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A (seemingly) better cheap-o digital caliper


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#1 havlicek

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:14 AM

For most anyone doing anything slots-related, having a set of calipers handy is pretty basic.  For me, the cheap imports have worked out fine, but lately my three or four year old caliper started doing weird things and was no longer reliable.  So I went to eBay and looked around.  The one pictured below is what I settled-on based on two things:

1) I never tried it and figured it's probably no worse than any of the other's in it's price range  :)

2) Reviews were very good, so even if they are all "plants" and the reviews are from whoever wants to sell these to make them look good, I could at least say to myself: "well, jeepers, the reviews were good!"...before I tossed it into the garbage.

Anywho, the caliper came quickly and is a pleasure to use.  The functions are all what you expect (*althougth this one has a "fractions" mode I won't need), and the movement is particularly smooth and precise, much more so than the one I just got rid of.

Maybe this thing will go south next week, maybe not.  If you're in the market, you might wanna try this one.  So far, so very good!

IMG_2398.JPG


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#2 Racer36

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:27 AM

The finish is different, but the design and location of buttons is the exact same as the cheapo that I use all the time. They go on sale at "Canadian Tire" ( big hardware/auto parts store up here) a few times a year so I stay stocked up on them. They seem to last through about two or three batteries and then they go haywire. I think I paid 20 bucks each for the last ones. Cheap enough that you can use them for a crowbar in a pinch. Precision on a budget...gotta love it eh?


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Dennis Dominey

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#3 havlicek

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:38 AM

The finish is different, but the design and location of buttons id the exact same as the cheapo that I use all the time. They go on sale at "Canadian Tire" ( big hardware/auto parts store up here) a few times a year so I stay stocked up on them. They seem to last through about two or three batteries and then they go haywire. I think I paid 20 bucks each for the last ones. Cheap enough that you can use them for a crowbar in a pinch. Precision on a budget...gotta love it eh?

 

Zackly Dennis!  I don't have the funds (*or the insanity) to get the uber-costly German, Japanese or American stuff.  BTW, besides a crowbar, they make excellent beer bottle openers!  :D


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#4 The Sawdust Man

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:43 AM

I find the fractions function useful in woodworking, don't you? 


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#5 CoastalAngler1

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:46 AM

Pablo turned me on to Harbor Freight - they have a $9.99 coupon for the same item.  No waiting.


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Charlie McCullough

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#6 zipper

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 08:29 AM

I still must trust on my 40+ years old Mauser - no digital. Fine to check the rear axles against light, too...


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#7 Eddie Fleming

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 08:52 AM

Sounds good John, but I still have my 40 year old Craftsman that I will use as long as they keep working, or as long as I keep working.

 

Like Pekka's no digital but I can still see the dial and in a pinch I can convert to fractions.

 

Oh and the battery has not gone out yet. 


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Eddie Fleming

#8 havlicek

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 03:54 PM

I find the fractions function useful in woodworking, don't you? 

 

 

Honestly, I have no problems with woodworking using good old fashioned measuring methods.  I've never thought to myself "boy, I should grab a caliper to get a better measurement/fit.  16ths and "heavy" or "light" 16ths work pretty well!  :D


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#9 olescratch

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 07:41 PM

I keep an old analog nearby so that when I leave my digital on for days, I still have something to work with. The digital one is manufactured by Mitutoyo (?) and the other by the same company, but about 30yrs older.  I can measured the same piece of material and get different readings from each instrument??!!  So basically I'm using them as reference to assure that a piece is similar to another piece!  I have yet to locate a .062 piece of wire, mine all seem to be .063!  


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#10 MarkH

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Posted 21 December 2017 - 09:40 PM

Thoughts from a Toolmaker.

 

Tools and tooling are investments not costs. A quality tool will last a lifetime and with regular use it becomes another hand feeling the size and reporting a value. You will know if the number you see is valid just by the feel alone. My Starrett dial calipers are almost 40 years old and still can be counted on. I prefer a Dial over Digital because they will always work if you keep them away from the chips. I have always opened my toolbox draw, opened the caliper case, measured the part and then put everything away and go back to it. A little crazy perhaps, but that $145 I spent is still dividing out out with each measurement I take. The point is to not treat any measuring tool like a Crescent Wrench.

