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View Full Version : The dial vs digital question, re-visited



J Tiers
10-26-2007, 08:22 AM
I have a concrete example of lousy digital, exemplifying why I don't like them.

We have, at work, a 6" digital caliper.

This lovely item needs re-zeroing nearly every time you pick it up, always varying at least the +- 0.0005 minimum reading. (Yes, I do wipe the jaws..... I have used calipers more than once before in my life.)

It also has the very worst display lag I have ever seen. It seems to take at least 1 second for it to actually start to change after you move it.

After it begins to change, it apparently does NOT arrive immediately at the new reading, it seems to "ramp up" to the new reading.

The net result is that it is nearly impossible to use it for any of the purposes where you set the device to a known reading. It is ONLY useful for "measurements" where you set to the size of a part to measure. You cannot set it up as a "go-nogo" gage, etc.

Even for normal measuring, it tends to bounce around the reading somewhat,. so that you have to let it stabilize for a while.

Yes, I have tightened the gibs so that it at least is not wobbly.

And, before you decide that it is an HF POS, it is a Starrett #721.

Apparently a cheapo Starrett POS.

torker
10-26-2007, 08:32 AM
JT...You need to "accidently" drop that measuring device REALLY hard on the concrete floor, then "accidently" drop a cheap china 5" vice(I have a broken one you can borrow) on it. End of problem!
Yes...you can use the "But I didn't mean it" or the "I didn't do it on purpose" excuse I've heard more than a few times. :D
Russ

oldtiffie
10-26-2007, 08:44 AM
I have a concrete example of lousy digital, exemplifying why I don't like them.

We have, at work, a 6" digital caliper.

This lovely item needs re-zeroing nearly every time you pick it up, always varying at least the +- 0.0005 minimum reading. (Yes, I do wipe the jaws..... I have used calipers more than once before in my life.)

It also has the very worst display lag I have ever seen. It seems to take at least 1 second for it to actually start to change after you move it.

After it begins to change, it apparently does NOT arrive immediately at the new reading, it seems to "ramp up" to the new reading.

The net result is that it is nearly impossible to use it for any of the purposes where you set the device to a known reading. It is ONLY useful for "measurements" where you set to the size of a part to measure. You cannot set it up as a "go-nogo" gage, etc.

Even for normal measuring, it tends to bounce around the reading somewhat,. so that you have to let it stabilize for a while.

Yes, I have tightened the gibs so that it at least is not wobbly.

And, before you decide that it is an HF POS, it is a Starrett #721.

Apparently a cheapo Starrett POS.

Thanks JT.

These things happen in the "best of families".

I have been told - which is no confirmation - but would not be surprised if some of the "better" and "better-known" brands that we all looked up to in the past are not getting some of their stuff either made "off-shore" or contracting it out to some lesser capable shops else-where (Mexico, USA?) and branding them as Starret B&S etc. and just charging a premium (see the LMS and CDCO catalogues) as against the known imports or USA-made no-Starret stuff and just trading off their name.

Perhaps this is name piracy is as rife as it is Asia with "fashion" goods. and "Starret" and the like are as much victims as the innocent victims.

Happens here too.

We have lots of people here who either travel to and from or holiday in Asia and regularly fall victim to this sort of thing - tools included.

We are very close (distance-wise) to Asia. Indonesia can be seen from Northern Australia and its only an hour or two by a good boat - and it is also the biggest Muslim country as well but we seem to get along OK. (Note: said "seem" not "do" - I am a bit skeptical).

JCD
10-26-2007, 09:16 AM
Maybe you should send the thing back to Starrett for a replacement or repair, Iíve had very good luck with them.

oldtiffie
10-26-2007, 09:27 AM
Maybe you should send the thing back to Starrett for a replacement or repair, Iíve had very good luck with them.

Yep JCD.

Sending it to "Starret" should decide once and for all if it is a "Starret" at all and if it is, what the scope and cost of the repair work will be.

If its NOT a "Starret" at all (pirated name) or has "unauthorised" parts or had "unauthorised" repairs made, it may well be a different matter altogether.

