Even though I am a Swiss Army knife guy through and through I have just started dabbling in multitools. During my employment career it was necessary to have a pocket carry EDC knife and most 91mm Swiss Army knives fit that bill perfectly.  Now that I telework (thank you COVID) and am about to retire I probably won’t be getting out and about as much and having a few multitools laying around strategically will be fairly practical, I believe.

I decided to try a tool from the major manufacturers and got the following:

  • Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit X
  • Gerber Suspension NXT
  • Leatherman Surge

After reading dozens of reviews and talking to a few people I also decided to get a Leatherman Wave +.

Leatherman Wave +

I think out of all of them I may like the Wave + the best although it is a tossup between that and the Swiss Tool Spirit X.
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Credit Alert Interactive Verification Reporting System (CAIVRS)

I bet you never heard of Credit Alert Interactive Verification Reporting System (CAIVRS) before.

CAIVRS was established by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency in June of 1987.  It is a database of Social Security Numbers that are in default regarding federal loans such as Student Loans, Small Business Loans, VA Loans, etc.

The following agencies report to CAIVRS:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Small Business Administration
  • Department of Justice

If you default on a loan or credit card it goes to your credit report which is accessible to you.  However, if you default on a Federal Student Loan it is not reported to your credit file.  It is only reported to CAIVRS.


I just applied for a VA loan for a new home and was notified by my lender that I was delinquent on a Federal Student Loan and that I could not get my VA loan until this issue was cleared up.  I immediately knew this was inaccurate because I HAVE NEVER HAD A STUDENT LOAN.

I called the Department of Education Student Loan Debt Resolution ……………… let that sink in a moment.   This problem is so huge apparently that they have their own departmental offices.

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Leatherman Surge vs. Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit X

I love Swiss Army knives.  But recently I have decided to try out some of the larger multi-tools.  Yeah, I’m a few years late to the game……..but here goes.

Before I ever talk about these tools know that I think they are used best on a conditional basis.   When I am at home or in the truck or camper know that I keep a proper set of tools around to take care of business.  The right tool for the job, as they say.

However, having a good multi-tool within reach most of the time does come in mighty handy.   And on the surface this statement might seem odd ……….. If the proverbial fecal matter were to hit the electrical rotary device………being stuck in the middle of an emergency situation with a suite of tools in your pocket would be a blessing, no?

So multi-tool choices are abundant and there are review videos galore on these tools.  The selection of a good multi-tool is going to be a very personal choice and no way am I ever going to imply that I found the BEST TOOL and that you should get one.

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My Favorite Swiss Army Knife

Wow!  What a loaded subject line.   Especially since I easily have about 75 Swiss Army knives.   And I love them all.  However some stand out, and particularly one stands out.

First of all lets stroll down memory lane, shall we?  The Swiss Army knife was first made in 1891 with roots back to about 1884.  That is quite a lineage.

Victorinox 1891 Soldier

Victorinox 1891 Soldier

Oddly enough it doesn’t look that much different than what we carry today.  Isn’t it amazing that the origins of a useful pocket took have remained true to form for so long?
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Swiza – A Swiss Army Knife Killer?

I like pocketknives.   A lot.  I’m actually one of those guys with a giant fear of getting cut and I have zero desire to ever use a knife as a weapon.  For me, the act of carrying a knife is more about being the instant savior to a situation with my fancy multi-tool.   And I like knowing I’m prepared and ready for whatever may happen to me.

NOTE:  99% of my knife usage is opening Amazon boxes that contain knives. 

My pocketknife of choice is, and always has been Victorinox Swiss Army knives.  As a young boy I remember the excitement of the first Cub Scout knife.  Wow.  What a responsibility.  It was taught as such and that message was received as such.  God I love my generation.

So I am a knife collector of sorts.  Swiss Army, Benchmade, Spyderco and other EDC items like flashlights and pens that actually work in the weather.

Even though the Swiza knives have been around for a while I decided to pick one up and try it out.  Allow me to answer the question in my subject line.

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Listen to Top Secret Radio

Well not really.  But a whole lot of radio stations out there call themselves High Definition Radio (HDR) and is really called In Band On Channel (IBOC).  If you look at the top of my pages you’ll see this image.  Where the red line is, is the center of the signal or the station frequency.  On the side of the signal are two rectangles which can can carry digital information.  This doubles the bandwidth required to 400kHz.   This works in the US because of our FM channel spacing but won’t work in other countries.

John’s Tech Blog

At any rate, there is data transmitted on the rectangles and lots of times entirely different radio stations.    This is why your car radio shows album art or tells you the name of the song and what is playing next.  Some larger metropolitan areas will also transmit weather or traffic maps.

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Wiring a 24 volt Air Assist Solenoid to KT332N Laser Controller

Adding an external, more powerful air assist is a MUST DO upgrade for your CO2 laser.  There are many guides on how to do this however none of them are specific to a laser which has a Ryxon KT332N Controller.  Larger lasers use different controllers and the controller connections have a different name on them on the KT332N which may confuse some users.

