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PStechPaul
11-03-2013, 10:24 PM
I have a couple of Harbor Freight digital calipers (but I can't find one). The one I have on hand I purchased about five years ago and it worked OK for a while, but then became intermittent. I purchased the second one with the thought of returning the first one, but when I changed batteries they both seemed to work OK so I decided to keep both, since they were only about $16 each. But it seemed like every time I went to use it I had to play around with it and squeeze the battery cover for it to work for a while. Even fresh batteries did not fix the problem.

So I peeled the backing off and took it apart. It seemed that the display would work when I pressed on it, so I removed it and cleaned the black polarized conductive rubber piece that connects the LCD display to the PCB. This seemed to fix it, but recently I tried to use it and once again I had the same problem. The battery was weak so I replaced it with no joy. I took it apart again and I got it to work eventually, but next day it was dead again. I had resoldered the battery contacts and it seemed like it may have shorted the battery, but after fixing that and another battery replacement, it still had problems, and I gave up. Now I guess I have a fancy stainless steel monkey wrench!

I have a cheap plastic mechanical dial caliper which seems to be reasonably accurate but the dial is calibrated in 0.01" increments, so I can only guess at thousandths. But it is fairly useful for rough measurement and at least there are no batteries to go dead or sensitive electronic components to flake out. It is also good that it is non-conductive, so I can safely measure the length of batteries or the diameter of live electrical wires.

About a year ago I found a plastic digital caliper for $10 at Tractor Supply Co, but when I took it home I found that it only displayed 0.01 inch or 0.1 mm. I was going to return it but I figured it would be OK for non-precision work, with the same advantages of the plastic dial caliper. But recently I found that the display would go crazy and even turn itself on when close to a fluorescent lamp or CFL bulb, even at a distance of about 2 feet. It was OK with an LED lamp, but was affected if I put it near the base where the electronic switching circuit is operating.

So, now I want to purchase yet another caliper. "Horrible Fright" still sells the same model that I had trouble with, for as little as $10, but I think it has a design flaw and not worth risking again. The problem might be that my house and shop are very humid and it might get into the electronics and cause leakage, corrosion, or bad connections.

I found many vendors selling the following model, which has what seem to be stainless steel buttons, and the best price is about $15-$17:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/6-150mm-Stainless-Steel-Electronic-Digital-Vernier-Caliper-Micrometer-Guage-LCD/190844064608

Here is one that offers fractional as well as decimal display, for $27. I'm not so sure about a vendor named "piggyhug" but he is nearby in Martinsburg, WV, so that may be useful if there are any problems, and he has other interesting items as well:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/150774971487

The digital protractor seems like a useful item:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/140717887284

The same decimal/fraction caliper is offered by another vendor for about $30 with shipping:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/120914861733

For small items I can use a nice micrometer I inherited from my father, who worked for Glenn L Martin as a machinist in the 1940s. He also gave me a "fifty cent" 0.5" micrometer which still works.

Photos will follow. Thanks.

http://enginuitysystems.com/pix/Measurement_800x600_0664.png

http://enginuitysystems.com/pix/Measurement_800x600_0665.png

http://enginuitysystems.com/pix/Measurement_800x600_0666.png

dalee100
11-03-2013, 10:39 PM
Hi,

For cheap calipers, any of those are about as good as the next or even another Harbor Freight. If you think humidity is a problem, perhaps a dial type might be a better choice. I would be inclined to buy from Enco or other tool house rather than eBay as warrenty is easier to deal with.

dalee

gellfex
11-03-2013, 10:47 PM
Given that everything that comes out of the shop depends on my calipers and measuring tools, it's the one area I stay with top quality like Mitutoyo. If you don't have cement floors in the shop they'll last forever.

KiddZimaHater
11-03-2013, 11:03 PM
Avoid Digital, and get a GOOD set of dial calipers.
You won't need to replace batteries, worry about them getting wet, or have the scale loose its location.
Also, stop spending money on the $5 and $10 'cheap' Horror Freight garbage, and spring for a $100 STARRETT, MITUTOYO, or BROWN & SHARPE.
A good dial caliper will last a lifetime, and you won't keep spending the $5 and $10 over and over.
STARRETT Calipers on EBAY (http://www.ebay.com/sch/Manufacturing-Metalworking-/11804/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=starrett+dial+caliper&_sop=15)

lakeside53
11-03-2013, 11:09 PM
I buy Mitutoyo digital, and rarely pay more than $45-65 for a 6 inch. Get IP65 (no worries about moisture, coolant or other crap). Where? - on CL of course, and most are "like new". I do have one nice IP65 B&S.

oh.. I HATE the HF type caliper - they feel sloppy and don't last. My friends have a lots of them, and every now and then I have to pick one up ;)

Dial indicator calipers are nice, but they don't do metric conversion on the fly (if it's important to you).

J Tiers
11-03-2013, 11:54 PM
Dial indicator calipers are nice, but they don't do metric conversion on the fly (if it's important to you).

But they are available with dual scales and pointers so they show both metric and inch. I have a couple of the dual type.

PStechPaul
11-04-2013, 12:22 AM
I've heard good things about this company:
http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=1235&category=

Not bad, $20 for a dial caliper. It says the graduations are 0.001, so the dial must turn ten times faster than my plastic one. They have a higher quality version for $25:
http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=3704

Their digital calipers for $30 look the same as the cheaper ones.
http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_search.php?critFast=caliper&B1=Product+Search

On Amazon I found a plastic decimal/fractional caliper for just $8:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006HJBJEE/ref=asc_df_B006HJBJEE2802965?smid=A2FYHGC4NSM6WF&tag=nextagusmp0404097-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B006HJBJEE#productDetails

Another dial caliper (SAE only) for $18:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0007KXN0W/ref=asc_df_B0007KXN0W2798203?smid=A1FMUOMSDTCB8X&tag=nextagusmp0404101-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B0007KXN0W

Here is an 8" version which includes fractions for $18 but reviews are not good:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001IAS3SW/ref=asc_df_B001IAS3SW2756915?smid=A2ZSTDEXO9VTZF&tag=nextagusmp0404101-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B001IAS3SW#productDetails

Also a 6" dial caliper for $21, from Grizzly:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000DCZXU/ref=asc_df_B0000DCZXU2692952?smid=A2LM8ZC59IT9RX&tag=nextagusmp0404103-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B0000DCZXU

This is one that has the metal buttons, for $23, but many bad reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003PDITHA/ref=asc_df_B003PDITHA2566516?smid=A2ZSTDEXO9VTZF&tag=nextagusmp0404103-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B003PDITHA#productDetails

Probably the same tool, about the same price, somewhat better reviews. Apparently also advertised as titanium, which is false:
http://www.amazon.com/Carrera-Precision-CP8806-T-Stainless-Micrometer/dp/B000QW6OGQ/ref=pd_sim_sbs_hi_4#productDetails

This seems a good deal for $23:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/X-PRECISION-FRACTIONAL1-128-DIGITAL-ELECTRONIC-CALIPER-/370494844420

and they have many other tools, such as this dial caliper for $25:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/6-Shock-Proof-Stainless-Steel-Dial-Calipers-SAE-Yellow-Face-/230801160028

and this "extreme accuracy" model, for $48:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/AccuRemote-Electronic-Caliper-ABSOLUTE-ORIGIN-6-Digital-IP54-Extreme-Accuracy-/370831973935

I should also check Craigs List and yard sales/flea markets. Thanks for the input.

darryl
11-04-2013, 12:45 AM
I'll take a decent dial caliper over a digital, and I'll go to my vernier to verify a measurement if it comes to that. Micrometer of course for precision within its range.

macona
11-04-2013, 12:49 AM
I do calibration at work and more dial calipers fail than digitals, in fact, of all the digitals we have tested none have failed.

Ill take a digital any day over a dial. Cant do offsets and hole spacings with a dial.

lakeside53
11-04-2013, 01:51 AM
I also prefer digital (quality brands only). And as for "batteries going flat" - heck, they seem to last forever in the Mitutoyo. I have some over 5 years.

BigBoy1
11-04-2013, 03:23 AM
Avoid Digital, and get a GOOD set of dial calipers. You won't need to replace batteries, worry about them getting wet, or have the scale loose its location. Also, stop spending money on the $5 and $10 'cheap' Horror Freight garbage, and spring for a $100 STARRETT, MITUTOYO, or BROWN & SHARPE. A good dial caliper will last a lifetime, and you won't keep spending the $5 and $10 over and over.


KiddZimaHater just types faster than I can. His comments are right on the money. Stop fooling around with the cheap ones and get good dial calipers. I have a Mitutoyo with a white face indicator for my inch measurements and Starrett with a yellow face indicator for metric measuring. (I know by color if I've accidentally grabbed the wrong caliper.) I have not had good luck with battery powered display calipers. Perhaps it is the humid climate in which I live but I could not get more that a month or two from a battery before it went dead with moderate use (one or two days a week usage.). You can't go wrong with a set of good calibers with a dial indicator display. Just my $0.02.

PStechPaul
11-04-2013, 05:43 AM
I am leaning toward getting a better dial type caliper that can read to 0.001". I can use my less accurate plastic ones for quick measurements, and I have the micrometer if I need better accuracy for smaller items up to 1". It appears to be capable of reading even closer than 0.001", and I just checked that on an object that reads 0.870" reads the same on the dial calipers and the 0.01" plastic digital. It also reads 22.1 mm which is 0.87008", and the 0.1 mm resolution is about 0.004". I hope to find my other HF caliper and maybe it will work well enough.

I found a source for a very wide variety of calipers and other measuring instruments at reasonable prices, but it is a Chinese company and the shipping cost will probably be a lot more than the eBay vendors.
http://www.anyimeasuring.com/products/calipers.html

They even have calipers with 0.001 mm (micron) resolution. But I just checked and the shipping cost is about $45 to the US.

Thanks.

Allan Waterfall
11-04-2013, 05:53 AM
When I had a Mitutoyo caliper that eventually failed with old age I bought a Chinese caliper,the battery life of it was very poor,it needed the zero resetting every time it was switched on and the action didn't feel particularly smooth in use.

I bought a used Mitutoyo on ebay and used it to repair the failed set which is still in use,still holds the zero setting and I very often forget to switch it off.I've since bought a brand new one,the main advantage is the figures are bigger.

Allan

Tilaran
11-04-2013, 06:14 AM
Brown and Sharpe Vernier.Nothing more required.

EVguru
11-04-2013, 06:15 AM
I've got several cheap digitals that get used for everyday use, one pair being left handed for use on the lathe. They've all been pretty reliable and battery life has been OK if I make sure I get the Silver oxide cells and not the Alkaline version (SR44 NOT LR44). I've got a Mitutoyo in the draw that never comes out as I use a micrometer for anything that needs more precision than the cheap calipers. I'm using the lacal zero and unit conversions too often to want to use dial calipers.

JoeBean
11-04-2013, 06:57 AM
I've got vernier calipers, dial calipers, and digital calipers. But I almost always grab the digital first. Maybe it's because I'm under 35 but I hate reading dials. I even hate reading clocks and watches! I'd grab the vernier calipers before the dials.

One thing to note about digital Mitutoyos, though: If you go to get one and think about splurging on their solar calipers make sure you try it before you buy it. They go dark without a LOT of light on them. So they become useless in slightly dark areas, like working around an engine, without a light to shine on them. Even in my shop there's a notable difference in how well they work from the day time to the night time.

dian
11-04-2013, 08:13 AM
i have half a dozen calipers from aldi. they are acurate and repeatable, not worse than the expensive ones i have. big display. you have to remember to switch them off, though.

Arthur.Marks
11-04-2013, 09:32 AM
Awfully tempting to buy a B&S (Tesa) Shop-Cal for $68.95 (!) in the Grizzly christmas flyer (http://www.grizzly.com/products/T20257). That's a high quality digital caliper deeply discounted.

Harvey Melvin Richards
11-04-2013, 01:02 PM
Mitutoyo has just come out with a new model, with a model number ending in -30. So all of their old stuff might go on sale. This is according to Long Island Indicator's Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152037597164458&set=a.454849779457.244039.181657454457&type=1&theater

Dr Stan
11-04-2013, 01:08 PM
I do calibration at work and more dial calipers fail than digitals, in fact, of all the digitals we have tested none have failed.

Ill take a digital any day over a dial. Cant do offsets and hole spacings with a dial.

Ditto. When I was working full time in the trade a couple of shops I worked at banned dial calipers as they have a tenancy to skip a tooth and you'll be .025" off. Consequently I never owned a dial caliper (used them however). I have a Brown & Sharpe at home that is over 25 years old and works like new. I have a couple, one 6" and one 12", digital SPI's at work and they are also good measuring instruments. The el cheapos are OK for quick & dirty measurements, but you need a good one for ;more precise measurement. Another valid point that has already been said is use mics for anything resembling close (+/- .001") or tighter.

gellfex
11-04-2013, 01:18 PM
Ditto. When I was working full time in the trade a couple of shops I worked at banned dial calipers as they have a tenancy to skip a tooth and you'll be .025" off. Consequently I never owned a dial caliper (used them however). I have a Brown & Sharpe at home that is over 25 years old and works like new. I have a couple, one 6" and one 12", digital SPI's at work and they are also good measuring instruments. The el cheapos are OK for quick & dirty measurements, but you need a good one for ;more precise measurement. Another valid point that has already been said is use mics for anything resembling close (+/- .001") or tighter.

+1 and +1. I sure don't miss constantly blowing chips out of the dial rack! I also often have to work on metric items, and can do so at the push of a button. And once you get hooked on being able to zero at a location and measure from there quick and easy, you don't go back.

