What I have been using for a while are Streamlight flashlights. They make the Mag's look like something you would get at the drug store for $1. I bought the first one, a Scorpion, about four or five years ago for $50. I asked the salesman at a store in Bloomington, IL why anyone would pay that much for a pocket flashlight. He said the light would outperform any light of its size and a lot bigger, but he did not want to take it out of the blister pack. I pestered him about it a little, and he made a bet with me that if it worked better than any flashlight I had seen, that I would buy it. I bought it.

At 40', it lights up items in a grid so that you can see them, not just see where they are. It has excellent spot-to-flood focus, and it has taken a lot of abuse. And it is 4" long.

I have since bought a Stinger, the big light from Streamlight and, recently, a Scion. I have a Twin-Task too. It has LEDs and the xenon lamp that the others have and switches between them with a sequential switch. It is a compromise in performance with less range and focus. So if all your work is close, the Twin-Task would work for you. The Stinger has 75,000 candle power with a usable range of about 100'. The Scion and Scorpion have about 15,000 with an effective range of 50' to 60'. The Scion is a rechargeable pocket light. Either of the pocket lights will outperform a 6D cell Mag except in burn time.

The downside of the Streamlights is that they are expensive, and they burn through batteries quickly. You learn not to leave one on for long. The Scorpion takes Lithium 123 batteries that last about one hour and are about $12 per pair unless you buy them in quantity from Tools for Stagecraft. (The Streamlight line is available from them, too.) The Stinger and Scion are rechargeable. I bought the Scion because it is less expensive to use on a yearly basis than the Scorpion.

Ted Jones
Rigging and Special Projects
Chicago Spotlight, Inc.

Two pieces of gear I'm using that make my job easier are the Crest HP-W 44 Audio console and the Peavey VSX 26 Digital Signal Processor. These pieces of gear have jumped our sound business into the 21st century and given us flexibility and features that we did not have before them. Peavey and Crest have developed features and given me the tools to provide a better sound palette for my customers. I can bend and shape, automix, and digitally construct new sound pathways that I could not do before. The Crest HP-W 44 and Peavey VSX 26 are great new tools with great feature sets, and I recommend them to anyone needing to improve his sound arsenal.

Don Lanier
Pearl Productions

As a college student, my notebook computer goes wherever I go and so does my DMX control, thanks to Enttec's Open DMX USB widget. This small unit is inexpensive ($60), self-powered, provides a full DMX universe from one USB port, and operates with a host of open source, user created, and semi-professional software, ranging from simple two-scene preset interfaces to very capable moving light controllers.

It's great for students and anyone with a notebook computer who desires inexpensive and portable DMX control. I've used it for class lighting projects, testing fixtures, experimenting with products at trade shows, and even on some production work for very budget-conscious clients. The reliability is not quite at the level of professional boards, but it's been great to have my own console at such an inexpensive price.

Ryan Fletcher
Undergraduate student in Mechanical Engineering and Lighting Design
Stanford University