32 Knog Bandicoot bThe world is full of dark and scary places and the darkest and scariest of all is at the back of my hi fi cabinet, where many, many cables snake, intertwine and knot together as they exit confusingly similar outlets. There they hide in the blackness, eagerly awaiting another chance to ruin my life.

A sense of touch goes only so far. As I pull out some sticky RCA cables to connect test equipment an HDMI comes with them. Where does it come from? What is an optical cable doing here? Has it ever been plugged into anything? Why has the stand-by light on the DAC turned off?

I’ve tried several ideas. Like having the stack on a slide-out tray, but every time I slid it out half the cables in the tangle refused to come with it and simply unplugged. Mayhem. A torch? Holding it means I only have one hand free because if I hold it in my mouth I can’t swear. I once tried putting all my equipment out in the light, on top of the cabinet but had to put it back when the alternative became compulsory couples counselling.

And so I have a headlight. Clunky. (Please note the capital C). With space so limited back there it keeps banging into stuff, and that always smarts, while greatly reducing the ability of my head to twist athletically. And the shadows have a habit of falling exactly where they are most annoying. Most of all it’s too tight and uncomfortable; it leaves a trademark embossed in my forehead that people helpfully point out to me all day.

So I was interested in a headlight idea that turned up on Kickstarter and seemed to have been designed specifically for me. It’s the Knog Bandicoot and if your dark challenges are like mine you’ll be interested too.

32 Knog Bandicoot aIt’s compact, extending less than three centimetres from your brow. It’s ridiculously light at 60 grams, and a rechargeable battery means no battery pack. It has a collection of LED lamps to call upon; the big one for normal headlight duties, two smaller ones on either side to provide fill-in ambient light (these works nicely) and, with camping in mind, a red one for vision that won’t wake sleeping partners and a set of downlights for reading. Personally I think if we had been meant to go camping god wouldn’t have given us Conrad Hilton. Inevitably there’s an app for more lighting modes.

The Bandicoot’s big plus is comfort. It’s not a body with a separate elasticised strap, it’s all silicone merging the strap and the lamp assembly into a single unit, and the strap is adjustable through a wide range of hat sizes from small fry to ego-squared. Even around my big, boofy head (I’m always on max with baseball caps) it’s not too tight.

There’s no charger. Tug the magnetised light assembly apart and a USB connection is revealed which plugs into a regular USB outlet. Great idea but unless conditions remain perfect it falls out, and the assembly being curved, it won’t go into a laptop that’s sitting on a flat surface. It does work with USBs on wall plugs (until it falls out) and with portable power banks, but works best with USB outlets that face directly upwards. Charging takes three-and-a-half hours and the charge lasts two hours. The USB and the two-hour operating time may not be brilliant for extended wilderness experiences but they’re just fine for mucking about with hi fi equipment.

The Bandicoot is available in five colours and costs $60.

First published by smh.com.au August 2019.


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