Forestgnome
11-04-2013, 01:31 PM
I do calibration at work and more dial calipers fail than digitals, in fact, of all the digitals we have tested none have failed.

Ill take a digital any day over a dial. Cant do offsets and hole spacings with a dial.

Are you talking cheap digitals or name brand?

wierdscience
11-04-2013, 01:42 PM
Mitutoyo digitals for me for the last 15 years.I will never go back to dial,maybe vernier,but not dial.

Paul Alciatore
11-04-2013, 02:00 PM
I have a bunch of calipers; vernier, digital, and dial. All of them work OK. The vernier is my oldest and what can I say, you need a sledge hammer to mess it up. It is German made and the tightest of the lot. The dial, an import, gave me a lot of trouble at first. When I finally got ALL the trash out of the rack, it worked perfectly and has ever since.

All the rest are digital and imports. The biggest issue I have had is one of the six inch ones has a stripped thread on the lock screw. The rest work just fine and they all check out fine with my shop blocks. They are a bit looser than the German made vernier and I can get a +/- 0.001" variation in the readings. I have had to refine my technique in using them to avoid or minimize this problem.

You seem to have a lot of bad luck with digital calipers. Perhaps there is something in your shop environment that is causing this. If this is the case, then a more expensive pair may go the same way. Electronic circuits that work on a battery Voltage that is under 2 Volts can not tolerate much in the line of problems. Any film or oxidization or dirt on electric contact surfaces can and will produce problems. This can be at the battery or at the display or the push buttons. 99% pure alcohol is good for cleaning. Use it with new cotton swabs or new paper towels or freshly washed rags. Apply it twice or three times, each with a fresh applicator. Do not touch the surfaces after cleaning them.

These electronic calipers are generally very reliable, even the imports. In your case I strongly suspect other factors.

DR
11-04-2013, 02:08 PM
I gave up on digitals, even those that are coolant "proof" don't seem to be.

My favorite calipers are the B&S Swiss made dial ones. Around a hundred bucks on sale. They don't have or need the annoying little thumb wheel to move the head.

PStechPaul
11-04-2013, 05:06 PM
There is a "Shars" brand that looks good, for about $32 with shipping:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/SHARS-6-4-Key-Large-LCD-Electronic-Digital-Caliper-NEW-/350827075739

or the metric/inch/fraction for $26:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/6-150MM-METRIC-FRACTION-DIGITAL-ELECTRONIC-CALIPER-NEW-/350280643549

He also has other models and lots of other tools in his store, including an old-fashioned vernier for $8 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/SHARS-001-02MM-6-Precision-Vernier-Caliper-NEW-/330713083183?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4d00092d2f):
http://stores.ebay.com/Discount-Machine-Shop?_trksid=p2047675.l2563

J Tiers
11-04-2013, 07:35 PM
So a dial caliper can be off 0.025" by skipping a tooth..... AND YOU DON"T SEE THAT?

A digital can be off any amount you like, by hitting the "zero" at the wrong time..... AND YOU HAVE JUST AS MUCH CHANCE OF NOT SEEING THAT...!

Use either one PROPERLY, by checking zero before you take a measurement*, and NEITHER of those are likely to ever bother you again.

If you take higher confidence measurments checking after as well, OR if you use your head and try a mic for those, you are about proof against problems.

There isn't a type of measuring tool made that can't be fouled up by mis-calibrating, rezeroing, tooth skip, a piece of grit on the jaw/anvil/etc, or whatever. Saying you will not allow "this particular" type of measuring tool because a person can make a bad measurement with it.... well it's beyond silly.

Ban Calipers because they are a bad tool, FINE... I'd agree they ARE a bad tool. Digital are MUCH worse than dial, because they pretend to give such precision. Dial are a bit more "honest". The only "reliable" type are vernier..... but they are of course immediately thrown out because you can misread them so easily.

If you don't like a measuring tool that can give an error, and ban all such, you will run out of measuring tools very quickly.....

* before some smarty-pants asks if I zero a mic beforehand for all measurements also, and the answer is NO. The error sources are different between mics and calipers. But I sure check the anvil and spindle for grit/swarf.

lakeside53
11-04-2013, 08:13 PM
There is a "Shars" brand that looks good, for about $32 with shipping:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/SHARS-6-4-Key-Large-LCD-Electronic-Digital-Caliper-NEW-/350827075739

or the metric/inch/fraction for $26:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/6-150MM-METRIC-FRACTION-DIGITAL-ELECTRONIC-CALIPER-NEW-/350280643549

He also has other models and lots of other tools in his store, including an old-fashioned vernier for $8 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/SHARS-001-02MM-6-Precision-Vernier-Caliper-NEW-/330713083183?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4d00092d2f):
http://stores.ebay.com/Discount-Machine-Shop?_trksid=p2047675.l2563



But.. are you sure any of these are better than a HF model? I doubt it..

