Category Archives: Reviews

Bike and trailer

Skiiddii Bicycle Child Trailer Review

We purchased a trailer for our bikes to enable us to carry our toddler with us when we go for bike rides. We purchased the Skiidii Bicycle Trailer for $149 on eBay from seller Faji Plaza. The trailer has provision for two small children to ride on it side by side.

The trailer arrived in a flat square box weighing 17kg. We had ours delivered to our Australia Post postbox without any problems. Delivery occurred within a week of order.

On opening the box you find a large folded trailer body, some tubular sections, some wheels and other components. The tools required to assemble the trailer are provided with the kit, a couple of small spanners and an Allen key. I chose to use a socket set and ratchet spanner as this was easier. You’ll need an 11mm hex socket.

At first I thought no instructions were supplied and this made it difficult to figure out how to get the trailer properly assembled. However it turned out the instruction booklet had been wrapped up in the fabric cover for the trailer. Unfortunately, the instructions are pretty badly translated.

I started by unfolding the trailer body and installing the cross bar that supports the roof of the trailer and holds the uprights in the vertical position. It fits together using plastic brackets on each end and some locking pins.

Locking pin
Locking pin

After this I installed the axle(which required adjusting the holes it goes through). The wheels are locked into place with plastic clips that fit into retention grooves at the end of the axle. The diagrams in the assembly guide aren’t too helpful. Wheel protection bars are then connected which go around the outside of the wheels, retained by spring loaded locking pins.

The trailer can be used as a running pram, so either a front wheel or the tow bar can be attached. The tow bar attaches with two locking pins. You can then remove the bike attachment from the tow bar using its locking pin and install it on the bike’s rear axle. You simply remove one of the screws and put it on the axle before screwing it back on. I installed it on the side that didn’t have the gears.

The plastic brackets for the jogging handle are then installed, but I didn’t install the handle as I won’t be jogging with it. An orange safety flag is also provided. The fabric cover is attached with velcro at the front and back and provides a weathershield as well. There is pretty good visibility for your child to be able to see out.

Assembly took me about 45 minutes in total. Once done I attached it to the bike and gave it a try. At first I accidentally knocked the bike over but the trailer stayed upright. I was happy about that. Riding around with the trailer empty it bounces around quite a lot. With our toddler aboard it still bounces a lot but not too badly. The wheel protection bars do rattle a lot however. They don’t fit snuggly into their slots. So while they won’t fall off, they do make a bit of noise. I may look at putting some thin rubber in the slots so they don’t rattle.

Bike and trailer
Bike and trailer

The child harness isn’t particularly fancy, just being a strap system. This may be a bit of an issue for younger children. Our baby has no problems walking or sitting up but did tend to end up slumping down on the seat. For larger babies I don’t think this will be a problem.

Baby in trailer harness
Baby in trailer harness

Overall I’m happy with the Skiidii Bicycle Trailer so far. We haven’t taken it on long rides yet, but will in coming weeks. Build quality is pretty good for the price. The only real issue is the rattling of the wheel protection bars. I’m sure more expensive models would be much more solid. As noted the assembly manual isn’t too good either.

One other issue we did have was finding a suitable helmet. It seems they start at 48cm at the smallest. A smaller one would have been better for us.

Arlec MAL300 20W LED Sensor Light Installed

Arlec 20W LED Security Sensor Flood Light Review

We needed a sensor security light for our front yard at our new place. My first thought was the typical standard dual PAR38 sensor flood light setup. These use 2x 150 Watt PAR38 halogen globes. However at Bunnings we saw a new version with 2x 10 Watt PAR38 LED globes. This is a significant power saving over the traditional type.

The version we purchased required electrician installation, but was an easy install for our electrician because the cabling was already in place. The unit is IP44 rated, so is weather proof for outdoor installation. It does need to be out of direct rain though. Ours is installed under the eaves. They can be wall mounted too.

Arlec MAL300 20W LED Sensor Light Installed
Arlec MAL300 20W LED Sensor Light Installed

I was concerned that it might not be as bright as the traditional 150W globes. It is somewhat slightly dimmer than the traditional flood lights, but is still more than adequate for our needs. The dual unit sufficiently lights up our entire front yard, which is about 6m across.

