Do I need a digital Scale?


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kellyj00
April 25, 2007, 06:15 PM
I'm getting a Lee Anniversary kit with a simple beam-type scale. I plan to reload .45 acp for now, then .223 soemtime in the future after I'm more comfortable.

Do I need a digital scale? Can I get by with a beam type scale and weigh each bullet after they're done to tell if they've been squib loaded or double-charged?

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Walkalong
April 25, 2007, 06:31 PM
weigh each bullet after they're done to tell if they've been squib loaded or double-charged?

SEE each and every charge you put a bullet over. With small charges of powder it will be difficult to check for a doublecharge by weighing and seriously time consuming to boot.

W231 is easy to see in the case as it is light colored and is a great powder to start loading the .45 ACP with. Very accurate and forgiving.

A good balance beam is all you need. Digital if you prefer.

Mikee Loxxer
April 25, 2007, 06:42 PM
You donít need a digital scale but after using the lee single beam scale you will want one. The digital scale will be more accurate, easier to read, and quicker (in that you donít have to wait as long for it to stabilize).

Matt Dillon
April 25, 2007, 08:14 PM
I prefer the RCBS/Ohaus 10/10 beam scale. You don't need to weigh each load, if you are using an accurate powder drop, but after you have filled a tray of cartridges, hold them at an angle and look at them from one end to the other, comparing the level of each of the cases to others in the row. If you see any of them a little too high or low, pull them out and weigh them individually while you are seating bullets in the rest of them. You can tell as little as .1 grain by your visual inspection, and this will ensure that you don't get squibs or double charges. By comparing the rounds, and weighing a few out of each tray of cartridges, you ensure consistency.

RustyFN
April 25, 2007, 08:42 PM
The digital scale will be more accurate, easier to read, and quicker (in that you donít have to wait as long for it to stabilize).
I don't know about more accurate. My Lee scale is as accurate as my digital. But I do agree the digital will be a lot faster and easier. Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the Lee Anniversary kit come with a powder measure? If it does then you only need the scale to dial in the powder measure and the occasional charge to keep an eye on it. In that case the Lee scale will get you by and you could upgrade later if you don't want to now.
Rusty

ranger335v
April 25, 2007, 09:01 PM
As an old electronics tech with some experience on digital labratory scales, expensive ones that received professional maint. and recalibration every 4 to 6 months. My opinion is the digitals available to handloaders are expensive solutions for which we have few problems. Digitals are likely useful for weighting cases and other non-critical uses but, IMHO, not for powder charges and that's the prime need a reloader has.

A digitals "zero" calibration will drift during use and you won't really know it most of the time. They mostly drift due to voltage changes and the units internal temperatures, two things you have abslutely no control over. The pressure sensing transducers are fragile, compared to a beam scale, and relitively insensitive too, meaning they rarely follow small changes as powder is trickled into the pan.

I have three beam scales, all over 30 years old and a cheap digital for heavier and coarse work. Each beam scale is still as dead on accurate now as when they were new. Each will respond to one or two kernels of 4831 powder trickled in. I don't much believe any digital reloader scale will do that. RCBS warranties their digital for, IIRC, two years. Want to bet that they will still be working correctly in 30 years?

Spend your money more wisely; get a good beam scale. Mount it at eye level above your bench top to make reading it easy. Keep the pivot knives and bearings clean and undamaged. You will have something you can trust.

Walkalong
April 25, 2007, 09:42 PM
ranger335v has the answer. I threw my PACT in the garbage after I bounced it off the tile floor. Not very smart, but it aggrevated me for the last time. It would have been usefull or I could have sold it. Big dummy me. :)

