digital calipers giving pain

HortonHorton Posts: 24,095 Administrator
I am sure some machinist is going to shake his head when he reads this….

So I own maybe 4 different sets of digital calipers. I have a set of slot calipers, I have a set of Mitutoyo and at least 2 other random calipers. On hot days I often find they all give CRAZY readings. I am getting ready to invest in some old school dial calipers.

Does anyone have a clear idea what goes wrong with the digitals on hot days. Is it moisture / grease on my hands getting on the back of the rail?

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  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 1,934 Crazy Baller
    Is the LCD screen acting up from heat or just odd readings?
  • MrJonesMrJones Posts: 1,677 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    I had an issue with my slots this summer. Matt suggested blowing any dust out with compressed air. That seemed to fix it, but I really think I'm going back to my old cheapo dial caliper that I've had for 20+ years next season.
  • DragoDrago Posts: 885 Crazy Baller
    not sure, but i started with dial calipers way back when. Switched back last year... so nice
  • WaternutWaternut Posts: 1,511 Crazy Baller
    edited October 2016
    Incredibly expensive calipers are only as accurate as the conditions they're used in. You do have to remember that metal expands and contracts with temperature. The aluminum fin probably changes the most but I doubt you'd get more than 0.001" or 0.002" difference. The caliper jaws themselves won't move much but all the chips, capacitors, and other fancy electronics built into these things can start going nuts when they're outside of their calibrated temperature zone. Dial calipers use tiny gears and teeth to count revolutions but even those can give bad pretty dimensions in the wrong environment.

    We use a lot of fancy measuring devices at work but at home I rock the harbor freight calipers. Say what you will but when measured inside my house where I keep my ski's and never more than 5-6 degree swing, I've never been more than 0.0005" off of my starting measurements even after 3-4 weeks of using the ski. If I'm more than 0.001", I'll double check and reset the zero and it'll give me a perfect dimension again.
  • bbruzzesebbruzzese Posts: 108 Baller
    I wish someone would make a nice dial caliper with a slot....doesn't seem like it would be to hard and no more dead batteries.
  • HortonHorton Posts: 24,095 Administrator
    What happens to me is they read a 10th or so long intermittently.

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    Masterline / O'Brien / Performance Ski and Surf /  Stokes / Reflex / Radar 


  • tjmtjm Posts: 258 Baller
    I've had it happen. I changed battery and it corrected. Seems odd, but it worked. Been using my dial as a back up ever since.
  • CamCam Posts: 286 Solid Baller
    @Horton I have had that problem and it was caused by a bad battery connection.
  • skialexskialex Posts: 606 Crazy Baller
    @Horton usually it's either moisture or the battery. My slot caliper is very sensitive to moisture and Mitutoyios work well only with SR44 battery. The cheaper LR45 batteries are good for generic or the slot and all work better with the SR44.
  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 1,957 Crazy Baller
    @bbruzzese cut your own slot in your dial.
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
  • MAD11MAD11 Posts: 576 Crazy Baller
    edited October 2016
    I have problems with my slots in high humidity when we ski in Louisiana, Houston or Florida. I upgraded to Mitutoyo harsh environment calipers a few years ago and haven't had the issue. Try not to use the slots for anything but DFT anymore. Each set of them measures depth differently too it seems so they just confused the issue when communicating with others. I think I got them from Mcmaster Carr. Can possibly get a better deal somewhere else.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 5,702 Mega Baller
    @Horton I would be pretty hesitant to use a digital caliper outside surrounded by water. I think a good ole mechanical is what you want for that application.

    @bbruzzese @teammalibu Denali has solved the DFT issue. On any Denali starting from the 3.4 (main production run), there is a flat spot that makes it trivial to repeat to 0.001" without any special maneuvers or equipment.