Edwin Dirnbeck
11-04-2013, 08:21 PM
I bought one of the first mitutoyo digital calipers when they first came out.It was expensive but incredible for about 3 1/2 years ,then it just quit.It wasnt repairable. Since then I have bought about 10 different Cheapos on sale some for home and some for work.On some of them I have chopped off the depth tail or the inside jaws or the outside jaws or altered or thinned the jaws to clearance .I allways buy the ones with the fine adjust rollers. IMPORTANT you should always keep an old fashion rack and pinion caliper in the plastic case in your glove compartment incase you need to measure some thing when out and about.The only good thing good about the rack and pinion calipers is they are allways ready to go. Edwin

Mike Hunter
11-04-2013, 09:23 PM
I'm going to second what Mr. Marks staited earlier, the B&S (TESA) digitals that Grizzly has on sale are one heck of a bargin. I have 3 in the shop, have not killed one yet. They also have the auto shut off feature

PixMan
11-05-2013, 12:06 AM
But.. are you sure any of these are better than a HF model? I doubt it..

+1. I cannot figure out why he is posting so many links to the junkiest, cheapest tools on the market.

Good quality tools only cost once. I have two of the Mitutoyo digital electronic 6" calipers. I bought the second when after ten years of constant use the cover over the scale started peeling. I gave those to my dad and bought the new ones. Seven years later, the replacement ones are in the same condition as the first, and both still work perfect. The batteries last over 5 years, and it's just one LR44. The digital electronic can do center distances, differential measures, switch back & forth from metric to inch, and are impervious to chips and dust.

I have dial calipers for Brown & Sharpe, and verniers from Starrett. They work fine. And I do not find myself using them because the digital electronic are so much easier. My dad, who passed in July, preferred his dial calipers, and I find the slips of paper all over the shop where he wrote down measurements and did the math. I don't know if he ever made mistakes in math because I'm not checking, but it just seems like more work and opportunity for error over the instant readings of the Mitutoyo Absolute digital electronic.

macona
11-05-2013, 12:11 AM
Are you talking cheap digitals or name brand?

Surprisingly, both. The guys in the machine shop tend to have good stuff, Mitutoyo, Starrett, etc. The guys in sheet metal dont. But the chinese calipers have all passed cal. 6" calipers need to be within .001 of the traceable blocks, 12" need to be within .0015. Biggest issue with dial calipers has been non-linearity.

MTNGUN
11-05-2013, 12:13 AM
My favorite and most-used caliper is a 4" HF. The 4" actually costs a few bucks more than a 6", but it fits my hand much better. :)

Batteries last about 6 months in the HF's. I'm not going to spend big bucks on a name brand caliper just so a $1 battery will last longer.

Life of the HF caliber itself has varied quite a bit. My current 4" has been in daily use for 5 years, but I've also had them fail after about a year. For the price I couldn't complain if I had to buy a new one every year.

PStechPaul
11-05-2013, 09:09 PM
I generally agree with the premise that one should buy good quality tools, just once, rather than get cheap stuff that will break or be inaccurate. But my problem is that my house is very damp and that is not good for tools made of ordinary steel, or electronic equipment. So I hate to spend a lot on something that might be damaged by the conditions. Having had bad luck with the two HF calipers, I am hesitant to buy another, and I think perhaps another model might be better. I found my thread on the repair I had made, about two years ago:
http://www.diybanter.com/electronics-repair/332012-repaired-harbor-freight-digital-caliper.html

It goes into the details of electronic caliper operation, which might be of some interest to the techies. Thanks for the many suggestions, opinions, and experience.

gellfex
11-05-2013, 09:45 PM
I generally agree with the premise that one should buy good quality tools, just once, rather than get cheap stuff that will break or be inaccurate. But my problem is that my house is very damp and that is not good for tools made of ordinary steel, or electronic equipment. So I hate to spend a lot on something that might be damaged by the conditions.

Mitutoyo's are stainless. My shop is quite damp, it is in a basement that periodically floods:mad: My calipers are fine, even the one HF I have, a 12" I got for $20. Mostly they suffer from me dropping them on the cement floor and dinging the jaws. The only time I had one become utterly unusable was when it's plastic screen crazed for some reason after it was pretty old and you couldn't read it.

J Tiers
11-05-2013, 09:54 PM
Mitutoyo's are stainless. My shop is quite damp, it is in a basement that periodically floods:mad: My calipers are fine, even the one HF I have, a 12" I got for $20. Mostly they suffer from me dropping them on the cement floor and dinging the jaws. The only time I had one become utterly unusable was when it's plastic screen crazed for some reason after it was pretty old and you couldn't read it.

