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#6890143 - 09/17/17 05:43 PM Been obsessed with scales lately
Sigmund Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 12/15/15
Posts: 49
I've had a Lyman 1200 DPS power scale/dispenser since i started reloading. At the time i was primarily reloading handgun ammunition, and it worked well enough for that. However, over the last year and a half I've been spending more time trying to work up accurate rifle ammunition for longer range shooting. I've managed to isolate and fix a couple of other problems in my reloading setup, and the next suspect is the scale.

In order to diagnose what was going on, i decided to conduct an experiment. I had the Lyman 1200 DPS and an old RCBS balance beam, and a friend of mine had a RCBS charge master lite that he let me borrow for the experiment.

the experiment:
1 - dispence a charge of propellant with the Lyman, record final weight
2 - weigh dispensed charge on RCBS charge master, record weight
3 - weigh dispensed charge on the balance beam, record weight
4 - repeat for 20 charges.

5 - repeat steps 1-4 using RCBS to dispense propellant (step 1), and using Lyman as first weight check (step 2)
6 - repeat for 5 different propellants i typically use.

In total, 200 charges were dispensed, weighed, and re-weighed, and compiled into a spreadsheet. A lot of time went into it, so i thought i would share my findings. The weight recorded by the balance beam was used as the "gold standard" scale for all measurements.

Summary is below:


Results indicate that the RCBS performed a fair bit better than the Lyman. While some of the min-max variations were close, the RCBS consistently had a lower standard deviation in charge weight.

So my question is, has anyone here used an electronic balance like the Ohaus STX123, and will it offer the same level of accuracy/consistency as a mechanical balance? My understanding is that this is not a typical strain gauge type of scale, so it may not be prone to the same issues?

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#6890229 - 09/17/17 07:03 PM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
Smokey Bear Online   content
Bird Dog

Registered: 05/11/17
Posts: 259
Loc: Texas
This does not answer your question but it is my best advice. For long range precision: throw charges light. Use a trickler to trickle charges up that are dead nuts on the beam. In that capacity your Lyman will work fine.
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#6890235 - 09/17/17 07:06 PM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
Cleric Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 03/11/12
Posts: 2865
I dkd something similar with the gem pro

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#6890866 - 09/18/17 10:48 AM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
ChadTRG42 Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 09/16/09
Posts: 11492
Loc: Lewisville, TX
The simple powder dispensers that RCBS and others make are a low end scale that will have about a .1 +/- grain variance on their accuracy. I see this daily. For what they are, they work great. I use the RCBS CM to throw my initial charges and transfer the powder to a high end Sartorious digital scale with an Auto Trickler for the final powder charge.

If you plan to step up to a more accurate scale, you need to get one that has the right kind of mechanics on how it weighs. For example, the RCBS and other similar scales are a load cell scale, IIRC. It's a simple and low cost type scale. It will vary accuracy of the charges. If you throw 45 grains of powder and let it sit for a few hours, the scale will read a different weight later on. Also, if the scale is powered by batteries, the weight can vary depending on the battery level (new vs. old battery). Some other type scales in the $200-$500 range are a strain gauge. These type scales will read out to .02 grains, but will wonder around some due to warming up, florescent light interference, cell phones, and other items. I used an Accu Lab 123 for a while, and it worked. But you have to let them warm up and keep the lights and cell phones away. You have to calibrate it often to ensure correct weights. I finally stepped up to a Sartorious model that is a magnetic weighing scale, and it extremely accurate and consistent. When you turn it on and zero it, it's on and stays on. I don't get any wondering or shifts in the reading. It is easily accurate to +/- .02 grains. These type scales will be the best for consistency, but are also the most expensive.

If you want to stay within .1 +/- grain, for basic shooting, it will work fine. A .1 grain increase or decrease is equal to about 10 fps in velocity. If you are shooting inside of 500-600 yards, this variation is fine and you will not see it on the target. If you are trying to shoot 1000 yards or out to 1 mile (where we will shoot often), I want as accurate a powder throw as I possibly can get. I want the precision to .02 grains for myself and for my customers. It's worth it for me.

