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scale and dispenser problem

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[crying]Ok here is my reloading dilemma, I have 3 Pact scale and dispenser setups. I have had two for a few years and with the sale of some odd toys and tools decided to purchase an addition one. I recently purchased a house and found that my scales possibly did not like the move. The scales would not hold a zero; they would jump from 0.00 to -1.3 to 2.0 to 1.5 to -2.2 to 0.00, it took an unusual amount of time to calibrate them and than they would never settling down long enough for the dispenser to dump the load.
So I send the scales to Pact Inc for an overhaul, to be honest it was cheap. A check $14.95 to cover the return shipping and I put a 10 spot in the box so the guys in the shop could get coffee and maybe move the 6 week turn around time up a little. (Can’t hurt).
The service was excellent and the guys at the shop were very helpful. I have to say excellent customer service.
They did need some work, one had a bad load cell the other needed a good cleaning. I plugged them all in and let them sit over night to acclimate to the room, humidity, etc..
They are still doing the same thing. One is worse the other two but all are still jumping around. So now with the back ground here is the problem.
I spoke to Pact Inc, he said it could be “Noise in the line” causing jumps in the voltage which will effect the scale. He said to get a Line conditioner, to remove the noise. Problem is I now have $700 dollars worth of equipment that I need to add an additional $350 conditioner to, I don’t think that will fly with the wife... Did anyone else have this problem or hear of this problem like before. Are there cheaper “line conditioners” out there? Do computer guys use these and sometimes dump them off at estate type sales.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, if I can’t fix this problem, keep you eyes out for Pact Inc set ups for sale cheap.
Thanks in advance
Semper Fi
Tackleberry
 
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I am not familliar with the pact but I have an RCBS and it uses a wall wart type of converter to make 12 volts. Occasionally I hook up a 12 volt battery to mine so it is portable. If the unit uses a wall transformer, you might want to give a battery a try. If it has an AC plug on it, then I would say that it is a crappy design to allow voltage noise to affect the readings. One other thing I will mention is that in my RCBS manual, they talk about external magnetic fields that can affect the readings. I had a small radio on the bench that used to mess up my scale, removed it and the problem went away.
 
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cheap fix? use a UPS (uninteruptable power supply)


they're basically a battery pack with a rectifer/inverter built in. your outlet will "charge" the batteries via the inverter, and the rectifier turns the battery power back into 120v.

you basically end up "filtering" your power source.

cheap UPS's can be had from Staples (or similiar) for under $50.

depending on location from your panel, a dedicated circuit may help as well
 

jkelly

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cheap fix? use a UPS (uninteruptable power supply)

You may be able to determine if the problem is radiated emissions or conducted RF. If your scale can use batteries, try that. If the problem disappears then your problem is conducted RF and a cheap ferrite on the scales power line could help.

Respectfully,
jkelly
 
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Ok so I did all of the things that I could do. I purchased a good Line conditioner, I put ferrites on the scales power lines and I still can not hold a zero. I check other outlets in the house and the jumping and bouncing of the scale became worst. I went from the basement to the second floor, the higher in the house I went the worst it got. I am really fed up and ready to dump all my crap and take up knitting, do you know if there is a Northeastknitters.com
Any more help would be greatly appreciated, thank you all in advance
Mark
 

drgrant

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they're basically a battery pack with a rectifer/inverter built in. your outlet will "charge" the batteries via the inverter, and the rectifier turns the battery power back into 120v.

Yeah, but the cheap UPSes (Basically anything that isn't full blown hospital grade) do not do this if they're in bypass mode, which most of them stay
in, 99% of the time unless there is a big sag or spike.

A fancy surge protector would be no different vs a cheap UPS. (in terms of EMI/RFI filtering... )

-Mike
 

drgrant

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Ok so I did all of the things that I could do. I purchased a good Line conditioner, I put ferrites on the scales power lines and I still can not hold a zero. I check other outlets in the house and the jumping and bouncing of the scale became worst. I went from the basement to the second floor, the higher in the house I went the worst it got. I am really fed up and ready to dump all my crap and take up knitting, do you know if there is a Northeastknitters.com
Any more help would be greatly appreciated, thank you all in advance
Mark

Have you tried running the scales off a battery yet? You could probably get some DC plugs from radio shack, and a small 12V (or whatever voltage is required!) battery from somewhere.

Try shutting off everything in the house except the outlet the scales are on, see if that changes anything. There may be an RF/EMI source in your house pissing off the scales.