As you suggest, there is only one real way to find out.

A.K. Boomer
10-26-2007, 09:39 AM
Ohhh, its a starrett --- get a pair of Hf's and you wont have any probs:p

oldtiffie
10-26-2007, 09:48 AM
Ohhh, its a starrett --- get a pair of Hf's and you wont have any probs:p

Boomer,
that WAS unkind (I didn't mind it at all).

Sort of putting the knife in and twisting it?

A.K. Boomer
10-26-2007, 10:03 AM
Yeah --- kinda like that, and you could throw in the ole adage "kickin a guy when he's down" JT's a good sport --- plus thier his work ones so its not as personal...

At first I hated my second pair of Hf's because they kept blinking, I kept saying ot myself - Geesus -- design it to consume a little extra energy but give me a damn display that stays on, then about three months later I replaced the battery and everything was fine:o


I think one of the biggest advantages to going digital is thier not afraid of a little dirt, actually thier not afraid of allot of dirt, Dials ar terrible for me to use, one second thier out in my mechanic shop next thier in the basement, Digitals allow me the freedom to not change my dirty habits and continue being a slob and I like that, there kinda like that enabler grilfriend that not only doesnt care how much you drink -- she goes out and gets the goods for you too...

rkepler
10-26-2007, 10:18 AM
I'd bet that those Starretts are fairly old - if you have the full model number you might be able to see just how old they are. A lot of the early digital stuff had the same problems - early Mitutoyo stuff had the same problem with zero (having to reset on power up), never shutting off so the batteries died fast, etc. I'm more familiar with the Mit digital calipers but I'd bet that current production Starretts would be similar - never losing zero, auto power off for decent battery life, etc.

Carld
10-26-2007, 10:22 AM
One of the reasons I don't like digital calipers is when you are measuring the OD or ID and move the jaws around to find a perfect fit the reading floats all over the place and even when you think you found the size it may still be moving.

I guess if I use them for a year or so I may get to like them.

Alistair Hosie
10-26-2007, 10:23 AM
It seems to take at least 1 second for it to actually start to change after you move it.

wow what an inconvenience slow down a little or you'll end up with a heart attack.Seriously these things are not worth worrying about whats a whole second worth all the aggro just live with it in my opinion.Alistair

A.K. Boomer
10-26-2007, 10:31 AM
Alistair your a funny guy:)

Keith Krome
10-26-2007, 10:58 AM
"I think I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in...I don't think it's quite fair to condemn the whole program because of a single slip up, sir." -Gen. Turgidson



That particular Starrett model is a lemon. We have some of the same at work, and the batteries will not last worth a damn.

Get a digital with an absolute style readout. Mitutoyo comes to mind, I believe there are some Swiss brands with the same.

japcas
10-26-2007, 11:17 AM
We have several Mit calipers at work up to 40 inch and have never had a problem with them. They are very reliable and stable. On the other hand we have a set of 0 to 6 starrett digital mics that totally suck. Everytime they cut off they have to be rezeroed. In their defense they are an older set so the newer ones may not do that. We also have a set of 0 to 6 Mit micrometers of about the same vintage but they hold their zero even when they are turned off. If they are working right I don't mind using them but I hardly ever use the digitals. I can usually measure to within a tenth or so with my standard mics so I usually don't bother walking to the tool cabinet to get the digitals.

J Tiers
10-27-2007, 10:25 AM
It seems to take at least 1 second for it to actually start to change after you move it.

wow what an inconvenience slow down a little or you'll end up with a heart attack.Seriously these things are not worth worrying about whats a whole second worth all the aggro just live with it in my opinion.Alistair

The 1 second of time isn't the issue.... The issue is that you can't be totally sure the silly thing has quit changing. So if you are making a bunch of measurements, you may forget and read it before it has settled.

And, the 1 second is for it to START changing. The reading will change for a while after that.

And they DO have the "reading bounce" mentioned by another poster.

So it's more of a nuisance than you may think from reading the "1 second". Getting a wrong reading and using it in a further fabrication step is a bit more aggravation than waiting, isn't it?

As for the battery life, it's fine. Yes, they are really Starrett, not a copy.......But they seem to be discontinued.

I may not have to worry too much..... the last time I looked for them, I found them on the bench, open, laying across a piece of stock, with a fairly heavy tool laying on top....... The boss is a tool destroyer.

I have a spare inch/metric dial type that I will probably take in and keep in my toolbox.

J Tiers
10-27-2007, 10:27 AM
Ohhh, its a starrett --- get a pair of Hf's and you wont have any probs:p

You know? With THESE Starrett calipers, that might actually be true........ :eek:

What's a few thou between friends, eh?

Virgil Johnson
10-27-2007, 11:08 AM
I own a lot of Starrett tools and the biggest disappointment has been the digital calipers I bought years ago. They are SLOW to start reading and I get an error message quite often. They are the worst "precision" tool I have ever purchased. I own a Mitutoyo 6" digital now and like them better than any of the three types I have (B&S 6" dial, Starrett 6" dial, Mit. 12"dial,)

J Tiers
10-27-2007, 11:19 AM
Dumb question........... I looked around the Starrett site, and didn't find any listing of OLDER tools.... All I could find was the newest current ones.

Many makes have listings of at least some older ones for reference. And maybe Starrett does too, I just didn't find it in the 10 or so min I wandered around there.

motomoron
10-29-2007, 12:08 AM
I started using digital calipers and mics about 7 years ago. My employer had Mitutoyos, and I liked them enough to buy them for my shop at home. At this point I have their Absolute series 6 and 8 inch calipers and 1 inch mic, as well as an older 6 in caliper which is a bit beat, but still zeros every time, and is great to have on the other side of the shop, or for dirtier work. I've tried Starrett digitals and they feel and work sort of crude compared to the Mitutoyo stuff, IMO.
I've still got a 6" Browne and sharp dial, but I just don't use it much. The only analog gauges I use anymore are dial and test indicators.

oldtiffie
10-29-2007, 01:51 AM
I have a concrete example of lousy digital, exemplifying why I don't like them.

We have, at work, a 6" digital caliper.

This lovely item needs re-zeroing nearly every time you pick it up, always varying at least the +- 0.0005 minimum reading. (Yes, I do wipe the jaws..... I have used calipers more than once before in my life.)

It also has the very worst display lag I have ever seen. It seems to take at least 1 second for it to actually start to change after you move it.

After it begins to change, it apparently does NOT arrive immediately at the new reading, it seems to "ramp up" to the new reading.

The net result is that it is nearly impossible to use it for any of the purposes where you set the device to a known reading. It is ONLY useful for "measurements" where you set to the size of a part to measure. You cannot set it up as a "go-nogo" gage, etc.

Even for normal measuring, it tends to bounce around the reading somewhat,. so that you have to let it stabilize for a while.

Yes, I have tightened the gibs so that it at least is not wobbly.

And, before you decide that it is an HF POS, it is a Starrett #721.

Apparently a cheapo Starrett POS.


Hi JT.

Good post - as usual - and to the point - again, as usual.

Some months ago there were at least one threads on problems and use and accuracy of digital calipers.

It was "run" mainly by Rick Sparber and Cameron Kelloug and was really "in-depth" stuff - you might recall it.

Some of the points you make were addressed on that thread - a very very good read.

Cameron addressed the topic and referred to the previous work/thread/s in a recent separate thread. ("Micrometer Accuracy"? - or some-such?).

But unfortunately - very unfortunately - Rick copped a lot - and a mean a lot - of very unkind and entirely unwarranted "blasts" and "slams" - and he "packed it in".

I still feel very guilty as I got in for my licks when it happened.

http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=24341

Another was at: http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=24610

I'd suggest PM_ing Cameron (ckelloug) first and ask his advice regarding PM-ing Rick (rgsparber).

I hope this helps.

IOWOLF
10-29-2007, 06:19 AM
Well if it is "At work" then you don't have to use it do you ? Bitch to your boss and see what happens,I bet he tells you to get your own if you want a set.

