New device does more than just locate studs.
Contractors, especially those whose business is renovating older homes, always need to know the location of studs, wiring or pipes. A simple job of retrofitting a bathroom in an old building, for example, may suddenly become a nightmare when the drill, reciprocating saw, screw, or nail hits electrical wiring or pipes because the wiring or pipes are not where they should be under the modern Building Code. Locating wires and pipes can be an especially serious problem if the previous owners were do-it-yourselfers who disregarded the Code.
Magnetic and electronic stud finders are very helpful for locating studs, but they do not provide an image, nor are they effective in finding electrical wiring or “seeing” through concrete.
The Walabot produces a 3D image on a cell phone or laptop.
A new development in imaging allows a contractor to produce a 3D image of what is behind the wall on a cell phone or laptop. The device (marketed under the name Walabot) uses people-safe broadband radio frequencies of three to 10 GHz. Inside each unit are 18 paired mini-antennas (one transmits a signal and the other receives it). The system can be used on drywall to image studs and can even detect objects behind concrete or wood. The device’s sensitivity can also detect pests such as moving rodents beneath wallboard, and can even detect water leaks. The multiple signals and reception allow the software to construct a three-dimensional image of the environment behind the wall. The result is a map of the inside of the wall.
The device has a magnetic mount for attaching to metal shelving and a gel-pad adhesive that allows it to be placed on the cellphone. A USB connects the device to your cell phone and produces an image on your screen. You can also download pictures to your laptop with another connector (wireless transmission is not yet available). The electromagnetic waves can probe through 10 centimetres of concrete or drywall and let you know to what depth a nail or screw can be driven.
Recent improvements include the ability to determine whether the object in the wall is a wooden or metal stud, a pipe or electrical wire, and measure the distance between them. The different materials of the hidden objects can be identified by colours in the electronic images.
The dimensions of this device are 16.25 cm x 10.41 cm x 5.08 cm and it weighs 204 grams. The package includes a Micro USB OTG short cable, USB C short cable, protective film, gel pad, and quick-start guide. The software is compatible with Linux, Windows and RPI. Each unit comes with a six-month guarantee.
The product can only be used on Android phones 5.0 and later generations. A word of caution: the Walabot is not compatible with all Android phones, and thus, before you make the investment, be sure your cell phone is compatible with the Walabot.
At the moment, it appears that the Walabot can only be ordered online from U.S. sources.
For those businesses in the renovation trades, these devices not only reduce the uncertainty associated with the question “What is behind this wall?” but also may prevent injury to workers as well as save the contractor from having to pay for damage caused after accidentally cutting through wires or pipes.
This article is reprinted from the newsletter BUSINESS MATTERS with the permission of CPA Canada. BUSINESS MATTERS is a bimonthly newsletter prepared by the CPA Canada for the clients of its members.
BUSINESS MATTERS deals with a number of complex issues in a concise manner; it is recommended that accounting, legal or other appropriate professional advice should be sought before acting upon any of the information contained therein.
Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this letter, no individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this letter accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents or for any consequences arising from its use.
Richard Fulcher, CPA, CA – Author; Patricia Adamson, M.A., M.I.St. – CPA Canada Editor.