The default twilight setting was fine for making sure the unit didn’t activate during daylight. The default duration time was 2 minutes 45 seconds, which I’ve left alone. I also didn’t have to touch the sensitivity setting. It does activate sometimes when ceiling fans are turned on or off in the house. There are also some other inadvertent activations for no real reason. I’ve been quite happy with it’s operation though. I’ve been able to set it to activate only when someone enters the front yard, or leaves the front door.

Adjustment controls on the sensor light
Adjustment controls on the sensor light

It’s also useful that the unit is rated for 150W globes, so if you do decide that the 10W LED ones aren’t enough, you can swap them out. I bought ours on special for $29.95 at Bunnings.

Front of Arlec MAL300 Box
Front of Arlec MAL300 Box
Side of Arlec MAL300 Box
Side of Arlec MAL300 Box
The completed Bunnings Rack It Shelf unit

Handy Storage Rack It Shelving Review

I had the need to store a lot of tools and other junk in my garage and didn’t want to build my own shelves from scratch. So after seeing a relative’s installation, I bought two sets of Handy Storage Rack It shelves from Bunnings. I’ve now had these shelves for two years and can thoroughly recommend them as a great product. I’ve reviewed the Handy Storage Rack It Work Bench Kit previously.

Connecting the side beam to the end frame
Connecting the shelving beam to the end upright

These don’t come in a kit, so you purchase each component separately based on your needs. At a minimum you’ll need two Double Sided End Uprights and four Shelving Beams. The end uprights come in two different widths, 450mm or 600mm. There are different heights ranging from 900mm, 1800mm and 2100mm. I chose the 600mm wide 2100mm high variety which fit under typical garage ceilings.

Assembled Rack It Shelf Frame
Assembled Rack It Shelf Frame

The shelving beams come in a range of lengths to suit your needs. I chose the longest ones, 2400mm. You also get a choice of shelf materials. There is MDF sheets or metal mesh shelves. You can get a range of attachments and accessories such as hooks, small shelves and drawers. I chose the MDF shelves as I had a lot of small items I wanted to store, which would just fall through the metal mesh shelves.

Retaining pin holds the side beam to the end shelf
Retaining pin holds the shelving beam to the end upright

The construction is simple and tool free. You could do it yourself, but it’s much easier if you have a second person to help you out holding frames and the like. The end uprights have slots and the shelving beams have tabs, so you just slot it together and ram it home. A hammer and block of wood is helpful here to get a firm fit, but you could just do it by hand or foot. Metal retaining hooks slot into holes to keep it all safe.

Tensioning straps between sidebeams are hard to attach without weight
Support braces between shelving beams are hard to attach without weight

The most frustrating part of construction is inserting the shelf tensioning straps. These go between the shelving beams on the longer shelves to keep the shelving beams from bending apart under load. The problem is that when there is no weight on the shelves they keep falling out. They do tend to vary in length a bit as well. The easiest way to get them in is to wait until you’ve put the entire shelf unit together and put a bit of weight on it. Then they’ll hold in position.

After a couple of years of use MDF sheets are somewhat warped
After a couple of years of use MDF sheets are somewhat warped

The coating of the metal frames of my shelves has held up pretty well, but there are some scuffs and scratches from moves. Nothing has bent or broken yet though. The MDF sheets shelves I’ve got have sagged a bit where I’ve had heavy items on them. In my latest move I just turned them over so they’ll bend back the other way. Fortunately it’s cheap enough to replace them when they eventually get too saggy. The other problem with the MDF is that it will swell when it gets wet. So just keep them in a dry spot and don’t put leaky things on it.

You could easily make your own ply shelves if you wanted to, but for the cost it may not be worth it. My relatives who have the metal mesh shelves have not had any problems with them.

The completed Bunnings Rack It Shelf unit
The completed Bunnings Rack It Shelf unit

The Bunnings Handy Storage Rack It shelves are very easily configurable and reconfigurable to any needs, much more so than home built shelves. I’d strongly recommend them to anyone who needs shelving in their garage or shed. You’d be hard pressed to do better with a custom constructed shelf.

Below I’ve listed the items required to build the shelf I show in this review.

Rack It Shelf Unit Bill of Materials

Qty
Item
Price(as of 19/02/2016)
Subtotal
Total Cost:
$439.00
2
Rack It 2100mm x 600mm Black Double End Upright
$50.00
$100.00
6
Rack It 2400mm Black Shelving Box Beam
$36.00
$216.00
6
Rack It 1200 x 600mm MDF Timber Shelf
$17.00
$102.00
1
Rack It Safety Pin - 20 Pack
$9.00
$9.00
6
Rack It 600mm Black Beam Support Brace
$2.00
$12.00
Items required to build shelf unit the same as mine in the review.

