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Any reason NOT to add DRO?

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  • Any reason NOT to add DRO?

    I'm thinking about adding a 2 axis DRO to the Millrite. I can't think of a good reason not to, but since I'm still pretty green, I figured I'd ask to make sure I'm not missing something obvious.

  • #2
    You can't go wrong adding a DRO if it is installed correctly. You will never want to do without it afterwards.
    Kansas City area


    • #3
      The only reasons (not to install) that I can think of are:

      - cost
      - lack of ability to install
      - possible loss of travel if scale is installed on the rear of the table
      - prior experience with a lousy DRO (is there such a thing?)

      BTW, my scale is on the rear of the table and I'm happy to give up an inch of travel to get the functionality.



      • #4
        yeah initial cost, complexities, lack of travel (depending)

        also what kind you get and having to be careful with things like chip build up and such, esp. with the rack an pinon type like "shooting star" (good name for them as they are reliant on mechanical function in a harsh environment so day's are numbered from the get go)

        I will add -- if you bought your Mill for set specific guidelines of just doing "point A to point B" stuff and rarely ever venture out from that a DRO could actually be a waste of money, but would be hard to imagine owning a mill and limiting yourself to just that,

        For me a DRO made my Mill at least twice the machine it was before I added it...
        Last edited by A.K. Boomer; 07-12-2017, 11:45 AM.


        • #5
          After wishing for years, I finally added an Acu-Rite 200S to my Millrite. It's a 2-axis, the X- scale is mounted on the front of the table and I have full travel all the way around. I actually get more chips/debris behind the table than in front. It's not in the way at all up there and very easy to keep 'clean'.

          I think I paid about $1700 for it. It came with all the brackets & hardware, and the features (both electro/mechanical) and firmware are truly amazing. 'Once you go Dro, you'll never say No!"
          Southwest Utah


          • #6
            You guys are echoing the thoughts I've had. I just can't imagine that I would regret installing a DRO. To be honest, I'll probably end up with a low cost unit to start, and then upgrade a little later if I need to.


            • #7
              In my purgatory as a bureaucrat, one of my projects was to contract for installing DROs on a couple dozen large machine tools (HBM's, VBM's VTL's etc). In my research, I discovered the usual DRO installation repaid its purchase price in two to five months in terms of time saved and avoidance of spoiled work. I suppose that figure had more to do with production shops making parts in large batches whereas we were a repair shop where no two jobs were alike. Still the retrofits drew rave reviews from even the crusty skeptics.

              As for my home shop, I have DRO's on all, (well nowadays, both) of my machine tools. I went for higher end DRO's with the bells and whistles i thought I needed thinking greater reliability and utility. I've had the DRO on my turret mill for 36 years and the display just lately died in the Ref/Inc function but is usable as a plain vanilla DRO. The DRO on my lathe is a Sony and a couple years ago I upgraded the display for one having a radial/diametral feature and several other handy functions.

              The variety available on the DRO market is dazzling and the price range is from barely suitable for cheap to astonishing for features, resolution and price. The trick these days is to settle on a DRO that best suits your needs AND budget. A DRO is expensive and durable. You'll be using it long after you've forgotten how much you paid for it so don't buy a low dollar, feature poor system you'll curse for years. You'll probably want basic functions, center finding and bolt circles (VERY handy). Third (and fourth) axis probably but maybe not now, so buy a DRO you can expand later. Many come with tool presets, next op position programming (dial to zero), etc. The trick is not to under-buy or to over-buy.

              Discipline, Grasshopper. Shop wisely. There's a lot of choices to make so take a couple months to inform yourself before you commit.
              Last edited by Forrest Addy; 07-12-2017, 04:07 PM.


              • #8
                Like Bro Addy said, wait 'til you can get what you want. I waited several years pinching pennies to get the 200S. Worth the wait? Yes.
                Southwest Utah


                • #9
                  I know I need to install a DRO on my mill, but haven't fully decided whether I need the third axis, and whether it should be on the knee or the quill. What say you all?

                  As it is now, I always use the knee for measured depth changes (it's a Bridgeport clone, 9x42), and the dial seems pretty repeatable and accurate. I'm not sure if a knee axis on the DRO would gain much? On the other hand, I'm not sure what I'd do with a quill axis except to set a zero point for re-positioning later. What am I missing?


                  • #10
                    Lately I've been thinking about upgrading my imported mill vise to a Kurt or (nearly) equal. But honestly I'm now thinking the same money would be better spent on a DRO.
                    12" x 35" Logan 2557V lathe
                    Index "Super 55" mill
                    18" Vectrax vertical bandsaw
                    7" x 10" Vectrax mitering bandsaw
                    24" State disc sander


                    • #11
                      Any reason NOT to add DRO?

                      Originally posted by TMo View Post
                      I'm thinking about adding a 2 axis DRO to the Millrite. I can't think of a good reason not to, but since I'm still pretty green, I figured I'd ask to make sure I'm not missing something obvious.
                      Only reason I can think of for me is it will get in the way of the CNC equipment on mine JR


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Yondering View Post
                        I know I need to install a DRO on my mill, but haven't fully decided whether I need the third axis, and whether it should be on the knee or the quill. What say you all?
                        I've got it on the knee, and I like it there. You can get a digital scale for the quill if you want. Something like this


                        • #13
                          I made a living on manual Bridgeports for over a quarter century. All the shops I worked in had 2 axis DROs. The knee doesn't need one too much because gravity always keeps the leadscrew slack in the same direction and the dials are pretty accurate. If you just want one, that's fine. You may be able to afford a better 2 axis one and put a digital scale on the quill, though.
                          Kansas City area


                          • #14
                            We have a drill-mill at the museum and I could only afford to put one of the better caliper style digital readouts on the quill, that is a boon, but the X and Y axes will have to be manual for the foreseeably future. A dro is just a pipe dream. If you can afford one you will love it, it will save time and be more accurate for the home shop miller.


                            • #15
                              RE: mounting X scale on front or back of table.

                              I opted for the front, as I didn't want to sacrifice any Y travel. It's little enough, anyway. To protect the X scale, I tucked it under a piece of 1/4' thick aluminum angle.

                              Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
                              Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
                              Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
                              There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
                              Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
                              Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie