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Groundhog

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I've just completed the installation of a DRO for my 12x36 Central Machinery lathe.

I was concerned about covering the carriage oilers and lock with a DRO. But Dan at DRO PROs suggested a new system that they just got in. It is not much more expensive than glass scales and cheaper than many other magnetic scales I've seen.

The system uses Electronica “Magna Slim Scales” (magnetic) and EMC14A reader heads (all IP67 contaminate proof) and a Ditron D80 LCD display. I believe the scales are fairly new industry wide. I got 5 micron (0.0002”) resolution on both axis.

The read head is tiny at 36mm (1.417”) x 13mm (0.511”) x 14mm (0.551”). The scales are a lot smaller than standard magnetic scales measuring 15mm (0.590”) high and 7.2mm (0.283”) thick with their protective covers. The scale can be read from end to end and does not need additional space for end caps. To be able to read, say, a max of 6” you only need room for 6” total. Not 6” plus 2, 3 or 4 inches of unusable/unreadable end caps or safety margins. The mounting screws are underneath the scale.

I would think that the small size and being able to read the entire length of the scale would make them especially attractive to users with smaller (and mini) machines and other space limited installations.

Note that in my installation I used the entire length of the scales as shipped.
Since they will not interfere with anything at this length I couldn't see any advantage in cutting them.

Explanation of the pictures is in the order that they appear;

#1: Here, the center extrusion is temporally held in the approximate position with double sided tape. On final assembly this center part “floats” between the 2 fixed end pieces (no tape or mounting screws). One end piece with mounting holes is laying to the left.

#2: The left end piece in place (the illusion of it being crooked is caused by camera angle). Once both end pieces are installed, leveled and inline with each other the center part just “floats” between them – held by the scale's stainless backing. The screw in the bottom center of the end piece (you can just about see the head) eventually tightens down on the strip to keep it from moving.

#3: A drawing of an end piece. The scale is flexible like a refrigerator magnet and molded to a thin strip of stainless steel that is just wider than the magnetic strip. The stainless strip slides into the slot of one end piece, through the slot in the center section and into the slot of the end piece on the other side.

#4: End pieces, center extrusion and magnetic strip scale in place. The protective stainless steel stick-on cover is not in place yet. Notice that I will still be able to get to my oilers and carriage lock (the hole towards the back of the picture). The oilers would have been inaccessible with standard magnetic or glass scales and the carriage lock too close for comfort.

#5: The read head and protective strip in place. The gap between the ends and center extrusions is called for in the instructions. DRO PROs don't have new hardware for this system yet so they sent the stuff from the standard sized system. The standard read head would have taken up that entire top surface of the black mounting block. I could have milled the block to fit the read head and made it much smaller (and I still may sometime) but it shouldn't cause problems as it is.

#6: Todd (DRO PROs) said just to shim the end pieces to get everything in line. I found one spot on the lathe casting that was especially high (the casting is wavy). So I decided to hit it with a flapper disc and take the high spot down a little. I discovered that the entire base casting is covered with a thin layer of automotive body putty!

#7: One of my first paying jobs (other than sweeping the floors) was at my dad's Chevy dealership's body shop (where I quickly learned that there is no such thing as body work – there is just sanding). So it just kind of evolved from that first little high spot that I flattened the whole scale path by sanding rather than shim the ends. I got the entire path within +0.01mm -0.08mm and one little shim on the left end. The only way I know how to sand is like you would a car and feather-edge it, so that is why the sanded area is so wide.

#8: The Z axis read head and stainless steel protective strip in place. Again, the read head mounting hardware is much bigger than needed. Maybe some day I will paint the sanded area (all body putty – no bare metal) and mill down the hardware. Maybe. Someday.

#9: Everything tested and in place. Just running the wiring cables. I'm told that between the IP67 water resistance rating, being almost totally enclosed by the extrusion and the front protective stainless strip that there is no need for a protective cover. When I first learned of no protective covers and of floating centers I was sure I would be making some design changes. However, now that I see it first hand I am a lot more comfortable. It is much more robust than you would think and I doubt I will need or want to make those additions.

#10: The lathe is back together and ready to run. Except for a new drive belt that I ordered locally, was told (after a supposed phone call to somewhere to confirm stock) it would be here the next day. That was last week. Friday they said it should be here next week. And, they will probably want full retail plus shipping when it finally does get here. They won't get it!

#11: The Ditron display. There are 4 icon menu bars available (bottom of the LCD) that can be rotated through with the up/down arrow keys . The F buttons access the different features (icons) of whichever menu bar is displayed above them. The pertinent section of the owners manual (in real English) is available within each menu item as help screens.

