Some Speedy Help for VCR Owners

For the VCRs that showed up on Christmas, there’s a speedy accessory. The HQ High Speed ReWinder from SIMA Products Corp. in Skokie, Ill., promises to save time as well as wear and tear on your videocassette recorder, company officials say.

The device, designed for VHS format tapes, can rewind a videotape about three times as fast as a VCR and twice as fast as standard rewinders, said Kathleen Devine, vice president of SIMA. Her firm’s machine takes only 2 1/2 minutes to completely rewind a VHS-120 tape.

“Besides saving time, another advantage of using a ReWinder is preserving the life of your VCR,” Devine said. “Most VCR repairs are to fix damaged rewind systems because the rewind mode requires the VCR motor to work harder while rewinding than during any other function.”

Devine notes that another advantage to using the device is that it frees the VCR for viewing other tapes. The ReWinder also features a built-in tape cleaner, activated by simply pressing a button.


The suggested retail price for ReWinder is $79.95; it is available in the seven Rogers Sound Labs stores in Southern California, at Cal’s Camera in Costa Mesa and Marcony Radio in Glendale. To find out what stores in other areas handle ReWinder, call SIMA at (800) 345-7462.

A Quake Alarm

A new earthquake warning alarm device called California QuakeAwake hit the Southern California market last week.

QuakeAwake offers to give its users from 5 to 25 seconds warning time, depending on their distance from the quake’s epicenter. The alarm, run with a 9-volt battery, is calibrated to detect the vertical “P” sound wave, which moves faster than the shear or “S” wave, which causes the seismic shock. The alarm is designed to react to the P wave first, giving you time to get to a previously designated safe location in your home.


“The P waves and S waves are like looking at lightning and thunder,” said David Elston, who developed QuakeAwake with engineer Ken Caillat and merchandising representative David Elliot. “They both leave at the same time, only you see the lightning before you hear the thunder. It’s the same with the P and S waves. The P wave moves faster than the more powerful S wave, so you can get a few seconds warning to maybe 25 seconds, depending on where you are from the epicenter.

Valuable Warning Time

“We realize that seconds warning may not seem like a lot,” Elston said. “But it’s enough time for you to move away from windows or heavy objects, grab your child and get to safety. A couple of seconds of early warning and a safe preparation plan is what this is all about.”

Elston said the QuakeAwake designers had the product made at a developmental engineering house and hired an engineer from Caltech to calibrate and test the device. He said it can be installed easily on a “load-bearing” wall.


Included with the QuakeAwake device is a Family Action Earthquake Survival Guide, listing safe locations in a house, what to do before, during and after the quake.

“There is, of course, no absolute guarantee the QuakeAwake will protect you in a catastrophic situation,” Elston added. “But it can give you some warning, which, when combined with your own earthquake survival plan, can very possibly make the difference between injury and safety.”

Elston estimates that if you had only five seconds between the alarm sounding and the quake, your location would be “pretty near” the epicenter. But if you got 20-30 seconds warning, the quake’s center would be 60 to 100 miles away.

QuakeAwake is available for $27.95 at all National Lumber stores throughout Southern California.


Musical Visor

The latest solar-powered device from RBM International Inc. of Van Nuys is a Solar AM/FM Radio Visor. The plastic visor--weighing just four ounces--comes in red or yellow and has an adjustable headband with a small radio speaker set on the right. It can be adjusted to your ear. Tiny solar receiver panels are built into the top of the visor to gather the sun’s rays.

Solar Radio Visor costs $19.95 and is available from RBM International Inc., 16022 Arminta St., Suite 1-2, Van Nuys, Calif. 91406, (818) 786-2018.

Get a Grip on Crime


Anes Electronics of Marina del Rey has introduced Big Grip, a jaw-like locking invention for the steering wheel that could frustrate car burglars and cause them to look elsewhere.

Big Grip is heavy-duty steel and weighs five pounds. It clamps and locks onto the steering wheel, then has a 16-inch shaft that protrudes from the wheel, which can’t be turned far without the shaft stopping on the windshield, console or seat. And that makes steering impossible. The opening for the clamp on the steering wheel is lined with rubber so it won’t slip or scratch the wheel.

Suggested retail for Big Grip is $29.95. It’s available at Trak Auto stores and the Price Club, or from Anes Electronics, 4112 Del Rey Ave., Marina del Rey, Calif. 90292, (213) 821-8808.