Idano
April 25, 2007, 10:58 PM
ranger335v,

One electronics engineer to another (27 years in the semiconductor industry maintaining equipment to ISO standard) I think you are under estimating the accuracy of the digital scales. I'll agree that they are not NIST traceable but they certainly a lot more accurate then you giving them credit. I suspect the scales you work with are accurate out to the sixth decimal place more and the reason why they need to be calibrated so often. However, powder scales are only accurate out to one decimal and todays electronics far surpasses that accuracy requirement. The electronics in the new scales are very accurate and do a self calibration test on power up, that is not to say you still don't need to do the weight calibration anytime the scale is moved. I have Cabalas Digital Powder scale which really means nothing since they are all built on the same platform they're just relabeled. I have even checked its repeatedly against my RCBS/Ohaus 10-10 and my pharmaceutical grade Acculab scale and everytime I have found it to be dead on. However, is either leave them on all the time allow them to warm up and stabilize before running the calibration and zeroing them. If you haven't tried one of the new digital scales recently you certainly need to, especially since you have experience working with laboratory scales.

bigcim
April 25, 2007, 11:08 PM
Don't some electronic scales start going haywire when you try to trickle powder into them

Stinger
April 26, 2007, 12:04 AM
I've got a digital RCBS 750g capacity (I think.)
It is extremely accurate.

I've also got an RCBS beam (550) and a Lee Safety Scale.
Those are both accurate as well.

The electronic will wander if weight is left on it for some time (say a couple of minutes.) But under normal useage, it stays dead on. It is not as sensitive as the beam scales, in that it doesn't move around if a mouse farts in the next county. Even though the beams are more sensitive, the sensitivity is meaningless without a way to measure it. And you can only measure to the nearest tenth of a grain on my beam scales, just like the digital.

I use the digital in the house, which is where I load rifle. I weigh each and every charge, and the speed of the digital scale is much appreciated. I use the RCBS beam scale in the garage, where I load pistol in volume. I don't weigh every charge, so the beam scale is more than adequate. I haven't used the Lee in years. It has nothing to do with accuracy, and everything to do with convenience. It is simply not as fast as the 550.

Jim Watson
April 26, 2007, 12:26 AM
I have a digital for convenience, sorting bullets and brass, and check weighing measured charges; but I went back to a balance for trickling exact loads. Then I bought a power dispenser which is no more accurate and maybe not quite as good, but is a labor saver.

A beam balance is fine for setting a powder measure - or being sure you have a good hole in a Lee disk, they seldom deliver what the chart says - and you need not spend more money to load decent pistol or military rifle ammo.

Weighing whole cartridges to try to find a squib is not effective unless with good bullets and match-weighed brass. I did it once with target rifle ammo after trying a change in my routine. (No squib.) Much easier to row up 50 cases under a strong light and look to be SURE each contains 1.0 powder charge. Or with a progressive, to have a strong light over the bullet seating station and look in EVERY case as you set the bullet.

As above Win 231 (or the HP38 I use off the same production line) is light colored and easy to see in a pistol case.

Sunray
April 26, 2007, 01:26 AM
No you don't need a digital scale. You need loading blocks so you can visually check each case.

Shoney
April 26, 2007, 12:44 PM
I was excited when I got my digital scale/powder measure. In a short time I discovered the wandering (drifting as ranger335v said) when I used the same powder charge, lifted the pan off, waited, and then replaced it, every one was a different reading. I repeate this several times on several occasions. That drove me up the wall.

I also noticed that if I shifted my chair, or moved my weight from foot to foot, the scale would vary. The wooden floor joists moved just enough to casue this. Moving to a basement room with a solid concrete floor helped.

I also notice that air movement in the room, such as when the force air heat came on, drove the scale crazy which drove me crazy.

I now use my 10-10 scale exclusively for final weight measure. I would strongly advise you spend your money on the 10-10 rather than the electronic.

30Cal
April 26, 2007, 01:24 PM
I haven't been impressed by digital scales. If I weigh something on my 5-0-5 and come back later and weight it again, it always weighs the same. Even if a digital DID actually give a repeatable measurement, I think the beam scale is superior for weighing powder charges. Quicker, easier visual verification.

kellyj00
April 26, 2007, 01:49 PM
very well then, I'll just use the beam type for now.
Thanks fellas!

Deanimator
April 26, 2007, 04:44 PM
Do I need a digital scale?
NEED one? No.

Is it convenient? Yes.