-Mike
 

1903Collector

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Tack, I have the same set up and have never had this problem. I seem to remember reading that flourecent lighting could make them go a little haywire. Any chance that could be part of the problem?
 
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All flourecent lighting turned off

Tack, I have the same set up and have never had this problem. I seem to remember reading that flourecent lighting could make them go a little haywire. Any chance that could be part of the problem?

I took that into consideration and turned off all the lights in the basement, and worked with one clamp light with a 60 watt bulb overhead and still had the same problem.
 

1903Collector

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Did you try the scale at someone elses house to see if the same thing happens? Just a shot in the dark but do you have any hi voltage power lines in close proximity to your house?
 
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cheap fix? use a UPS (uninteruptable power supply)


they're basically a battery pack with a rectifer/inverter built in. your outlet will "charge" the batteries via the inverter, and the rectifier turns the battery power back into 120v.

you basically end up "filtering" your power source.

cheap UPS's can be had from Staples (or similiar) for under $50.

depending on location from your panel, a dedicated circuit may help as well

Be careful about this option, most cheap UPS's are quasi sine wave (square wave) output and will probably beat the crap out of the PSU in the scale. Also they dont UPS unless they are not connected to the AC.

If your scale is that unreliable, I would get rid of it, That thing is the single most important thing in your reloading setup that prevents guns from blowing up. If it were me, I would have lost trust in it by now and would never use it.
 

swampy

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Music stores that deal with most types of rack mounted sound gear should have line conditioners under $100.00. Do you happen to have an unusual amount of movement in or under the house? If your house is built on a swamp or other high level water source hydraulic pressure could have the house up and shaking. My aunt had that problem with dishes shaking in her china cabinet when she lived on the 3rd floor of a building built on a wetland. It only happened in the spring when the snow melted or it rained heavily.
 
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I have the same scale and the same problem. It was bothering me for a while until I found that the reason it was doing it was because I never remember to shut it off.

Now when I go in reloading room I shut it off and wait about 10 minutes and then start it and tare it and it starts weighing loads with out jumping around.

Another thing I found is, if I have a open window or make a sudden move it will start jumping around.

It's pretty sensitive.
 

wahsben

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Have you checked for vibrations on your bench? Also any breezes will raise havoc.

After reading the replys and what you have tried it seems like breezes could be your problem. Put up at least 3 high sides around the scales maybe even 4 as long as you can watch the display and see if they hold zero then.
 

DukeInFlorida

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I have a Pact scale, and it works fine.

It's as sensitive as it needs to be. Sensitive enough that if something bumps the table that it's on, it will read the bump. But that's normal. You need to put it on a solid level surface, and eliminate any thing that will affect it's ability to settle in on a final weight.

If your power is fluctuating so much that it's affecting your scale, I would actually be more concerned about what it's doing to :
Your wide screen TV, your computer, etc, etc, etc.

A line conditioner is a more expensive piece than a surge protector. You might even be better to go with a better scale with better electronics (like built in line/voltage conditioning).

When you check your outlet voltage with a multi-meter, does it fluctuate??? I have seen some locations where the voltage had about a one second repeating fluctuation between 111 volts and 114 volts. Usually the indication of a transformer that the power company needs to change out.
 

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You might even be better to go with a better scale with better electronics (like built in line/voltage conditioning).

Duke, Not to change the subject but maybe in another thread you could breifly go over the good and bad of some of the electronic scales out there. I have a PACT and have had no issues with it...that is until I knocked it off my bench one afternoon [crying] I ended up buying another one but if there is something better?
 