Virtual Reality Apps for iPhones

This my list of virtual reality apps that run iOS on iPhones. These apps are suitable for smartphone virtual reality headsets like Google Cardboard or the KMart Virtual Reality Headset I reviewed a few weeks back.

This list is by no means complete but contains the ones that I’ve used and found to be useful. As I don’t have a gamepad controller for my iPhone, I haven’t included any that require a controller to operate. Some do make use of the the magnet, but I’ve never found it to be that reliable.

Note: some of these links are affiliate links and provide me a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to apps that I use and like.

Mobile VR Station

Mobile VR Station on the App Store
Scan with your phone to open in the App Store!

This app allows you to play videos using your virtual reality headset. It’ll play ordinary 2D videos in split screen side by side, but the real beauty of the app comes when you watch videos that have been recorded for 3D virtual reality. It will project these specially recorded videos in half or full 360 degree domes, so you can immersively look around.

It’ll play videos via uPNP from media servers on your network. There are a few issues though. For instance, it will only support the video formats supported by iOS. This meant for iOS8 up to 1920×1080 resolution. This means that for some videos published on the web you’ll need to convert them before they’ll be playable. Still definitely worth the price. Get it here.

Download on the App Store

Roller Coaster VR

Roller Coaster VR on the App Store
Scan with your phone to open in the App Store!

This is a 3D graphical demo of a roller coaster ride around a tropical jungle island. Look at the lever to your right hand side to get it started. It really is quite an impressive experience! Get it here.

Download on the App Store

 

DiveCityCoaster

DiveCityCoaster on the App Store
Scan with your phone to open in the App Store!

Here’s another 3D roller coaster demo, this one made by the company behind Durovis Dive, intended to demonstrate their headset. It’ll work with any type of VR smartphone headset though, so it’s still worth a look. Interestingly I did find there was a bit of gyroscope drift with this one. Still very impressive. Get it here.

Download on the App Store

KMart Virtual Reality Goggles

KMart $15 Virtual Reality Goggles Review

If you’ve been following the state of virtual reality technology of late, you’ve likely heard of or even used Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard was a precut cardboard fold up VR headset that cost less than $30 and used your mobile phone. Since that came out different companies have produced fully manufactured plastic units similar.

In their most recent catalogue KMart Australia started selling $15 Virtual Reality Goggles using the same design and technology as Google Cardboard. This kit is made of injection molded plastic with comfort foam and adjustable fabric straps to hold it on your head.

KMart Virtual Reality Goggles
KMart Virtual Reality Goggles

The lenses are larger than those in many similar Google Cardboard based headset, which leads to a larger, better field of view. The headset is quite comfortable and lightweight, even with my phone, an Apple iPhone 6, inside.

KMart Virtual Reality Goggles and the box the come in
KMart Virtual Reality Goggles and the box the come in

The virtual reality effect is quite impressive. A rollercoaster app makes you feel like you’re really moving around. Full 180 degree 3D dome videos look impressive. It is quite low resolution and dotty however as the mobile phone’s screen is being spread across your full field of vision.

Looking into the goggles
Looking into the goggles

The unit has a bottom magnet slider which can be used to control some apps on some phones. I’ve not found it to work with my iPhone though.

The manual contains links to some apps that can be used, including a Roller Coaster VR app for iOS.

A Note for Android Users

Commenter Darren Ferguson(see comments below), noted that the magnet on the bottom is should be on the side. The magnet works with the Apple iPhone correct(although intermittently). However on many Android phones including the Nexus5 it magnet will turn the phone off. Thanks for the info Darren!

Conclusion

For $15 I’m really impressed with the quality and strongly recommend it. I’ve only tested with an Apple iPhone 6, but Google Cardboard was originally designed for Android phones so should work fine with those too. This unit is a great chance to play with VR at a low cost.

You can find the KMart Virtual Reality Goggles on their website here or visit your local KMart where they’re strangely stored behind a glass cabinet in the Audio Visual section.

I’ve also published a list of some suggested iPhone Virtual Reality apps to try here.