Just about ANY calipers made recently are some sort of stainless. Especially the chinese ones, stainless seems to be cheap in china.... unlike here.

As for dropping things, put down some mats. Solid are best.... the ones with holes just produce a more interesting target for any "cement-seeking missles" that fall off the bench.

You can also get interlocking hard foam mat squares. they are nice in that you can get them to fit in places that straight runners do not. I originally found them as shop floor mat material. More recently I have mostly seen the same thing as playroom flooring, but I don't think it's any different. My original stuff, the shop flooring type, has lasted over 10 years, and seems likely to go another 20.

mf205i
11-06-2013, 03:33 AM
I was a committed dial caliper guy but I was curious about the digitals. About 4 years ago HF had 6-inch digital calipers on sale for 10 bucks. So to satisfying my curiosity I asked the wife to pick up 10 of them. She came home with 9 calipers. I set down for the evening with my standards and each one was checked for accuracy, fit and finish. All but one was within plus or minus .001 inch over their entire range of 6 inches and a couple were much better. The worst one was smoother and more accurate than the last Mitutoyo dial caliper that I purchased, NO BS. I gave most of them away, kept several for myself and put one into service. For about 4 years now it would have been a rare day that it wouldn’t have been used at least once. It has been dropped on concrete 4 times, it has had the points reground 3 times, the slide tension has been adjusted twice and I am still on the original caliper. It is still in tolerance of plus or minus .001 inch over 6 inches.
The change to digital does have a learning curve to it; I got bit once by failing to reset it to true zero. Once mastered, the convenience of converting metric to inches, the elimination of math errors, and the ability to read them without glasses makes them indispensable. Now I know that I am the only one that has muffed a part because of a simple math error. With the digitals you can just zero them at the dimension that you want, then measure your stock and the numbers shown gives the amount of material that needs to be removed to hit your mark, nice. And when I eventually knocked it off of the old Monarch, it wasn’t nearly the event that it would have been had it been the Mitutoyos. They won’t impress your customers or your friends but they certainly are accurate, reliable and an incredible value. So, get one, learn to check zero every time you pick it up, put a silver battery in it, don’t pretend it’s a micrometer and I think you will find that you won’t be in a hurry to “upgrade”.
Mike

gundog
11-06-2013, 04:03 AM
I have 3 or 4 sets of digital calipers 3 Chinese and on Mitutoyo. None of them work I am sick of them I use dial calipers now and mics. I spent more time trying to keep them working than using them. The dial type seem to work all the time even the one with the broken face dropped by one of the guys that used to work for me.

Mike

J Tiers
11-06-2013, 08:43 AM
I have both.... Several dial, most of which are both inch and mm in one, and a couple digital. The cheap digital don't turn themselves off, sometimes get goofy and have an offset that doesn't zero out (have to turn off). They pretend to a greater precision than they really have (they read to 5 tenths), but are actually good to a thou or two.

They are generally acceptable for many measurements. The other engineers at work like to borrow them, which is fine, then they don't bother my dial calipers (no worries about the mics).

The dial never need batteries, read out to a precision which is truly what they have, and are simple to zero-out, so they don't suffer from skipped teeth or other zero problems. I prefer them, I think they are actually easier to read and since they have mm and inches, there is no button-pushing.

mattthemuppet
11-06-2013, 09:26 AM
I have a couple of digital calipers and a Mitutoyo dial caliper. One of the digitals (no name from Germany, equivalent to a HF) has been used 2-3 times a week for the last 10 or so years, lived in horribly damp and horribly arid climates, been dropped etc and has needed 1 battery change. It doesn't feel as nice as the Mitutoyo (no surprise), but it's easier to use. It'll soon be retired for the 2nd digital which I was given recently and feels nicer. I keep the dial caliper for when I want to be more accurate than usual.

Personally, if you're a home shop machinist, I'd either go for a HF one and treat it as disposable or a Mit/B&S etc digital and baby it (perhaps a vacuum jar full of drierite is on your horizon?). It's not like many of us are working to industrial precision and buying expensive tools that crap out because of your shop conditions seems a bit of a waste of money.

Harvey Melvin Richards
11-06-2013, 10:37 AM
I bought my first Mitutoyo digital 6" around 20 years ago. It's been dropped too many times to count. It's still mostly accurate, the tips have been touched up a few times. It now lives in my woodshop. I have since bought one 6" new, and a 4", 6" and 12" used, all Mitutoyos. They are the most used tools in my shop, and I would only replace them with Mitutoyos. I also have numerous vernier and dial calipers up to 30" in length that mostly collect dust. I keep a couple of spare batteries on hand, and a dead battery is a non-issue for me.