If you know of a specific issue with a bunch of rounds in the loaded round bin, you can quickly weigh them to find the problems. Pretty quickly, you'll learn what a given round loaded with a particular case should weigh.

Regardless, you need a SCALE. It doesn't need to be digital. It DOES need to weigh in grains, not ounces or grams.

RustyFN
April 26, 2007, 05:09 PM
If you know of a specific issue with a bunch of rounds in the loaded round bin, you can quickly weigh them to find the problems. Pretty quickly, you'll learn what a given round loaded with a particular case should weigh.
I could be wrong but it seems to me that depends on the caliber. I have some light 9mm loads that the difference in the bullet and brass between one round and another weighs more than the powder charge.
Rusty

delta53
April 27, 2007, 12:38 PM
I give anyone credit to anyone who has been loading for a long time and used a coventional scale for a long time. I have only been loading for a couple of years:banghead: but would be lost without my digital. more so as your eyes start to go bad

Shoney
April 27, 2007, 01:44 PM
Jeepers delta53, I can't wait for Dark Ages to end in my neck of the woods. My soothsayer tells me that someday they will invent these nifty things called glasses. Then I will be able to see my loading bench again, maybe even my ballance. And the three hags of the cauldron keep singing about "contract lenses" or some such thing.

Matt Dillon
April 27, 2007, 02:11 PM
For those whose eyes aren't getting any younger, I have an idea that might help you see your balance beam scales better. I had a magnifying flourescent lamp (circular lamp, circular magnifying head) on an arm, that I had used around my bench. I turn it so that the lamp is vertical, then place it between me and my scale, and it helps a lot!

Art Eatman
April 27, 2007, 02:19 PM
Well, I'm 72 years old and wear tri-focals, but I can easily see when the beam pointer is aligned with the refernce mark. :)

My first beam balance was an old Pacific, with the screw-weight to adjust it and weights to put in the pan. These new-fangled beams with all those markings and the magnetic damper are wonderful inventions. :D

For .45ACP and other pistol cartridges, I use the ancient RCBS powder-measure, though. Quicker. Rifles, I weigh the charges...

Art

okeybug
April 27, 2007, 04:01 PM
I have both the RCBS 10-10 and RCBS Digital Pro. I like the speed of the Digital Pro but sometimes it has to be adjusted more. I check it occasionally with my 10-10. It't certainly not any more accurate than the 10-10. Both are 1/10 of a grain. It's just easier to adjust and keep the 10-10 adjusted.
I find myself using both scales and love both of them.

The Bushmaster
April 27, 2007, 05:13 PM
No you don't need a digital scale, but after you use one you will never go back to a beam scale...I use a RCBS that is accurate and repeatable...Walkalong just has a bad temper. That's all...:D

redneck2
April 27, 2007, 06:57 PM
Guess I just got lucky with my PACT digital. I hadn't used it in over 2 months and it was still within .1. I wouldn't trade my PACT for a dozen balance beams. In fact, I had two and sold them and kept the PACT.

The weighing pan on mine is 122.9 grains. I can turn it on after a few days, weeks, or even months. If I take the pan off and it's -122.9, I know it's dead on. FWIW...I still zero it just "because"

ranger335v
April 28, 2007, 12:18 AM
Idano, hi bro. Naw, ain't no enginner, just found this old hat. Was a PMEL repair and calibration tech, to NBS standards, at Cape (then) Kennedy in the distant past. Didn't do a lot of scales but did a few. I just don't trust electronics. Trust pnuematics and hydralics and gears, but not electronics! ;-)

Seriously, I really don't see any user benefit to digital reloading scales EXCEPT faster readings of widely varing items such as cases. They have too much hysterisis to follow a trickler, at least the one I really tried to use did. Digitals are much more expensive, just have to be more tempermental and are no more accurate. And they surely won't last as long either. ????

My old Ohaus 1010 only swings a couple of times and the magetic field stops it, dead on, that's plenty fast enough for me. Then it follows the trickler in real time. I have no problem with line voltage or warm up. Setting at eye level, it's very easy to read the beam pointer. Nothing but wind affects its repeatablily and accuracy but that's true of any scale. What more can I ask of a reloading scale?

