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  #1  
Old 04-27-2021, 09:30 AM
SharpShooter82 SharpShooter82 is offline
 
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Default Electronic powder measures vs well, the old way

I started reloading about 5 years ago and started with a Lee beam scale, I then added a cheap FA digital scale. This caused some problem since the scales do not always agree with each other, so I have always deferred to the beam scale.

This worked ok till about a year ago when I started loading rifle. I started with .223 and since it was just plinking ammo and loaded on a progressive press, I was ok with it. However I have started loading .308 for a bolt gun and .30-06 for my M1 and I would like a bit more accuracy in powder measuring.

My biggest concern with the Lee beam scale is the gap between the arm pointer and the machined reference mark. I find it difficult to verify alignment.

I do not shoot any type of competition, but am thinking about shooting a couple of the CMP Games each year. So there is really no need for volume.

So I am looking for opinions/facts on my options for upgraded equipment. The budget is more important than speed.

Beam scale upgrade,,,if I could find a quality beam scale that the arm pointer was over the frame reference mark so that it was easier/more accurate to see I would be good.

I am not against digital scales as long as they are reliable, accurate, and cost no more than the above beam scale.

I have also casually looked at the new powder dispensing machines. I like the concept but how accurate are models priced about the same as the above beam scale? Would it really worth it to go a bit higher in cost for my reloading needs?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Eric

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  #2  
Old 04-27-2021, 10:27 AM
jmm jmm is offline
 
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Somewhere I read about a reloader who put a flashlight on the bench so that the scale arm made a shadow on the wall behind it.
They then used a piece of painters take to put a mark on the wall when the arm was steady at the load they wanted.
I guess they used the top or bottom edge of the arm.
I think you can understand the concept from my description?
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  #3  
Old 04-27-2021, 11:33 AM
Gewehr43 Gewehr43 is offline
 
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OP:
I've used the old beam scales for years but also made the jump to the high-end electronic scales......
So I've not personally used the electronic ones that are priced around the beams.

There is nothing wrong with a beam scale and they can be accurate.
It's sounds like you want/need to "tune" yours......

ie: http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/...peatability-2/

Or jmm's example..... another post I read somewhere, the guy set up his camera or phone??? in a cradle facing the needle.
That allowed him to get a more precise and consistent view............
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Old 04-27-2021, 12:03 PM
ZvenoMan ZvenoMan is offline
 
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I never thought of the idea of making an optical alignment fixture as described above, while that won't make a scale significantly more accurate, it will allow the user to throw very consistent charges each time, with a very high degree of accuracy (or, more importantly, little variance). Gewehr43s suggestion is key; it's the same thing as a cheek weld; if you don't have the exact same alignment each time it doesn't matter how accurate the scale IS if you are not accurate (consistent) in reading it. Great idea! But it will take time to setup, calibrate each session, and time to stabilize to read, adjust and re-stabilize for each load.

The same may be done for an inexpensive digital scale like you have: Get a calibrated weight in the same range as your typical loads (charge + pan). For example, if your pan weighs 2 OZ, get a calibrated weight of 2 OZ. Place it on the scale frequently to gauge accuracy.
No matter how cheap your scale is, if you can be sure it consistently weighs your charges and you have a way to confirm that weight, you are in business. As most electronic scales quickly stabilize (unlike the beam scale which takes several seconds) you can probably get acceptable accuracy and more speed form your cheap electronic scale.
You could build your own scale out of some scrap wood, plate glass and straight edge razor blades that will look like cr@% but can accurately measure your charge as well as the several hundred dollar electronic measures. It will work, the technology is, after all, how many thousands of years old? The time to make and calibrate is just not economical.

As an example consider the Lee beam scale we all have. It is very accurate, very repeatable, but it is made of "cheap" material.
If you can get the same repeatability from a Harbor Freight "crack scale" and have a calibration weight for peace of mind what's to loose? It will definitely be quicker.

JH
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  #5  
Old 04-27-2021, 12:20 PM
Unclenick Unclenick is offline
 
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Sharpshooter82,

I don't have the Lee scale, but from the photos, it appears the recess in the frame for the pointer to slide up and down freely provides flat surfaces that would allow you to place a scale printed on peel-off-stick-on labels and that you could easily do on your computer. Then a light shining on the beam would cast its point shadow onto the scale.

Another thought would be to put an LED on the outer side of the zero indicator so it casts a shadow on the pointer itself. That way you can see when the top half of the pointer is lit and the bottom half is in shadow, using that as the zero.
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  #6  
Old 04-27-2021, 02:15 PM
SharpShooter82 SharpShooter82 is offline
 
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Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions.

The Lee scale may not be exactly repeatable from one session to another because a always check my "table" surface for level and zero the scale each time I set it up. The scale adjusts using windows that you watch to see three white pieces in to set it 0-10 grains. I am sure this has some error involved with my eyesight. But after it is set it seems repeatable. I think I will try to rig up a extended pointer for the beam arm and see if that helps.

The digi scale that I have tends to wander (.1-.4gr) even after a 5 minute "warm up".

I do need a set of weights to test them both with.

Thanks again for the help.

