By now the bulk of our tools as designers have been gathered, or at least planned for. One last group of tools are remaining…..these are tools to use on job site visits, meetings, or in and around the office that makes our lives easier.
Laser Measurer: Of all the tools that will be mentioned in this post, no other tool will save a designer time and money like a good laser measurer. The one I chose, the Leica Disto E7300 Laser Measurer, is a small but rugged, light weight, handheld device that can shoot up to 265′, and has a strong and accurate laser. It has paid for itself multiple times over the years on jobsite surveys compared to the standard measuring tape or the lower end laser measurers. Beware of the cheapy laser measurers!!! They will have a limited range (some as low as 35′), a fairly inaccurate laser (sometimes vary 3″-6″ from the actual measurement), and are made of fairly cheap plastic. If you buy the Leica Disto measurer recommended, you will have it for life.
Measuring Tapes: So, after I just finished talking up the laser measurer over the tape measure, we still will need a good tape measurer on hand. My recommendation is buying at least a 30′ long tape, with an 1 1/4″ wide tape rather then the standard 1″ thick versions. The type I recommend is the Stanley FatMax. The 30′ length gives a little more reach then the standard versions and the 1 1/4″ tape width helps prevent the tape from “breaking” when performing far reaching, or long vertical measurements. A longer measuring tape for outdoor locations will be helpful as well. The Stanely 100′ Longtape is the one I use…it’s helpful outdoors where laser measurers will not work. Lets also not forget a Measuring Wheel. I don’t use these enough to justify the higher priced models…any cheap one will work.
Flashlights: Every now and then I find myself at a project without working light fixtures, or up in an attic where it’s dark. A good flash light will help your way around and prevent injuries. I recommend LED bulbed flashlights over the standard bulbed flashlight for two reasons; brighter light output, and smaller batteries are used to run the light which will save you money and make the flashlight much lighter to carry. You can’t go wrong with a Mag-Lite LED flashlight. It comes in a 2 c-cell battery version or a 3 c-cell battery version. I chose the two cell version since it is slightly lighter in weight.
Calculator: This fairly mundane tool can be a handy addition to any fire sprinkler designer. You will need a scientific calculator, I use a TI-83 calculator from Texas Instruments. If your lucky, you probably saved this from your Calculus or Geometry class from back in high school. Any of the TI versions of this calculator will work as long as it is a graphing calculator. Why a graphing calculator you ask? You will probably never use the graphing functions while designing fire sprinkler system, but what the graphing calculator has is a large screen the can fit eight lines of calculations on it. This allows you to look back on previous calculations you input or the output of previous calculations as well. This really comes in handy during hand calculations, design area increases or decreases, or finding the k-factor, pressures or gallons per minute at certain points in the sprinkler system.
In summary, most of these tools will help increase your productivity and accuracy as a designer. Many of these tools you do not need to begin as a designer, but are handy to have around and can be added to your collection as you progress in your experience designing fire sprinkler system.
What are your favorite tools to take to a survey? Post your comments in the comment section below.