Tag Archives: technology

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: http://www.merlin-uk.com/ (note that this model doesn’t show up on the device, and I can’t find it ANYWHERE on the internet).