Eric


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  #7  
Old 04-27-2021, 02:18 PM
Gewehr43 Gewehr43 is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZvenoMan View Post
I never thought of the idea of making an optical alignment fixture as described above, while that won't make a scale significantly more accurate, it will allow the user to throw very consistent charges each time, with a very high degree of accuracy (or, more importantly, little variance). Gewehr43s suggestion is key; it's the same thing as a cheek weld; if you don't have the exact same alignment each time it doesn't matter how accurate the scale IS if you are not accurate (consistent) in reading it. Great idea! But it will take time to setup, calibrate each session, and time to stabilize to read, adjust and re-stabilize for each load.

The same may be done for an inexpensive digital scale like you have: Get a calibrated weight in the same range as your typical loads (charge + pan). For example, if your pan weighs 2 OZ, get a calibrated weight of 2 OZ. Place it on the scale frequently to gauge accuracy.
No matter how cheap your scale is, if you can be sure it consistently weighs your charges and you have a way to confirm that weight, you are in business. As most electronic scales quickly stabilize (unlike the beam scale which takes several seconds) you can probably get acceptable accuracy and more speed form your cheap electronic scale.
You could build your own scale out of some scrap wood, plate glass and straight edge razor blades that will look like cr@% but can accurately measure your charge as well as the several hundred dollar electronic measures. It will work, the technology is, after all, how many thousands of years old? The time to make and calibrate is just not economical.

As an example consider the Lee beam scale we all have. It is very accurate, very repeatable, but it is made of "cheap" material.
If you can get the same repeatability from a Harbor Freight "crack scale" and have a calibration weight for peace of mind what's to loose? It will definitely be quicker.

JH
You described it better than I did.

OP:
FWIW, I try for consistency (actually in all aspects of reloading) which is the key.
I didn't (or haven't yet) done a "tune up" on my beam but I do:
-keep it clean and make sure the pivots are polished.
-I have it on a level mount which sits higher off the table and so my "eye ball" is looking at it the same.
-I slightly filed the pointer edge and use light to get a clear view of it.
-I zero it with the closest test weight I have before use... (ie so I use the 20gr test weight for the 223 loads I have at 23ish grains).... and always do that.............

and like I said, others have used optics/magnification/etc set ups to "look" at the pointer better and consistently....... without the parallax causing issues.
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Last edited by Gewehr43; 04-27-2021 at 02:21 PM.
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  #8  
Old 04-27-2021, 09:20 PM
sigman2 sigman2 is offline
 
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My 1972 RCBS 505 beam scale has never let me down. I periodically check the accuracy with a set of scale weights and it's always right on.

I don't weight each charge unless I'm working up a load.

I use my 1972 RCBS Uniflow powder measure for all my loads. For rifle loads I confirm every 10th charge and every 25th charge for pistol loads.

When setting my powder measure I adjust for a single charge then throw 10 charges in the pan to get an average. Then I tweak it until I'm within a couple of tenths of a grain on a 10 charge pan.

Now, for general information... I did come across a problem that I've never encountered before. A friend gave me five 1# unopened canisters of older Hercules Green Dot powder. Today I was loading .45 ACP with 5.7 grains under Lyman 225 gr. RN. I always sit on a stool with my right thigh directly under the powder measure. I noticed some powder flakes on my thigh. When I visually checked my block of 50 charged cases I spotted a couple that looked low and a couple that looked high. I weighed these and found two that were about half of my charge weight and two that were about 50% over. I found that the coarse Green Dot was occasionally bridging in my powder measure drop spout then dropping on the upstroke for the next charge. The powder on my leg had bridged then dropped out of the spout after I had removed the case. I remedied this by removing the drop spout and inserting the .45 cases up into the opening. They were a perfect fit... no bridging and no spillage.

I found the Green Dot bridging rather strange because I also use Red Dot, Blue Dot and Herco which are about the same size flakes. I have never encountered bridging with any of those. The Green Dot looks and smells as fresh as the day it was produced and there is no dust or clumping in the can.

I know some are going to say it was due to old powder. It wasn't. I know what deteriorating powder looks and smells like.

If, and when I ever use up all my existing stock of pistol powders I'm going to use Accurate #2, 5, 7 & 9, Alliant 2400 and WW296/H110. I am already using AA#5 and like how well it meters.

BTW, I have a lot of old stock components. Today I was using bullets I cast in 1987 and 1997 primers. Powder and primers last just about forever when stored properly. I also have a partial can of Dupont SR7625 from 1973 that is still good.
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  #9  
Old 04-27-2021, 09:30 PM
Unclenick Unclenick is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpShooter82 View Post
Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions.

The scale adjusts using windows that you watch to see three white pieces in to set it 0-10 grains. I am sure this has some error involved with my eyesight. But after it is set it seems repeatable.
I watched Lee's video on how to read it. The window will show you either 1 or two numbers, and you just use the lower one. The Vernier scale on top may be a little harder to read. A magnifying glass with good light can help a lot. A good many now are made with the lens surrounded by a ring of white LEDs, which should handle the illumination chore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SharpShooter82 View Post
The digi scale that I have tends to wander (.1-.4gr) even after a 5 minute "warm up".
Unfortunately, the good ones (magnetic restoration load cell instead of strain gauges) that settle fast and repeat almost perfectly cost a good bit of money. Hundreds of dollars thus far.
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  #10  
Old 04-28-2021, 12:21 AM
lapriester lapriester is offline
 
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I pretty much exclusively use a Lyman Gen 6 electronic measure. I zero often and check it against my RCBS manual scale every 20 rounds or so. In 4 years of use I've yet to find a meaningful difference in powder charges. I did have to get rid of my florescent overhead light and switch to an LED.
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