The only dial caliper of mine that gets much use is a Lee Valley 6" that reads in 0.01" and 1/64", great for wood working, but useless in the metal shop.

http://i811.photobucket.com/albums/zz35/HarveyMelvinRichards/P8064750Large.jpg (http://s811.photobucket.com/user/HarveyMelvinRichards/media/P8064750Large.jpg.html)

MichaelP
11-06-2013, 11:41 AM
I'd say if one wants to use a caliper or micrometer it means he want to have a corresponding precision and repeatability in making parts. Otherwise, a tape measure or ruler will suffice. They're cheap, don't require batteries, withstand drops on concrete floor without a slightest problem, and last well in dump basements.

Yes, I know I'm exaggerating. An HF lathe and plastic caliper is a match made in Heaven. ;)

mattthemuppet
11-06-2013, 11:43 AM
Yes, I know I'm exaggerating. A HF lathe and plastic caliper is a match made in Heaven. ;)

nice

PStechPaul
11-06-2013, 04:22 PM
I just checked the HF website and they have a metric/inch/fractional 6" caliper for $20, and the customer reviews are good. So I will most likely get that:
http://www.harborfreight.com/6-digital-caliper-with-metric-and-sae-fractional-readings-68304.html

They also have a fractional/decimal dial caliper for $22:
http://www.harborfreight.com/6-inch-fractional-dial-caliper-92437.html

I may have been just unlucky with the caliper I bought and have now, and the other one that I still can't find might just need a new battery. Reading back through my thread in the usenet newsgroup, I see that the battery had signs of rust and corrosion, and that might have gotten into the electronics. At least with HF I can be pretty sure that I can take it back to the local store for a replacement within a reasonable time if it goes bad. It seems that there is really no consensus of opinions and experience from the responses to this thread, except that perhaps the more expensive tools may be a bit better made and more consistently reliable, but I don't think they are worth paying 5 times (or more) the price of the HF or other Chinese imports.

Thanks.

macona
11-07-2013, 01:42 AM
It seems that there is really no consensus of opinions and experience from the responses to this thread, except that perhaps the more expensive tools may be a bit better made and more consistently reliable, but I don't think they are worth paying 5 times (or more) the price of the HF or other Chinese imports.

Thanks.

No consensus? Maybe digital vs analog but everybody thinks good quality calipers will blow away chinese crap. I said earlier that the chinese calipers calibrate fine, what I didn't say is they feel like crap. And feel is important when it comes to getting good readings out of calipers. Good tools are worth every penny.

lakeside53
11-07-2013, 01:51 AM
Yes, I agree totally.

PStechPaul
11-07-2013, 04:59 AM
On the previous page, six posts were favorable toward the HF calipers, two were against them, one was about workplace floor mats, and one was mine. Perhaps the majority prefer and promote the purchase of name brand tools, but there were enough positive opinions and experience with the cheaper calipers that I will go that route, for now, and keep an eye out for better quality items at yard sales and such. Besides, I do have a high quality micrometer, and I have just gone through a box of my father's old machinist tools and they may round out my collection adequately. I will probably start another thread where I will take pictures of these tools and find out more about their use and worth. They were somewhat rusty but mostly cleaned up well and should be usable.

MichaelP
11-07-2013, 09:05 AM
I'm lost. What was the purpose of the thread? To figure out which bad caliper is not as bad as the worst one?

I think if you have a chance to play with a good brand name caliper, you won't have any more questions or doubts.

P.S. If you're into a digital one, everything else aside, you'll waste more on batteries than what you gain by buying a cheap caliper.

Mike Nash
11-07-2013, 10:45 AM
I think if you have a chance to play with a good brand name caliper, you won't have any more questions or doubts.

Ha Ha Ha. An old rule I play by is "Never try unless prepared to buy." Trying out good quality anything generates a sucking sound in my wallet, especially if I already have a lesser quality something.

MichaelP
11-07-2013, 10:47 AM
That's true. :)

cwolfs69
11-23-2013, 08:13 AM
the digital protractor you showed is a fabulous item to have in the shop.i use it all the time for checking square, finding out angles on parts, setting blades, setting the compound on lathe, etc. it is great. easy to set and use, very accurate and versatile. the best for measuring the angle between two items where you cant get squared up on. i don't have that particular brand (mine are "General") but about the same. i would highly recommend these in any shop.


