Category Archives: Gear

Ryo USB Adaptor – A Cool Gadget for Travellers, DJs and Virtually Everyone

A week or so I was contacted by the team at RYO Tech, who it turns out, are regular readers of my blog, asking me to give them a bit of a shout out on the blog.  As a rule, I don’t do this – I only ever write about gadgets or gear that I’ve personally owned or used.

That said I was intrigued, as it turns out – it’s a New Zealand made product that is currently going through it’s first round of funding on the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter (which I first used when Matt Inman announced his forthcoming card game, Exploding Kittens after the success of the awesome Cards Against Humanity).

The more I read about their product, the more interested I got. Originally I asked them for a prototype to test out, which they kindly agreed to and have sent to me. Well they are in NZ and I’m in San Diego – DHL literally delivered some prototypes for me to test out as I was half way through writing the draft of this blog post. This morning, I backed their project with my own cold earned (i.e. my wife’s credit card) cash. The reason, I think it’s a really cool product and will have real life usefullness to me, both when I’m travelling and when I’m DJing (usually drunk).


So what does their product do?

Well, it’s kind of revolutionary in it’s simplicity. Anyone who has used USB devices (and we all have), knows that most of the time, we try to plug it into a charger, computer or other device and get it wrong most of the time.  For those of us who are DJs using products such as Serato or Traktor, let’s face it – we are often drunk and working in a dark night club as well. Generally we are plugging stuff in while someone else is DJing and any messing around with cables is distracting to the current DJ and just plain rude.


It baffles me that it’s taken a decade for something so simple to come to market. That is, a USB adaptor that doesn’t matter what way you plug it in. I tested it on the best test subject possible – my wife. While Sarah is absolutely brilliant academically, she often struggles with technology. And yes, she even screws up with USB.  Well, these worked great for her, and she loves the concept.


The prototype models I have are not the final retail models, so are slightly more fragile than what the end user is likely to experience.  I was a little rough with one when plugging it into my Apple keyboard, and the metal receptor did detach from from the PCB and rubber and stay inside the female USB plug of the keyboard.  Removing it was easy, and I was able to super glue it back on and it worked afterwards without any hassle.  Again – I repeat, this is a PROTOTYPE model (created with a 3D Printer), and the final release versions will be far more rugged (which is the entire point of the Kickstarter project, allowing them to produce a high quality product with a proven manufacturer with extensive experience in creating specialist moulds), this is merely a proof of concept that they kindly provided me free of charge to trial. The final, finished and tested products will be shipping in September, 2015.

One of these will definitely be permanently attached to all of my digital DJing gear including my Serato SL3 box and Numark NS6.  I’m hoping that they will make some heavy duty coloured USB cables, or licence their design to equipment manufacturers so I can use the reversible cable without needing an additional adaptor.  Gear manufacturers, hit them up! This is something that I think the crew at companies like DJ Tech Tools should be stocking as soon as it’s available.

The way I see it, these are designed to be left on commonly used USB cables rather than removed and plugged back into them all the time. They work exactly as they are supposed to, come in both black and white and don’t seem to slow down any devices that I’ve trailed them on so far. Over the next few days I’ll try them out on:

  • An iPhone 4s
  • An android Phone (Alcatel One Touch)
  • A Serato SL3 box
  • A Numark NS6 midi controller
  • A 3TB Hard Drive being used for a time machine on a macbook

And any other device I can think of.


I’ve also received one of their prototype USB keys that will be sent out with those who back for a higher amount of $25. Once again, this is a prototype and not the final product.  The one that I have received is is a standard USB key with 8GB of storage and the moulded rubber “Kushi” character outer.  The one I currently have has the standard USB plug, while those that ship to Kickstarter backers will have the final RYO adaptor build into it as standard.

Check out the video below:

The Kickstarter project launched this morning, and is already 26% funded, which is an excellent result for launch. I’m confident that it will be fully funded way before the campaign ends, and I’m sure they’ll have some interesting stretch goals.

Gadgets: Merlin BT-SPK06 Travel Speakers

Anyone who knows me will know that I usually have music playing all the time, and that I like my bass. Which means up until recently I’ve had to either wear big headphones, put up with annoying earbuds or crap sound quality.  Its hard to listen to dubstep DJ promos on macbook speakers!

