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Counting scales

I would like to get myself a counting scale. I've shopped around a bit online, and there's quite a bit of variation in price for these devices. I'd love to get recommendations for any specific units that other Bricksetters use and like. The max weight I'd likely consider trying to count at once would be about that of a PAB box of tiles - I think they run somewhere in the vicinity of 5 lb/ea, but I'm not completely certain (chicken and egg problem, there).
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Comments

  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    I got mine from amazon. It has a 3 pound capacity but is accurate down to .0001 I believe. I paid $120 shipped
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,405
    What purpose would this serve?
  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    Counting out 22,xxx 1x1 tiles that you got from the pick a brick wall in Paris.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,405
    Ok. So you want to know exactly how many 1x1 tiles you got in your PAB cup? Why?
  • rancorbaitrancorbait Manitoba CanadaMember Posts: 1,850
    Heck, I would just use the $120 to buy more tiles.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,405
    Exactly what I was getting at.
    SprinkleOtterkiki180703
  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    Bricklink store
  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    The counting scale can also be useful to see what other items weigh. I have to send in 120 snack sized snicker bars to the kids school for Halloween for instance. Weigh one and then set it to 1 item weighs x then it will count as the snicker bars fill. Then you are not counting them out.
  • legogregorslegogregors Member Posts: 402
    It looks like stamps.com gives away a scale but you have to pay shipping and remember to cancel before a month is up or pay monthly subscription fees.
  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    Many of the postal scales will not accurately weigh the tiny pieces like studs, 1x1 plates and tiles.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,641
    edited September 2013
    For counting out LUGBULK orders etc. we use "drug dealers'" scales obtainable from eBay, e.g. these and these. They are very accurate and have no problem handling 1x1 round plates, for example.
    chromedigikylejohnson11TheBigLegoskikiki180703
  • woony2woony2 UKMember Posts: 336
    ^ Cue the hilarious roadside incident next time your on the way to a LUG gathering.
    Police officer - "Can you explain why you have these scales in your possession sir?"
    Huw - "Yes officer, they are for measuring out 1x1 Lego plates, for personal use, of course."
    Police officer - "Would you mind stepping into this caged van please sir and we'll take you to someone who can help you."

    On the other hand it could become the drug dealers best excuse as it's such a preposterous explanation that it could only be true. :)
    StuBoykiki180703
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    edited September 2013
    Pitfall69 said:

    What purpose would this serve?

    If you use a collection manager that provides a mechanism for maintaining an inventory of parts, e.g. Peeron, Basebrick, or use an offline method like Brickstore or even a custom Access database, you want to know how many "loose parts" of any given element you have, in order to keep the thing up to date.
    Pitfall69 said:

    Ok. So you want to know exactly how many 1x1 tiles you got in your PAB cup? Why?

    OK. for that example, suppose you like to make mosaics. You can need obscene numbers of particular elements, even for a single piece, but in order to be able to complete any given design, you have to have enough of them. You need an inventory system in order to know how many more you need of anything you're short on.

    There are other reasons to want to keep accurate inventories. You might run a LUG (like the one I belong to) that owns parts that are used for large projects. You might create kits, or do workshops.

    Using a counting scale is less error-prone, and tedious, than manual counting, even when you aren't trying to count something like a PAB cup (or box) full of cheese.

    And in any case, maybe you want to keep a "loose parts" inventory for use with Rebrickable.

    @Huw - Thank you for being the only person in this thread thus far to actually attempt to answer the question that was asked: recommendations for specific units that you have used and like.
  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    woony2 said:

    ^ Cue the hilarious roadside incident next time your on the way to a LUG gathering.
    Police officer - "Can you explain why you have these scales in your possession sir?"
    Huw - "Yes officer, they are for measuring out 1x1 Lego plates, for personal use, of course."
    Police officer - "Would you mind stepping into this caged van please sir and we'll take you to someone who can help you."

    On the other hand it could become the drug dealers best excuse as it's such a preposterous explanation that it could only be true. :)

    Officer: "Do you have anything in the car miss?"
    AFOL: "Yes officer, I have a few dime bags?"
    Officer: "I need you to step out of the car please."
    AFOL: "Ok"
    Officer searches car and fines nothing but Lego pieces bagged up in quantities of 10.
    Officer: "So where are your dime bags?"
    AFOL: "Right there sir, those are the cheap tiles from the Lego store. I get a penny a piece for them."
    kiki180703
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    dneul said:

    Bricklink store

    To be perfectly clear: I am not a reseller, not that it should really matter. This thread is an attempt to add to the storehouse of information that any user of Brickset can find useful to their own purposes.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,405
    @chromedigi Forgive me for asking a question rather than answering yours.
  • canon03canon03 USAMember Posts: 330
    @dneul What brand/model number is your scale? I wouldn't mind picking one up and I know yours is accurate after a successful transaction with you.
    chromedigikiki180703
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    edited September 2013
    @Pitfall69 ^ And I hope I answered your question to your satisfaction. I was busy all weekend, so it took me a while to see it, and then respond, meanwhile...

