View Full Version : what DRO to buy.

08-26-2009, 09:39 AM
Hi, im looking into DRO's for my lathe and mill. and wondering what kinda features are really handy to have and I should look for?
any recommended or non recommended brands?

also it seems replacement scales are about $200 each.. one or two people I (vaugely) know (online..) have offered to sell me used DRO's.. but im thinking of the scales are damaged at all, or the wrong length for my machines, its going to be very expensive compaired to just buying the right new DRO in the first place.

08-26-2009, 09:54 AM
CDCO or the SHARS catalog Look em up on line and be amazed at howe cheap and nice they are ,ihave a Mitutoya on my milling machine only a 2 axis but its been on for over twenty years (i leave it on all the time) and still works well.

08-26-2009, 09:58 AM
ACU-RITE / ANILAM is considered an entry level DRO and I absolutely love mine. Perfect for a HSM environment IMO.

I called and emailed Michael Payne at http://candomachinery.com/
and he happily answered every one of my thousand questions about a DRO for my machine. He also put together a custom package for my mill that NOBODY else was willing to do. And he did it at a better price than all the other places "standard" packages.

I hold no interest in the company - just a VERY satisfied customer.

08-26-2009, 10:09 AM
i got a good deal on a 2 axis acu-rite on ebay a few years back. i don't recall who the seller was, but they were located here in california and provided great service...

08-26-2009, 10:29 AM
For next to no money...

On my 11" Logan, I made my own DRO's with Harbor Freight digital calipers.

They have proved reliable and easily repeatable within .001. On the Z axes, I made a way clamp out of aluminum so I can slide the DRO where ever I want it.

Another good thing about these is if the electronics act up, simply pull the reader off of a new one, and replace it. You don't need to drill another, or remount another caliper.

I've got several hours on these without one problem.



08-26-2009, 10:31 AM
I've used anilams for years with little or no problems. I also recently bought a lathe with a anilam "lathe series" digital. Have not used it much yet but it looks like it will be very convenient. It has different tool offsets for various setups. A friend of mine who owns a commercial shop saw it and loved it. I don't know about the price as it came with my lathe.

08-26-2009, 11:20 AM
I have a pair of 20+ year old Alnilam's and Acurite scales on my mills that work perfectly.

I'm now looking for a new system for a 14x40 lathe (46 inches travel). Many many choices... and in the end it's about $$. $300's to $2500... Right or wrong.. I steer away from the low cost Chinese anything. I want to mount this once, cover it with coolant, chips and filth, and forget about it for another 20 years. Much as I'd like to believe that a $300 unit is the same as a $1000 unit, I'm skeptical.

If I'm going with glass scales, Jenix (Korean) is my choice. Decent price (around $600 for mine), many configurations... I'd really like magnetic scales for the lathe, particularly the cross slide, and then it gets pricey. I can get a Newall M20 with Mag scales for $800 but it's limited to 40 inches of travel. That leaves me with the Mituoyo KA and Newall C80. For my configuration both "list" for around $2k, but I've found the Mitutoyo on line for about $1200...

08-26-2009, 11:27 AM
I have a Mitutoyo 2 axis with magnetic scales on my Webb Mill. It's fine but most any of them will do these days. The Mitutoyo is nice but rather spendy.

I want to add a DRO to my ENCO 13 X 40 as soon as I recover from the financial shock of tooling up my Mill. I'll be getting one of the CDCO variety with glass scales. They are currently $469 plus about $12 shipping with a two year warranty the one large enough for the lathe.

One thing I like about buying from CDCO is that he will accept PayPal. I don't like to use my credit cards on things like that.

I would shy away from getting anything used like a DRO or just buying a head and attempting to add separate scales later. There are major differences in interface from year to year and it's difficult to tell what would work. By the time you get through trying to make mismatched components work properly, you could have a new one for the same price. I'm highly in favor of "plug and play".

I also added a 6" Digital scale on the Z-axis. I wanted to buy a Mitutoyo to match the DRO until I saw the Mitutoyo up close. My friend has one on his Bridgeport. It has a rather smallish readout on it. I bought a generic one on eBay and it has a much larger readout. I built my own mount since they wanted $40 for the mount and the scale was $40.


08-26-2009, 11:44 AM
For a mill, I believe I would bite the bullet and buy a fancy one. One with bolt circle calculations and that sort of stuff.

The fancy one might be almost twice the cost of the basic, but in the long run if you use it to any extent it'll be well worth the extra bucks.

08-26-2009, 12:33 PM
i've been planning on hacking up a cheapie digital caliper for the quill on my mill, by the way...

i have one of the industrial hobbies square column mills, so it'd be nice to have a scale on the Z axis also, but my existing acu-rite box only supports 2 axes.

you'd think they'd just make 3 axis boxes as it'd be a potential sale of a Z axis down the road, plus they'd have less models to carry in stock and keep track of for service purposes...

08-26-2009, 12:48 PM
I have an accu-rite DRO on my mill. I LOVE it. It has some amazing features, bolt hole circle, hole array, angle milling, etc. It also has a view screen, so you can actually see witch hole you are on. Love that feature. It was between 1000-1400 cdn, i think. I got it the same time i got the mill.

Rob :)

08-26-2009, 03:14 PM
I use a lowly dial indicator on the lathe and may switch to a digi-caliper after a while. The mill will have a digi on the Z and I plan to build a ShumaTech for the other axis. They have a kit on eBay - lol, the same kit is cheaper on their web site. .001 scale resolution is fine for me on the mill.

Jim Shaper
08-26-2009, 03:28 PM
I've got Heidenhain nd780's on both my mill and lathe. The lathe one is way overkill, but I didn't want to spend a bunch more time finding another unit and then having to learn two different interfaces. On the mill, it's the hot ticket!

There's different versions of the same display out there now (and cheaper), so you don't have to spend so much. My displays were 800 a pop, then scales were additional. Total kit price (3 axis with the knee) on my mill was 1800 or so with .0002 resolution.

The display makes the unit. I love having all the data right there instead of having to scroll through screens to find it.

08-26-2009, 09:39 PM
Iv seen some DROs with LCD's insted of just a few 7 segment led/vfd printouts. are those worth the extra money?

08-26-2009, 09:46 PM
you'd think they'd just make 3 axis boxes as it'd be a potential sale of a Z axis down the road....
They do. I wanted a 3-axis for my mill but could only find 2-axis packages offered to fit it. :mad:

As you can see Michael Payne solved my problem. :D


08-26-2009, 10:12 PM
Iv seen some DROs with LCD's insted of just a few 7 segment led/vfd printouts. are those worth the extra money?
It is to me.... but your mileage may vary.
The graphics displays are the berries! :D