Where do you begin telling a story about a wiring labeler and make it exciting? Labeling can be an extremely time-consuming and tedious part of a wiring project. With the Kroy, I found that its versatility and flexibility keeps simple projects simple, and large projects stay under control. I received the just before Ed Treese, Union Broadcasting's chief engineer, and I started building the Kansas City Royals studio for Union Broadcasting, so the timing was perfect.
There are several features of the K4100 that I found important. For instance, the unit features a 300 dpi-resolution printer for crisp printing. This thermal-transfer printer also automatically sizes text to fit a label, provides two-line printing and offers point sizes from six to 72 points. This allows for easy handling in a variety of applications. One of the two important features, in my opinion, is the ability to design the labels on the computer and then download them to the Kroy and print. The Kroy comes with KLDS software that is compatible with Windows 95/98/2000/XP, and it includes the drivers and serial cable to make the process easy. The second important feature is the ability to store files on the K4100 itself. If you make a mistake, which we all know seldom happens, you can retrieve the file and print it again.
The wiring experience was a little different from what we were accustomed to. We usually print the labels, then use heat shrink to seal them and then solder the connector. This method works well and will continue to work well, however, we opted to use the self-laminating wire wraps to label the studio. The laminated wire wraps allowed us to move fast. And in the event of a mistake, we could pull the wrap off and re-label. The self-laminating labels allowed us to create the wiring paths and label them later, instead of halting the process along the way to add a heat-shrink label before assembling the connector.
Performance at a glance
Print graphics, logos, bar codes and data records
Audible key clicks
Real time clock with time/date stamping ability
Two line × 16-character LCD display
6 to 72 point printing
Downloadable and scaleable fonts
On-board memory to store formats and fonts
There was one application where I thought the K4100 really shined. We had to clean up computer cables and some past wiring in the main engineering room. That would have meant cutting off connectors, re-labeling and re-soldering all the connectors. However, with the self-laminating wire wrap we just pulled off the old labels and added the new label. We moved our wiring easily and quickly. This alone saved many hours of time.
The K4100 offers all the same highly advanced features as the K5100 hand-held portable, but in a desktop model. Because the tape cartridge supplies are interchangeable with either printer, you can use the same supplies for both printers. The cartridge supplies are designed to withstand chemicals and outdoor temperature extremes. One point that I was concerned about was its upgrade ability, but the has flash firmware. You can download the firmware from the website or send the unit to Kroy for the upgrade.
Some other key features include the ability to print graphics, logos, bar codes and data records, to use continuous and die-cut media, a built-in cutter and feed control, audible key clicks, a real-time clock with time/date stamping ability, alpha/numeric sequencing (A-Z, 1-999), thermal transfer and direct-thermal printing, a two-line × 16-character LCD display, downloadable and scaleable fonts, 10 resident bar codes and on-board memory to store formats and fonts.
The self-laminating labels can be applied without removing the cable connectors.
I would like to point out one item that is not a problem with the product itself, but in its operation. Be observant and take care in loading the cartridge. If you follow the directions, you won't have a problem. But if you are in a hurry and slap the cartridge into the unit and kink the ribbon, minor problems could occur. Other than that, I thought the did what it advertised. In my opinion, the major strength of the K4100 was its flexibility, especially if you have different applications. And of course, if you need to do a minor clean-up project, rest assured that project will not turn into a major re-wire because of the limitations of labeling.
Rogers is a contract engineer in Kansas City.
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