Comparison of my cardboard VR kit to the KMart Virtual Reality Goggles
Comparison of my cardboard VR kit to the KMart Virtual Reality Goggles
The completed Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench

Handy Storage Rack It Workbench Kit Review

I’ve been wanting to have a workbench for a while and instead of building from scratch I decided to use the Organised Solutions Handy Storage Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench Kit from Bunnings. I’d previously built a couple of their Rack It shelving units and had liked their quality.

I paid $169 for the Work Bench Kit and $60 for the Castor Wheel kit as I wanted a mobile workbench.

Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench Kit Box
Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench Kit Box

The kit comes in one large box and is quite heavy(more than 16kg) so you may need some assistance to pick it up and carry it. I used a small trailer to carry mine home as it wouldn’t easily fit in a car. Even the castor kit is quite heavy.

After opening the box
After opening the box

Opening the box, the contents are packed with foam to protect them from scratches and marks, although things can move around inside as you tip the package up or down. A single page instruction sheet is included in the Work Bench kit. The assembly is pretty straight forward though.

Unpacking all the components you get two 900mm high end frames(same type as for the shelving) and two 1300mm crossbeams(with brackets for holding the benchtop). The benchtop has nice beveled top edges and overlaps the top of the frame. I had been expecting the same type of MDF sheet as the shelves, but was pleasantly surprised that they supplied a nice solid bench top. It’s not coated or treated that I can tell though, so I’ve been thinking of painting or lacquering it protect the surface a bit.

Assembled frame
Assembled frame

Assembly is simple, just push the tabs of the crossbeams into the slots of the end frames and slide them down till they lock. Lock the first crossbeam into both end frames then the second. Then use either a mallet, or hammer with a wooden block for protection, to tap the crossbeams firmly home in their slots. Locking pins then go through holes in the joins so the crossbeams don’t come out.

At this stage I decided to put the castor wheels on. I figured it would be easier to put the wheels on before putting the heavy benchtop on the frame.

Rack It Workbench Castors
Rack It Workbench Castors

Unfortunately the castor wheel kit wasn’t as a good as the Work Bench Kit. While the castors seem to be great heavy duty quality, there were no instructions. The castors fit firmly on the bottom of the frame legs and have wedges to spread the load better. While the Rack It kits don’t really require tools to assemble, you will need the following tools to attach the castor wheels to the workbench:

  • Shifting spanner
  • Socket ratchet with 17mm socket
  • Size 2 philips head screwdriver

It’s a little awkward to get the bolt through the castor base, leg and wedge. It has to go through at an odd angle which then pulls straight as the nut is tightened off. Getting the castors all on took longer than assembling the whole rest of the frame.

One assembled castor
One assembled castor

Once all the castor wheels were on I then flipped the frame onto the wheels and lifted the benchtop onto the frame. After lining the screw sockets up with all the brackets you then put the screws in to lock the benchtop off. Be careful when doing this that the frame is squarely and firmly down on all it’s castors. The first time I screwed mine into place the workbench would rock back and forth on two wheels. It turned out when I screwed the benchtop off the frame wasn’t quite square.

Loosening the screws off and putting weight on the benchtop pushed all the wheels onto the ground and straightened it up, then I screwed it all secure. In the end it’s all very firm and solid.

Overall Conclusion

The completed Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench
The completed Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench

The Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench Kit from Bunnings is a great budget package for anyone who wants a decent garage work bench. It’s solid and with the castor wheels easily mobile.

It’s quick and easy to put together with the Work Bench itself taking me just 1 hour to put together by myself. If you want the castor wheels though prepare for it to take 1 extra hour to put them on.

Scroll to the bottom to see the modifications I’ve made after building my Work Bench.

Full Construction Gallery

My Modifications

I wanted to protect my work benchtop a bit from damage as the MDF coating is porous and possibly would get damaged over time. So I applyed a coat of Carnauba Wax to protect the surface.

I also added a lower shelf for me to store and carry tools on. I’ll also mount an RCD Power Board on it to provide electrical supply. I’ve mounted a Rack It hook at the rear to hold a coiled power cable.

Work Bench with added shelf
Work Bench with added shelf and hook

I’ve also mounted a bench vice on top of the bench too.

My complete Work Bench, with extra shelf, waxed benchtop and mounted vice.
My complete Work Bench, with extra shelf, waxed benchtop and mounted vice.