DukeInFlorida

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I can sum the subject up in a couple of comments:
  • You want a scale that will run off a power cord of some kind. Most of the time that will mean a power converter.
  • Some of the power cords plug into weird places. The Pact is one of those. I wish they would move the plug in location. It can possibly alter the measuring.
  • You want it to be accurate. A 1/10th of a grain is accurate enough for most normal bench loading. Be sure to check the accuracy rating of the scales that you are looking at.
  • The display should come up in GRAINS when powered up. Most do but not all. Having a scale come up in grams could lead to a disaster.
  • Do Not buy a digital scale that ONLY runs on batteries. My looking at those didn't impress me at all. The biggest issue was that they keep shutting off after about 30 seconds, no matter what you are in the middle of.
  • The scale should come with TWO calibration weights. One calibration weight doesn't give you a "stepped" calibration. If you have some additional weights that you are sure of, all the better. After calibratin the scale, you should continue to check with the additional weights, up to the limit of the scale. Do not overload any scale.
  • The display should be large enough for those older among us (myself included) to be able to read them easily.
  • The controls should be easy to use, and the manual should be easy to understand. I didn't like some of the manuals that come with some of the scales.
  • Some scales allow you to buy just the scale now, and add a dispenser later. The RCBS Chargemaster is one of those. It makes it easier on the wallet to build up to the dispensor.
  • Price does not necessarily equate to quality. Buying the $400 dispensing scale doesn't make sense if you really only need a digital scale, and not the dispensing ability. Most of the dispensers are made specifically for competition loads, where you are going to use the scale to dispense each and every powder drop. If you are going to use your Dillon/Hornady/Lee/RCBS powder dispenser to dipense the powder, and only need to meausre the weight of the drops, then don't buy more than you need. Just the scale part will suffice.
  • Look for deals. They are out there. eBay is a good place to find deals. Other on-line places offer specials and sales on scales. Get a deal when you buy one, rather than paying full price on impulse. That way, you'll be able to afford a better scale than what you'd get otherwise.
  • Be leery of "used" scales. Buy a used scale (someone might have dropped it......) ONLY after running it through the calibration proceedure, and making sure it works properly.
 

DukeInFlorida

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A cheap (~$10) multi meter will tell you what is happening to the voltage.

If it's jumping +/- 5 volts A/C, then the likely cause is a bad transformer out on the street somewhere. They will come to fix that. A long time ago, I lived near enough to a small factory that one of their pieces of equipment was sucking up all the amps, in a 2 minute cycle. There was nothing quick that the power company could do. The factory had to order and arrange to have installed a bigger step up transformer. The fluctuations only happened during the day, when the place was operating. It took a good six months before it went away.

You should be very concerned about your expensive stuff (TV's, etc) if the voltage or amps is moving. But you have to plug in a multi meter to find out.

any one think to call the power company.they should have instruments to check all this.
 

DukeInFlorida

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Beam scales are fine, as long as you are willing to deal with having to set them up, set the weight, and watch carefully for where the weight is.

I had one of my students this weekend comment on the use of a beam scale. He had been doing some reloading, but really wanted to expand beyond that. He's been using a beam scale, and we used digital scales in the class. He said that he would buy a digital scale, and put his beam scale away since the digital scale was far more accurate, easier to use, and fast in terms of setting up. And, he didn't have to peer at the end of the arm, trying to figure out where he was with the beam scale.

In a pinch, however, it's a perfectly fine piece of equipment to keep you reloading if you are having home voltage issues that would otherwise keep you from reloading. When TSHTF, and the power goes off, the digital scale does you no good. A beam scale will have to be used.
 

drgrant

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In a pinch, however, it's a perfectly fine piece of equipment to keep you reloading if you are having home voltage issues that would otherwise keep you from reloading. When TSHTF, and the power goes off, the digital scale does you no good. A beam scale will have to be used.

I think everyone should have a good beam scale. That way when their fancy electronic one breaks or misbehaves (and it will, if this thread is any
indication) you will still have something to reload with, instead of wasting all your time messing with an inaccurate or broken scale.

I only have a RCBS beam scale and it works just fine. No stupid batteries, power packs, or cords. I can move the scale wherever I want without concern about powering it. No RF/EMI problems from lights or other crap, either. It's less than half the cost of many electronic ones, too. Takes a whole whopping 5 minutes (maybe, if that) to zero it and start weighing charges. Maybe if I was constantly changing my charge weights during a reloading run, I could see how the time would add up, but I tend to set the measure and load up 200-400 rounds with a given recipe in a typical reloading run.

Call me a curmudgeon if you want but I think most electronic scales should never be trusted any farther than you can throw them. I've seen too many of them drift or screw up to really trust them without constantly verifying that the readings you're getting are real. I saw one ($100+) hornady scale where we picked the pan up for 5 seconds, put it back down on the platform, and the reading was off by .3 grains just by moving the pan up and down. We put the dish back on the balance beam scale and the needle stopped exactly where it was before. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

-Mike
 
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Hooked up a “Wattsup” voltage meter to the outlet and I am getting a constant 118 to 121 flux. I planned on calling the power company but have been busy with work and a very sick friend; she is Village Idiot kind of sick. I do appreciate all of the help and ideas, I am going to build a Plexiglas box for them to sit in to stop any drafts and of course call the power company when I get some free time.
Thank you again for your help
Tackleberry
 
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