Idano
April 28, 2007, 01:09 AM
ranger335v,

I have to agree with you when it comes to trickling powder nothing beats the the 10-10 scale. You are also correct about warm up and fluctuations with the line voltage affecting the accuracy. This is why I only use the battery and turn it on 10 min before I calibrate it and I calibrate it. See I use my digital for checking my powder measure dispense repeatability and if it varies I want to know how much, so for my application I prefer the digital.

By the way nothing personal, but I hate pneumatics with a passion. Nothing more aggravating then having the seals dry on Bimba cylinder and the nimrod on a previous shift slapping a little grease on the shaft so it would run through his shift and stick me with the replacement:cuss: It's good to hear from another electrical mechanical enginer .

delta53
April 30, 2007, 09:44 AM
I refuse to admit age is creeping up on me as long as they make something to make life easy I will use it. And yes I still can find my way to my loading bench and can still read a newspaper.But digital is the way to go for anyone after all it is 2009 right ?:neener:

snuffy
April 30, 2007, 03:20 PM
A thread on this subject is bound to generate a lot of diverse opinions. I had a ohause ballance beam scale, before that I had a hornady of the same type. In '92 I bought a RCBS digital pro,(made by pact), I was amazed at how fast and accurate it was/is. So dies the asertion that they won't last!

After reading a couple of threads like this, I bought a set of scale check weights, made by Lyman. They come in two little plastic boxes, they are used to check the accuracy of ANY scale.

http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=212586

http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=612694

My digital scale ALWAYS weighs these check weights the same each time. At first, when I got the digital, I would cross check powder charges against my ohause scale. It was the same with boring repeatability. I stopped doing that after a couple of months.

I partenered the digital to it's conterpart pact powder dispenser 4 years ago. Now I have trickled powder charges for my precision rifle loadings.

Some of the digitals won't react to small increased weights like in trickling. I have heard that the new dillon digital is like that. If you would buy one that is like that, I would return it with a note that is is USELESS as a powder scale!:mad:

The Bushmaster
April 30, 2007, 04:36 PM
Snuffy...I bought my RCBS Pro (made by Pact) in '92 also. Mine came with check weights (20 gram and 50 gram). And it is faster then any balance beam and repeatable and has lasted this long...Also...I very rarely use my RCBS 5-0-5 and then just to varify my electronic...

ranger335v
April 30, 2007, 09:43 PM
It's our own money, we all get to use what floats our own boat. For me, it's a good beam scale.

Long life scales? Bushy, Snuffy, to an old guy like me, '92 was only a short time ago! Give us an update in 2032 just to make it about even with my trusty old 1010 and Herter's scales ages right now! And, if you REALLY trust the digitals, shouldn't you be checking your beam against the electronic instead of the other way around?? :)

I do use a loading block and visually check EVERY CASE for a consistant charge level, even those individually weighted, before seating. Thus, I never need to weigh cartridges to check for possible "empties". Never had a squib load nor blown a case, not even a blown primer, so something is working.

snuffy
May 1, 2007, 02:48 AM
Snuffy...I bought my RCBS Pro (made by Pact) in '92 also. Mine came with check weights (20 gram and 50 gram).

Yeah, so did mine, but those are calibration weights. You COULD use them to check if the scale weighs them the same each time you turn it on, but thet're way too heavy to test the lower limits of accuracy.

And they surely won't last as long either. ????

I took this to mean a couple of years, not half a century!:neener: It's real hard to hear voice inflections and see facial expressions with the written word on a forum like this. As you said, to each his own, I'll keep using my digital. I gave away the ohaus, now I only have a cheap lee, that I seldom use.

ranger335v
May 1, 2007, 08:33 PM
Quote: And they surely won't last as long either. ???? I took this to mean a couple of years, not half a century! It's real hard to hear voice inflections and see facial expressions with the written word on a forum like this. As you said, to each his own, I'll keep using my digital.

