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  • Digital caliper recomendations

    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-Stai...D/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.





    Last edited by PStechPaul; 11-03-2013, 10:39 PM. Reason: photos
    http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
    Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
    USA Maryland 21030

  • #2
    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
    If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

    Comment


    • #3
      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.
      Location: Jersey City NJ USA

      Comment


      • #4
        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

        Comment


        • #5
          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).
          Last edited by lakeside53; 11-03-2013, 11:15 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by lakeside53 View Post
            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.
            1601

            Keep eye on ball.
            Hashim Khan

            Comment


            • #7
              I've heard good things about this company:
              http://littlemachineshop.com/product...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/product...ProductID=3704

              Their digital calipers for $30 look the same as the cheaper ones.
              http://littlemachineshop.com/product...Product+Search

              On Amazon I found a plastic decimal/fractional caliper for just $8:
              http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006HJBJEE/...productDetails

              Another dial caliper (SAE only) for $18:
              http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0007KXN0W/...SIN=B0007KXN0W

              Here is an 8" version which includes fractions for $18 but reviews are not good:
              http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001IAS3SW/...productDetails

              Also a 6" dial caliper for $21, from Grizzly:
              http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000DCZXU/...SIN=B0000DCZXU

              This is one that has the metal buttons, for $23, but many bad reviews:
              http://www.amazon.com/dp/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-Precis...productDetails

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

              and they have many other tools, such as this dial caliper for $25:
              http://www.ebay.com/itm/6-Shock-Proo...-/230801160028

              and this "extreme accuracy" model, for $48:
              http://www.ebay.com/itm/AccuRemote-E...-/370831973935

              I should also check Craigs List and yard sales/flea markets. Thanks for the input.
              http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
              Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
              USA Maryland 21030

              Comment


              • #8
                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.
                I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KiddZimaHater View Post
                      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.
                      Bill

                      Being ROAD KILL on the Information Super Highway and Electronically Challenged really SUCKS!!

                      Every problem can be solved through the proper application of explosives, duct tape, teflon, WD-40, or any combo of the aforementioned items.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.
                        http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                        Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                        USA Maryland 21030

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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

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                          • #14
                            Brown and Sharpe Vernier.Nothing more required.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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.
                              Paul Compton
                              www.morini-mania.co.uk
                              http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

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