Some scale tips and tricks from an old scale technician

Discussion in 'DIY E-Liquid and Mixing' started by Gandalf Vapes, 11/5/18.

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  1. Gandalf Vapes

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    Greetings fellow vapers,

    While I am very new to the whole DIY thing, which I am absolutely loving, I have been in the scale industry now for 25 years and counting. In the very short time I have been with you in this forum, I have already learned loads from you and I am still learning. I think it is only fair that I trade some knowledge with you too. Off course, I am not going to tell you which scale company I work for. It may be considdered advertising, and pee of the moderators.

    1: After you have turned your scale on, give it 10 to 15 minutes to warm up. I know it sounds ridiculous but it is very important. Most of the cheaper scales have strain gauge loadcells in them. Strain gauges similar to the coils in atomizers have a small current flowing through them which heats them up very slightly and so the resistance increases in them as they warm up. Nothing compared to the current your mod passes through your atomizer, but the principal is the same.

    Just for interests sake: If your mod displays an ohm readout have a look at the ohm reading when your atomizer is cold. After you have vaped it for a while and it is nice and hot, look at the ohm reading again. You will notice that it has it has increased slightly.

    If you have an auto off function, disable it if you can. You want your scale to warm up and stay warm until you have finished mixing, not before you have even started.

    2: Always make sure that your scale is absolutely level when you use it. It should have been absolutely level when it was calibrated. Most good scales have a bubble level on them. If it is slightly off level, everything you put onto the scale is slightly off center of gravity and could cause the scale to be out by a couple of milligrams. That may not sound like a lot, but when you are mixing a big batch, every milligram out of balance adds up.

    3: If you are lucky enough to have your own weights, it is very advisable to have them calibrated at least once a year by an accredited scale company. There is no need to have them verified as it is for your personal use only. Keep them as clean as possible and store them in a dry clean area. Always use clean gloves when you handle the weights. Grease from your fingers, no matter how clean your hands are will leave residue on the weights which possibly cause corrosion and that effects the weights.

    4: If you are looking to buy weights, spend that little bit of extra money and buy stainless steel weights. They are less susceptible to corrosion. And they will last you a lifetime. Steel weights have a nasty habit of rusting and I don't have to tell you what that leads to.

    5: It is always a good idea to check the calibration of your scale before every mix, especially on the cheaper scales (I mean, less than R1000.00).

    6: It is always good to keep weights at least a third of your scales capacity or less, but enough to test it up to full capacity. This is called a linearity test. A linearity test is when you take the weights and put them onto the scale one by one. So, assuming you have a 300g scale: when you put 100g on it, you want to see 100.00g and so on up to 300g. It is no good that the scale shows 300.00g but when you put 100g you get 99.95g. That could royally screw up a mix. It could mean that there is a problem with your scale or your weights need to be re calibrated.

    7: Another test I like doing is what we call a repeatability test. This is where I take a weight. Any weight, I don't care, and it must show me the correct weight. When I take the weight off again, it must go back to zero. If I put 300g on it and it gives me anything more or less than 300.00g, or anything more or less than 0.00g, I am not a happy chappy. It could mean that something is touching the loadcell. It's what we call binding. Some scales come with a locking screw on it. If it does, always make sure that that cursed screw is well screwed out and clear of the loadcell. It's a common problem with scales that have locking screws.

    8: The corner test is where I take a weight and I put it on the 4 corners of the scales pan. It should weigh the same where ever you put it, give or take 1 increment.
    9: Never put anything on top of your scale that you don't intend to weigh regardless how light it is. You don't want to exercise the loadcell unnecessary. It will affect the calibration and in the long term could reduce the life of the loadcell. I could write a book on scales that I have seen that have been overloaded.

    10: If you can't afford calibration weights or just can't get hold of them, you could use coins to do a calibration as well. I see some other people have also suggested it. Kimbo was also kind enough to give us a table of coin weights in 0.5g increments. As good as his/her intentions were, it is just not good enough for accurate calibration when we are weighing in 10mg increments.

    I took some coins to work with me today and I weighed batches of ten of each coin on one of our weight calibration balances, then I calculated the average weight of the coins. They are not new coins. They are just what I happened to have in my change collection, so while I believe the weights below are more accurate than anything else that has been posted here, don't hold them as accurate down to the micro gram.

