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I intended to make labels for my parts cabinet but quickly found out that the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine had lots of uses within my planes to make them safer.
Click image to enlarge

Brother PT-D600 Label Machine

A cure for bad penmanship and forgotten plugs

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 3-22-2017

One of the more frightening scenarios in RC flying is taking off with something important, like ailerons, not working because we forgot to plug them in at all or plugged a left into a right-side plug, something that is common on larger planes. I have been using whatever masking tape and writing device that was close at hand to make tags to identify matching cables. That system had inherent problems and did not work as well as I would like. Get a little fuel on my fingers and the writing on my labels smeared or went away entirely. My near total lack of concern regarding my penmanship was not helping this either. Though it was a long time coming, I discovered a solution for my label needs in the shop and in my planes. I had no idea this kind of clarity could be so easy!

The Basics

The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine is desk/bench friendly with a 7.92" x 7.56" x 3.39" footprint. It can operate on six AA Ni-MH batteries or the included (with this model) AC adapter (AD-E001). The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine can print letters up to 0.71” tall (0.94”-wide tape) on standard TZe tape cassettes that come in 0.13", 0.23", 0.35", 0.47", 0.70", 0.94" widths. Depending on the tape width you can include up to 5 lines of text. The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine has a color display that shows approximately 21 characters x 1 guidance and 3 lines text at 320 dot x 120 dot resolution. (That all means it is easy to see.)

The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine can store up to 99 frequently used label design files to speed future use. You can also connect the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine to a computer with the included USB cable and download free software and updates that extend the versatility of this machine even further. The P-touch Editor 5.1 program makes designing and printing labels even easier than the machine itself though neither is tough to use. The Brother web site has additional libraries of labels, artwork and more that can be downloaded for free to let your creative side flourish.

The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine prints on the color background (left) but then laminates a tough, clear layer over that all at once. The tape cartridges are expensive but you can easily find them (right) for roughly 50% off on the internet.
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Tough Tape

One of the things that impressed me is that the tape comes out of the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine fully laminated with very sharp printing under a protective clear covering. The tape is actually a combination of several layers. First is the adhesive, then a polyester color layer, a thermal ink layer and finally the clear polyester layer that covers the printing. That explains a good part of why the tape cartridges are so expensive. (Online sources often have these same tapes at drastic savings) Brother also has a wide range of tape sizes and colors that are compatible with the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine. You can even print labels on a special iron-on material!

Something else to consider is that though expensive, these tape cartridges last longer than you might expect. You are using a maximum of 4.5” or less so with a little thought and layout you can maximize your yield from each cartridge that usually contain a bit over 26-feet of tape.

Design Help

The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine itself and the free software both contain many pre-designed label layouts for various uses. The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine has a special design set for making cable labels for our planes that is perfect for identifying the wires and plugs we need to connect prior to flight. This capability alone is worth the price of the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine but we can also make a bunch of labels that help get our shops more organized by marking things with labels we can read without leaning over to get closer and/or squinting. You can deny aging all you want but then return to reality and get a Brother PT-D600 Label Machine to assist your eyes.

In the Shop

The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine comes with a format for printing cable labels (left) that is ideal for marking our wires that need to be connected at the field during assembly. I use white for flaps and gear but yellow for ailerons (right) to separate the plugs visually to prevent accidents.
Click images to enlarge

I’m as big of a technology fan as anyone but to wind up in my shop the technology has to nearly run itself. The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine is that kind of technology, especially when you use the free software to create the labels you need. Making labels using the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine itself is not tough, the software just makes it easier.

I spent the first day with the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine making simple labels with the sample cartridge. In addition to the provided fonts and styles, we can use built in clip art and symbols to further enhance our labels. It is just as easy to crank out a bunch of labels for things like my fastener rack with its 18 drawers. The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine labels are way better than the marking pen scribbling I had done originally, most of which was rubbing off.

My original intent was to use the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine for marking the cables and plugs in my planes to help me avoid forgetting one or getting one plugged in to the wrong wire in the plane. This really is easy to do but the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine has another feature that will be of interest to the scale builders. Anyone can make labels that say “Ailerons” but when you have a foreign warbird why not use one of the twenty built-in languages to give even your cable markings a new level of authenticity?

Conclusions

Too often RC modelers discount the importance of equipment not directly related to an airframe, engine or radio. It would be easy to lump the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine into such an “unimportant” list if we remain that narrow minded. I think that there is something to be said for helping to organize the shop and even more importantly making the field assembly of our planes more regimented through the clear labeling of critical connections. It takes but one instance of forgetting to make one of these connections or getting plugs confused to lose an expensive airplane. Most of us have probably witnessed or heard of crashes attributed to such a wiring snafu but assure ourselves that we won’t make such a mistake, just as the owner of the now lost plane is likely to have done.

The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine has a street price of $59.99 (3-15-2017) which to me is very short money for the capabilities it adds to my shop. This is another level of security and convenience that I am glad to spend the money on even though my budget is far less than I would like. That fiscal shortcoming is in no way a rational justification for not taking preventable steps to help my planes live longer. That doesn’t include the impact clear labeling has on my shop and my ability to do the necessary work to keep my planes flying safely in the always too short available time.

Video Tour

I am just this side of foolish enough to believe the Brother PT-D600 Label Machine is for everyone, nothing is. I do think it is a worthy investment for those of us whose real world recognizes our own fallibility. They say that admitting that you have a problem is the hardest step. The Brother PT-D600 Label Machine just might be the tool many of us need to help prevent some rather common plane-killing mistakes in the shop and at the field.

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