The Best Way to Choose a Reputable Locksmith Company

Have you ever been locked out of your car or house? Either you can’t find your car keys or you lock yourself out of the house. The first thought is usually to enlist the help of family and friends or a spare set of keys, but this may not work. The next step is to contact a locksmith in your area.

However, before sealing a deal with a locksmith business, you need to consider the reliability and honesty of the company. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the state consumer protection agency, has found that some locksmith companies may advertise in your local phone book, but may not be local at all. Worst of all, these ‘technicians’ may not have any qualified professional training at all and could cause further damage to your property.


Automotive Locksmith Service

Check Locksmith Locality

This has been noted and reported by the FTC in the past: A company not located in your area has a name for its business that is similar to the name of other local locksmiths in the area. This company advertises in yellow pages and online directories using local addresses and phone numbers. However, in reality, there are no store fronts and local numbers are transferred to places far from your local city. Then, you may not be given a quote for locksmith services or given a fake quote. When the locksmith arrives, he or she may want more money and you feel pressured and trapped. If the locksmith only accepts cash, that is also a sign that the business is not a genuine local locksmith.

Sometimes you can detect these fake “local locksmiths” because they may have multiple lists – sometimes more than 30 lists in a single phone number. All of these lists are under different names, but the phone numbers are all directed to one central call center. There, operators, who may not be trained individuals, are dispatched to your location.

The Best Way to Choose a Locksmith Company

There are reliable and honest local locksmith companies out there. The best advice is to do your research and due diligence before you find yourself locked out or in an emergency locksmith situation. Perhaps you are thinking of increasing the security of your home by installing deadbolt locks, changing door locks and locks, or even installing a home alarm system. This is a great time to sit at the computer and research different companies. Be sure to read reviews, check if they have local addresses and phone numbers, and compare offers over the phone. Also, reach out to coworkers, family members, and friends for any personal recommendations they may have.

Once you find a reputable locksmith, store the company’s contact information in a safe place like your wallet, phone, or address book. This can save you time, anxiety and money in the future.

Tips for an Emergency Locksmith Situation

Of course, if you encounter a locksmith emergency situation such as being locked out of your car, home or office, you don’t have the same luxury to sit down at a computer and thoroughly check the legitimacy of a locksmith company. . Here are some tips for such a scenario:

If you are locked out of your car and have roadside assistance services, call them before a locksmith. Often, these lockout services are included in the membership or even at the car dealership or insurance company depending on when you bought the car.
If a company answers the phone with a generic phrase like “locksmith service,” instead of a specific company name, beware. Ask for the legal name of the business. If the customer representative does not provide an answer, contact another locksmith.
Get estimates for all jobs and parts from locksmiths before work begins.
Ask about additional costs before agreeing to have a technician come to your location. Companies may charge additional fees for answering calls in the middle of the night or for long-distance driving. Ask if there is a charge for mileage, or a minimum charge for service calls.
Never sign a blank form permitting work.
If the price set over the phone doesn’t match the price of the job when the technician arrives, don’t let any work be done.

Ask if the locksmith is insured. If your property is damaged during work, it is important for a locksmith to have insurance to cover your losses. It is important to note that 9 states require locksmiths to be licensed: Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. Technicians in these states must be able to provide their license number.

Automotive Equipment For The Automotive Industry

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The automotive equipment industry deals with the production of every kind of tools and machines needed for the manufacture, maintenance and repair of vehicles including cars and auto parts. As such, the industry produces several different types of equipment ranging from basic hand tools to more complex machines.

Various Types of Automotive Equipment

Automotive workshops and garages would not be able to function without automotive equipment. Shop furniture, elevators, exhaust hoses, air compressors, lubrication equipment, electrical coils and lighting, jacks, vehicle service equipment, fluid storage tanks and trans-air piping are some of the various types of automotive equipment used by automotive manufacturing and automotive repair businesses.

Common Types of Automotive Equipment

  • Hand Tools: Automotive repair shops use several different types of hand tools for their repair and maintenance projects. Some of the most common items include ratchet and wrench sets, crowbars (also known as pry bars), socket sets, screwdrivers, star drivers and clutch heads, hammers, pliers and wire cutters, electric drills, hacksaws and torque wrenches.
  • Pneumatic Tools: Most automotive repair shops now use pneumatic tools as an alternative to electric motors because the latter are more susceptible to fire hazards. They are powered by compressed air and are high powered versions of more traditional hand tools. Common examples of pneumatic automotive equipment include air compressors which can be used to power a variety of tools including hammers, drills, ratchet and atomizers.
  • The availability of pneumatic equipment makes it easier for mechanics and technicians to carry out repair and maintenance work because it is strong and easy to use. For example, a set of pneumatic scissors can cut sheet metal at a faster speed and leave a smoother edge when compared to traditional lead shears. Similarly, an air hammer equipped with a chisel or drill bit has many uses. They can be used to straighten dents. The chisel feature can be used to remove rusty parts and the drill bit can be used to remove old rivets and bolts that are too difficult to remove by hand.
  • Elevator: several types of lifting equipment are used to lift and secure the car so that mechanics and repairmen can easily work under the vehicle. These lifts include low-tech tools such as ground floor jacks, car ramps and jack stands as well as hydraulic lifts and floor jacks for greater efficiency and performance.
  • Vehicle Exhaust Exhaust Systems: vehicle exhaust exhaust systems are used to capture and remove harmful exhaust fumes to ensure optimal air quality in automotive maintenance and repair facilities. It is mandatory equipment according to OSHA Standards to limit exposure to harmful vehicle emissions. Common vehicle exhaust exhaust systems include drop hoses as well as reels.
  • Lubrication System: Automotive lubrication system includes several types of oil gauge, ATF gauge, gear lubrication gauge, discharge valve and grease discharge valve.

The automotive equipment business is a very large and competitive business. Automotive repair businesses should purchase equipment from reputable dealers for the best deals and performance levels.

Automotive GPS Units

Prior to the invention of automotive GPS units, traveling to unknown areas had to be done by reading maps and/or asking for directions. Both methods have problems. For example, how can one effectively read a map while driving? Reading the map is only best if there are other passengers in the car, which is not always possible. Asking for directions can also be annoying, at least if the person giving the directions is doing it in a less obvious way.

Fortunately, with the advent of automotive GPS units, the process of reading maps and getting directions has never been easier as each can be done either through voice activation, touching the screen, pressing a button, or a combination. A map showing the exact location appears on the screen, while directions can be provided via computer-generated voice. Nothing is easier or better. The only problem is deciding which automotive GPS unit to buy. This article will be a guide telling consumers what they should pay attention to when choosing an automotive GPS unit.

The first area of ​​consideration when buying an automotive GPS unit is looking at how accurate the device is. One way to determine this is by how many channels the GPS unit has. This is because more channels means the unit will be able to communicate with more satellites, resulting in a wider range. Another way to determine the accuracy of most automotive GPS units is through their antenna design. Ensure that the antenna is placed in a free-standing area of ​​the unit.

The next thing to think about when looking at an automotive GPS unit is size. There are some automotive GPS units that are not portable. Onstar that must be installed in the car is an example of an automotive GPS unit that cannot be transferred from car to car. Many other automotive GPS units vary in portability.

Third, automotive GPS unit perspective buyers should pay attention to the interface of the unit. More expensive automotive GPS units will contain voice activation and/or touch screens, while cheaper ones can only be used via a series of buttons. If there are other people in the car, using the buttons isn’t so bad, but if only the driver can use the unit, it’s important to keep them as free as possible. It is also important to try to get an automotive GPS unit that has the ability to provide directions via computer-generated voice. Doing so is another way of ensuring that car drivers keep their eyes on the road and not elsewhere.

The software that automotive GPS units use is also important. Most of the top units have excellent mapping software included with the unit. However, over time, mapping software has become obsolete. You should ensure that the software of your automotive GPS unit is updated at least every 6 months. There is often a fee for this service but if you live in a fast growing urban environment then this is a good investment. Your automotive GPS unit is only as good as its operating and mapping software.

Automotive Parts and Equipment

A full range of automotive tools and supplies can be found online. Consumers do have an advantage when shopping on the Internet, because they are not only provided with quality merchandise, but merchandise at discounted prices. The top providers on the Internet will provide a wide range of automotive tools and supplies from well-known brands in the industry. Many consumers turn to the Internet because of its affordability.

Automotive equipment and supplies are expensive, and if you’re looking for hard-to-find parts, the Internet is often the best source there is. When you start shopping and comparing different sites online, you will see that the greater the reputation of the company, the more automotive equipment and supplies they will have to offer. Automotive tools and equipment are needed at some point in time for every driver who makes repairs to his vehicle. Workshops require specialized automotive equipment for repair in order to carry out repairs safely and efficiently.

What types of automotive tools & supplies will you find online?

Automotive equipment will include all automotive equipment found in today’s market such as:

*Tire replacement

  • Suspension and brake testing system
  • Brake lathe
  • Short and medium lifts
  • Hole lifting
  • Post lift
  • Mobile column elevator
  • Automatic lifting equipment
  • Wheel alignment and wheel balancer
  • And, much more

Other types of automotive equipment and automotive equipment that you will find from online vendors used by both auto shops and home mechanics include:

Lubrication Equipment: Every vehicle on the market has so many moving parts that make up the operation of the vehicle and each of these moving parts requires lubrication. Grease valves, oil gauges, and oil pumps are just some of the lubrication kits you’ll find online.

Air compressor: Air compressor is used to inflate tires or tires. They can also be used to operate other pneumatic tools, as they are a source of compressed air. Air compressors come in various brands and designs such as electric powered, gas powered or diesel powered.

Other Automotive Tools: Other automotive tools used both in industry and by mechanics at home are hammers, dolly, screwdrivers, jacks and monitors. This is specifically for automotive repairs and automotive tools that must be offered by online vendors.

Service and Exhaust Equipment: For workshops or mechanics who carry out vehicle servicing, proper service and exhaust equipment is essential. This equipment includes brake fluid exchanger, booster cable, paint, battery charger and so on.

When you find an online store that seems to provide what you need, make sure that they are reputable. Online sites should have everything sensibly on their site from their terms and policies to their customer service. Also, the description of every product they offer to consumers should be detailed. Transacting online is one of the biggest advantages for consumers, and in the automotive industry, the benefits are even greater.

Online Display Advertising For Automotive Dealership

Automotive advertisers accounted for 11% or $2.5 billion of total Internet Advertising costs in 2009. Thus, online display ads that include display banner ads, rich media, digital videos and sponsored links can be used effectively by automotive dealers to target customers. based on website context, geographic location, certain demographic information, and user behavior.

Ads By:
Ads based on demographic information, website context, and geographic location can help narrow and pinpoint specific customer segments.

Website Context
Contextually relevant ads can help auto dealers better target potential customers because they are willing to show interest by looking at specific themed areas. Auto dealers can effectively target customers looking for new cars, used cars, etc. on the Internet by placing ads based on the context of the website. In addition, website viewers tend to respond positively or pay more attention to ads related to the theme.

Buyer Geographical Location
Showing ads based on the user’s location allows auto dealers to effectively target potential customers in a local area, geographic area, or in a specific city. Delivering tailored ads with the right relevance within a given region or city generates interest, engagement and attracts potential customers.

Buyer Demographic Information
Show ads based on certain demographic information such as industry, profession, age group, household income, gender, etc. Can help automotive dealers effectively reach specific customer segments. Demographic advertising that informs about various offers, coupons etc. provided by automotive dealers can appeal to different segments of the market. Showing ads based on certain demographic information can help capture the attention of key audiences and turn them into potential customers.

Profit:
Online display advertising allows auto dealers to reach a wider segment of customers with limited advertising budgets.

Increase Brand Awareness
The effective use of online display advertising helps to create awareness about auto dealerships which results in the building of a long term brand image. Positioning creative and relevant ads for specific segments helps target potential customers effectively, increase auto dealer exposure and increase online traffic leading to higher conversion rates. However, even if the customer does not click on the ad, it increases brand awareness about the dealer. Because display advertising ensures that potential customers are aware of the services and inventory offered by auto dealers, the next time these customers think about making a purchase, they can choose and trust a dealer they can remember.

Target Customers Effectively
One of the main benefits of online display advertising is that auto dealers can effectively target potential customers within their advertising budget. Display ads provide better coverage and effective targeting of potential customers because they can be based on website context, buyer’s geographic location, various demographic information, and user behavior information.

Increase Online Traffic
Effectively positioning relevant and engaging display ads to specific audience segments can help drive eligible traffic to auto dealer websites. Displaying ads in the form of banner ads, pop-up ads, and contextual ads attract the attention of potential customers and increase website traffic. In addition, display advertising increases brand awareness which results in more traffic to dealer websites and increases the chances of customers making a purchase.

Gives Good ROI
Apart from targeting specific customer segments, online display ads increase online traffic and increase sales opportunities thereby providing a good Return on Investment (ROI). In addition, display ads effectively target the desired customer segment thereby reducing wasted advertising spend on unwanted and ineffective impressions thereby maximizing ROI. Display advertising facilitates tracking of display advertising campaigns by automotive dealers through metrics such as clicks and conversions, impressions to better calculate ROI.

Rental Property Management Made Easy

Having your own rental property management plan is key to residential rental property investing.

Its 8:30 at night, your tenant calls and says water is leaking very badly under the sink. Its 8:30 at night, your tenant calls and says the toilets clogged. Its 8:30 at night, your tenant calls and says a window just got smashed. Its 8:30 at night, your tenant calls and says the roofs leaking. Its 8:30 at night, your tenant calls and says the heats not working. Its 8:30 at night, your tenant calls and says the bedroom doorknob fell off.

How about a gutter gets disconnected. No big deal, when it rains make sure your not standing underneath it. Winter comes, where water hits the ground, it starts to collect and then it freezes. Whoops, someone slips there and you get sued. Big problem. It pays to have a rental property management plan.

How about that exterior porch wood that needs painting. No big deal. Next year. Next year comes and goes and you saved 700 bucks not doing it. Three years later you spend $2000 having wood replaced because its to rotted. Big problem. It pays to have a property management plan.

You get the idea, whether something breaks or routine maintenance – things need to get fixed and maintained.  A good rental property management plan helps ensure easy and profitable multifamily property investing.

There are three main factors for a good rental property management plan. Knowing who is responsible for managing the properties maintenance, who is going to fix things and when will things get fixed  are the three main factors.  Having a game plan for these three things is vital for maintaining your rentals. Theses three factors should be addressed and included in the lease. This ensures the tenant knows ahead of time what to expect when things need repairing or maintenance.

Lets start with who will be responsible for managing your rental property.  Seventeen years experience of owning rentals has taught me that know one else will be better than the property owner for being  responsible for managing the maintenance of your rental units. So the most cost effective rental property management plan has the owner doing the managing.

Before you say, oh god, what a nightmare managing rental property is, let me say I have learned and you can too, how to make property management simple and profitable.

In fact, for those who understand and implement  a solid rental management plan correctly and continue investing wisely in cash flowing residential multifamily properties will find that their hourly pay time for managing  their rental properties is extremely lucrative.

Needless to say, I personally strongly advise against hiring a management company for residential rental property.

Lets address who is actually going to be fixing  broken items or doing the required maintenance?

You, the owner, your payroll help, a hired handyman, who is going to actually be doing the physical work for fixing and maintaining your rental units. Why is it important to have this be part of your rental property management plan?

Well, what you don’t want is having every time something needs to be repaired become a stressful costly headache.

By knowing who is going to be doing the repairs  ahead of time, through your rental maintenance plan, you eliminate two potential problems.

One, when a problem does occur, your somewhat prepared by having had developed a list of contacts ahead of time. Secondly, being prepared like this, tremendously reduces stress and makes managing your rental property easy.

Hopefully you see the importance of knowing ahead of time who is responsible for and who is actually going to be doing the maintenance work. 

Later, I’ll tell you the third important key for a cost effective, easy to implement  rental property management plan.

A few additional things to consider regarding rental property management. If your just starting out and you buy a multifamily house, and your a  hands on type person you may want to do as much of the maintenance and repairs as possible.

If you go on to keep investing in multifamily houses you’ll find actually doing the physical maintaining of your income properties to burdensome.

Understand that managing rental properties and doing the physical work are two different things.

If you decide to hire a maintenance man or handyman to do the maintenance, ask around local hardware stores for referrals or ask people in a Home depot or Lowes. They’re not supposed to refer people but I have been pleasantly surprised how many people moonlight or know someone fair priced and reliable.

Look in a local paper for a handy man you can enlist to do the maintenance. Call a few people placing adds, not big print adds, rather the small adds and tell them what kind of help your looking for. Listen to them give their spiel, ask questions and ask if they can offer you anyone who they worked for in past as a recommendation. If they check out tell them you’ll be giving them a call when you need them.

Personally, I do not recommend hiring an outside company to do your rental property management.

Another great place to get names of reliable people to do your repairs and maintenance is through your local REIA group. The more names and numbers for cost effective, reliable maintenance men, the better. Put their names, numbers and what they do into your cell phone or keep them in a special book. I’m sure I’m not the first or last person to put a name and number in a book and later not remember who they are or what they do!

Who might you want to have on your rental property maintenance list before you even need them? A few general handymen, a furnace repair man unless you  want to get repair contracts from the gas company if your property heats by gas, an exterminator ( I actually have contracts for quarterly prevention with exterminator on all my units), an appliance repair man if you supply appliances, a plumber, a drain cleaning company and someone to shovel or plow your dwellings.

If you went on to own a lot of multifamily units, you may want to considering hiring someone on full time for doing the physical maintenance work. Personally I prefer having a large network of contacts I can call on for maintenance and repair work over having employees.

If you follow these rental property management guidelines, managing your cash flow units is simply a very profitable job of receiving and making phone calls.

Earlier I mention there was one more important factor to address regarding how to manage your rentals.y.

When will things be repaired?  Put in the lease or addendum how long you have to make arrangements to have things fixed, twenty four, forty eight, seventy two hours? Put it in the lease so tenant knows how you maintain your property. It may seem silly, but I’ve found by having the tenants being aware of how you manage and maintain your rentals the less misunderstandings you’ll have.

Remember, your in charge. Its your property and having a solid rental property  plan and informing your tenants how you maintain your rental property will make owning investment property all the better.

As they say in the hood, everyone knows what time it is.

Mark Petrelis has owned and managed his own rental property, primarily 2-6 unit buildings since “92”. Rental property management has become easy and very profitable. Some of the rental properties were total rehabs while others had existing tenants and only needed cosmetics.

Automotive and Diagnostic Equipment Financing

Automotive tools are highly specialized in nature. Often a particular automotive tool only serves one purpose. Therefore, it is important to have a set of automotive tools to avoid any disruption in business. But automotive tool sets are very expensive. Sometimes, the cost of the tool is greater than the cost of the vehicle that needs repair. Sometimes the cost of a tool set may be more than the vehicle needs to be repaired. Therefore, automotive equipment financing is important at this time.

There are several legitimate finance companies that have expertise in the financing of automotive equipment. You can seek their help by submitting the online application provided by them. They ensure quick approval of the quantities required to acquire automotive tool sets.

Automotive equipment financing is usually available in a variety of options. Automotive Air Compressors are one of those that help acquire equipment that costs thousands of dollars. There are different types of compressors such as compact air compressors, piston compressors, single stage compressors, two stage compressors and so on. Due to the financing of automotive equipment, almost any company can acquire one of the types of air compressors mentioned above.

Automotive hand tool financing is required to prepare a complete set of hand tools such as wrenches, screwdrivers, clamps, sockets, installation or removal tools, etc. These tools are indispensable for running an automotive repair business. Getting one of them is affordable for all. But keeping a set of such tools is very expensive and hence the need for automotive hand tool financing is critical.

Welder financing is another category of automotive appliance financing. High quality welders are essential for the automotive business. There are several precision welders such as arc welder, stick welder, TIG welder, and MIG welder and so on. They are essential for applying heat to a specific area. The sophisticated nature of the welder raises their price tag and that is why automotive repair businesses seek automotive tool financing to acquire them.

Automotive waste and recycling equipment are required by certain companies to dispose of hazardous waste in a safer way. In fact, many shops consider recycling waste profitable. Therefore, the equipment becomes important in automotive repair shops. They are very expensive and as a result automotive equipment financing is required to acquire this equipment.

A brake lathe is still an essential piece of equipment in any automotive repair shop. They allow you to work on all types of brakes. You may need a combination brake lathe, heavy duty brake lathe or car brake lathe depending on your type of business. However all types of brake lathes are expensive and impossible for everyone to afford. Therefore financing a brake lathe is very important.

The automotive industry has undergone several changes in the last hundred years. Keeping yourself updated on changes and using the latest equipment can help increase your income. While essential, this equipment is so expensive that it is necessary to seek help from a finance company. Some genuine finance companies offer assistance in getting automotive equipment without the frustrating procedure.

Is Owning Rental Property, For You?

For some individuals, owning, and operating, rental, real estate properties, is a great idea, while, for others, this might not be the case! The difference, not only applies, to the specific property, but, also, each individual’s personality, attitude, and personal, specific strengths and weaknesses. Some factors include, of, course, financial ones, including the necessary reserves, needed, for purchasing a property, starting with the down – payment, closing costs, reserves for repairs, upgrades, renovations, and contingencies. In addition, some individuals are better – suited, for, owning rental property, than others, because some, do not want, the stresses, and tensions, involved, in this type of commitment. With this in mind, this article will attempt to briefly consider, review, and discuss, a few of the key factors and considerations, one should thoroughly explore, in – depth, prior to taking the leap.

1. Personal financials: Do you have the necessary funds, and will you qualify, for whatever financing, might be required? Obtaining a mortgage on a non – owner – occupied property, is significantly different from the process, regarding, one for a personal home. In most cases, a larger down – payment is required (often 25% – down, instead of 20%). In addition, the requirements differ, because not only, must you clearly demonstrate, the same things, you do, for a personal loan, you must also demonstrate, the property is viable, from a financial standpoint, and the rents, will handle the cash flow. It’s important, to have, several reserves, including: a) repairs; b) renovations; c) upgrades; unanticipated contingencies, etc.

2. Property financial issues: I am a believer in the 6% – rule, which means, the net return, should be 6%. For example, one factor is the cash flow, while the other is the overall rate of return, or return – on – investment/ ROI. Therefore, if you purchase a $500,000 property, put $125, 000 down, and have a $375, 000 mortgage loan, and the rate is 5%, your principal and interest, on a 30 – year, fixed – rate vehicle, will be approximately $2,000 per month. If the real estate taxes, and other escrow items, including insurance, etc, are, for example, $12, 000 per year, or $1, 000 per month, your total, out – of – pocket, each month, is approximately, $3, 000. If you estimate, upgrades, repairs, etc, are another $12, 000 per year ($1, 000/ month), you should use this $4, 000 per month, figure, for your preliminary calculations. In addition, base you revenues, on having each unit, unoccupied/ vacant, 2 months per year, to proceed conservatively. This means, you should collect a rent – roll, total, from all units, of at least, $4250 per month. In addition, you should be ensured, your net income, must generate approximately $32,000 per year.

3. Dealing with maintenance issues: Are you comfortable with these challenges and responsibilities?

4. Dealing with tenants: Are you ready, willing and able, to deal with tenants, and collect rents, enforce leases, meet the needs of a tenant, and the personality issues, involved?

5. Opportunity costs: How does the owning of these properties (remember to factor in appreciation, depreciation – benefits, and net income, compare with how, you might do, with other investment vehicles?

Is owning rental properties, suitable for you? Consider the advantages and obstacles, and proceed wisely.

Guide to Buying Hi-Fi Micro and Mini Systems

When considering to buy a new micro or mini system, you needs to look for various aspects components. Given here is an outline that can help consumers make the right decision.What is a Hi-fi system?These audio units are designed in a manner that they allow individuals to listen to music at different places. There are several components that need to be purchased separately but it can also be bought as a complete packaged system. The three major components of a mini or micro stereo system are as follows:1. Audio source: The audio source could be anything from a CD player, radio device, and cassette player, to auxiliary port, iPod dock and turntable. Majority of systems have two or more of these sources.2. Amplifier: The function of the amplifier is to control the balance and the volume of sound.3. Speakers: Hi-fi systems generally have two speakers for producing stereo sound. With some extremely advanced systems, you will get up to seven speakers, creating the setup of a home theatre.What are the different types of Hi-fi systems?These stereo systems are available in two sizes: Micro and Mini• Hi-Fi Micro systems: These units are small and have a compact size suitable for office spaces or lounge rooms. Most often, they come with an AM/FM tuner, a CD player and an iPod dock in the latest ones. The speakers of a micro system will not be very powerful because their range is between 10 and 30 watts per channel.• Mini systems: These systems are larger and are suitable for bigger houses or public spaces. They come with a multiple-disc CD changer that has the ability to change between three to five CDs at a time. Speakers with this system are extremely powerful and they have a range of 30 to 100 watts per channel. Some mini systems have an unattached subwoofer to amplify bass reproduction.Commonly, Hi-fi Micro systems as well as Mini systems come with speakers. Audio sources will differ depending on the model you choose. The essential components of a system are dependent on your purpose of use and what you want the system to do.Hi-fi systems can playback music from several formats:1. CDs: Almost all systems have an in-built CD player that plays both CD-R and CD-RW format. Many latest systems can playback MP3 as well, making it possible for you to play music from CD’s containing files copied from your computer.2. Radio: Hi-fi systems commonly have an AM/FM tuner. Latest models have a DAB radio tuner making it possible for you to listen to digital radio broadcasts.3. iPod: An iPod docking station is included in some systems. Songs from your iPod can be played through the stereo speakers. You can also charge your iPod by keeping it docked.4. USB drive or MP3 player: Some systems have a USB input. These inputs allow you to connect your MP3 player or iPod for playback. Systems capable of MP3 playback are preferred these days, because they allow you to copy songs to a USB flash drive from your computer and then play them through the stereo system.What more should you look out for?• Output power – 20 watts is optimum for clear sound in a medium-sized room, while 100 watts is required for audible sound across a large house. When you buy a system, check if output mentioned is per channel, or total output.• DVD playback – An in built DVD player is ideal if you want to enjoy quality sound movies, without spending extensively on a home theatre system.• Radio pre-sets – Radio channels can be saved as pre-sets. You can switch from one channel to the other without having to tune the frequency again.

Building a Bicycle Sound System

Bicycle Sound Systems (BSS) are growing in popularity. Anyone who has gone to a festival, seen or participated in a Critical Mass ride or watched the Skyride events in the UK will have seen a BSS in operation. The following is a description of what I have learnt over the years in the art of building a sound system attached to a bicycle.Please note that all this is just my opinion; there are no rules. If it works and you or someone else is happy with the result then that is great. Duke Ellington once said, “There are two types of music, good and bad. If you like it, it’s good music.”The first consideration before building a bicycle sound system is to ask yourself exactly what is it for? Now this may sound like a stupid question but consider:

Is the music for your own enjoyment, other cyclists riding with you, or members of the public watching?

Will you be riding the bike whilst the music is playing? (probably answered in the first question)

Would you like to play just your own music or have facilities, i.e. mixing desk, microphones, to make the system more flexible?

Would you wish to hire out the system at festivals and other events?

Where would the system be stored when not in use?

How would you get the system to the events?
Hopefully you can see the reason for asking these questions first. Once you know what the BSS is for, there are now a few more questions.

What is the budget?

How loud is the system to be?

Will you want to operate it in the rain?

Is it to be self-powered?

Would you want to use a trailer?
I am going to presume that the BSS is designed to have the music playing whilst being ridden. I have seen ‘static’ systems but I feel the whole idea of a BSS is that we have mobile music.A top of the range BSS could run into thousands of pounds, especially if everything needed was bought new.The volume of the system is probably the key to everything. The amount of power needed outside is far, far more than is needed inside; most of the sound from speakers inside a building is actually reflected sound. Take the walls away and the volume drops massively.There has to be a balance between what is audible, the fidelity of the reproduction, what can be afforded, and what is practical. A super loud system can not only annoy the neighbourhood and attract the police but it becomes really heavy and is impossible to move. Remember there is not just the weight of the speakers, there are also batteries and amplifiers that have to be carried.Again, how loud depends on the use, if it is just yourself and a cyclist next to you, 50 – 100 watts could be enough. In my opinion, 100 watts would be the absolute minimum. If you want many people to hear you and you want a proper bass response, the wattage must increase. I believe 600 watts is somewhere around the maximum, for both volume and weight.Critically the amplifier must not be overdriven. This usually happens when the output of the amplifier is not enough for the situation. Everything is turned to max to compensate and there is distortion. We have all heard it, in cars, clueless DJ’s, PA systems… The crazy thing is that turning it down just a bit will reduce the volume very slightly but everything can now be heard properly without distortion.The question of waterproofing has to be considered from the outset. Placing plastic bags or sheeting over speakers, amps and players does not work; not only does it look terrible, water WILL get in. Another issue is at what point do the covers go on? In case it looks like rain or when it starts raining? The latter means carrying covers to hopefully quickly throw over the system (whilst it is running!) in the hope that nothing gets damaged. Although there are waterproof players out there, the connections are not waterproof. Waterproof speakers do not sound that good, they are small and low powered. I have never seen a waterproof amplifier.Self -powered or not? This will come down to the volume of the system. An average cyclist can develop 100-200 watts for an hour. Moving the bike and sound system is going to use a certain amount of that power. There are losses involved in converting that power to usable electricity. Taking these factors into account, never mind the engineering problems in generating the electricity, we do not have much left for powering the amplifier. It can and has been done, the systems are not that loud and, in my opinion, are not that good.Whether or not to use a trailer is again down to what the BSS is for. We have all seen the ghetto-blaster strapped to the side of a bicycle. It works but the sound is not too good and cannot be heard from more than a few metres away.The main problem with getting a decent sound without a trailer is one of weight. That is why all the good sound systems I have seen use a trailer.If it is decided that batteries will power the system, we then consider the amplifier. Although the best amplifiers, in terms of fidelity are the domestic, Hi-Fi amps, they run on mains, 110v or 240v AC. This means the battery voltage, most likely 12v DC, must be converted.This causes all sorts of problems. The worst is that cheaper converters, or inverters, convert the DC into a square wave AC, this makes an amplifier hum. The other problem is the idea of having high voltages running around the system.Even if these considerations were overcome, the next, probably terminal issue is that a domestic or PA amplifier would probably fall apart in a short time due to the battering bicycle sound systems get. And they do get a battering; cobbles, pot holes, kerbs, speed humps, all give these rigs a hard life.These reasons are why every BSS I have seen use 12v automotive amplifiers; they are relatively cheap, easy to bolt down and provided a reputable make is used, are very reliable.The fidelity of an amplifier on a BSS is not that critical. What is discernable inside a quiet living room will be lost outside. As long as there is no distortion, the most critical component of a bicycle sound system is the speaker(s)The most important consideration when building any music system, whether a domestic Hi-Fi, car audio system, or public address (PA) is the choice of speakers. Over half your budget should go on the speakers. If top quality speakers are used, you can get away, to a certain extent, with cheaper amplifiers. Do it the other way round and there will always be a poor sound.Speakers are difficult to get right. The different drivers, e.g. woofer, tweeter, must be matched with each other and they also must be matched with the correct crossover (the device that splits the signal into high and low frequencies). Not only that, the cabinet, or enclosure must also be matched to the drivers and the crossover.A sound engineer told me that he once worked for a top speaker manufacturer in the UK. His first project was to discover why their latest speaker did not work as well as their previous model. In theory it should have sounded better but mysteriously sounded worse. After a week of messing about he discovered that the screws holding the rear cover on were slightly shorter in the new speaker. Changing the screws for the longer ones magically brought the speaker to life.It is that story alone that makes the idea of building a speaker from DIY plans very much hit or miss. Yes, the speaker will work but will it sound fantastic, just OK or dreadful? The only advantage of building a speaker cabinet is that it could be made to fit a trailer, or be an integral part of the trailer.The choice of speakers is massive. Generally, speakers can be divided into three types, Hi-Fi, car audio and PA.Car speakers can be a popular choice for BSS as they are cheap. The biggest problem with them is that they have to be fitted into a cabinet. Often seen is the ‘sub’ bass, a 15” speaker already fitted into a cabinet. The problem is that a ‘sub’ bass is just that, subsonic, or very low frequencies only. Great for certain types of music and a cinema surround sound system but not good enough on its own for a sound system. There will be a need for proper bass drivers as well as a sub. Generally a sub is not needed, not only does it require huge amounts of power to drive it, most music sounds good without one.Hi-Fi speakers can and are used. The disadvantages with them are:

To mount them properly they must either be strapped or screwed down. Screwing them means introducing screws into the cabinet, the cabinets are not designed for this and the material can be weakened. Also see above for the effect of the ‘wrong’ screws.

They are meant to be used in static situations. The electronic crossovers in them are not rugged enough for mobile use and can fail.

They are vulnerable to damage.

The connections are unreliable for a mobile application.
I believe the best speaker for a BSS are professional PA speakers for the following reasons:

They are very robust, built for a life on the road. The cabinets are usually made from tough ABS plastic and the speakers have protective grills over them.

They often have handles built into them which makes assembling and transporting the system easier.

The crossovers are built in and are made for rough use and to handle high power.

They have professional Speakon connectors, these are very quick to connect and cannot work loose.

A speaker from a quality manufacturer will have designed the drivers to work well together at high wattages reliably

The cabinets usually have threaded inserts making it easy to fix them to a trailer. (remember the story about the wrong screws; start screwing into a domestic Hi-Fi speaker at your peril. That is why speaker wall brackets just clamp onto the speaker).
Another aspect of speaker choice comes back to the intended use. Stereo or mono? Stereo only works when the speakers are in the correct position in front of the listener. This is not going to happen with a BSS. Another consideration is placement. Front, side or rear facing?An advantage of a mono sound is that the amplifier can be bridged. Most car amplifiers can be bridged. Bridging an amplifier has the effect of increasing the output of the amplifier. When bridging an amplifier into two speaker cabinets, extreme care must be taken to ensure the impedance of the combined speakers does not go below the minimum rated impedance of the amplifier otherwise a sorry mess of blue smoke will ensue.Having carefully chosen the amplifier and speakers. The question of getting it all to fit together must be considered.There is the choice of trailer and battery. The trailer often comes down to budget and availability. Just make sure it is strong enough to support the combined weight of everything.Do not use 12v car batteries. They are designed to give a large current in a short burst to operate the starter motor. They are not designed to go flat – a flat battery is anything less than about 12.5 volts. Once they have gone flat they will never recover. Each re-charge will result in a lower and lower final voltage until the battery will fail.The cheapest form of usable battery is the lead acid ‘leisure battery’. These are designed for caravans and wind charger and photo-voltaic systems; they can be re-cycled (recharged) many times before failure.Always use a fuse after the battery!Use proper crimped connectors, battery terminals etc. Try to avoid jamming wire under bolts. The vast majority of failures in all electrical systems are loose or bad connections.Try to use locking compound on screws and other fittings.Large output amplifiers that are bridged running in an enclosed space can be prone to overheating. A good amplifier will have an automatic shut-down if this happens. Overheating can be easily avoided by using computer cooling fans blowing across the amplifier. Stick-on heat sinks can help. Computer fans operate at 12v and can be found very cheaply on eBay.Put all the electrics into an enclosure that is waterproof. Have an air inlet at the bottom to let cool air in and an outlet at the top for the warm air to escape.The speakers can be protected by a cover over the top and some sort of material (printed fabrics are cheap and look good) across the front of them. As long as the material is a few inches from the front of the speakers they will remain dry.The music player for simplicity and water protection can be mounted near the amplifier. The obvious disadvantage is that it cannot be controlled from the bike. One solution is to mount it in a small box on the handle bars. We have found the best way is to use a plastic lidded box turned upside down with the box attached to the lid with a hinge. As long as the player is mounted above the base (lid) it will remain dry. Obviously if it is raining hard try to avoid opening the box!Finally, appearance. Briefly, if the system is just to please you and your friends probably the last thing to worry about is its appearance. After all, there is something to be said about the aesthetics of a functional device. However, if you want to hire the system out or use it on paid-for events, the appearance can be a more important consideration than its performance.So there you have it. I hope you have found this interesting and informative.Thanks for reading this!