All in all is seems like a good system. I'm happy with the purchase, the price and especially with the help I've gotten and ease of dealing with DRO PROs. Of course the real proof will be when I start using it (need that belt). I'll keep this post updated.

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mikey

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Must be really new - no info up on the DRO Pros site yet. I'll be watching this as this is my next big purchase. Thanks Mike!
 

Groundhog

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Must be really new - no info up on the DRO Pros site yet. I'll be watching this as this is my next big purchase. Thanks Mike!
Yes, really new I believe. They said they had a few other projects to finish before they were ready to update the web site.
I kinda got the feeling that they only suggested this to me was because of my problem with my oilers and carriage lock. Like I said, they don't even have the mounting hardware developed yet.
As far as installation Todd basically told me to forget the instructions relating to the standard system and he verbally walked me through installation. The scaled did come with 2 pages that have mostly specs but some limited mounting instructions.
I'll keep this thread updated with and good/bad things I discover.
 

Bob Korves

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DROPros was talking about them last summer at the BarZ Summer Bash at Stan Zinkoski's (ShadonHKW on YouTube) shop. No samples, just hype at that point, seemed like Unobtanium. This is the first time I have seen them. They should be very nice and also easy to install.
 

Groundhog

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Yeah Bob, I'd never heard nor seen them before Dan offered the system as a soultion to my problem. I couldn't find much at all on the internet about the scales or the display. I pretty much relied on DRO PROS reputation when I ordered them.
If I hadn't sanded the base installation would have been a snap. Of course that was my own stupidity.
 

Groundhog

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Just found this video on the Ditron D80 display. It just gives a brief idea of a few of the many functions available. A little hard to understand too. But here it is anyway!
 

andgott

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How have you liked the Ditron system??I am considering using it on my lathe, and mill later.

I have been communicating with the company, as they sell direct. They are VERY responsive to E-Mails. There is a bit of a language barrier, but their english is far better than my Chinese. I didn't know that DRO pros sells this stuff, since it's not on their web page. I'm wondering how it compares price wise- Direct from them, the 2 axis system w/magnetic scales and D80 is $356 shipped.
 

Groundhog

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Are those the "Magna Slim Scales" with the super small read heads and scales? That is the part of the system I like.

The Ditron unit is OK. Don't know if it is any better than other brands with the same features, nor if it is any worse. Most everything works as advertised. You are supposed to be able to customize the order of the bottom menu but that we can't get that function to work. I bet they have it working on new models.

The screen is bright & easy for even my old eyes to read. Buttons are not sloppy. Getting around menus is easy and I like the fact that the entire users manual is available on the unit as help screens.

So, all in all I like it. No complaints. If I were going to buy another DRO I would look at & probably buy another Ditron because, for me, it is a known product that works.

I only found out about the system when I contacted DROPros. I had a clearance problem with cross slide oil holes. They sent me some stuff on this system and because of the small size of the scales I was able to install a DRO without having to relocate lubrication points. And yes - I paid more than that!! But I got the magnetic Magna Scales and am very happy with the system - price and all.
 

Groundhog

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I just looked at the pictures I posted a long time ago. I used the hardware (unaltered) meant for the larger read heads. If you look closely at the pics that show the read heads you will see that the mounting hardware could have been 1/4 of the size. Because the larger mounting hardware was not causing any problems, was all that was available and I was to lazy to make small mounting hardware that is what I used.

But you don't realize how small the scale and read heads are because of it.

Also in the firse few pictures you can see how close the the ball oil ports are to the cross slide. A regular sized scale would have made access to those impossible.
 

JimDawson

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I have used a few Ditron products and have been happy with the result. Have had a Ditron DRO on my lathe for about 1 1/2 years now, no problems so far.
 

andgott

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Are those the "Magna Slim Scales" with the super small read heads and scales? That is the part of the system I like.
Just looking at the pictures it looks the same-

scale.jpg

I think it shows 20mm wide on the spec sheet they sent me.
 

Groundhog

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Andgot
Those are regular sized scales. NOT the small ones like I have. See the end caps and the mounting blocks? They will take a lot more room.

If you have a smaller machine or special requirements like I had I strongly advise you to do some research and at least consider the smaller scales and read heads.

They are Electronica brand “Magna Slim Scales” (magnetic) and Electronica brand EMC14A reader heads.
Reader heads measure 1.42” x .51” x .55 compared to 2.37" x .89" x about 1" (couldn't find a measurement).
Scales measure .59” high and .28” thick compared to 1.1" x .4"

With the Magna scales if you want to read 6" of travel you need 6" of scale room. Period. Just an area 6" long x .6" high. With conventional magnetic scales you need an area 8" to 10" in length and 1.1" high to install.

