3 Folding Star Bit and SAE/Metric Hex Keys

08/03/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Cycling

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Hex Keys
Item: Three Folding Star Bit and SAE/Metric Hex Keys
Item number: 94905
Retail price: $9.99
Frequent sale price: $6.99
Target price: $5.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

The one hex wrench that I need is always the one hex key misplaced. This set keeps them attached in a hard to loose package. Covering SAE-, metric-, and star-key sizes, this set is worth their target price just for the convenience. Those who are always organized and who invariably put their tools back in the right place can probably pass on this set, but the rest of us benefit greatly by keeping the set locked together. And having the keys mounted in order of size saves time by not having to 'dig' through the 'pack' of loose hex keys.

We have individual hex keys spread out throughout our home and shop for the various applications where they're frequently used (e.g., bicycle tool kit, scroll saw). This set attached pocket-knife-style insures that we'll always have the needed size back in our main tool supply.

This is a quality tool from Harbor Freight. Individual hex keys work best for some applications and simple sets can be purchased from a number of retailers at this price and even lower, but the convenience factor makes them well worth the target price for many of us.

Bottom line: This hex-key set is a great convenience, always having the right-sized hex key on-hand, and not a bad buy at the target price.

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Black and White Security System with Two Cameras & Monitor

08/03/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Security

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Black and White Security System
Item: Black and White Security System with Two Cameras & Monitor
Item number: 66556
Retail price: $89.99
Target price: $54.99 (with coupon)
Best price: $49.99
Item Link

It's difficult to find a good deal on a surveillance camera from a brick-and-mortar store with Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers keeping the prices so very low, but Harbor Freight has come up with a good basic package which is a great buy when purchased at our target price. This simple, two-camera system is complete with a monitor and power supply. It's black and white, but it does have infrared sensitivity and camera illumination which claims to provide night vision up to about 20' from each camera. (FYI: Infrared IS black and white as are most low-light level cameras; some cameras switch from color in normal light to black and white in low-light conditions.)

We find the actual useful range of the night-vision feature (use in near total darkness) to be around 5 or 6 feet for facial recognition and about 10 feet for other small objects. It might provide some faint illumination up to 20 feet (e.g., detect movement in the background), but that's pushing it. However, even low-wattage yard lamps provide adequate lighting for this system to see well into the night. You might also consider supplemental infrared lighting that's available on eBay in a various sized LED arrays.

This is a good, basic surveillance system that can be used for security or other monitoring of two different areas. You can have it automatically alternative between the two cameras at a programmable rate or you can manually select either camera. There is no split screen option for monitoring both cameras simultaneously, but with the small, low-resolution monitor the images wouldn't be very clear.

Other online reviewers have noted that this system works best inside or outside under low-light conditions -- it tends to washout the images in bright sunlight. Each camera has a 58' cable which means that the two cameras can be around 100' apart. The 58' cable includes the power for the camera so no 120VAC outlet is necessary at the camera's location. The RCA output can be used with other monitors and most televisions with RCA inputs. The camera housings are stainless steel and should be suitable for outdoor use, but we haven't yet subjected it to our Buffalo winter test so we can't comment more on this feature.

Be advised that the power-supply output voltage is 18 volts not the 12 volts stated on the monitor's power input jack and in Harbor Freight's description. You would need a voltage adapter to use this system for automotive applications at 12 volts.

This system provides an inexpensive solution to most basic surveillance and monitoring applications. The hard-wired system has advantages over wireless systems in reliability and in providing the camera's power-supply through the hard-wired connection back to the monitor. For those who haven't yet installed video cameras, consider the convenience of being able to monitor what's happening in the shop or at the front door beyond its obvious security applications. Once you become accustomed to using a monitoring system, you'll realize its value and never want to go back to being 'blind' again.

Bottom line: A good basic security system at a great price. Simple plug-n-play operation right out of the box gets you immediately up and running.