With a dial there is no rounding up. If the Dial indicates just over half way between marks you know what you have. Most Digitals round up but most digitals also claim to have an accuracy of 0.0005" or better and reflect that on the readout. So they are effectively rounding up from there. I rarely use my digitals.

 

NOW, unless you are earning a living with these tools these will work for 99% of what you are doing. So no real need to drop the money for top quality unless you only want to buy one and call it good. Keep an extra set in stock with the batteries removed and when you need them they will be ready. Always best to check the inside and outside jaws to a standard verifying the true measurement.


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#11 olescratch

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Posted 22 December 2017 - 05:49 PM

Always best to check jaws, sounds like I was back in CNC school!


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#12 mike1972chev

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Posted 22 December 2017 - 07:27 PM

I am STILL using my Brown and Sharpe digital caIipers I have had for well over 15+ years now. Only battery changes and keeping them clean and taking delicate  care of. They are awesome in my book. 

 

 

IMG_1766.JPG

 

 

 

 


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#13 havlicek

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 06:47 AM

Yep guys.  I'm well aware that there are better alternatives that cost hundreds of dollars, but in a hobby where people fret over spending $14 for a disposable motor that might be a tenth of a second slower than the last one they bought (*sorry, I just couldn't resist), those are mostly way besides the point.  Anywho...the thread was about "a better cheap-o caliper", not "a better caliper":)


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#14 tonyp

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 07:38 AM

John I use a cheapo digital when building chassis. When they rust up I throw them away. I use my Mitutoya dial calipers for everything else just something satisfying with a dial.
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#15 havlicek

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 07:42 AM

John I use a cheapo digital when building chassis. When they rust up I throw them away. I use my Mitutoya dial calipers for everything else just something satisfying with a dial.

 

Yeah Tony.  If ever there were an example of a craftsman's abilities being way more important than whatever he picks up to do the job, you'd be it.  :)  Oh and...watch out for that damned lizard!  ;)


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#16 tonyp

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 07:44 AM

You embarrass me. Have a Merry Christmas.
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"And if my thought-dreams could be seen they'd probably put my head in a guillotine. But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only." - Dylan

1965 "Evil Bucks Racer" Team
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#17 havlicek

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 08:02 AM

You embarrass me. Have a Merry Christmas.

 

Well, in this case, the "embarrassment" is well-deserved!  Merry Christmas Tony!


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#18 slotcarone

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 09:05 AM

I like using a dial caliper. I can easily see by the position of the dial how far off or right on the measurement is! :)


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#19 munter

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 02:09 PM

I only ever have had an el cheapo tool....onto my third one now.

 

....but for quick measuring I often resort to my eyechrometer.


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#20 gotboostedvr6

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 04:27 PM

If you find yourself at Harbor Freight looking for a new TLAR tool make sure you open the package and check the ID thingamabob for proper machining.

:)
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#21 swodem

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 05:17 PM

If you find yourself at Harbor Freight looking for a new TLAR tool make sure you open the package and check the ID thingamabob for proper machining.

:)

Rank Abbr. Meaning  

TLAR That Looks About Right

TLAR Turkish League Against Rheumatism (Ankara, Turkey)

TLAR The Learning Assistance Review (National College Learning Center Association)

TLAR Transporter-Launcher and Radar (air defense missile systems)

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#22 The Number of

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 07:44 PM

[quote Anywho...the thread was about "a better cheap-o caliper", not "a better caliper":).

Yes but we want a better caliper that is also cheapo. :)
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#23 havlicek

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Posted 23 December 2017 - 08:04 PM

[quote Anywho...the thread was about "a better cheap-o caliper", not "a better caliper":).

Yes but we want a better caliper that is also cheapo. :)

Me too!  Unfortunately, we can have good...or...we can have cheap-o.  Ain't no such thing as good AND cheap-o!  :D


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