The fact that the Magna scales are available, the same or less cost and made by a reliable manufacture make it a no brainier to me.

By the way - in the original post I said that I was somewhat concerned that no cover was recommended for the scales. Now that I have used them for awhile I agree and see no reason to need a protective cover.
 

9t8z28

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Very cool mod! How did you adjust the scale on the bed to run parallel with the read head ? I dont see any spacers so I assume it was close enough?
 

Groundhog

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Hey '98 Z28 -

That is the part that is hard to explain and even harder to believe until you see it. Dan (DroPros) told me just to worry about getting the ends the same and the rest would take care of itself. I had a hard time believing him. It all seems too flexible to work that way - and the center isn't even attached to the ends except with the magnetic strip (which is flexible).

But it really does work! And it doesn't matter what the shape of the bed is - the ends are all that are important because the center floats over everything between. (The ends have to be higher, or equal to any high spots.)

Just use a dial indicator on your carriage and get one end set in place (parallel and perpendicular) then go to the other end and do what is necessary to make that one the same (shim more than likely). Then insert the center parts (the magnetic strip mounted in the center extrusion), install the stainless protective strip over the whole thing and you are done!
 

jmarkwolf

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Hi Groundhog

I just found your thread while researching a DRO for my Grizzly G4003G. It looks very similar to your HF.

My issue is the cross-slide gib lock is right on the surface where you have your X-axis scale. Did your discussions with DroPros cover such a scenario?

Mark.
 

darkzero

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Hi Groundhog

I just found your thread while researching a DRO for my Grizzly G4003G. It looks very similar to your HF.

My issue is the cross-slide gib lock is right on the surface where you have your X-axis scale. Did your discussions with DroPros cover such a scenario?

Mark.
I've got a PM1236 that is similar with the cross slide lock on the right side. I never use the cross slide lock so I did not care about covering it with the dro scale.

I've seen someone replace the set screw with a hex head bolt & made spacers for the dro scale so they could still access the cross slide lock with an open end wrench.

Edit: Here's the thread:

 

Bob Korves

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I do not like the idea of a cross slide scale on the tailstock side of the carriage. Good way to destroy it, and to not let the tailstock get as close as possible to the work. I understand that the mini scales can fit under the cross slide on some lathes, which sounds like a good idea if it does not interfere with anything.
 

darkzero

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I do not like the idea of a cross slide scale on the tailstock side of the carriage. Good way to destroy it, and to not let the tailstock get as close as possible to the work. I understand that the mini scales can fit under the cross slide on some lathes, which sounds like a good idea if it does not interfere with anything.
I can relate, I've ran my TS into the read head before but it just hit the 2 mounting cap screws. I just put a couple of rubber bumpers on the TS for now until I make some type of better bumper.

Not much of an option unfortunately, most choose to mount it on the right side if you still want the ability to use a follow rest.

I believe it was @JimDawson that mounted his scale under the cross slide. That was a pretty cool idea, never seen that before.
 

jmarkwolf

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Hi Splat

I looked at the hole on the chuck side of the cross-slide but there is no gib over there on my machine, so the point of any screw would drag directly on the internal dove tail, Plus my follow rest mounts on that side, so I think that is a no go.

The solution in DarkZero's link is interesting, particularly for the older magnetic scales, but after further contemplation, I think I may move my gib screw towards the front of the lathe about an inch or so. Then there should be plenty of room to mount the new shorter super-slim magnetic scales on the aft side of the gib screw (see pic below), and the read-head on the aft "outrigger" of the saddle. Will likely have to remove the cross-slide to drill and tap the new hole for the gib screw but that's no biggie. My cross slide travel is only about 6-1/4 inches.

Bob Korves makes a good point about the tailstock crushing the scale and/or read head though. Maybe a simple bumper will prevent that, but the tailstock will then have a shorter reach as Bob points out. Either way, I think I'll change the gib lock lever to a screw and use a dedicated little box end wrench. The lever is kinda clumsy.

The whole shooting match could be mounted on the chuck side of the cross-slide, but then it will be under a shower of schmutz all the time, and you run the risk of crashing the scale/read head into the chuck.

Will try to find reference to Jim Dawson's solution.

I'll call DroPros next week for more info. I really like EL400 digital head I've had on my mill for about 6 years. Won't be too happy to change heads but alas.

289335
 
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Groundhog

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With the mini-scales the lock is just below the scales. My lock is a hex screw and not a handle (easy to swap one for the other) and I use a hex wrench to lock it. I don't use the lock often anyway.