    R5.00 = 9463.9 mg
    R2,00 = 5484.6 mg
    R1.00 = 3151.0 mg
    R0.50 = 4927.7 mg
    R0.20 = 3490.0 mg
    R0.10 = 1993.7 mg

    Let me leave you with this and I hope that it helps you keep your scales more accurate. Please feel free to ask me anything that you like. I will do my best to answer your questions.

    Best regards and happy vaping
     
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  2. Raindance

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    I really appreciate this article @Gandalf Vapes. Thank You.

    If what you call a cheap scale is under R1000.00 then I do not know how to classify the one I (And most of us) use. Does however not seem that there is much choice in what is locally available though. Seems like really cheap and k@k expensive are about the only two choices out there. (Most mid range ones I've come accross do not measure small enough increments.)

    I used to "warm" up my scale while off. Thinking that the intention was to get it to reach room temperature. Thanks for that tip!
     
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  3. Steyn777

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    When I bought my Magma RDA back when I only toyed with the idea of Vaping, I would've never thought that information on scales would someday be considered useful...we are changing the world and I'm grateful to be a part of it.
    Awesome thread, thank you very much for taking the time and sharing your knowledge.
     
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  4. zadiac

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    Great article, but.......most digital scales auto shuts off after 30 seconds or so. I use my scale immediately because I have to. Someone who is really finicky about one drop or not of a concentrate would probably buy a more expensive scale as well, but if my recipes differ a little because of a few drops it really doesn't bother me. They taste great none the less.

    Thanks for your input though. It was a very interesting read. :)
     
  5. Gandalf Vapes

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    I assure you, mine is also well under R10000.00. I don't see the necessity for a ten grand scale for mixing juices. When I did my first ever mix, I put in about 100 mg too much VG but so far it seems to be ok. I will let you know how it turned out after steeping.
     
    Last edited: 14/5/18
  6. Steyn777

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    100mg won't be noticeable at all...well to me it's not and with VG it's something that happens quite often.
     
  7. Gandalf Vapes

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    If you can't disable the auto off function, try putting the bottle that you intend to mix in onto the scale, but don't tare the scale until you start your mix. Hopefully then it won't auto shut off and it will have time to warm up. Maybe I am old fashioned and have been in the industry too long, but I am an accuracy freak. If my scale is 0.01g out it is out.

    I think my fussiness comes as a result of us having a lot of pharmaceutical companies whose scales we maintain and calibrate. In some of their cases, one micro gram could mean the difference between life and death. A lot of them have their own calibration weights. We just calibrate the weights. They calibrate their own scales before they mix or test a batch.
     
  8. Steyn777

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    Had to do with your industry when I was still at the bakery. 1g extra in a loaf of bread seems like nothing, and cost wise it's probably about 2c loss. Times that with 140 000 a day x 362 days a year. And I worked for the 3rd largest bakery, Capetown has the largest Bakery (Of all 4 the big names) which produces about 350 000 per day. Then 1g starts sounding a lot heavier.
     
  9. RichJB

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    Thanks for the article, @Gandalf Vapes. While I like to be accurate, I am not too fussed about my scale. I'm using concentrates that may have lost up to 10% of their potency due to age, perhaps even more. That is the same as a scale being 10% out. I have a 100g calibration weight which I put on the scale occasionally and it's never been close to even 0.5% out. The scale always reads between 99.8x - 100.1x. So I figure scale inaccuracies aren't the major factor in my mixing. Still, it's useful to know how to get it as accurate as possible.
     
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  10. zadiac

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    Well then, lucky for me, I don't produce 350 000 bottles of ejuice per day then :)
     
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  11. Raindance

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    What gets my goat is after adding my large volume concentrates I get to Koolada or Super sweet at say 0.01g and ten drops later s=the scale still just flickers but stays on 0. Not a problem mixing 100ml of juice but when mixing 10 or 20ml testers this really irks me.

    Regards
     
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  12. RichJB

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    For anything 0.1g or under, I use one drop = 0.025g. So 0.1g is four drops, 0.075g is three drops, etc. For quantities that small, we are inevitably going to be out as you would need to sub-divide a drop to be exact. Or mix 200ml in order to get a reasonable amount to add like 0.5g. For Super Sweet, I just add two drops per 30ml regardless of what the recipe says. That's if I add it at all, often I just leave it out.
     
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  13. Steyn777

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    Why not start with the smaller percentages 1st? When the unforseen happens the loss won't be that great.
     
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  14. aktorsyl

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    One thing you guys can keep in mind too - when adding extremely strong concentrates (like tobacco supreme, acetyl pyrazine, torrone, etc) and you need like 0.06g of it.. you know how tricky that can be since most scales don't start to detect weight until it gets about 3 drops at the same time. Tapping the scale doesn't always work.

    When I have to add these strong low-quantity concentrates to my mix, I don't tare before doing so. I leave the previous concentrate's reading on there and add the 0.06 to it. That way the scale registers even a single drop.
     
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  15. zadiac

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    This is a very good point to remember. I found the same thing and been doing it for a while now. Thanks for mentioning it here. I didn't think to mention it.
     
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  16. RichJB

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    One thing I've noticed is that the scale sometimes 'remembers' an added weight without displaying it. I also do the mental arithmetic trick without zeroing the scale but it doesn't always work. Example: I am adding 0.6g of a flavour. I bleurgh it in initially to shock the scale into registering. But then as I get to 0.5g and above, I go back to single drops. The scale will be at 0.57. I add another drop and it stays at 0.57. I add another drop and it again stays at 0.57. I am now sure that I must have added 0.6 so I stop.

    The next concentrate I need is at 0.1g so I don't tare the scale. Theoretically, I should add until it reads 0.67, which is 0.1 more than its current 0.57. But it jumps to 0.65 with the very first drop I add. I know that drop didn't weigh 0.08 on its own. It somehow 'remembered' the two drops of the previous concentrate which I added without the scale changing, and then adds that to the weight of the single drop that I added now. It's a bizarre thing but it's happened too often for me to dismiss it as my imagination.

    I would guess that it happens by the two drops not causing the display to change, but nevertheless pre-loading the spring. The addition of the third drop tips it over the edge, compresses the spring and causes the display to update. But it adds the weight of all three drops in one go, not just the weight of the third drop.
     
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  17. aktorsyl

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    Yup, that happens to me as well from time to time. Tapping under those circumstances has a better success rate for me, though.
     
  18. Gandalf Vapes

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    It sounds to me like your scale has an Auto Zero Tracking feature. That can really mess you around when you are trying to weigh in minute quantities like 10mg, but you have the right idea. If you don't tare the scale before you add your super sweet or other strong concentrate, it won't keep zeroing it out. It's another feature I disable if I can. :)

    EDIT: Would you people who experience these zeroing issues please let me know what scale you are using? I would love to see if I can find manuals for them and see what can be done about the zeroing issue, if possible.

    Best regards and happy vaping!
     
    Last edited: 14/5/18
  19. RenaldoRheeder

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    I have found that just blowing on the scale kicks it into action as well


    Sent by iDad's iPhone
     
  20. Gandalf Vapes

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    Sure it can. Scales have filtering built in to filter out vibration, air moving over it and other small disturbances. If that is turned off you only need to fart to make it move. my scale also comes with a cage built around the weighing platform to prevent prevent air movement from disturbing it, but I usually remove it when I am mixing as it gets in the way. Very nice scale though.
     
  21. aktorsyl

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    This one does it - not sure what the exact model name is, maybe you recognise it though?
    https://blckvapour.co.za/collections/accesories/products/digital-scale-0-01-500g
     
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  22. Gandalf Vapes

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    I have seen a lot of people here have that scale. I can't find a manual for it on line. I have contacted the manufacturer and asked them to send me a manual. Preferably a service manual. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Lets hold thumbs.

    Best regards and happy vaping.
     
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  23. Silver

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    My scale shivers when I pull out my menthol concentrate
    I think it just freezes up

    So I have to just use my eyes and gut feel for menthol weighing

    :couch:
     
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  24. Adephi

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    Judging by the Gauteng weather these last 2 days you had quite a heavy hand with the menthol this weekend.
     
  25. RichJB

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    I have that one too. It's called the Digital Scale SF-830. It's a bit odd calling the brand the same as the item. Luckily we buy them online and not in B&Ms, otherwise this sort of convo would be common:
    Good morning, sir, how can I help?
    I'm looking for a Digital Scale.
    Ah, we have a wide range to suit every need and budget.
    Yes but I'm looking for a Digital Scale.
    Like I said, we have a wide range, can you be more specific?
    I want a Digital Scale!
    They're ALL digital scales!
     
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