No sweat Snuffy. I'm just pontificating with a grin, not red-faced stomping in sweaty opposition! I know that only with a few challanges can we really present our positions clearly on some issues. If YOU and BUSHY is happy with them crop-failure digital scales, I'm happy for each of you! :neener:

Especially so since I'm sure you take no offense at me keeping my obsolete 1010. Actually, I think it's just getting broken in good now! And time is largely related to how much of it each of us has used. To me, a half centry isn't really all that much! :)

Enjoy life to the fullest every day, it won't last nearly long enough!

Guybo
May 2, 2007, 11:24 AM
Digital scales are nice i've just never bought one. I've used an RCBS 505 for 16yrs and still do. I like to use a powder measure to get close and then trickle the rest. Not saying i won't ever buy a digital because i really would like to have one to weigh bullets and brass. May just have to ask Santa for one this year.:D

Deavis
May 2, 2007, 02:16 PM
A digitals "zero" calibration will drift during use and you won't really know it most of the time. They mostly drift due to voltage changes and the units internal temperatures, two things you have abslutely no control over.

1) Warm up your scale before using it
2) Don't load in places with extreme temperature fluctuations
3) Connect your scale to a UPS or similiar line conditioner to provide a clean/steady voltage source

All within your control and something you should be doing with your electronics anyhow. On a personal note, I hate to burst your bubble but I work with someone who personally used a very expensive "digital scale" to measure layer deposition changes in the nanometer range. Why they did it that way, I can't say, but they did it.

I know most of us are anal, but I doubt most people shoot guns on here and could reproduce a specific effect on their shooting from +/- 0.05gr of powder, which is the real fluctuation we are talking about. There are far too many other variables that cloud that change.

If you have the $$$ get a digital scale, they are great for quick reads and you can always check the load on your balance. I'll bet you the beverage of your choice you won't be able to tell the difference in a string of 10 shots measured on each of them. You just have to wait until I'm back in Texas so you can drop off my winnings :p

qajaq59
May 3, 2007, 09:26 AM
My guess is that a digital scale will last as long as your computer does.
Anyone using a 25 year old computer out there?

The Bushmaster
May 3, 2007, 10:14 AM
My RCBS digital is 15 years old...Does that count, qajaq59??

Snuffy...According to the instructions (and I still have them) that came with my Powder pro digital the 20 gram and 50 gram weights are all I need. Once calibrated with these weights (20 then 50 then 70[20 + 50]) all is good even down to 1 grain or less. I believe there is a limit as to how light I can weigh a given quantity of powder on the digital, but I'm not loading .22 shorts...Every time I validate the digital with my RCBS 5-0-5 balance scale it's right on...

xsquidgator
May 3, 2007, 11:47 AM
Get a digital.

I just got the inexpensive RL750 (750 grain capacity) for about $30 from one of the mail order places. It's gotten so-so reviews, being on the bottom end of the electric scale food chain, but just a couple hours use with it made me a believer.

The first time you throw a 4.0 charge on it and see that it takes about 1 second to stabilize out, followed immediately by a loaded round and that reads out stable within a second or two, well that's all it took for me. I'm glad to have my balance beam scale as a backup and as a check, but the digital is the way to go lemme tell you.

Deanimator
May 3, 2007, 12:18 PM
I could be wrong but it seems to me that depends on the caliber. I have some light 9mm loads that the difference in the bullet and brass between one round and another weighs more than the powder charge.
I find that identical rounds using a particular brand of case all shake out around the same weight more or less. Once I find out how much a particular brand should way, it's really easy to ID a problem.

I recently loaded a bunch of .38 Special wadcutters for a D/A revolver league. Some of the cases had VERY tight flash holes and were pulling the decapping pin out of the size die. I discovered this when a primer wasn't punched. I ended up weighing the rounds I'd loaded and found one that was significantly heavier than the rest in the headstamp.

This is something you should pay attention to, especially when using maximum loads in rifle cases. If you find a max load that uses commercial cases, do NOT attempt to use the same load in military cases. The military cases are thicker and thus heavier. They have less powder space and using max loads developed in commercial cases can lead to dangerously excessive pressures. I once warned a friend of this when I noticed that he was substituting Lake City cases for the commercial cases in the .308 load he was using. He chose to disregard the warning and ended up blowing out a case. He was uninjured, but he damaged his gun, fortunately not seriously.

