laser distance meter market. The S910 is job site ready with IP 54 splash and dust protection. It features a color touchscreen with a viewfinder for accurate long-range measurements. It is extremely accurate to 1/16” with a range of up to 1000,’ and meets the ISO standard (ISO 16331-1).
What we say: If you didn’t already know, Leica is a legend in the jobsite laser community. The ability to have 1/16″ accuracy at 1000′ is incredible on its own. Leica takes the S910 another step by incorporated Bluetooth technology, the DISTO S910 is geared more towards working with a computer rather than a smartphone, specifically incorporating itself directly into your CAD program.
Winner – Non-Linear Measurement
What they said: The Smart Wheel enables a user to measure distance and map out the path they walked and send it in real time to our app at an +/- 1/4″ accuracy over 100 feet. Allows users to find layout of their yard, then walk an designed foot path to be constructed. User now has the map of the property, along with the proposed path, along with the distance/area so they can plan out the project visually. Same can be done for larger scale construction, to know path/distance of road that needs to be built, or the estimate of an project area to estimate how much material is needed. Can stop at any point during the path and “mark” that spot, the marked spot can now have picture and text inserted into it on the app. So if an user walks a path of their property, but notices pipes underneath and want to note that work cannot be done there, he can stop the wheel from measuring/mapping, insert picture and note about the condition of the location.
What we said: It would not be fair to call MWi’s Smart Wheel a trundle wheel – so don’t. It connects to their proprietary app to map out in real time where you’re measuring. Possibly the most tangible benefit aside from that is the ability to mark a point with a picture. Whether you’re preparing for an installation with your own crew or getting ready for a subcontractor to come out, you can eliminate the guess work before they ever set foot on the property.
Winner – Line Laser Levels
What they said: The Spectra Precision LT58 Universal Interior Laser utilizes a bright green 360 degree laser line. It is ideal for ceiling work. The LT58 is visible at 100 feet (30 m) even in rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. The unit is compact, lightweight and easy to mount. The LT58 has been optimized for ceiling work with inclusion of a universal mount that attaches to all types of ceiling track, including shadow track that requires alignment to the top of the track rather than to the bottom edge. The 2 vertical red beams are 90 degrees apart and have 50% more power than the LT56 vertical red beams. The LT58 includes a powerful 7200 mAh rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that provides 19 continuous hours of green beam operation. It also can be operated directly with AC power.
What we say: It’s been a relatively slow initiation, but green is the way to go when it comes to laser visibility. The wavelength is more visible through sunlight than red lasers, so it makes sense that the Trimble LT58 takes advantage of it. We also love this trend of lithium-ion batteries in jobsite lasers. 19 hours of operations is more than enough to get through the day. In addition to the green Z-axis (horizontal) beam, a pair of red lasers give you your X- and Y-axis vertical lines to give you a complete interior layout laser.
Winner – Rotary Laser Levels
What they said: Smart Rotary is the first rotary laser controllable via Smart Device (iOS and Android) from up to 1,200 feet away. – Full control of the laser from up to 1,200 feet away eliminate the need for one user to operate the laser‚ effectively turning an two person job into an one person job. Built-in help functions include FAQ’s, electronic instruction manual and tutorial videos. Users can access help/manual within the app instead of having to go online or find paper manual for help. Saved favorite function enables users to save either frequently used parameters or unfinished parameters to be completed at an later time. Can also be linked to Smart phone’s calendar to create alerts. The Smart rotary can be linked within an hub and give real time updates to project manager for project management
What we say: We’re going to be hearing more about NWi as they push the currently held standards for innovative communication in measuring and layout tools. With their Smart Rotary Laser, control is now achieved via Smartphone or tablet. You’ll be able to control grade setting, rotation speed, rotation direction, and a hold function for 30-, 60- or 120- degree line angles. The app even allows your phone to be used as a line level, surface level, and angle measure.
Winner – Inspection Cameras
What they said: Built from the ground up to deliver best-in-class image quality, the M12 M-Spector FLEX System also introduces a game-changing PivotView cable feature that provides a dial controlled, 270⁰ rotating camera head that allows users to scan large areas and position the camera head quickly for better, faster inspections. The new system provides the best visual quality and the best lighting output in the most compact camera head, giving users unmatched clarity at further distances. Optimal image quality and control is achieved via Image Zoom (4X) feature and 90⁰ Image Rotation. Equipped with a durable, detachable, 3-9′ water-tight flexible cables and a small camera head, the M12 M-SPECTOR Inspection Camera fits through holes as small a 1/2″ and gets into, under and around tight spaces. And with just the turn of a dial, its PivotView function allows users to span an entire space.
What we say: Milwaukee’s M12 M-Spector FLEX System offers outstanding image quality while maintaining a compact head size. Using this against a traditional compact head inspection camera left almost no comparison. The light output allowed us to see a lot more and the 4x zoom got us a look at features unidentifiable with a traditional model. In addition, the PivotView gave us the ability to turn the camera and get a good look without having to push and pull the cable to work around to the correct angle.
Winner – Thermal Imaging
What they said: The Milwaukee M12 7.8KP Thermal Imager features the highest pixel density in its class, featuring 7,800+ pixel, full data thermal images, long range 83:1 distance-to-spot targeting, and 6’ft drop durability for unmatched productivity on the jobsite. The 7.8KP Thermal Imager gives user unmatched detail to view the quality of construction, inspect hard-to-evaluate systems, and understand the extent of damage instantly. Independently adapting pixels instantly optimize themselves to provide superior detail in scenes with hot and cold objects. Equipped with dual lasers, on-screen temperature readings, and hot/cold spot locator’s users are able to quickly scan, target and capture temperature readings. The M12 7.8KP Thermal Imager kit also includes the Thermal Imager Report Software that makes analyzing images and generating reports quick and easy.
What we say: Milwaukee’s M12 7.8KP Thermal Imager got our attention in several ways. Right off the bat, it’s part of the M12 System, so you’re not blowing through batteries and they’re easily replaceable when they do finally wear out. A 4 GB SD card is included, and images can be transferred from it directly or by using the integrated Micro USB port. For it’s class, screen resolution is outstanding, outclassing it’s most popular competitor by more 60% in the number of pixels.