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Do I need a digital Scale?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by kellyj00, Apr 25, 2007.

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  1. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Member

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    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?
     
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    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.
     
  3. Mikee Loxxer

    Mikee Loxxer Member

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    You don’t 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 don’t have to wait as long for it to stabilize).
     
  4. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Member

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    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.
     
  5. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    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
     
  6. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    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.
     
  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    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. :)
     
  8. Idano

    Idano Member

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    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.
     
  9. bigcim

    bigcim Member

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    Don't some electronic scales start going haywire when you try to trickle powder into them
     
  10. Stinger

    Stinger Member

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    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.
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    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.
     
  12. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    No you don't need a digital scale. You need loading blocks so you can visually check each case.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2007
  13. Shoney

    Shoney Member

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    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.
     
  14. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

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    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.
     
  15. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Member

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    very well then, I'll just use the beam type for now.
    Thanks fellas!
     
  16. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

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    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.
     
  17. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    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
     
  18. delta53

    delta53 Member

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    digital

    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
     
  19. Shoney

    Shoney Member

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    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.
     
  20. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Member

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    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!
     
  21. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    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
     
  22. okeybug

    okeybug Member

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    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.
     
  23. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    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
     
  24. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    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"
     
  25. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    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?
     
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