Deanimator
May 3, 2007, 12:30 PM
I give anyone credit to anyone who has been loading for a long time and used a coventional scale for a long time.
When I load rifle, I use an RCBS Rock Chucker single stage. I individually throw, trickle and weigh each charge on a Dillon mechanical scale. Electronic scales that will reliably react quickly enough to use a trickler tend to be quite expensive. There have been some fairly detailed discussions of this issue in usenet rec.guns over the years.

For pistol I use a Dillon RL550B. I throw five or so sample charges and weigh them on my Dillon electronic scale. If they're correct and consistent, I start loading.

terry264
May 3, 2007, 01:05 PM
I like the beam/balance scale for trickling up to max. loads. Can't seem to bring myself to trust a digital for that. Hard-headed or old fashioned I guess, he he. But if you want a set of digital scales to play with, midsouthshooterssupply.com has one on sale right now for $24.99. May even get one myself for other than max. loads as the ones I have used so far belonged to someone else. The balance beam scales I have used for years have an "approach to weight warning" and magnetic damping features and are pretty fast. I like to see each kernel of powder that trickles in actually make a difference. Especially with max. loads.

Oohrah
May 3, 2007, 04:57 PM
After using the balance scale for 45 years, I bought a Midway
one on sale for 1/2 price. Hope it wasn't a mistake. Have not
read the directions yet and hope it is simple!!!:)

Geno
May 3, 2007, 05:09 PM
Why? I can achieve MOA groups with my reloading set-up. I have the Lee Anniversary Kit...exactly the kit that you are buying. It works.

Deavis
May 3, 2007, 05:56 PM
Anyone using a 25 year old computer out there?


There are plenty of embedded systems out there that are 25 years old. Actually, when I was interning in grad school I had to reprogram a system using an Intel CPU that was made just 2 years after I was born. It was fabbed in 1981 and worked like a champ. The hardware will continue to work for a long time, especially with the thick gate oxides used in non-high performance systems. The reason you upgrade computers is because guys like me keep coming up with integrations that push the MHz of your box farther and farther for less money. We get paid really well to make transistors faster but basics of the strain gauge in your scale isn't going to change for a LONG time. :o

BAGTIC
May 20, 2007, 12:25 AM
Been loading 47 years without a digital scale.
Get yourself a good supply of loading trays.
Fill them with primed empty cases.
Adjust your powder measure and check it against the scale.
Fill them all with the powder measure.
Tap the trays a few times to settle the powder.
If any look conspicuously fuller/emptierthan the others dump them back into the powder measure and refill.

dakotabob
May 26, 2007, 02:47 AM
I just finished tossing a $200 digital RCBS scale into the trash. It must have not survived my last move very well, even though packaged up well. Only a year warrantee and after talking to RCBS, it would cost more for them to look at fixing the scale than it would cost for a new one - so into the trash. :(
Digitals are very quick and easy, which spoils you, but the beam scales will last forever. RCBS has sent me any parts I have ever needed for both my 5-10 and 5-5 beam scales at NO CHARGE and they both measure as good as they did 20 years ago.

snuffy
May 26, 2007, 04:17 AM
I just finished tossing a $200 digital RCBS scale into the trash. It must have not survived my last move very well, even though packaged up well. Only a year warrantee and after talking to RCBS, it would cost more for them to look at fixing the scale than it would cost for a new one - so into the trash.
Digitals are very quick and easy, which spoils you, but the beam scales will last forever. RCBS has sent me any parts I have ever needed for both my 5-10 and 5-5 beam scales at NO CHARGE and they both measure as good as they did 20 years ago.

Bob, that scale was probably made by pact. My RCBS is, knowing that, I called pact to ask for a shipping addy. The scale refused to calibrate. They talked me through a factory recalibration, it fixed it in no time! Still using it 5 years later.

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