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The Bosch Power Box is at home in the shop or on the job site, using it's array of capabilities to make your day a little more enjoyable.
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Bosch Power Box - #PB10-CD

Charging, GFCI, Tunes and More!

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

   Every once in a while, a tool comes along that is at least as cool as it is functional. The Bosch Power Box fits that description.

   At first glance, the Bosch Power Box looks like a rugged, industrial-style shop radio but there is much more. Look around the sides and you discover four covered GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) plugs complete with test/reset buttons, an enclosed (Bosch) battery pack charger, 12V DC power outlet, auxiliary input and 12V fuse. On the front is a full-featured AM/FM radio that can be augmented by a CD player as on the (#PB10-CD) unit reviewed in this story.

   While the Bosch Power Box was probably designed for the job site originally, they have become very popular in the home woodworking shop as well. That versatility comes from the array of features built into the Bosch Power Box, making it useful wherever it is set down.

Initial Impressions

   The Bosch Power Box looks very well built and rugged in part because of the industrial looking aluminum frame that surrounds it. The unit itself is suspended from this framework by rubber "dog bones" that insulate it from the bumps that can be expected on the job site or on the way to it.

   The fit and finish of the components, doors and plugs is first rate as I have come to expect from Bosch. The exterior features appear to have been designed with resistance to dust in mind, a good thing in any woodworking environment. Even the heavy power cord has a home to keep it safe and out of the way, wrapped around four heavy-duty brackets on the side of the box.

Radio/CD Player

Nicely grouped controls, a pair of 4" speakers augmented by two 3/4" high frequency speakers make this a good sound machine for the shop or job site.
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   The front of the Bosch Power Box is dominated by the tune-generating features and a retro-looking round LCD screen that displays information about the various functions in addition to normal radio and CD information. The controls are built into a faux brushed-metal bezel reminiscent of 1960's automotive instrument groups.

   Sound controls include volume, mode selection, AM/FM, an Equalizer with five presets; Jazz, Rock, Classical, Pop and Normal. A separate button activates the "Bosch Sound" circuitry that essentially boosts the complete sound spectrum for when your favorite tune requires a little "kick in the butt."

   In addition to the radio tuner knob, a search feature lets you find other stations when out of your normal area. There is also a memory system for storing up to 20 of your favorite stations.

The CD player has all the standard features, plus plays MP3 CD's!
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   The digital clock that dominates the LCD face has a battery backup (batteries included, believe it or not.) and front-mounted buttons for setting the right time.

   The CD player has all the normal functions including random play and auto-repeating of the disk currently in the tray.
   If you have a computer-savvy teenager available, tell them the Bosch Power Box CD player is MP3 compatible. That means they can make a CD with all your favorite tunes, purchased and downloaded over the Internet, legally we hope, and burned onto a CD disk.

   A wire FM antenna screws into a port on the top of the Bosch Power Box for increased reception. The wire comes bundled in a Velcro strap used to secure it to the frame, out of harms way.

LCD Display

   Aside from the clock, the round LCD screen shows the radio mode and station frequency, in CD mode it shows the track and time-played. The current equalizer setting is shown along the top, as is the status of the Bosch Sound feature that is normally on.

The battery charger bay at the rear keeps most Bosch batteries topped off and can even power the radio between job sites!
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   When a battery pack is plugged into the charge socket, a "Battery" icon appears and will flash when it is almost dead.

   When refreshing a battery pack a "Charging" symbol appears. If the battery pack is either too cold or too hot, a thermometer icon also appears until the pack settles into a better charging temperature range, between 40 and 105F.

Battery Charger

   Opening the covered bay at the rear of the Bosch Power Box reveals a Bosch plug that accepts their popular BAT 025 - BAT045 packs for fast charging. The Bosch Power Box must be plugged into AC power to charge batteries.

   When the Bosch Power Box is not plugged into AC power, a fully charged battery pack in the charging socket will power the radio.

GFCI Protection

   When the Bosch Power Box is plugged into AC power, four GFCI outlets on the right side become active. Note: The GFCI panel cannot be powered by a battery pack.

GFCI circuitry helps keep you safe, but they do not make you immune to shock entirely. Work Safely!
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   The plug panel includes GFCI test and reset buttons so you can be sure the circuitry is working properly. A pair of spring-loaded covers protect the sockets when not in use.

   It is important to point out that GFCI has limitations and does not protect against all possible electrical hazards. The Bosch Power Box instruction manual covers this, warning that GFCI does not protect against line-to-line shorts, current overloads and line-to-neutral shorts. The fuse or circuit breaker supplying the AC power to the Bosch Power Box should handle those problems but will not protect you completely. As always, the best protection is keeping your electric tools in good operating condition and using safe procedures.

12-Volt Power

Cord-holding brackets that actually work, a 12-Volt power socket and the auxiliary plug cover the left side.
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   The left side of the Bosch Power Box features a cigarette lighter-style power receptacle that lets you use things like a cellular phone charger designed for use in the car. The 12-volt circuit has a 1 amp fuse built into the panel.

   An auxiliary input socket provides access for an external CD or MP3 player, directing the sound through the radio and related controls.

   Four cord-wrapping brackets surround the 12-volt panel. These brackets are actually deep enough to hold all of the power cord securely and they look good doing it.

In the Shop

   I know, the Bosch Power Box appears to be designed for job site use but it works just fine in the home woodworking shop as well. Aside from the obvious environment-enhancing music, having the GFCI plugs nearby is always a plus.

Bosch even paid attention to the external FM antenna. It screws into the top and comes wrapped in a Velcro strap that secures it to the framework.
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   After using the Bosch Power Box for a few weeks, it became apparent that the music, GFCI plugs and charger features are the most useful for me - in that order. That order will vary from shop-to-shop but I suspect not by much.

   The sound quality of the Bosch Power Box certainly will not frighten high-end audio equipment manufacturers but it is fine in the shop. If you are looking for that ground-pounding bass that drives neighbors within a two-block radius nuts, look elsewhere. If adding nice-sounding music to your shop is what you are after, the Bosch Power Box fits the bill very well.

   Having four extra sockets to power hand-held tools in the shop needs no further justification. No matter how careful the planning was, electrical outlets are never

The Bosch Power Box is suspended within the tough tubular frame by rubber, shock absorbing "dogbones"'
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where you need them all the time. The Bosch Power Box lets you bring them to the job easily and the tunes come along.

   Another bonus is having a fresh battery handy. When you remove the fresh battery, you also have a place to charge the one you just used up. Whether you look at this as a step-saver or simple convenience, it is nice to have and is used more than expected.

Conclusions

   Though I originally wanted the Bosch Power Box for the tunes and because it looks very cool, I have since discovered that it is far a more useful addition to the shop than I anticipated. The combination of features makes it useful virtually anywhere in the shop.

   Since the Bosch Power Box is designed for job-site use, it is happy sitting on the floor, bench or whatever dry space is open at the time.

With a street price (9-1-04) of about $150 for the base unit (PB10) and $180 for the CD-equipped version (PB10-CD), the Bosch Power Box is an economical and versatile addition to any woodworking shop. If you add up the individual prices of even bargain-level AM-FM radio, CD/MP3 player, clock, charger and a multi-plug extension cord, the Bosch Power Box looks like an even better deal.

   A word of caution - if you are prone to uncontrolled boogying when your favorite tune comes on, step away from the power tools!

Visit the Bosch Tools web site!

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