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PURPOSE--In 1987, the RERC published the design of an audible modification to the Zircon Stud Sensor (adding a Voltage Controlled Oscillator and a speaker). Communication was made with Zircon, suggesting that they produce such a modified instrument, not only for visually impaired users, but because sighted Smith-Kettlewell staff members felt that the additional feedback was helpful. A commercial audible model has now appeared.

PROGRESS--Identical in appearance to the original Zircon unit, the new instrument is called the Master MechanicTM Professional Stud Finder with Sound. Its audible output consists of a Mallory Sonalert arranged to sound when the top LED of the column of four (the same visual display as the original instrument) is energized.

The audible indicator being a go/no-go tone which is either on or off, it is not as sensitive an instrument as the RERC-modified one. However, offering the new device to those who have tried the VCO output has led to favorable comments about its performance. The instances for which the commercial stud finder will not give an audible indication are those where only LEDs lower in the column come on in the presence of material in the wall. Where lath and plaster is present in old buildings, there are cases where hearing minor fluctuations in the pitch of the VCO are all that is discernible. However, the new unit will work satisfactorily in most structures. The Sonalert has been shown to be an inexpensive addition: the Master Mechanic unit costs $20.