I’d spotted some pretty powerful travel speakers at my friend Liam’s place in Germany, but they still didn’t seem up to scratch – and since travelling to Bangkok, I’ve seen lots of knockoffs down the Khoa San Road, but again they don’t seem to match the power/sound quality of these.  You only have to pick it up to feel the weight of the magnet in the driver, this thing has 3w of power – which might not sound like much, but is more than adequate for filling a room (I normally only have 2 bars of volume on my Macbook when using it – and its louder and better quality than when the Macbook is on full volume) and best of all, it doesn’t distort or bottom out when it has proper low end (think Digital Mystikz Anti war dub) through it.

It has both bluetooth and mini headphone inputs for audio signals, full bluetooth controls for playlists , an internal mic for use as a de facto headset for devices that support it and a TF card input (which is just another way of saying it supports MicroSD Cards) which is handy for dropping a 4GB card in full of a few mixes.

The whole device is charged by USB and has about 6-8 hours of charge time as well.

Quite simply these (or similar knock offs) are a must have for anyone travelling who wants to listen to music outside of headphones or tinny iphone speakers.

Cost: Approx $30 NZD
Purchased from: Dubai International Airport, it appears that the trademarks are owned in Dubai as well.
Manufactuers website: (note that this model doesn’t show up on the device, and I can’t find it ANYWHERE on the internet).

Gear: Travelsafe Universal Power Adaptor

Right now I’m pretty conscious that I’m lugging around way too much stuff (although I knew this when I was packing) due to carrying around my paintball and DJing gear.  With all the electronics I’d got I need to be able to get a decent source of power + USB charge for my devices. 

When I was hosting people on couchsurfing they all seemed to be carrying these all in one power adaptors.  So I immediately went off searching for them in local stores – Katmandu, Macpac, FCO, Dick Smiths, Farmers etc.  All I could find were the individual adaptors, or a multi country pack, which was essentially a mesh bag with a bunch of individual adaptors.

All my products are either Mac products or USB charge, so it seems ridiculous that I’m lugging around multiple plugs, chargers and adaptors when this mythical all-in-one beast is somewhere.  Unfortunately wherever I looked they only sold the most basic of adaptors, so off I went with 3 different country adaptors, a NZ double adaptor, a macbook charger, a bunch of USB cables and 2 USB adaptors.

Then, while I was trying to get my toiletries legal (as I’d just split my stupid clear plastic bag in half with my toothbrush) in the airport chemist, I stumbled upon this, a truly glorious sight! A universal travel adaptor that (apparently) works in 150+ countries, takes NZ plugs that require an earth pin, and has 2 USB plugs.  Perfect!

So far I’ve only used it here in Croatia, but it works perfectly, gives decent charges to two devices at once (camera + iphone, camera + kindle or iphone + kindle), and has given a decent charge to my MacBook pro. It also has a replaceable standard fuse in it, which is handy if you are operating out of areas with slightly sketchy power supplies.

So..if you are leaving Auckland, you can pick them up in the duty free area once you have cleared customs in Auckland Airport for $60 NZD.  Then you can throw away the pile of excess plugs!

Gear: The Amazon Kindle – My New Favorite Toy

The start of a series of posts on gear I’m going to take travelling with me…

Shortly before moving out of my flat, and after watching my old flatmate use one, I purchased an Amazon Kindling 3G Keyboard from Dick Smith.  This has without a doubt become one of my favorite “toy” purchases behind my Macbook Pro, Serato + Dicers and Paintball gear.

For those who have been living under a rock, a Kindle is one of many e-book readers available on the market and is directly connected to the website, where you can purchase both e-books and the dead tree variety.

I’m a book fiend, but have struggled to read anything over the last 18 months except for when I’ve been on the move, and have about 4 real books in the stages of being half read.  However, since getting the kindle I haven’t been able to put it down and read a book on average of one every few days.

The first thing I’ve learnt is the one must have programme for anyone with a Kindle (or other E-Reader) is Calibre, which is essentially and itunes type database for ebook files (.mobi, .epub, .pdf etc) which allows you to edit metadata, send to device, update info based on various databases (such as search by metadata etc. If you have any ebooks from less than reputable places, this is the easiest way of managing them and sending them to your device.  You can get it here.

One of the things I found that constantly added weight to my luggage when I’ve travelled has been books, so at 290g its going to help when I finally get around to packing.