I have a couple of Harbor Freight digital calipers (but I can't find one). The one I have on hand I purchased about five years ago and it worked OK for a while, but then became intermittent. I purchased the second one with the thought of returning the first one, but when I changed batteries they both seemed to work OK so I decided to keep both, since they were only about $16 each. But it seemed like every time I went to use it I had to play around with it and squeeze the battery cover for it to work for a while. Even fresh batteries did not fix the problem.

So I peeled the backing off and took it apart. It seemed that the display would work when I pressed on it, so I removed it and cleaned the black polarized conductive rubber piece that connects the LCD display to the PCB. This seemed to fix it, but recently I tried to use it and once again I had the same problem. The battery was weak so I replaced it with no joy. I took it apart again and I got it to work eventually, but next day it was dead again. I had resoldered the battery contacts and it seemed like it may have shorted the battery, but after fixing that and another battery replacement, it still had problems, and I gave up. Now I guess I have a fancy stainless steel monkey wrench!

I have a cheap plastic mechanical dial caliper which seems to be reasonably accurate but the dial is calibrated in 0.01" increments, so I can only guess at thousandths. But it is fairly useful for rough measurement and at least there are no batteries to go dead or sensitive electronic components to flake out. It is also good that it is non-conductive, so I can safely measure the length of batteries or the diameter of live electrical wires.

About a year ago I found a plastic digital caliper for $10 at Tractor Supply Co, but when I took it home I found that it only displayed 0.01 inch or 0.1 mm. I was going to return it but I figured it would be OK for non-precision work, with the same advantages of the plastic dial caliper. But recently I found that the display would go crazy and even turn itself on when close to a fluorescent lamp or CFL bulb, even at a distance of about 2 feet. It was OK with an LED lamp, but was affected if I put it near the base where the electronic switching circuit is operating.

So, now I want to purchase yet another caliper. "Horrible Fright" still sells the same model that I had trouble with, for as little as $10, but I think it has a design flaw and not worth risking again. The problem might be that my house and shop are very humid and it might get into the electronics and cause leakage, corrosion, or bad connections.

I found many vendors selling the following model, which has what seem to be stainless steel buttons, and the best price is about $15-$17:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/6-150mm-Stainless-Steel-Electronic-Digital-Vernier-Caliper-Micrometer-Guage-LCD/190844064608

Here is one that offers fractional as well as decimal display, for $27. I'm not so sure about a vendor named "piggyhug" but he is nearby in Martinsburg, WV, so that may be useful if there are any problems, and he has other interesting items as well:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/150774971487

The digital protractor seems like a useful item:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/140717887284

The same decimal/fraction caliper is offered by another vendor for about $30 with shipping:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/120914861733

For small items I can use a nice micrometer I inherited from my father, who worked for Glenn L Martin as a machinist in the 1940s. He also gave me a "fifty cent" 0.5" micrometer which still works.

Photos will follow. Thanks.

http://enginuitysystems.com/pix/Measurement_800x600_0664.png

http://enginuitysystems.com/pix/Measurement_800x600_0665.png

http://enginuitysystems.com/pix/Measurement_800x600_0666.png

PStechPaul
11-23-2013, 04:48 PM
I see that there is a coupon in the AARP magazine for these 6" HF calipers for $9.95. That's a really good deal, if they last any better than my old ones. I may also get their decimal/metric/fractional type. There's also a 20% or 25% discount coupon for another item.

sawlog
11-23-2013, 05:22 PM
Just reread the thread. I have a set of HF inexpensive digital calpers l use them for getting close. I did have another set but they was a Craftsman set. I just got a good set of Starret off of e-bay and was impressed.

gellfex
11-24-2013, 07:07 PM
Anyone have one of these "EZ CAL" units? They're about $28 for a 6" on Ebay or Amazon, they're IP54 Splash water, oil and dust resistant, display decimal or fractional to 1/128, and look like they might be better than the super cheapies. Gotta love the big display. Would make a good cheap DRO for a mill or lathe.

http://www.igaging.com/wpimages/wpaca36052_05.jpg

J Tiers
11-24-2013, 11:08 PM
The older HF 6" calipers that I have are just as good as the German made Fowler, Kanon and Mit I have, as far as measuring.

They also feel pretty much just as good. that goes for teh digital, AND the dial.

Maybe the newer ones are bad, as I hear they are, but I don't buy them, don't need any more than what I have.

There are perfectly good chinese measuring tools, and don't let anyone fool you on that. It costs very little more to make them accurate vs less accurate, until you get to real cheap trash.

I have a Mit 12", and a "peacock" brand 12". Both dial. They check out the same, both accurate against my standards. But the "peacock" brand are older ones, new ones may be trashier.

But if they are trashier now, it's because the buyer asked for them that way. The buyer at HF, that is.