This isn't an attack on you,I am just tired of all the whining. :)

oldtiffie
10-29-2007, 06:59 AM
Well if it is "At work" then you don't have to use it do you ? Bitch to your boss and see what happens,I bet he tells you to get your own if you want a set.

This isn't an attack on you,I am just tired of all the whining. :)

Maybe so.

There IS a lot of comment and complaint and some - but not a lot of real "whining" really.

Some do get wound up and whine like a gas turbine - sometimes about the whining of others.

But you're right.

Perhaps if some were to just state a grievance or what-ever and leave it at that without "whining" it would help.

By way of penance perhaps the "whine-er/s" could take the "whine-ee/s" out to dinner and air their "bitch", in which case they'd (sort of) get it off their chest/s and the "whine-ee/s" would have been "dined and whined (to/at??)".

Nah - on second thoughts the "cure" is worse than the disease.

J Tiers
10-29-2007, 08:27 AM
Wolfie, with the most respect in the world, I suggest you fill the container and press it down...... :D

You can call it "whining" but why the dickens are you whining to me about it?

I just think the item in question is a crappy piece of american trash, and that's about it. It is what it is, and I gave my reasons for thinking that.

If that isn't a valid reason for not liking the type of instrument, too bad. I'll reconsider later. Maybe Starrett makes one now that isn't as bad as the cheapest chinese trash.

Like I said, maybe the HF ones are BETTER than the vaunted Starrett.

Some folks think that applying the label "whining" to any statement is a valid argument. I just wonder why they are whining about it. If I am whining, too bad.... don't read it.

But don't come whining to me about it.

If nobody ever "whined" about trash products, we'd just get more and more of it.

oldtiffie
10-29-2007, 08:35 AM
Bravo JT.

Well said and well put.

ckelloug
10-29-2007, 11:18 AM
I can say that from 0 to 4 inches, the unit I've tested of the 6 inch Harbor Freight Calipers performs on spec to .0011 for the 220 measurements I've taken with a NIST traceable B89 Starrett Weber gage block set calibrated January 07. The only thing I can say is that the HF caliper feel is not as good as a Starrett 123 Master Vernier circa 1975 that I got on E-bay. The HF caliper is more precise than the old Starrett Vernier but because it is somewhat more flimsy, the HF caliper's feel makes it more likely to botch a measurement thus the extra precision can be paid for in accuracy. The price however is right and it should not be too hard to teach oneself to be really careful making sure the caliper is closed completely on the item to be measured.

I am a Starrett Fan but if they can't field a digital caliper today that is better in some way than the admirable HF caliper, then I am afraid they have lost their way in the digital caliper market.

I can get relay a message to Rick Sparber if interested.

Regards,
Cameron

IOWOLF
10-29-2007, 01:54 PM
Wolfie, with the most respect in the world, I suggest you fill the container and press it down...... :D

You can call it "whining" but why the dickens are you whining to me about it?

I just think the item in question is a crappy piece of american trash, and that's about it. It is what it is, and I gave my reasons for thinking that.

If that isn't a valid reason for not liking the type of instrument, too bad. I'll reconsider later. Maybe Starrett makes one now that isn't as bad as the cheapest chinese trash.

Like I said, maybe the HF ones are BETTER than the vaunted Starrett.

Some folks think that applying the label "whining" to any statement is a valid argument. I just wonder why they are whining about it. If I am whining, too bad.... don't read it.

But don't come whining to me about it.

If nobody ever "whined" about trash products, we'd just get more and more of it.

OK but you never REALLY answered the main question,Why use it if it is a POS?

A.K. Boomer
10-29-2007, 02:21 PM
Some do get wound up and whine like a gas turbine - sometimes about the whining of others.

.



You make words a beautiful thing Tiffer, Can I call you "Tiffer"? :)

Fasttrack
10-29-2007, 02:31 PM
Maybe he doesnt use it - just pointing out a weakness in digital calipers. Once he spent some time using it he probably realized it sucked and then did something about it and also came back here to give us a "concrete example"...