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16" x 24" Steel Square

08/02/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Measurement

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Steel Square
Item: 16" x 24" Steel Square
Item number: 9541
Retail price: $7.99
Regular sale price: $4.99
Target price: $4.99
Item Link

This quality steel square is a great bargain at our target price and won't easily become lost amongst the boards thanks to its bright yellow color. Both English (hum, I see this is now being called by some at Harbor Freight "SAE" but really?) and metric scales are etched clearly into the steel, but both edges still produce smooth straight lines for drawing. Admittedly we do little more than draw simple perpendicular lines on pieces to be cut, but we get more than our money's worth at that. For lines 10" and less, we often use our stripped-down combination square.

Bottom line: A great buy at the target price, brightly colored and well marked for easy reading.

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25 ft. x 1" Tape Measure

08/02/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

25 ft. Tape Measure
Item: 25 ft. x 1" Tape Measure
Item number: 47737
Retail price: $4.99
Frequent sale price: $2.49 (with coupon)
Target price: $1.99 or less
Best price: $1.49 (with coupon)
Item Link

This 25' tape measure isn't a bad deal, it simply isn't one of the "Hot Buys" at Harbor Freight™. The mechanisms locks OK but don't expect it to hold up to heavy use. Even moderate daily use is likely to cause sufficient wear on the real to produce stiffness and even binding after routine use. And don't abuse this tape measure by dropping it or by allowing dirt to enter with the tape when retracting or you'll find the mechanism binding or the case splitting very quickly.

One of the tests of a "good tool" for us here at Harbor Freight Reviews is its ability to withstand occasional abuse. This tool will not stand-up to abuse and therefore fails to meet this criterion for a "good tool."

People who use measuring tools routinely in their work can tell at a glance that this isn't a professional-level tool. The tape is not sufficiently thick for convenient measuring (e.g., extending the tape leader across a surface), and the real mechanism isn't smooth enough to sustain easy retraction over repeated use. Still, for most of us this tool is sufficient for occasional use. Buy it as a duplicate and keep it where you need it on occasion, but be sure to buy it at the target price or less or you'll find yourself feeling disappointed.

Bottom line: Buy at the target price or less and it isn't a bad deal. Expect it to wear-out after moderate use but it makes a great extra tape measure.

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Novel Uses

08/02/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Announcements, Novel Uses

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Not being a carpenter, machinist, tradesman, or formally trained in the use of any of these items sometimes has its advantages. When browsing through Harbor Freight™ I often survey the shelves thinking, "I wonder what that's good for?”This sometimes leaves me thinking so far outside the box that I didn't even know that it normally comes in a box. And this can lead to discovering novel uses of an item, usually not very earthshaking but occasionally rather interesting.

To celebrate “thinking outside the box” a new category is added that explores novel uses for some Harbor Freight™ products. This category is provided to make it easier for those who like to browse these reviews. Don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed, but occasionally you might just find an interesting idea, perhaps something even useful. Just click on “Novel Uses” found under Categories on the right-hand column and skim through the possible uses of various items that were not their original intended purpose. Be sure to click on “All” under Categories and “reset filters” to insure that your subsequent viewing will include all of the reviews and not just those from the “Novel Uses” category.

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This review and discussion forum was created for those of us who love Harbor Freight(tm). It's well known to those who frequent the store that the prices are always cycling up and down, and most of us usually accept it as a personal challenge to get the lowest price possible. It's also well appreciated that some products at Harbor Freight are good, even very good, but that many others are also substandard, yes, even junk. This review and discussion forum is dedicated to the savvy Harbor Freight shopper and is intended to provide some guidance to the best and the worse buys. Similar products from other retailers will also be reviewed from time-to-time. Please be advised that everyone's experience is unique, and what works well (or doesn't work at all) for the reviewers here may or may not suit your personal needs. With this caveat and with notification that Harbor Freight Reviews assumes no liability for the accuracy of information provided here for educational purposes, enjoy the forum and good 'sa(i)ling' at Harbor Freight!

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