Subscriber Discussion

What Are Your Favorite Time Saving Tools?

I'll get things started with a few of my own:

Platinum Tools EZ-RJ45 System: These are technically connectors, but they require a specialized crimper. It is our goto when we decide to put male RJ45's at the camera (settle down BICSI nazi's). EZ-RJ45's are unique in that you shove the individual connectors THROUGH the connector and the tool crimps and trims them at the same time. It is much easier than trying to trim the conductors to the exact right length, and it's much easier to visualize the colors are in the correct order. We use the original crimper, but they just release a new one (the EZ-VIKING). Looks cool.

Paladin Tools Jack Terminator: This is a crimper for keystone jacks. They offer a variety of dies to match different manufacturers (we prefer Hubbell HJX jacks). It punches down and trims all eight conductors in one motion. It is the female jack equivalent of the EZ-RJ45's above. It's awesome.

Hubbell 1-Punch Panel Termination Tool: Punches down and trims all eight conductors on hubbell patch panels. I've seen telco guys use similar punches on 66-blocks.

A Stopwatch?

Corning Unicam Fiber Termination kits

The DomeWizard :)

Btw, we have a section on 25 different tools reviewed. Happy to add more.

We actually do love the domewizard. We sell it to our construction clients so they can safely clean outdoor domes themselves. Cameras on construction sites get dirty fast, so they need to be cleaned way more often.

Also - found a bug. Your link works fine in the forum, but is broken in the e-mail. Likely because it's a relative instead of absolute URL.

This is not a tool, but a method:

For big jobs, gathering information about the clients network and bench testing and configuring the IP addresses of IP cameras and NVR's prior to going to the job site. We dont install but we do this for our customers bigger jobs. Sounds simple, but a huge time saver.

This is a little big-brotherish, but I am a firm believer in workforce management tools like XORA, and other GPS-based fleet trackers.

The value comes from more than just making sure your field techs/salesmen are where they say they are, it also greatly aids dispatch. When a service call pops up, I can get a real-time picture of where my techs may be in the field and can plan work according to the quickest drive times, etc...

The XORA platform also includes work order dispatch and service ticket signatures. Again, simplifying the paperwork burden improves tech efficiencies.

I'm not sure this really qualifies as a 'time-saving tool' in the manner the OP was asking, but when used right these tools can save thousands of dollars.

Online resource tool.

IPVM the "Consumer Reports" for the Video Surveillance Professional for its testing and comparison of products.
Educational tools of IPVM, it's Training and IPVM University.

Ubiquiti Beanstalk for its simple straight forward wireless applications.

SMALL MAGLITE FLASHLITE for identifing fiber optic strands from one end to another. Simple & quick way to verify that you are working on the correct fiber strands.

And of course, always carry a PAPER CLIP with you. You never know when you need to press a recessed device reset button or fish out a bit of wire fragment after cutting from someplace it shouldnt be!

What about multimeters? I am thinking to get a Fluke one, any reccomendations?


If you don't own a multimeter, you definitely need one.

Fluke does make awesome products. The model 115 is what I and all my guys carry around. I highly recommend the "Toolpack" accessory that includes the hanging strap and magnet that frees up an extra hand - worth it's weight in gold. Backlit screen is a plus. Mine came in a kit with an ammeter - I almost never use it.

There have been a few times I've wished for a logging multimeter when diagnosing intermittent issues. The 287 model looks amazing (I haven't coughed up the $400 for it yet). I'd recommend the cheaper 115 for everyday use.

Agreed, multimeter is indispensable!

I'd suggest one REALLY GOOD one... then hit up a surplus store or autoparts store or something for two or three cheap ones that won't matter if they get broken or lost, or "walk away" - little ones that can go in a tool pouch or laptop bag. As nice as it is to have a big fancy one with a bazillion functions, the fact is, 95% of what you'll be doing with it is checking continuity, and checking voltage, so something more compact is often very convenient.

I actually picked up one of these recently and find the one-handed operation extremely useful.

I also have one of these (same model, but mine was a Radio Shack brand) that I've had for probably close to 30 years, and it still works great. Had to replace the negative lead once because the wire broke where it goes into the casing, and the flip-cover has long since fallen off, but it's still plugging along.

I also have a couple of nice, large, heavy-duty, fully-featured units with all the goodies like backlit display, huge numbers, clamp-on ammeter, hooks and stands, kilovolt capability, and so on... but they're bulky and impractical to carry and reside in the big toolbox most of the time unless they're specifically needed.

Glow rods.

#5 Welding Glass.

Lens Calculator (circular slide rule type).

^Oh yeah, and about the glow rods... don't get the Greenlee ones. I have a set I never use, because over time the fiberglass has become "feathered" and they leave my fingers full of micro-slivers. GAH.