I'm with you JT - i trust dial alot more than digital. Even with the nicest digital i'm always worried because i know for a fact that if you get dirt or grease on the "bar" (srry i don't know correct terms for caliper parts) that the "head" slides on then it won't read right. It has a dead spot there and you may not even realize it until you've screwed up your dimensions. At least with a dial you can feel it if it skips a tooth.

Of course its easy to wipe down the caliper real quick, and they really only get dirty when someone holds them wrong.

noah katz
10-29-2007, 02:37 PM
I have Mitutoyos at home and at work and neither has those problems.

Marc M
10-29-2007, 07:03 PM
One of the reasons I visit here is to get other members feedback, opinions, reviews, etc. on various products that I might be in the market for. I for one want to hear all the bitch'n, moaning, and whining about products that people have purchased so I can avoid the same headaches. I also want to hear about the positive experiences as well. Evan's recent thread on using an Avery sticker product for dial markings solved my problem of how to label the legend plates on my VFD controls. I would never have tried that product if I didn't read about it here.

Regarding calipers, I just purchased a 12" Mitutoyo coolant proof caliper for use at work. The one negative issue I have with them is the increased force required to move the head due to the rubber wipers on either side to keep the scale clean. I'm hoping that they will 'wear in' with use and be easier to move. Also, they removed the abs/inc feature, opting for a simple zero button requiring you to close them to reset the 'absolute' zero after doing an incremental measurement. On the plus side, they don't have a power button, they turn on/off automatically.

Fasttrack
10-29-2007, 07:43 PM
One of the reasons I visit here is to get other members feedback, opinions, reviews, etc. on various products that I might be in the market for. I for one want to hear all the bitch'n, moaning, and whining about products that people have purchased so I can avoid the same headaches. I also want to hear about the positive experiences as well. Evan's recent thread on using an Avery sticker product for dial markings solved my problem of how to label the legend plates on my VFD controls. I would never have tried that product if I didn't read about it here.

Regarding calipers, I just purchased a 12" Mitutoyo coolant proof caliper for use at work. The one negative issue I have with them is the increased force required to move the head due to the rubber wipers on either side to keep the scale clean. I'm hoping that they will 'wear in' with use and be easier to move. Also, they removed the abs/inc feature, opting for a simple zero button requiring you to close them to reset the 'absolute' zero after doing an incremental measurement. On the plus side, they don't have a power button, they turn on/off automatically.


Ahh see the wipers were what both the SPI and the AutoZone off-brand calipers are missing and they are rather irritating. I brought my own dial calipers and always end up with more accurate measurments. (More accurate relative to the "actual" dimension as measured in QC with mic's or other appropriate measuring devices)

oldtiffie
10-29-2007, 09:59 PM
A lot of the problem with many digital calipers in particular is that a "fine adjustment" is not provided.

To see what this is, there are two of them on the digital gear caliper that John Stevenson posted at:
http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=26037&page=7

These were quite the usual thing on many better vernier calipers - and on some of the better modern vernier ones as well.

On my 12"/300mm digital height guage I have exactly that adjustment and I have as much control as I had on some of the "Name" vernier calipers. I have no problem "creeping" in 0.0005"/0.01mm increments.

I have a depth attachment for my digital calipers from CDCO.com
http://www.cdcotools.com/picture/t282
http://www.cdcotools.com/item.php?itemid=282

The cost is minimal but the results are spectacular.

I have the same problems as regards accuracy in reading and setting digital calipers, but with this attachment I have a very effective and reliable depth guage that is accurate and repeatable to a "thou" and is only bettered by my depth micrometer.

So it seems that the calipers in themselves are OK - as Cameron had said - so perhaps its a "usability" issue that might be resolved by fitting or making a "fine adjustment" accessory.

Thanks again JT for raising this timely thread - appreciated.

I hope this helps.

Evan
10-30-2007, 06:33 AM
I finally bought a couple of pairs of digital calipers in the last year or so. One died a few months ago (NOT the battery) and the other I use to measure drill bits and similar. If it really matters I use my dial calipers. I don't like digital calipers. There are many cases when a digital display gives less information than an analog display of the same input. An excellent example is a car speedometer.