(As mentioned somewhere above) The mounting bolts for the head act as bumpers for the tail stock. I suppose if you really tried you could ruin something, but if you are that rough with your equipment you are going to ruin something DRO or not.
 

jmarkwolf

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Very clever indeed, Jim.

I'd be reluctant to do that much "surgery" on my saddle however.

The magnetic tape sure gets the ideas flowing though.
 

jmarkwolf

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I talked to DroPros today and got a lot of info.

Even though they've been selling the Magna Slim scale systems for a year they still do not have anything on their website, citing lack of time, and lack of updated mounting hardware from Electronica. Apparently customers are complaining about the mounting hardware.

He agreed that the typical X-axis installation of their standard magnetic scales blocks the gib lock screw, but he directed me to a pic (below) on their website showing a comparison of mounting the scale "edge-wise" (vs "flat wise") which would clear the gib lock screw on the cross-slide. He also concurred that this and other mounting methods will reduce the "reach" of the tail stock, but that a bumper can prevent crashes.

289512

He also commented that while the Magna slim Scales that are normally "bundled" with the D80 counter/head, they will work with the EL400 counter/head, although they wouldn't break up a D80 system. Meaning I would have to buy the EL400 counter/head seperately.

The EL400 system with standard magnetic scales for my 12x36 lathe is $965 (presumably plus shipping).

The D80 system with Magna Slim scales is $629.

I'm not crazy about the idea of having a different counter/head on my mill than on my lathe. So I'm gonna "reconnoiter the sitiation" longer.
 

Groundhog

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My lock is a flat set screw in the hole just to the left of the read head and below the scale. As you can see I could have raised the scale a bit for more clearance but there is enough room for a hex key like this. The lock can be covered by the read head if the cross slide is moved to the center, but (for me anyway) that is an improbable position. The read head could be mounted more to the right if needed.
The 2 socket head mounting head bolts act as a bumper for the tail stock. Hitting the bolts with the tail stock is no more of a problem than is running a tool into the chuck.

289524
 

jmarkwolf

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After much consideration I've decided to forego the miniature magnetic scales and read head in favor of the "standard" magnetic scales and the EL400 head from DroPros.

I can keep my gib lock screw accessible by using "pads" to stand my x-axis scale away from the mounting surface like Frostheave did in the link below. It will reduce the available tail stock travel, but I think it's an acceptable trade off, and I can install a bumper so there will be no tail stock crashes.

I had a couple scales left over from when I transplanted the DroPro system from my original big mill/drill, to my Bridgeport, to my new Acer e-Mill, needing a longer scale for each transplant. Consequently, I ended up with some spare scales, and I could purchase a new DroPro EL400 Lathe kit with a shorter X-axis scale that what my 12x36 lathe would ordinarily call for. I can cut one of these spare scales to fit the x-axis, saving me about $120. This put me within a couple hundred dollars of the cost of the Ditron/Magna Slim kit., which is a small price differential to pay for my preferred EL400 system

The kit has been purchased and will arrive shortly. I'll take pics as I install, and post them here.

https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/g4003g-lathe-x-axis-dro-scale-install.24468/
 

9t8z28

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Why not extend the scale off of the back of the carriage and cross slide. Below is a picture of my Scale setup. The cross slide is all the way back towards the operator and as you can see it does not effect the travel of the tailstock. It’s a very rigid set up and I’ve never had an issue with inaccurate readings due to flex [
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QUOTE="jmarkwolf, post: 649736, member: 20532"]
After much consideration I've decided to forego the miniature magnetic scales and read head in favor of the "standard" magnetic scales and the EL400 head from DroPros.

I can keep my gib lock screw accessible by using "pads" to stand my x-axis scale away from the mounting surface like Frostheave did in the link below. It will reduce the available tail stock travel, but I think it's an acceptable trade off, and I can install a bumper so there will be no tail stock crashes.

I had a couple scales left over from when I transplanted the DroPro system from my original big mill/drill, to my Bridgeport, to my new Acer e-Mill, needing a longer scale for each transplant. Consequently, I ended up with some spare scales, and I could purchase a new DroPro EL400 Lathe kit with a shorter X-axis scale that what my 12x36 lathe would ordinarily call for. I can cut one of these spare scales to fit the x-axis, saving me about $120. This put me within a couple hundred dollars of the cost of the Ditron/Magna Slim kit., which is a small price differential to pay for my preferred EL400 system

The kit has been purchased and will arrive shortly. I'll take pics as I install, and post them here.

https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/g4003g-lathe-x-axis-dro-scale-install.24468/
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