I’m not doing an inclusive build of materials here. This will just cover wiring the solenoid to the controller.

First of all you need a 24volt Solenoid which is Normally Closed.  That means air only spews out when the solenoid is energized electrically from the controller.  So you need:

  • Solenoid
  • Wire – you can use any wire as long as it will handle 24 volts and about 250 degrees F.  I chose this wire simply because it is jacketed and it is easier and cleaner to route 1 cable, than 2 separate wires.

Also note that the solenoid is non-polarity specific so that means you don’t have to observe polarity at either end however where the wires are connected to the controller you SHOULD follow standard color coding in case you sell the machine or if it catches on fire the fireman will blame your backwards home brew wiring for the cause of the fire 😃

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Why You MUST Add A Water Flow Sensor Switch To A K40 Laser

My K40 (and various other CO2 lasers) does not have a water flow sensor switch on it.   There are folks who put a water flow meter on the outside of their lasers which gives you a visual representation that the water is indeed flowing.  That’s great.  Until you turn your back and the pump fails causing water to stop flowing and your laser tube and power supply go “POOF”.

You would have to watch that flow meter 100% of the time to be safe.

With a water flow sensor switch it kills power to the laser firing circuit if no water flow is detected thus saving your precious CO2 laser tube and power supply.

The switch in the flow sensor is in the normally open position.  That means the circuit is BROKEN until water flows through the sensor and then the switch closes which ENERGIZES the laser firing circuit.

In fact laser power supplies have a protection circuit ready to roll.


Bypassing the Water Protection Circuit On A CO2 Laser

Yikes.  The jumper, if it could talk would say……”there is a protection circuit here, and it is working just fine”.  But if your pump fails it would also say…….”there is a protection circuit here, and it is working just fine”.  NO PROTECTION.  THIS IS UNSAFE!

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More Laser Discussion For New Users

Beating a dead Horse by PotatoeHuman on DeviantArtI hate to beat the proverbial dead horse but I digress.

First I have got to say that anyone ABSOLUTELY HAS THE RIGHT TO BUY A CO2 Laser for their business or hobby or whatever.  I am not opposed to that at all.  More power to ya.  Seems since this COVID pandemic the “work from home” DIY business model has exploded and CO2 lasers are at the forefront of this.  Heck, it is hard to buy a laser right now.

Also let me throw in that while this blog is largely about a lack of technical prowess just know that I am jealous AF of the artistic and creative ability of a lot of you.  I can fix some stuff……but art……..I failed art and I didn’t even take it, and still failed it.  I can’t draw a circle with a compass and a can of beans.

What bothers me when I peruse the forums Facebook groups for CO2 lasers there are a rash of new users with no experience whatsoever on the technical aspects of a CO2 laser.  And let me add…….THAT INCLUDED ME AT ONE TIME.   Again, if you want a laser and can afford one………get one.

Here’s what worries me.  I will frequently see discussions where the new user buys a giant laser and says “What do I do now?”

I’m not knocking you if you are asking that question or any other.  That’s what forums are for.  You are most assuredly doing the right thing.   Just know that I’m scared for you.

The answer I can best provide is “Don’t Kill Yourself”.  First and foremost, know that your CO2 laser uses a High Voltage Flyback transformer that pulses anywhere from 1000 volts DC to about 20,000 volts DC.   Allow me to translate:  That will stop your heart in an ……errrr…….heartbeat.   We’ve all been shocked by household current.  You get tingled, a moment of OUCH and then a giggle.   If you take a 1000vdc shot to your body you will likely die and you better hope you are standing next to someone who knows CPR.  I wish I was joking.  I’m not joking.

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Replacing Crap Water Flow Sensor – Shutoff Switch in Chinese Laser

CO2 lasers are water cooled.  If the cool water stops flowing the laser tube will die.  That’s all there is to it.   To prevent the laser from firing when there is no water flowing most lasers incorporate some kind of switch that chops power to the laser circuit when no water flow is detected.

My new 50 watt laser has such a switch but forums are FULL of reports of failures and especially the fact that the switch will begin leaking.

Crap Water Flow Sensor

While this may not be the exact switch, it is darn similar. There is no outlet port on these things.  The switch is hooked to a Y valve.  One side is inlet, the other is inlet flow and the top opening goes to the switch.

In my mind that doesn’t really measure “Flow”, rather the fact there is water pressure present on the switch.

Let’s say you had a fancy water chiller and the chiller was setting up higher than the laser.   Gravity and shit, would put head pressure on the switch allowing it to fire EVEN WHEN THERE WAS NO FLOW.  I’ve seen several reports of this already.  That renders this switch USELESS.  And again, even if it is working right I’ve also read MANY reports of “this failed after a month” or “this started leaking right away”.

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