13 Tips for Electronic Powder Scale Accuracy

Most plastic pans that I’ve used leave much to be desired. Fortunately there are alternatives.

Don’t substitute one of the new lithium batteries if the recommended battery is an alkaline. This could actually damage the scale’s electronics if not designed for it. Additionally, the low battery indicator circuit is calibrated for the specific battery type. It may not warn you when the battery is low if you use something other than the recommended type. Check the instructions for the recommended battery type.

If nothing is mentioned, you should use the same type of battery that it came with. Of course, you can always call the manufacturer and ask them what battery type they recommend. If your scale came with an AC Adapter, by all means use it. It will allow you to leave the scale on for extended periods without worrying about the battery going dead in the middle of a reloading session. However, you should be aware that the inexpensive “wall wart” powder adapters are not “regulated” and can pass on any line voltage fluctuations to your scale resulting in instability. If your scale is acting unstable and you are using the power adapter, try running off batteries (use fresh batteries please) and see if it improves.

Tip #4: Warm-up time

Warm-up time can affect the scale’s measurement stability. Some scales can take as long as 30 minutes to warm up to a stable internal temperature, especially if the room is unusually cold. With an AC powdered scale, you can just leave it on while you are making other preparations. If your scale has an Auto-Off feature, you may need to disable it or set it for a longer time if possible.

Battery powered scales may not allow long warm-up periods especially if it is one that drains batteries quickly. In that case, allow 30 to 60 seconds warm up time, keep the room temperature as stable as possible before starting a reloading session and use the zero button before every weight measurement.

Tip #5: Calibration

Those check weights that come with most scales aren’t just for looks. Use them! I check my scale calibration every time I set up for a reloading session. It is a good way to tell if your scale has warmed up and is ready to use. You should also check calibration if the scale has been moved (like to your shooting buddy’s house), is being operating at a significantly different temperature than when it was last calibrated, and after you change the battery.

If you just bought a new scale, checking the calibration is the first thing you should do before using the scale. Perform the calibration procedure as described in the owner’s manual only if the calibration is off. But before deciding to perform calibration, make absolutely certain the scale has had a chance to warm up and the readings are stable. You may find that after sufficient warm up time, calibration will not be needed.

Always use the calibration weight(s) that came with your scale. Depending on the resolution of the scale, the “class” of calibration weight(s) that come with it will vary. In the United States, three classifications are used:

– ASTM E 617-97, Classes 0 through 7
– OIML R111, classes: E1, E2, F1, F2, M1, M2, M3.
– NIST Class F; (Only used for commercial weights & measures testing)

If you want to read a complete table comparing these weight classes go to http://ts.nist.gov/WeightsAndMeasures/caqmass.cfm Or http://www.precisionsolutions.com/docs/prodinfo/ReferencePDFs/ASTM_reference.pdf Lower resolution scales may only come with ASTM Class 6 (equivalent to OIML class M2) calibration weights.

A 50g Class 6 calibration weight can vary by as much as ±7mg (±0.007g / ±0.107grain) and a 100g calibration weight can very by as much as ±10mg (±0.010g / ±0.154grain). That doesn’t sound like much but when you are calibrating your scale, it can make a significant difference if you use the calibration weight from another scale.