    Harbor Freight El Cheapo digital calipers are pretty darn good for indoor usage, but don't have the range and handy appendages of a decent mechanical caliper, and both are "required" for measuring a fin.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,418 Mega Baller
    I don't know. I saw @Horton try to use a dial caliper at the BOS and it didn't look good ;-)
    Jim Ross
  • MAD11MAD11 Posts: 576 Crazy Baller
    @teammalibu your comment makes me laugh. My brother worked in tool and die years ago for Lockheed Martin before they took all that stuff outside. He won't even pick up my digital calipers.
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 644 Solid Baller
    I would assume a carbon fiber ski also change dimensions with temperature changes.
    However, I doubt that it will have any practical impact on such small part of the ski.
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 1,934 Crazy Baller
    Have digital/dial/vernier - personally i'd go vernier on this if you're worried about accuracy in rough environments. Crap gets in the teeth on dial versions and messes up readings.
  • thagerthager Posts: 3,871 Mega Baller
    @Horton Always a good idea to remove calipers from painful area!
    Stir vigorously then leave!
  • rawlyrawly Posts: 441 Solid Baller
    Dials are fine if the rack gear is not exposed. Verniers are way too hard for us older guys to read. For those who do not know , a vernier measurement is made by seeing which lines line up on the stationary and moving parts of the calipers. Hence the name " very - near " calipers.
  • WaternutWaternut Posts: 1,511 Crazy Baller
    Agreed....cut your own slot calipers. It's not hard. I took a die grinder and a semi-steady hand to mine. The slot is a little wider than the fin but I tried measuring straight on and at a slight angle and got the same reading. $10 for the calipers and I keep those custom slot calipers zeroed at 1.583". These slip off that zero every few times I use them but if you used the real slot calipers as your primary set, you'd have to zero them every time so not a big deal in my mind.

    A little ugly but they've been working great for over 3 years.

  • DaveDDaveD Posts: 564 Crazy Baller
    I have to use digital because I don't keep reading glasses on the dock. :)

    Any electronic device is going to act up when left out in the sun.
  • condorpilotcondorpilot Posts: 34 Baller
    Agree with low battery comments.
    Had the same issue shortly after purchasing digital calipers.
    Whilst new to me I don't know how long the battery had been in the tool on the shelf since manufacturing.
    Changed to a fresh battery and no probs since
  • HortonHorton Posts: 24,095 Administrator
    @rawly I don't get it. Can you explain the difference in the two kinds of calipers for those of us who are a little slow?

    Support BallOfSpray by supporting the companies that support BallOfSpray

    Connelly / DBSkis /   Denali / Eden Ski Lake  / Goode / HO Syndicate / MasterCraft /

    Masterline / O'Brien / Performance Ski and Surf /  Stokes / Reflex / Radar 


  • skialexskialex Posts: 606 Crazy Baller
    I thought that dial calipers are the most accurate ones, harder to read but work under any conditions.
    Also dial calipers can be zeroed too, at least my Mitutoyio has this feature.
    I realy want to know too.
  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 894 Mega Baller
    Informative Wikipedia article.
    Is it time to ski, yet?
  • rawlyrawly Posts: 441 Solid Baller

    @Horton , these are Verniers , they pre - dated the dial calipers. Out of habit , people call dial calipers " Verniers " The top numbers are imperial , bottom is metric. You look to see where the zero of the moving jaw ends up , look at how many lines ( each one is .025 ) it is past the number then try to figure out which line is lining up on the scale of the moving jaw. This measurement is .462 , maybe ? Sure glad they invented dial calipers before I started needing them at work.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 1,934 Crazy Baller
    So accuracy wise you have really 3 things going on.

    Technique - measuring fins is horrible compared to the proper use of calipers - so you get a lot of difference between two people measuring the same thing. So if you and someone else can use the same tool over and over and get the same number you both probably have great technique.
    Actual accuracy of the tool.
    Ability of you to read the tool.

    Only the vernier type is a direct reading of the measurement, there is no "mechanism" of converting the position of the caliper into a measurement.

    A dial caliper however has a long rack gear along the back, a small pinion on the dial mechanism turns along the rack and moves the dial. But you can get additive errors - 0 the dial and measure .743" and not a lot of error - but 0 the dial and run out to 7.5" and you can have increased error. If you needed to get a really accurate 7" you could 0 on a gauge block and read from there.

    Digital use a circuit board to count ticks as you run the dial out instead of a rack.
    All are fine - but if you want something that can be left in a ski bag or truck - the vernier really is the most durable, and often they're heavy duty compared to the dial/electronic versions.
  • thagerthager Posts: 3,871 Mega Baller
    @BraceMaker I actually learned something on BOS! Who knew this forum could be educational too! Thx!!!!!
    Stir vigorously then leave!
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