The most important thing I look at in a scale is what is the mechanics on how it weighs (and how reliable that method is), and how fast the settle time is (how fast it reads the weight). The Sartorious I use has a less than 1 second settle time. So, when a kernel of powder drops onto the scale, it reads the kernel in less than 1 second. Some scales have 2+ seconds of settle time, which slow you down when throwing powder charges.
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Type 01 and Type 06 FFL

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#6890900 - 09/18/17 11:11 AM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
kmon1 Online   content
junior

Registered: 09/27/06
Posts: 22263
Loc: Texas
For a lot of the loading I will stick with the Chargemaster with the inserts, like Chad said it is accurate enough for inside 500 or so yards. When loading for more consistency throw the charge a little light, transfer it to my beam scale and trickle up until edge of lines meat as exactly as my eyes can see it (this often gets me single digit extreme spreads).

I still think the old balance beam scales are tough to beat for accuracy, sure the markings on the scale are 1/10 gr increments but can match edge of line to edge of line for great consistency. Sure it is slow but worth it. Added advantage electronics do not interfere with them at all
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#6890938 - 09/18/17 11:48 AM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
Buzzsaw Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 06/29/11
Posts: 10300
Loc: Frisco, Texas
you get past 500 you will need to worry about more stuff than your scale but you are definitely on the right road
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#6891674 - 09/18/17 10:26 PM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
Sigmund Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 12/15/15
Posts: 49
Thank you everyone for your feedback and suggestions.

I called the ohaus support number this afternoon to ask them what type of mechanics the STX123 had. While the representative was able to answer the question (it's a strain guage), he was otherwise less than helpful in being able to tell me which of their scales were MFR (magnetic force restoration) or strain guage. The best guidance he offered to tell the difference is by price sometimes, with no guidance as to where the price threshold might be. Or that a MFR will measure 0.001 gram where a strain guage will only measure 0.010 gram, until I pointed out that the STX123 is a 0.001 gram scale. After the call, I wouldn't consider buying a scale from them anyway.

So after doing some more internet searching this evening, I found this to be kind of interesting:
http://scaleman.com/ammo-reloading-scale-fx-200i.html
The FX200i appears to be some sort of hybrid, but it's price seems close enough to the Sartorius Entris 323-1S to just go full MFR with the Sartorius.

The article article also had some helpful information. After doing some looking around, it looks like the Sartorius Entris 323-1S or the Entris 64-1S are the only MFR type balances that are under $1000.

I was hoping to find a MFR balance in the $500 range and possibly build my own version of automatic dispenser with a raspberry pi or arduino or something. I thought I may have been onto something with the ohaus, but after hearing some feedback here, and talking to ohaus, I guess it's not what I'm looking for.

So, it's looking like I may just get a new mechanical balance & trickler to use in conjunction with the Lyman for now. I'll keep looking for a MFR type electronic balance and hope to find a fire sale or a used one somewhere.

For mechanical balances, I've been looking at the Redding #2 I like that it has a vernier at the end of the beam.
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/658771/redding-2-master-magnetic-powder-scale-505-grain-capacity
Anyone have any complaints, concerns, or bad experiences with this scale?

Most of my shooting is ~100y for hunting, and 500-1000y at a steel gong at the lease just for fun. Mostly, I just want to fix this scale issue in a permenant way. but ~$1000 for a scale is a bit more than I can invest at this time...

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#6891687 - 09/18/17 11:04 PM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
ChadTRG42 Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 09/16/09
Posts: 11492
Loc: Lewisville, TX
^^^ Yes, you are on the right track. I had to do my research on the various scales and what type of mechanics they had. I spoke to a very knowledgeable tech at one of the scale companies, and he got me lined out on what I needed. The Sartorius Entris 323-1S I think is the exact scale I use. I know it's the 323 model, and not sure on the exact model of 323 scale. It does very well, and is very consistent, but it is more expensive. A strain gauge scale in the $250-$300 range will work for you, but just work with the scale and make sure it's reading accurately. Turn it on 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead of time, and keep it away from lights and cell phones, or any electrical interference. (If the AC kicked on or something on the same daisy chain of electrical line, it could vary the reading.) You just have to work with it more, but it will certainly give you the .02 reading you want. A simple balance beam and trickler will get you to the kernel accuracy, it's just a little slower. An RCBS CM will also do it, if you check the weight on it multiple times to make sure it's not varying that .1 grain. .1 grain accuracy is fine, and is beyond the capability of most rifles and shooters, honestly.
_________________________

Custom and Precision Ammunition!!
www.DallasReloads.com
Type 01 and Type 06 FFL

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#6891849 - 09/19/17 07:29 AM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
TackDriver Offline
Tracker

Registered: 05/02/14
Posts: 667
I like using the Chargemaster to drop kernels to about 3 grains less than desired weight, then drop it on a FX-120 and trickle it off with a AutoTrickler to the kernel to my desired weight. Pretty much accurate to the kernel, love it. Sometimes I need to add just one kernel when Autotrickler stops short of .02 grains, but barely over throws. Sometimes overthrows once out of a batch.

