GOLD: The Ridgid® SeeSnake® micro Inspection Camera relays images back to a LCD screen attached on a handle.

A tradesman is judged by many things, and his tools are one of them. With the power to make many tasks simpler and safer, tools of the HVAC trade provide technicians and installers the equipment to perform at increased efficiency and accuracy levels. Some tools even allow technicians the ability to accomplish a task they couldn’t do otherwise. The winners ofThe NEWS’fifth annual Dealer Design Awards’ Tools category represent equipment from both sides of the toolbox.

Ridgid’s® SeeSnake® micro Inspection Camera won gold for its ability to see where the user can’t. SPX Corp.’s Robinair Digital Gauges won silver for its ability to automatically perform calculations, saving time and increasing accuracy. JB Industries’ 4 Valve Digital Manifold (DM 4-3) combines multiple tools into one, providing technicians greater convenience.


The Ridgid® SeeSnake® micro Inspection Camera is a hand-held, fully flexible and adjustable miniature camera tool that allows professionals to see into areas they ordinarily couldn’t reach.

The high-resolution camera head sits at the tip of a flexible 3-foot cable that is reinforced with a waterproof vinyl jacket. Users manually control the cable and camera, which relays images back to a 2.4-inch color LCD screen attached on a pistol-grip handle. The camera is equipped with fully adjustable LEDs to provide the right amount of light for every job.

Each tool comes with three separate attachments that twist and lock into place on the camera head. The Hook Tip is a J-shaped extension that lets users pick up, tug, or pull small objects within reach of the cable. The Magnetic Tip is small but strong and can pick up metal objects. The Mirror Tip lets users look around corners, providing more versatility in even the tightest spots.

The camera is designed to bring the tough-to-find and tough-to-fix problems to light. The tool’s flexible design can go into, under, and around tight spaces, so users can locate the problem, diagnose it, and solve it. The applications are numberless as it allows users to see into any confined space where they either can’t or won’t stick their head. The camera head and reinforced vinyl cable are waterproof, making the SeeSnake micro submergible.

Contractors not only benefit from the inspection aspect of the tool, but they also benefit from the ability to retrieve objects, such as lost tools. The tool is convenient for looking in small spaces in ductwork, heating coils, and air conditioners.

“I have seen and handled this product and it is an excellent tool at a very reasonable price,” said a contractor judge.

The SeeSnake micro Inspection Camera weighs just over 1 pound and the four AA alkaline batteries that are included power the camera for up to three hours of continuous viewing time. The attachment tips lock easily into place on the camera head and are included with every unit. The tool, batteries, and attachments all come in a durable, convenient carrying case.

SILVER: SPX Corp.’s Robinair Digital Gauges automatically perform pressure temperature calculations and have easy-to-read backlit displays and built-in pressure/temperature charts.


SPX Corp.’s Robinair Digital Gauges automatically perform pressure temperature calculations and are compatible with numerous manifolds, supporting multiple refrigerants. Both low pressure (0-250 psi) and high pressure (0-500 psi) gauges are compact, have easy-to-read backlit displays, and have built-in pressure/temperature charts, allowing technicians to perform accurately and efficiently on a variety of applications.

One contractor judge said that, “This is a nice replacement item to get techs into digital tools.”

The digital gauges, when utilized with an a/c service manifold, can be used on a variety of residential and commercial HVAC applications. They support up to 17 different refrigerants with internal pressure-temperature charts for each, making the product extremely flexible in terms of the number of applications it can be used to service. The gauges were designed with precision and user-friendliness in mind, and they serve as an intermediary step between traditional mechanical gauges and system analyzers.

According to the company, these digital gauges are unique in that they provide all the relevant information technicians need - pressure and temperature right on the gauge in large, easy-to-read numbers.

“The Robinair Digital Gauges are efficient, accurate, and dependable,” said the company. “With these innovative gauges, contractors and technicians can perform their jobs effectively and get precise readings effortlessly.”

BRONZE: JB Industries’ 4 Valve Digital Manifold (DM 4-3) features a heavy-duty rubber boot that protects the manifold from damage.


JB Industries’ 4 Valve Digital Manifold (DM 4-3) combines a superheat/subcooling gauge with a four-valve charging and testing manifold and temperature gauge. The DM 4-3 is a four valve standard manifold, a superheat/subcooling gauge, and a pressure gauge rendering it three tools in one. Thirty-two of the most popular refrigerants are built-in to service any system. For use in charging and evacuating systems, the heavy-duty rubber boot protects the manifold from damage. The manifold has a full 3/8-inch bore and original free floating o-ring sealing system, which according to the company, results in faster evacuation and charging.

“The 3/8-inch vacuum hose port is a big plus for quicker evacuation,” said a judge. “The gauge section seems to be a rugged item allowing for regular use in a service truck.”

The DM 4-3 converts Fahrenheit to Celsius and psi to kpa. It includes a temperature sensor and clamp to achieve enhanced temperature readings to ensure an accurate superheat/subcooling reading.

Using the tool, which can be transported in the provided carrying case, technicians have no need to calculate values, convert units, etc. This helps eliminate jobsite errors that could lead to an incorrect charge.

“The technician can service systems quickly and know the charge is correct, thus servicing more jobs in a single day and reducing callbacks,” said the company. “The instructions are easy to use and located near the buttons to eliminate bulky instruction manuals.”

The anodized aluminum body is precision machined and the DM 4-3 is easy to repair because it can be separated from the standard manifold. The rubber boot is thick and retrofits to earlier models of the digital manifold to provide protection to older versions.

Honorees: Tools

SeeSnake® micro Inspection Camera

SPX Corp.
Robinair Digital Gauges

JB Industries
4 Valve Digital Manifold

Honorable Mentions
JerryRig LLC

Midwest Tool and Cutlery Co.

Publication date:07/14/2008