TechnicalPro PS9U Fire Hazard? (Yes, IMO) + Completely Safe Cyberpower CPS-1220RMS

I was searching for an “affordable” power distribution unit for some video-related equipment in a rack. The Technical Pro PS9U looked very appealing with its multiple light-up switches on the front, because they made me all sentimental and wistful for the days of switched under-monitor PDUs.

It took a dark turn when I looked at the negative reviews on Amazon, wherein one person uploaded pictures of a melted-down unit. I still bought the PDU, not because I wanted to use it, but purely because I wanted to take it apart for YouTube.

And indeed the Amazon review turned out to be accurate. I would not feel comfortable using the Technical Pro PDU in my house. In my opinion as a random guy on the internet, it is a fire hazard, is poorly made, and shouldn’t even be on the market.

For my actual use, I also bought a Cyberpower CPS-1220RMS PDU. It’s a bit different than the Technical Pro in that it doesn’t have independently-switched outputs, offers surge protection, and is rated at 20A rather than 15A (though “rated” is a strong word in the case of the PS9U). That’s just on the surface, though. Inside, the Cyberpower shows every mark of quality and clearly supports its 20A rating.

In the video I open up the Cyberpower, just to show you what a quality PDU should look like. The comparison between the two products is day and night, even though I got the Cyberpower unit for a mere $15 more (on sale). It’s absolutely worth the higher price (even when not on sale).

The bottom line here is that when it comes to power distribution — be it rack-mounted or a typical power strip style — you should spend the extra money to get the higher-quality unit. Your fire insurance provider will thank you, as might your family (if it comes to that).

Solderable LED Xmas Tree Ornament – Christmas the DIY Way

DIY Tree

I got this because it looked like a cool little project, and a neat (if tiny) gift for the missus. So that’s about the extent of my motivations. If you’re trying to put one of these together, I’m hoping that this video might answer a couple of your questions. It’s not really meant to be an educational video, though; More a demonstration of what’s involved in assembly for anyone considering a purchase. Speaking of which, if you want one you can pick one up for about 5 bucks over at banggood.com.

And in case you were wondering, this is not a paid advertisement. I actually paid them for this thing, so it’s pretty much the opposite. (If this kit were complete crap I would tell you.)

2D Version

3D Version

For viewing with Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Rift, etc.

A couple of people have rightly told me that you can just set a 3D video to 2D viewing mode, and therefore don’t need to upload 2 versions of the same video.

There are a couple of problems with simply uploading one 3D video, however:

  • Because the two sides of the video are compressed horizontally, viewing it in 2D stretches one of the “eyes” to full screen. That means it’s much lower quality with half the horizontal resolution versus a regular 2D version.
  • As far as I can see, YouTube defaults to anaglyph (red/blue) mode when browsing 3D videos on a regular monitor. That’s a potential turn-off for any viewer that doesn’t know about the switch to view it in 2D instead.

If I’m off base here, please let me know. I’m still learning this whole 3D creation process.

Switched Port USB Hub from AliExpress

This one went up on the ol’ Extras channel because, to be completely honest, it’s not a very good video.

I know you might ask, then why bother uploading it at all? Or, why not re-shoot it?

Good questions, and ones I ask myself. But I figure that a) there’s a lot of worse crap on YouTube anyway, and b) it’s not really worth re-shooting because the subject matter is never exactly gonna be thrilling. This is a bit of a tangent, but here’s why I’m making YouTube videos in general: Because I like making videos.

I don’t so much like being on camera, though. I like planning, lighting, camera setups, editing, and all the little stuff in between. So reviewing a random piece of crap from AliExpress is just a vehicle for video production.

I also used to be a big-time perfectionist, and that would stop me from getting anything done. A few years ago I’d never have been able to release this video, and I would have driven myself crazy over it.

So now you get to sit through a sh|tty video in the interest of my self-improvement. And that’s the internet.

$10 Credit Card Sized Cellphone (Matrix Relarded)

Here’s a tiny cellphone from Aiek (your top brand for cheap-ass mini phones, maybe). I got it for $10, and surprisingly it works pretty well!

I forgot to mention in the video, but it’s GSM and definitely compatible with AT&T’s network. (I tested it using H2O Wireless, but they’re just a virtutal provider on AT&T’s system.)

You can pick one up from Banggood, but unfortunately the price has jumped up twice since I bought it, and now it’s at an unfortunate $18.47 (October 8, 2016). I’m sure it’s sold elsewhere, so hopefully you can grab it for ten bucks from another source.

The free delivery option was surprisingly fast to me here in NY at just over a week.

This definitely won’t be replacing your iPhone 7 or Google Pixel, but as a backup/emergency phone to keep in a handbag or backpack it’s pretty cool.

Also, Matrix Something Something Relarded.

Etekcity “Outdoor” Collapsible “Camping” LED Lanterns of Doom

Here are some collapsible LED “camping” lanterns from Etekcity. The reason I put “camping” in quotes is because there is no sign of waterproofing on these things.

I suppose if you’re camping in the desert they’d be fine.

Wait, no they wouldn’t be. Because one out of the four didn’t work, and the soldering was abysmal. If you want to see details, I do a tear down in the video.

Let’s [Quickly] Open: AEDILYS Motorola Nexus 6 USB Dock

This is so close to being a good charging stand, except that the USB port is used to hold the phone in place!

Its design is quite simple, as it’s just a USB 2.0 pass-through from a micro-USB port on the back of the dock to a male micro-USB on the front.

