Taking credit card payments on the spot is a good business idea because it gets your receivables for work performed into the bank fast, increasing cash flow and reducing the likelihood of delinquent accounts. Furthermore, if payment follows right on the hour of work performed, management does not have to rely on paperwork being filled out at the end of the day or the end of the week to start the payment process.

The latest trend for roving crews is to use a mobile payment application that works with an iPhone or other easily portable and affordable mobile device. Here are two free mobile payment applications that, with the use of a supplied credit card encryption sleeve, will transform a mobile device into a credit card terminal and enable the user to accept credit cards from customers — and deal with any rejected cards — while still onsite. Plug in the card reader (that comes in the mail after you sign up) and you're ready to swipe. The apps do not require a contract or carry a monthly fee.

Pay Anywhere, www.payanywhere.com, is available for Apple iPhone 3, 3GS, IOS 3.0 or later as well as users of Apple iPad and iPod Touch, www.itunes.apple.com, with apps for Android and Blackberry coming soon.

Approval of a merchant account is required. Powered by North American Bancard, Pay Anywhere charges a fee of 19 cents per transaction plus 2.69% and 3.49% in service costs for swiped and keyed entries, respectively. Users can set default tax and tip percentages, inventory and categorize items and services, utilize real-time sales tracking and reporting and send custom e-mail receipts that include actual signatures and images of items purchased. There's a three-day settlement period before the funds are deposited in a merchant's account. There is no cap on the amount of money or number of transactions a merchant can do in a given week/month/year. The user can interrupt a transaction to receive a call and resume the transaction after the call is completed.

With Square Version 1.4 Mobile Payment System, https://squareup.com, or iTunes app store, www.itunes.apple.com, available for the iPhone, IPad and Android, no contract or merchant account is required. The cost to the user is 15 cents plus 2.75% for swiping a card and 15 cents plus 3.5% for keying in a card if the card is not present. An account section gives access to various aspects of the Square account. Users can send customers receipts electronically. There are no limits on how much money a user can accept. The Square system calculates whether the user accepted more or less than $1,000 within seven days prior to every transaction. For new users, any amount above $1,000 in that time frame remains in the user Square account for 30 days. For any amount less than $1,000, the payout will be initiated within 24-36 hours.

Mobile duct fitting app
The ASHRAE Duct Fitting Database (DFDB) for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (http://iTunes.apple.com or http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hvac-ashrae-duct-fitting-database/id405131130?mt=8) enables users in the field to perform quick pressure loss calculations for more than 240 HVAC duct fittings in both I-P and SI units. Features include dynamic illustrations of each design and the ability to share reports and spreadsheets through e-mail. The app is based upon the ASHRAE Duct Fitting Database desktop application. The inputs in the mobile app can be adjusted by touch, and installation is automatic.

Users can create individual projects, each with unique input values and results. Every fitting has its own custom set of input parameters and results. The user can easily change the minimum and maximum allowable values for all input parameters.

The app can display and e-mail two types of reports, which include a spreadsheet attachment that can be opened on the user's desktop computer for further analysis.

Wearable camera
GoPro HD Hero 960 is a tiny (less than 2-in. high) hands-free professional wearable five megapixel camera that can come in handy when walking the job. It can take single photos, three photos within two seconds and repetitive photos every two, five, 30 or 60 seconds. You can record what you see and say by pressing start remotely while the camera, positioned face forward, is attached to a head strap like a headlamp or adhered to a hard hat (adhesive baseplate included).

What you look at, your camera captures, hands free, giving you the opportunity to document what you are seeing, with sound if you like. The camera, which is encased in very durable waterproof housing, records hi-def video at 1,080 pixels at 30 frames a second. The handy "one-button mode" locks the camera into video or photo mode and starts recording automatically as soon as the wearer turns the camera on. The camera comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and is compatible with 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB capacity SD and SDHC cards.

Bill and Patti Feldman are freelance writers for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at productpad@yahoo.com.