    Perhaps you can understand that it's also disappointing to see a thread intended to help add to the fund of available knowledge for everybody immediately get driven into a muddy ditch.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,405
    I was curious on why one would want to accurately measure Lego pieces. I wasn't trying to derail the thread. I'm not part of a LUG group, sell pieces on Bricklink, have ever done a mosaic, or have ever bought Lego pieces from the PAB wall. Forgive me for my ignorance.
    chromedigikiki180703
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    edited September 2013
    @Pitfall69 - OK. Legitimate question. I hope you got what you consider to be good answers; there are others, but those are a reasonable sampling. Conversely, please forgive me for apparently misinterpreting the direction the thread took as veering off from a real discussion into the realm of ridiculing the premise. Is everybody cool now?

    Oh, one more answer to your question, which I tried to shoehorn into my previous one, but ran out of edit time: If you do use a collection manager for your loose parts, you can't just tell it that you have "a lot" of something. You need to feed it a number. So it's nice to actually have the true number to give it, rather than a guess. To some people, that might sound like OCD, but hopefully the various answers that have come up so far show that there are quite a few practical reasons, too.
  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    canon03 said:

    @dneul What brand/model number is your scale? I wouldn't mind picking one up and I know yours is accurate after a successful transaction with you.

    I have this one
    http://www.amazon.com/TREE-Measurements-Counting-Scale-0-0002/dp/B008LXTG8A

    It is bulk but extremely accurate.
    chromedigikiki180703
  • jasorjasor United StatesMember Posts: 839

    @Pitfall69 ^ And I hope I answered your question to your satisfaction. I was busy all weekend, so it took me a while to see it, and then respond, meanwhile...

    Perhaps you can understand that it's also disappointing to see a thread intended to help add to the fund of available knowledge for everybody immediately get driven into a muddy ditch.

    The original question didn't bother me, as it's a general question. Although it doesnt pertain to add information for your query...@pitfall69 's question DOES add to the "fund of available knowledge for everybody." Not everyone would know the logistical reasons for wanting a scale.....
    chromedigi
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,405
    I guess I'm not as anal with my Lego as some. If I went to the bank and they weighed my money without counting it in front of me, I would have a problem with that. I know they have money counters, but they still usually count the money in front of the customers.

    Yes, I didn't come across well in some of my questions. I apologize for that. I should get a pass for my user avatar :)
  • LegoMom1LegoMom1 Member Posts: 652
    dneul said:

    The counting scale can also be useful to see what other items weigh. I have to send in 120 snack sized snicker bars to the kids school for Halloween for instance. Weigh one and then set it to 1 item weighs x then it will count as the snicker bars fill. Then you are not counting them out.

    Snack size candy bar bags have a piece count right on the bag. If a bag holds 60 bars, and you need 120 bars, you buy 2 bags and send them in. If the bag holds 30 bars, then you need 4 bags. Get it? It's not rocket science. :)

  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    ^ Why make a comment like " It's not rocket science"? i know how to multiply. This is an instance when you have 240 of the halloween candies and you only need 57...
    My point is that there is no reason to drop rude remarks like the one above.
    LegoFanTexas
  • LegoMom1LegoMom1 Member Posts: 652
    ^ @dneul - You must be joking. You don't really think I was being serious, do you? I was kidding. I'm sorry if you took my comment seriously. It truly was meant as a joke.
  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    @legomom1 it is hard to tell when someone is taking a jab and being mean and when someone is just trying to make a funny. There is quite a bit of snarkiness on this board. This is a big reason I don't post a lot.

    But back to scales...
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    edited September 2013
    My early investigation of counting scales was confined to several "name brands" in the scale business. These are the units I started out looking into:

    Ohaus EC3: 6 lb capacity x .1 g readability ~ $450
    UWE OAC-1.2: 2.4 lb capacity x .1 g readability ~ $380
    UWE OAC-2.4: 6 lb capacity x .225 g readability ~ $380
    Salter B120-12: 12 lb capacity x 1 g readability ~ $200
    Mettler Toledo: models in capacities running from 1.2-12 lb x readability from .001-.1 g, respectively, but their web site is very confusing, and you have to contact them for a quote, which is never, ever, a happy sign.

    I've been told by one person outside this forum that for counting LEGO, the unit should be accurate to 0.1g, which effectively rules out the UWE OAC-2.4 and Salter B120-12 units. Assuming the Mettler Toledo is stupid expensive, as would be expected from the old "ask for a quote" gambit, that leaves the Ohaus EC3 and UWE OAC-1.2 as the only contenders among the scales I personally looked into.