There’s not much more to say about it in text, so check out the video to get a full look at it! And this does have the benefit of being one of my shortest videos, so you only need to invest about 2.5 minutes into it. :)

Lets Open: AgIC Circuit Marker – Can You Solder? (Kinda)

This video answers the age-new question: Can you solder to silver circuit trace ink?

The answer is yes, but it probably would take some practice, and it doesn’t work all that well.

Update: Overloading a Circuit

Because the impedance of the silver ink was so high, I decided to try and overload it with far too much current to see what would happen.

The video includes trying to power a 40W light bulb at 120 VAC through the paper circuit as well as a dead short at 30 VDC!

The upshot is that it did not start a fire, and the silver trace failed in a controlled manner. That’s bad for the drama of a YouTube video, but a good indication that this product won’t burst into flame in regular use!

Soldering Technique

I got a little more practice soldering onto the ink, and here’s the best technique as I could manage:

  1. With the soldering iron at a normal soldering temperature (I used ~380F), tin the leads of the wires or components. Contravening the proper technique, leave a good size blob of solder on there.
  2. With the soldering iron at a low temperature (~300F), “tin” the inked paper by flowing solder onto it with the tip just barely not touching the paper. The result should be a small blob of solder on the ink, without having melted the coating on the photo paper.
  3. Place the lead on top of the blob that’s on the ink. Heat the soldering iron back up to ~380F or higher, and place it on top of the lead, just long enough to flow the solder on the lead into the solder on the paper.

And that’s it! Using this technique, I was able to make three flawless joints out of my first four attempts. And that was to tack the heavy gauge wire of the 120V power cable to the paper. It was much more solid than I expected.

Let’s Open: Japan Crate Review

Hey look! A crate from Japan! (California, technically.)

Japan Crate sends a box of surprise Japanese candy, chips, and other edibles to your door every month. For a fee, of course.

The missus got a 3-month subscription for me as a birthday gift, and I’ve been sitting on the third crate for over a month waiting to do a video on it (much to her chagrin). It’s now come to pass.

I like the Japan Crate crates quite a bit, to spoil the whole review right now.

Update: In retrospect, I probably should have tried everything on camera, and then just edited out the uninteresting items.

The stuff that I thought was root beer flavored hard candies were in fact similar in texture to very rapidly dissolving Smarties that tasted like maple syrup and butter. Basically it was like licking the top of a stack of pancakes from I-Hop. I didn’t care for it, even though in theory I like those two things. What it needed were the pancakes.

My friend Vin (the Kit Kat guy) points out that my detail on the matcha and condensed milk candies was lacking, which is fair enough. But I don’t know how to accurately describe the taste of matcha because it’s fairly unique. It’s got an earthy taste, I suppose. That’s really not enough to go on, so next time you’re in a Japanese restaurant ask if they have green tea with matcha. Ever since I had it for the first time at Arata Sushi in Syosset, NY, I can’t drink regular green tea anymore. It just doesn’t compare.

And I probably should have shown this DIY thing from the previous month’s crate:

It’s called Nomucco Jelly, and comes with a bag of powder plus the plastic dish and straw you see in the video. Add a little bit of water and stir and a minute later you get… melon flavored mucus!.

The texture only becomes unpleasant when you think of it as mucus, a fact of which Amanda reminded me quite gladly. The flavor is lightly melon-y, though, and “pretty good”.


Note that I’m not paid to endorse this, and have no vested interest in Japan Crate. I just happen to like it.

Let’s Open: Solar Motion Sensor LED Light from Vont – Review, Teardown, and Installation

A company called Divine LEDs (now called Vont) got in touch with me out of the blue to ask if I’d be interested in doing a review of their Solar Motion Sensor Light. I said “sure”, but with the caveat that my review would be honest, good or bad.

As it happens, I like this little light. It seems to be well designed, and does what it promises: Light up dimly when it gets dark, and then brightly when it detects motion. It has what looks like a LiPo cell inside that’s charged by the solar panel.

Of course, only time will tell if the light is any good. I’ll save my final judgement until after it survives (or not) a New York summer and winter.

For those of you that are curious, here’s a couple of close-ups of the circuit board:

Solar Motion Light - Circuit Board - Front Solar Motion Light - Circuit Board - Back

Side note: I say in the video that Vont is located in New York. On Vont’s website they list a 718 number, which is Queens / Brooklyn. However, the Divine LEDs Google+ page shows their location as Las Vegas, and the Divine LEDs website shows Hong Kong.

Let’s Open: Creation Crate’s 1st Monthly Project (an Electronics Project Subscription Service)

The folks over at Creation Crate got in touch and asked me to do a review of their monthly electronics project subscription service. I like the whole “crate” concept, and I like electronics, so figured I’d go for it.

This is an unboxing, review, and assembly of the whole thing, cut down to an unusually-short 16 minutes or so.

Overall, I like the Creation Crate, though there are a couple of minor points with which I took issue. But if you’re looking for a gift that’s educational and fun (for those that find electronics to be fun, at any rate), then you could do a lot worse. I’m kinda basing this on my own childhood, but this seems like it would be perfectly suited to pre-teens and early teens, but would be good for anyone just starting out with basic electronics and programming.

If you’re interested, they can be found at mycreationcrate.com.

And in full disclosure: The kit was provided to me for free by Creation Crate, but this is not a promotional video.

I would have made the very same video and said the same things if I’d paid for the kit, and at a value of ~$30 bucks it’s not exactly enough for me to sell myself. On the other hand, if anyone from Tesla ever reads this, I will guarantee you a good review if I get to keep the car.