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#6892887 - 09/19/17 10:07 PM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
Sigmund Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 12/15/15
Posts: 49
The Lyman certainly has all for the standard baggage that comes with a strain gauge/load cell type scale, it frequently complains about wanting to be recalibrated/zeroed, drifts, etc. and I leave it powered on 24/7. it can be extremely frustrating at times.

The chargemaster light was a far superior machine by comparison. Not only by more consistent weighing, it also threw only one over-charge in 100 throws, automatically threw another charge when the pan was placed on the scale, and did it all in just over 1/2 the time as the Lyman. If anyone is considering one, I would recommend the light version of the chargemaster.

I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do, but so far I'm thinking:
- Replace Lyman with charge master light, much faster, accurate enough alone for handgun & short range ammo.
- Get a mechanical balance and trickler/auto trickler for anything to be used for longer range or new load development.
- determine if I still have a problem, or if MFR balance is warranted.

The balance I have is an old RCBS, I think it's a model 5-0-5. It was my dads when he used to reload, and it still seems to work quite well. But the wire that runs from the hanger on the beam to the bottom of the pan is broken at the bottom of the pan holder, right where the screw goes through it. The parts stay together, but it's a little loose. At this point, I think I would rather use it to decorate the wall in the reloading room than to repair it and continue to use it as a scale.

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#6893001 - 09/20/17 05:33 AM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
RiverRider Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 7289
Loc: Wise Co.
Call RCBS about the broken part. I'll bet they'll have you fixed up within a week.
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#6893403 - 09/20/17 12:37 PM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
spg Online   content
Pro Tracker

Registered: 08/11/13
Posts: 1406
Is the GEM PRO better than the RCBS that comes with the chargemaster?

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#6893422 - 09/20/17 12:53 PM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
Cleric Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 03/11/12
Posts: 2865
The gempro operates in a funky space imo. Better is a subjective term...

The gem pro is more precise but it is slower. I would say the gem pro is great for spot measurement but not workflow. The one odd thing about the gem pro is all measurements are even, which leads me to believe it is not quite as precise as advertised but still better then chargemaster

I would get a charge master if your less then 500-600 yards as it's good enough. I would get one of the higher end Scales with throwers if you go father. Or you can blow your money on a Prometheus

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#6894002 - 09/20/17 09:39 PM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
Sigmund Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 12/15/15
Posts: 49
I called RCBS support this afternoon. Described the part that was broken, and they are sending me a replacement, FOR FREE! The guy I was talking to also seemed to know what he was talking about, it was a stark contrast from my call to ohaus. This was my second call to RCBS, their support has been outstanding on both occasions.

Did more searching today and found this. Something like this is what I was considering building myself using the hornady lock-n-load quick trickle and a MFR balance. I think I like this guy's setup a little better with the thrower + trickler combo.
http://www.autotrickler.com/auto-trickler.html

It's been a while since I've looked for an auto trickler, but the last time I did, I recall only finding the dandy products one.

I also looked at the Prometheus scales. $5,000+ for a scale seems crazy to me. Once you have a scale that can reliably measure a single kernel, additional precision or accuracy seems wasted. Wouldn't the contraption linked above on a Sartorius Entris 64-1S balance do just as well for ~$1500 all in? Unless there is something I'm overlooking here?

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#6894046 - 09/20/17 10:51 PM Re: Been obsessed with scales lately [Re: Sigmund]
ChadTRG42 Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 09/16/09
Posts: 11492
Loc: Lewisville, TX
The Auto Trickler is what I run attached to my Sartorious scale. I run 2 RCBS CM scales next to the Sartorious, and transfer the CM powder throw to the Sartorious to trickle up. If you set about .3 to .5 grains short, the Auto Trickler will finish the trickle in about 6-8 seconds, accurate to .02 grains. With the 2 CM scales and the Auto Trickler set up, the slowest part is seating a bullet. Powder charges are waiting on you. I can't seat a bullet fast enough to wait on the powder charge. It's fast.
_________________________

Custom and Precision Ammunition!!
www.DallasReloads.com
Type 01 and Type 06 FFL

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