On a similar note, I've found another very useful tool to be... chimney sweeping rods. They're like glow rods, only much thicker and stiffer (something like 7/16" or 1/2" thick) and 5' long each. Great for fishing wires through large open spaces, like drop ceilings, wilson joists, and Q-deck, where normal thin glow rods tend to droop after about a foot. Bonus fact: the couplings on the end use a standard 1/2" pipe thread, and with some plastic caps, I've created a range of attachements, including a couple different hooks, and one with a small LED flashlight.

Below are some additional favorite tools in my tool bag which I find very useful when needed in the field;

Tone and Probe Kit used for tracing and identifying single conductors, twisted pairs and coax cables. You can find them in most telcom supply stores and Amazon.

Three Wire Circuit Tester w/ GFI (available at most hardware stores)

Optical Thermometer (Available at hardware stores or discount tool stores such as Harbor Freight)

Datalogging Light Meter (I use a EXTECH HD450 for extended field surveys)

Last but not least.....

Laser Distance Meter (I use a Leica DISTO D5 which is good up to 200m or 650ft.) (I recommend to use a tripod if measuring distances over 50 ft for more stable measurements)



Man, Joel has a better light meter than me. I have a sudden urge to keep up with the Joneses!

If you're doing anything at long range, I highly recommend getting a laser rangefinder. It's indispensible in my thermal tests, since we're shooting nearly 2000'. It can be hard to aim and keep it steady, but when you're pointing at a dot 1,800' away, of course it is.

We have a Bushnell Sport 850, which has a range of 5-850 yards, and was relatively inexpensive, under $200 on Amazon.

Ethan, the Leica DISTO D5 does a nice job for the ranges I have encountered so far <650ft / 200m but your suggestion for an actual range finder is a good. I agree about a stable platform for the device as trying to hold steady is very difficult. A little change at the device makes a BIG change the farther out you go. Physics & propagation of errors work against you.

Joel, are you using the data logging function of your lightmeter? If I recall correctly, it's a serial interface so it's not terribly practical when doing readings outside, at night, etc. Also, it was never clear to me how I could map that to different spots, i.e., at time X, I am a spot Y, etc. It seemed better for a stationary indoor setup to track changes over time, not a need that is high in surveillance.

Yes, I am using the datalogging function. It is a USB physical connection which uses a USB to UART serial driver. For my purposes I wasnt that sophisticated and simply turned on the continuous logging function, performed walk /drive survey and noted the time and marked a google map with the point of interest.

Afterwards, I simply downloaded the data (which is time stamped) to a spreadsheet and identified the timestamp which matched my point of interest. Worked perfect for my purpose.

Below is an example of test data for what is generated by point vs Footcandles;

Here is what a typical downloaded data text file looks like from the HD450 light meter. You read it right into Excel.

1 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:43
2 25.14 FC 04-02-13/13:02:44
3 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:45
4 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:46
5 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:47
6 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:48
7 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:49
8 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:50
9 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:51
10 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:52
11 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:53
12 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:54
13 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:55
14 25.19 FC 04-02-13/13:02:56
15 25.15 FC 04-02-13/13:02:57
16 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:02:58
17 12.12 FC 04-02-13/13:02:59
18 25.03 FC 04-02-13/13:03:00
19 25.14 FC 04-02-13/13:03:01
20 25.13 FC 04-02-13/13:03:02
21 25.19 FC 04-02-13/13:03:03
22 25.23 FC 04-02-13/13:03:04
23 25.24 FC 04-02-13/13:03:05
24 25.22 FC 04-02-13/13:03:06
25 25.25 FC 04-02-13/13:03:07
26 25.25 FC 04-02-13/13:03:08
27 25.25 FC 04-02-13/13:03:09
28 25.26 FC 04-02-13/13:03:10
29 25.25 FC 04-02-13/13:03:11
30 25.26 FC 04-02-13/13:03:12
31 25.26 FC 04-02-13/13:03:13



What is the practical purpose of a range finder outside of IPVM tests? I've occasionally used one for material estimation on existing structures when no prints were available, but mostly, mine gathers dust. I think mine was only good for a few hundred feet, but that never mattered for my use. If I am out of doors, I will usually use just use google maps for measuring distance to target and FoV widths.

(My stance here likely scewed by the fact most of our business is new construction.)

James, I think if you get into outdoor scenarios, it becomes pretty handy. A lot of times you can use Google Maps and you're fine. Other times, you're walking around a nondescript field (like our tests), and it's hard to pick an accurate landmark using Maps. Plus, I would rather get a measurement while I'm there than rely on Maps. Might as well take the time, since I'm on site anyway.

Our guys in the field love their Veto pro pac bags. We use the XL and XLT models.

Here is a picture of the non laptop one (XL) filled with tools: