Widgets are like cockroaches, and we mean that in a good way. If the Y2K bug had wreaked the kind of havoc on our lives the prophets had predicted, theatres, theme parks, and other venues would be full of useless lighting and audio equipment, but what would designers and technicians still have at their disposal? You guessed it. Perhaps the mail carrier is a better analogy: neither rain nor sleet nor dead of night, nor computer bugs can stop the widgets from their appointed rounds. Here then, are this year's crop of widgets we love, eight items no toolbox should be without.

If one criterion for a widget is that it has to be something clever, the family of Vertical Extension Tubes (VETs) from ACT Enterprises certainly fits the bill. The extensions are manufactured from aluminum tubing with steel fittings on either end, allowing a lighting instrument to be attached below the electric (or truss) by the length of the specified tube. Therefore, a designer can add more instruments in a given space by hanging some of the instruments below the originally hung units in previously unoccupied space. The vertical extension tube is available in 6", 9", 12", 18", and 24" lengths. The machined ends are compatible with standard C-clamp spigots and with each other for easy interchangeability. Circle 85 on Reader Service Card

Flint Hire and Supply Folding Quick Turn Podger

The Folding Quick Turn Podger is a ratchet wrench with a folding handle that allows for fast turning in either direction, as the handle in a folded position performs like a conventional "crank" mechanism. Another advantage of the wrench's design is its ability to work in confined spaces due to its smaller extended length. The lanyard hole is located on the "tail" part of the folding tool and will not twist as the cranking handle does not rotate, making this useful for overhead work situations. It is available in two sizes, M10 and M12 bolt size (17mm and 19mm, comparable to standard bolt sizes of 11/16" and 3/4") and a M10 and scaffolding bolt size (21mm, comparable to standard 13/16").

The Airwall Hanger Kit is an assortment of load-rated hardware providing three alternate methods of rigging from a room divider (aka, airwall) support track, making it an ideal tool for hanging posters or other objects in hotels, meetings, or boardrooms, for lighting, sound, or projection projects, or for other temporary rigging needs. Two compression plates sandwich the lip of the track, providing a secure method of temporary attachment. The kit includes a bolt for fastening a single unit, a drop-forged eyebolt for a hanging point, and a hook clamp, which, when used in pairs, can support a light bar or pipe.

This patented system for the transport and storage of aluminum trusses in standard sizes of 290mm (approximately 9.5'; double, triple, or quadruple rods) not only protects the truss but also makes life easier for the person who has to store it. The Trusspack allows truss to be stacked in safe distances from each other, preventing scratches and dents. Its modular structure allows for different ways of stacking, and it doesn't require any extra mounting tools. The sturdy plastic design provides a flexible alternative to boxes and cases.

Flashlights are always a must-have, and those with special features are apt to be used more and get lost less. The Rapco Phantom Powered Flash Light is built inside Rapco's BLOX style of black plastic enclosures, approximately 3" long by 1" wide and 1.25" high. In addition to operating on an internal lithium battery with an expected life of five years, the light is designed for operation on phantom-powered microphone lines. A recessed three-pin female XLR connector is located on the rear of the light, with a push-button located along one side.

Assembling costumes that look great and are "authentic" in detail will be much easier with the Lace Tip Crimper. This handy tool, which resembles a pair of pliers, has two machined jaws that will permanently crimp a small aglet (ferrule), available in silver or brass, to the end of a lace cord. The first side of the crimper allows for the aglet to be partially formed and secured to the lace. The second crimp creates a more rounded finish. The $70 tool and aglets are designed for 3/8" laces. The crimp is even and results in a much neater appearance than using ordinary pliers. It's good for ordinary shoelaces, too.

What a simple idea: a gadget that saves time and aggravation while pulling cables through plenums and over suspended ceilings. Simply snap the Top-Slide on the metal tees of a suspended ceiling at the beginning of a run, loop a few feet of cable, and throw it over the ceiling tiles. You can pull any BX, intercom, computer, or DMX cable right over it through the plenum space, even when kinks are present, without damaging the suspended ceiling grid. Using more than one, of course, makes it even easier; place a second unit at the end of a run, and you can pull cables over suspended ceiling. Best of all, cables can be installed by one person instead of two.

Known as "gender benders" by computer geeks and "turnarounds" by sound types, the DMX-XLR three-pin to five-pin adapters meet the criteria of a Millennium widget in more ways than one. These 3"-long cylindrical adapters are available in two styles and allow those hard-working soldering irons a chance to cool off. A three-pin male XLR to five-pin female XLR and a three-pin female XLR to five-pin male XLR are available in one unit. The prewired barrel connectors weigh about 2oz and are offered in a nickel-plated shell. These adapters are also being distributed by Interactive Technologies.