Building A Tube Headphone Amp, A Learning Experience

I’m a music junkie – I’ll freely admit it. And I’ll also admit that I’m old school. I love listening on the couch, in a “sweet spot” perfectly situated between the two speakers. When I reached a point of owning my own house I was ready to invest in a decent way to play my music – and I quickly found out how much this could cost. However, I also discovered whole groups of folks online building their own equipment, experimenting and tweaking. I also discovered that this could cost a whole lot less! Being a tinkerer by nature, I was hooked, and by the time I was done I had built a tube preamplifier, solid state amplifier and speakers, tweaking parts and wringing the best sound out of components I had built myself.

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Torx Screws, Torx Tools Available at KC Tool

A Brief Guide to Torx and Its (Many) Variations

­­We have discussed previously on this blog about the highly specific “Pentalobe” screw head and the tools used in conjunction. The Pentalobe shape is a relatively new invention compared to one its cousins, the Hexalobular screw, which many people call a star or Torx. Torx is actually a trademark of Camcar Textron, so the use of its name is another example of genericized trademark, like we use the term Allen Wrench for Hex Keys.Read More »

Hold On To Your Bolts! (and screws and nuts and….)

Some tools are truly utilitarian like hammers, screwdrivers, and ratchets. Some tools are uber-specific. There are tools for protection, for grabbing, for seeing, for oiling, and for just looking cool. Then there are those certain tools that make your life just a bit easier and specifically in this case, tools that HOLD things. Now I don’t mean clamps, vices, and the like, I mean holding the small things that can get lost in the machine or the carpet. Some of our loved German tool brands make grippers, magnets, and adapters to secure fasteners to our tools as we are working. Let’s look at some.Read More »

Ball-End Hex Tools: A Guide

Hex Key, Allen Wrench, L-Key, no matter what name you call it, if you have ever assembled anything you have probably used one. You can get them in Metric or SAE and they come in all kinds of sizes, from the tiny .028 inch to massive one inch. They are commonly used for furniture assembly because they are cheap to manufacture and can be tossed in the box for the customer to use (evidently they are like paperclips at IKEA and they will give you one if you ask nicely).

We have grown so accustomed to getting free L-keys in our furniture boxes that we take for granted the inferior quality of them and are very likely just to throw the tool away with the plastic bag it came in when we’re done. As any reader of this blog should know though, we buy good quality tools and demand only the best, so why use that freebie in the first place? A good set of L-keys will last you decades without showing wear and tear. But there is one big advantage to buying a quality set of L-keys and that’s the ball end.Read More »

What is a DIN number?

There are various sets of standards in the tool world.  In America we have The American National Standards Institute or ANSI for short.  On a global level, there is the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO.  Since this is a blog about specifically German made tools we will look at the German version: DIN.

DIN stands for Deutsches Institut Für Normung or German Institute for Standardization in English.  They have been operating for literally 100 years and have always been highly regarded in the standards community.  Though the name implies an exclusively German operation, the DIN standards have been adopted across the world and influenced many other standards organizations including the ISO.  The best example of this is the DIN standard 476 from 1922 introducing the A sizes of paper which would later become ISO 216 in 1975.Read More »

Penta-What? Pentalobe!

What is a pentalobe screw and why would you need a pentalobe screwdriver?  Let’s examine a brief history of this little beast.

Firstly, like a Pentagon (shape with five sides) a Pentalobe is a screw or screwdriver with five points.  They come in six sizes from 1 to 6.  The nomenclature of this can be confusing though, as different companies have different ways of naming their pentalobe sizes.  You will see TS1, which can easily be mistaken for Torx size.  You will also see variations on the letter P (P1, P2, Etc..) and PL (PL1, PL2…).  There even some who make it as clear as possible and call it Five Lobe.

Pents up close 2.jpgThe confusion doesn’t stop there, though.    In 2009 Apple launched the pentalobe screw, and that’s about all they did.  There was no regulatory sizing so the brains at iFixit reverse engineered the screw and made a driver to work with it.  Since it was similar in size to a Torx T2, the called it a P2.  After they did this, Apple released sizing information and revealed that iFixit’s P2 was actually a size 1.  It was after all this commotion that WIha released their set of pentalobes (to Apple Standards), so their PL1 is actually the same size as iFixit’s P2.  Did you get all that?  To keep things simple (and since this is the GERMAN tool blog) we will use Wiha’s sizing standard, PL1-PL6.Read More »