    I tend to be leery of mongrel brands when purchasing equipment, but there are lower cost units out there, such as the one dneul uses. FWIW, the accuracy of that model, according to Amazon, is approximately .09g, or roughly the same as my personal acquaintance's advice on that account. So maybe I should get over my tendency to gravitate to name brands. Thoughts?
  • dneuldneul Member Posts: 369
    edited September 2013
    I just wanted to add that when I do count out the tiniest parts, I will usually count out 5, then set my quantity and then count up to 20 parts to ensure accuracy.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    Complete side note when it comes to high quality digital counting scales...

    Laws vary from country to country, but in the US, if you're caught with any kind of drugs at all, even a single ounce of marijuana, and you're also found with such a scale, they can easily upgrade the charge to intent to distribute.

    Digital counting scales are very popular among drug dealers, one of the reasons they cost so much.

    By itself, you're fine, but if you or anyone you know smokes pot, keep it far away.

    Difference between a small fine and a week jail time and 5 to 10 years in federal prison.
  • BastaBasta Australia Member Posts: 1,259
    ^ Although I am not a fan of drug use, its laws like this that help overcrowding in jails. I mean have an quantity limit or what not, but upping the charges to intent to distribute just for having items that are perfectly legal in their own right is not really helping anyone IMO, even if that person was intending to use them for drug related activities.
    Jonn420kiki180703
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    ^ I wasn't taking a pro-con position, just stating facts.

    Millions of people smoke pot casually. Regardless of your personal take on that, if any of them are caught and also happen to have a digital counting scale, the charges go through the roof.

    I was just pointing that out to anyone who might not otherwise put the two together.

    And yes, personally I agree that it's nuts, but that is a topic for another forum.
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    @chromedigi In a previous life as an Engineer I used Mettler scales in many a Project. I would consider them an industrial/commercial item though so I'm not surprised by the call for a quote. Any scale is only as good as its calibration schedule though.
    Pitfall69kiki180703
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    edited September 2013

    Any scale is only as good as its calibration schedule though.

    Good point. But the onus is on the owner to keep the device properly calibrated.

    At this point, I think I'm leaning toward the Ohaus EC3. I just took a look at the user manual, which says "When the scale is operated for the first time, a Span Calibration is recommended to ensure accurate weighing results. Before performing the calibration, be sure to have the appropriate calibration weights" and, later in the manual, "The required calibration weight is displayed (ex. 3000g for a 3kg model)." It doesn't appear as though one is sold the required calibration weight together with the scale.

    Taking a quick look at one online source for weights, these puppies aren't cheap, either. It looks like an investment of a few hundred dollars for the weights alone!
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    ^ No they're not (and cheap calibration weights do more harm than good) but its probably quite a few steps above what you should need for counting LEGO. They're more generally used in the manufacturing sector, food etc
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    While I opened my mouth re calibration I have to agree with @cheshirecat on this one. While I understand the desire for accuracy I think that scale and weights would be overkill for this application.
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    @cheshirecat - It does seem like it's edging into the area of overkill. But you'd think that even if you went for a cheaper scale, you still would need to calibrate it, and therefore obtain calibration weights. However...

    Here's the manufacturer's web page for the scale that @dneul uses: the LW Measurements MCT 7 Plus. To recap: He got it for $120. The Ohaus EC3 is about $450. What does the price difference of $330 buy? One thing I can see right off is it buys the duty to calibrate the thing. The manual for the MCT 7 Plus states right off the bat "Note: Calibration is done in factory. Don't re-calibrate the Scale, unless it is not accurate." Which begs the question... how would you know it wasn't accurate without calibration weights, anyway?

    Aargh.
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344

    I think that scale and weights would be overkill for this application.

    By "that scale," you mean the Ohaus EC3?
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    That scale is without doubt a piece of high quality instrumentation and certain measurements be they weight, temperature, pressure etc are critical to the process. If you're counting in tiles and you weigh 500 but there are actually 499 I can't see it making much difference.
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    Re-reading the statement "When the scale is operated for the first time, a Span Calibration is recommended to ensure accurate weighing results," one could also conclude that they're not saying it is required... which would then leave you in much the same place as with the $120 model from LW Measurements, which you can calibrate - they just don't want you to. What does $330 actually buy? The knowledge that you have an Ohaus? I should compare the specs.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    Indeed, recalibration is done where it matters if the weight is out by even a tiny amount. My point was that, talking about recalibration isn't really appropriate for weighing LEGO and also scales that say you need to do it are clearly designed/engineered above what is needed and will therefore cost more than is probably needed.

    What I would do is decide on how much you want to weigh at a time. From looking on ebay quickly, you can get something like 5,10 or 15kg scale at an accuracy of 1g for about £20 ($30). Or something around 500g to 1kg at 0.1g accuracy for less. So do you want to weigh bulk in which case go for the higher mass and less accuracy but count in batches of say 10 (it will be more accurate this way anyway) or go with the lower mass scales and weigh in batches.

    I can see the benefit/desire of having scales but as soon as you go for higher total mass and more accuracy then A) the costs go up dramatically, B) the likelyhood of loss of calibration goes up too. I think at that point the cost/benefit really changes.

    Also, do you need to count 4632 tiles or would 4630 or even 4600 suffice? With the difference between a $30 scale and a $120 scale you can buy quite a lot of tiles.
    SirKevbagsPitfall69LegoFanTexaskiki180703
  • bluedragonbluedragon United StatesMember Posts: 494
    I am a scientist and like accuracy as much as everyone but there is no need to calibrate the scale regularly. If one ONLY wants to count parts, there is a calibration step every time you use it: place 5 parts on the scale; record weight (x); place unknown number of parts on the scale; record weight (y). Part number is 5*(y/x).

    You don't really care if 5 parts are weighting 2g or 5g. As long as the calibration is the same between those two consecutive measurements it does not need to be accurate. If you also want to use it to calculate shipping costs, that's another matter!
    chromedigipharmjodsnowhitiekiki180703
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    edited September 2013
    ^ You make a really good point. A digital counting scale does that arithmetic for you, but to make an accurate count, it is not necessary to have an accurate weight measurement per se, just a consistent one.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    ^ That isn't quite true...

    A scale can be out of calibration at different points at different weights.

    It might read perfectly correct at 5g, then be off by 10% at 50g, but be off by 20% at 500g.

    Of course, such a scale might also just be defective, but the only way to know is to have accurate weights to test each to make sure it remains accurate to the entire range of the scale.
  • bluedragonbluedragon United StatesMember Posts: 494
    edited September 2013
    ^or you can just count 100 parts and test it ;-)

    But I guess you don't need a scale then... and a normal calibration would not fix that sort of scale, I guess.
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    @LegoFanTexas - OK, I'll suspend my tendency to think of such behavior as in fact defective, and make a couple of conjectures that people with more experience with these devices can verify or counter:

    1. That a scale with a narrower range of operation is more likely to produce accurate counts.

    2. That what you buy with the extra $330, say, when you purchase something like an Ohaus, is a device that has a flat response curve over its range of operation, rather than the sort of thing you are describing; in this way, the problem would resemble purchasing a quality stereo.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    ^ all fair points...

    I'm simply saying that it depends on the scale.

    A scale that can weigh up to 200lbs, but also be accurate to 0.1g can't use the same internal measurement tool to do both weights (or it is unlikely to).

    More likely, it has multiple measuring tools and it adds them up to get the total weight. One could be out of alignment while the others work correctly. If the internal tool measuring 0.1g is accurate but the one measuring by 1kg is not, you'll get false sense of security doing what you suggested.

    Example:

    http://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/H-1099/Counting-Scales/110-lbs-x-002-lb-Deluxe-Counting-Scale

    That scale can take up to 110lbs (50kg) and is accurate to 0.002 ounce (0.057g)

    That is a huge range of weights to be accurate to less than 6% of a gram while also taking 50kg at the same time. Internally I suspect it has a kg scale and a g scale (and perhaps a mg scale as well), on top of each other, to arrive at such an accuracy.

    It is also why it is $1,600. :)

    Measuring the difference between 1.05kg and 1.06kg is one thing, measuring the difference between 45.05kg and 45.06kg is another, and much harder to do.
  • chromedigichromedigi Member Posts: 344
    edited September 2013
    ^ That's all well and good, but I'm talking about something that handles tasks on the order of 5 or 6 lbs max.
  • BuzzsawBuzzsaw UKMember Posts: 79
    ^^ LegoFanTexas, I work in a QC lab, and I'm in charge of getting the scales recalibrated. These range from a 4 place bench scale up to a 40,000KG weighbridge. We also have a load of silo's and tanks with gauges on. They 'should' use 4 pressure sensors - one in each corner. These are sensitive over a range of values - and more expensive ones can be sensitive over a very wide range. They would not 'stack' multiple sensors of different ranges.

    As for the question, I would reccomend using something with 0.1 - 1g of sensitivity over its range, and a reasonably good scale. MT is very good, but probably too good for what you want.
    The ones reccomended by Huw have a proven record of working, of the ones that you have posted, the UWE OAC-2.4 looks the best to my mind. A reasonable price, wide range, and good sensitivity. But I'd read a few reviews before buying.
    chromedigiSirKevbags
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030

    The more you spend the better it will be but laws of diminishing returns will kick in. The ones that @Huw linked to will do the job. How do we know? They are tried and tested for the application.

    chromedigiLostInTranslationkiki180703
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