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Electronic Powder Scales

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by carbine85, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. carbine85

    carbine85 Well-Known Member

    Do you guys have any problems with your electronic scales responding slowly? My RCBS has always had what I refer to as drifting. When I measure a charge I have to tickle slowly as I approach the weight, stop short and give it 20-30 seconds to drift upward to the charge I'm looking for. Sometimes I have to start over since it can drift by .2-.4 grains in 20-30 seconds.
  2. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Well-Known Member

    I don't own those particular scales, but you must realize that there's a LOT more going on inside a digital scale than there is a balance beam scale. There are electrical components that need to have a constant voltage applied. There is a membrane that must be held at constant temperature. There are also mechanical pivots which must over come certain amounts of friction. Then on better digital scales, there is software to make sense of all these variations.

    You didn't tell us much about the load range you're trying to measure, but if the issue is low end friction affecting light pistol loads (3-12 grains), it can be a huge help to "zero" the scale with a dime under the pan. The added weight helps to get the scale out of the "sticky" zone.

    If your loads are 20 grains and higher, then check the place where the scale sits to make sure it's not rocking or teeter-tottering even a tiny bit. A shelf attached to the wall behind the bench, rather than on the bench top, can also help.

    You might also place some temporary cardboard barriers around the sides and back to make sure no breezes are blowing on the unit, causing temperature drift. One overhead A/C vent is all it takes.

    Lastly, put the scale in a place far away from florescent lamps and computer monitors due to the magnetic fields involved.

    Hope this helps.
  3. rg1

    rg1 Well-Known Member

    Don't have that problem with my Pact Precision. I can leave the powder charge on the scale for longer than 20-30 seconds and it doesn't drift. Only thing I would recommend is to let the scale warm up for up to 1/2 hour before using it. I have Lyman's Check Weight set and without a precision set of check weights I wouldn't trust an electronic scale. My check weights prove to me that my scale is accurate. Watch the readout when you remove the pan and powder to see if it returns to the same number each time you remove the pan. I suspect the correct reading is when it first records the weight and the drift upwards is not exact?
  4. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Well-Known Member

    I have the RCBS Rangemaster. Had the drifting issue. I finally learned to never turn it off. The only break it gets is when the power blinks or goes off. Rarely do I have to zero during a session these days.
  5. carbine85

    carbine85 Well-Known Member

    I use it mostly with larger rifle loads when I'm developing a load. The small amount of drift isn't of any real concern with those loads but I agree with the statement about small pistol loads. A couple of 10ths of a grain can make a big difference.
    I normally let it sit in place for about 10 minutes before I use it. I haven't recalibrated it for some time. I should probably try that.
  6. herrwalther

    herrwalther Well-Known Member

    I have a very cheap Salter electronic scale and it has never given me a slow or drifting readings. It settles on the charge weight in about 5-10 seconds tops depending on if the AC is on or something like that.
  7. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    I have been using a RCBS Powder Pro scale for 20 years or so. I also have a RCBS 5-0-5 that I use to insure the Powder Pro is accurate. If you use a balence scale you will notice that it tends to bounce around when trickling powder too. My electronic is still twice as fast as the 5-0-5.
  8. quaid

    quaid Well-Known Member

    I would suspect your power supply. Do you have a computer UPS (uninterrupted power supply) with a *good* battery still in it? The battery "cleans" and makes the power supply consistent with no fluctuations. Think flickering lights when your wife turns on the hair dryer or dishwasher. Its a cheap thing to try first if you already have one, sensitive electronics benefit from a clean consistent power.

    It helps to let the scale "warm up" before use too.

    I allow a short warm up time (few minutes) for my RCBS charge master and do not use an UPS. My 5-0-5 agrees with the charge master. I do not leave it on or in place. Setup is removing from the box, placing on table, adjusting feet to level, powering on, few minutes warm up time, and then performing the quick calibrating procedure.

    I do not have an extended catchup time as my auto trickler adds powder, but I do see a split second lag time between powder falling into the scale and the new reading to appear. The charge master software handles all of that and dispenses accurately.
  9. rg1

    rg1 Well-Known Member

    10 minutes is not enough warm up time. At least 20 minutes or more.
  10. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Well-Known Member

    I have no issues with my Hornady Scales. I have the automatic trickler and another digital. I think I payed around 85 dollars for it and it is spot on with my beam scale. I let it warm up for a while and then get to it.
  11. arizona98tj

    arizona98tj Well-Known Member

    I turn my RCBS ChargeMaster at the beginning of my reloading session as I am setting things up, getting brass from storage, loading primer tubes, etc. By the time I am done and ready to start, it is ready to go. This is typically 20 minutes or so. Mine does not drift nor does it change zero.

    Mine is sensitive to drafts and it will easily respond to the A/C turning on and off. Using the plastic cover eliminates that problem.

    OP, you may wish to review the section in the manual about keeping it away from fluorescent lights, etc.
  12. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Well-Known Member

    My older RCBS does not drift if I leave it plugged in. Only when I unplug it will it drift heavily while it warms up. Normally one only occasionally Tare it. Maybe once every 2 to 3 hours.

    I note mine is insensitive to fluorescent lights. I have 8 of them with in 2 feet of the scale and it matters not.
  13. Reloadron

    Reloadron Well-Known Member

    I have an older RCBS digital, maybe 15 or so years old. While it is RCBS green the label on the bottom clearly states Made By Pact. :)

    I just leave it on 24/7 and if it has been off about a 30 min warm up period seems to work fine. After 30 min I get a nice stable display.

    Unlike their analog mechanical counterparts digital scales, especially the less expensive flavors used for powder measurement, are more susceptible to their environment. A slight breeze over the platen and pan becomes obvious, minor vibrations become obvious and leveling is more critical for good operation. They don't offer the dampening of their mechanical counter parts either. There have been several good threads on this subject.

    I recently invested in a RCBS ChargeMaster Combo but have yet to set it up. Don't know if the newer flavor will act any differently.

    Then there is always the trusty dependable RCBS 5-0-5. :)

    <EDIT> This thread was a good thread on digital scales in general. </EDIT> :)

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  14. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    Every once in a while my Pact BBKII acts up.
    I just unplug it for for a short while, maybe 15-30 minutes & then 99.9% of the time that fixes it.
    Once I had to unplug it overnite.

    When that happens my Ohaus/Lyman scale is always good to go.
  15. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Well-Known Member

    I have noticed a tendency for my RCBS unit to slowly drift upwards if a charge sets in the pan over a period of time. I ignore it and use the weight it reads after 5-10 seconds.
  16. horseman1

    horseman1 Well-Known Member

    I have a cheap Hornady battery (only) operated scale. I found out not use rechargeable batteries in this thing. It really wants the full 3 volts from the two 1.5v batteries. Using two 1.2 volt rechargeable causes problems. Of course, it gets worse when the alkaline batteries get low as well.

    This thing does drift some, so I recalibrate, double check and tare very often. Actually, I tare almost every time. When it is on the ball, it works well. I can tell when it starts to get erratic. Not the best thing IMHO and I would like to upgrade.

    Watching this thread for a good upgrade recommendation :).

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