New Beta Version of TouchDRO Now Available

Saturday, January 9, 2016

For almost a year since the last major release of TouchDRO (v2.0) I've been working on the new features and enhancements that will be released in v2.5. Some of the changes are pretty deep under the hood and will not be immediately obvious, but there is a number of features that will make the application more flexible and more convenient to use. This includes a complete revamp of the low-level readout processing with better metric mode support, new functions, improved graphical mode and several quality-of-life enhancements.

Metric Mode is a First Class Citizen

The biggest change by far is related to the handling of metric units. In previous versions of the app the data was stored in native scale units and calculations were done in inches. This caused rounding errors in metric mode. Moreover, this caused two more subtle issues as well. First of all, when "counts per inch" setting changed, any stored positions (points) would be off. Second, transferring data between devices was possible only if the devices used the same CPI settings.

For v2.5 the core of the app was completely gutted and rewritten from scratch, so the readouts from scales are converted to microns, which work equally well for metric and imperial systems. All calculations are performed in microns and converted to inches at the last possible moment (in the user interface layer). This approach avoids compounding rounding errors and improves performance, as an added bonus. Additionally it opens the possibility to import/export/transfer data between devices without any issue in future versions.

Units can be set for each axis independently

At the user interface level there is a number of enhancements that makes working with inches/millimeters much easier. For instance, units can be changed per-axis.Similarly, it's now possible to define metric or imperial tools, regardless of the currently selected units.

Workspace Preview/Graphical Mode

Graphical Mode has a number of enhancements

Another area that has undergone major upgrades is the "Workspace Preview" display. This was a new addition in v2.0 and while it could be used to quickly verify that a layout looked reasonable, it wasn't useful past that. The new version now has a full-blown graphical mode with zoom-and-pan support, ability to select/deselect points by touching them or using auto-select mode, and a small readout display for precise positioning.

Those features come handy when performing operations on a series of points by providing a hands-free mode of sorts.

Arbitrary Hole Circle

The ability to add a circle of equally spaced holes has been available in TouchDRO for quite some time. This is a standard feature on any decent DRO unit and is extremely useful when creating, well, a circle of equidistant holes. Sometimes, though, the holes aren't spaced evenly, at which point the machinist has to do one of two things: either create a circle with holes spaced at an angle that is the least common denominator of all needed angles and delete unneeded points, or create a number of arcs with different degree spacing. The "Arbitrary Hole Circle" function provides an easier way to create circles with any arbitrary hole spacing by letting the machinist enter the holes one-by-one by specifying the angle from "12-o'clock" for each hole.

"Arbitrary Hole Circle" function makes creating unevenly spaced hole circle is easy

Support for Angular Axis

A few releases back I added support for the fourth "W" axis that could be either added to another axis readout or displayed separately. In this version of TouchDRO W axis can be displayed in "Angular" mode. In other words the readout will be in degrees and will wrap around after each full circle.

Note: I have removed the ability to display W axis in "linear" mode. I realize that this is a setback for a small number of users, but that functionality was fundamentally flawed, and was a source of numerous errors.

Quality of Life Enhancements

In addition to the bigger changes above, there are dozens of little changes that should make TouchDRO easier and more pleasant to use. Below are some of the highlights.

Persisted DRO State

When the app is paused, it will now "remember" the state of readout. In other words things like units, mode, selected point, selected tool, incremental offset/origin will be restored when the application is reopened.

Workspace-Specific Origin

Absolute offset/origin is now stored in the workspace. This makes working with multiple workspaces much easier. Furthermore, the absolute offset will not be lost when the application is restarted.

Updates to Lathe Z Axis

In addition to the feed rate in units per inch/mm or units per revolution, the dialog can now display approximate threading pitch, either in TPI or metric units. If the tachometer is enabled, the app will also display cutting speed in SFM or MPM.


As you can see, there is a lot of changes in TouchDRO. Most of them will help advanced users be more productive while performing complex tasks. On the other hand, the quality-of-life enhancements will make the app more pleasant to use for everyone.

The application has been available to the members of the TouchDRO Users G+ community who have opted into the Beta program. Depending on their feedback, I'm hoping to publish it to "Production" by the end of the month. If you feed adventurous, by all means opt-into the Beta program. Otherwise take a look at the videos I have uploaded to the TouchDRO YouTube channel.


  1. hi Yuriy, what type of Bluetooth module is preferred?

    HC5 or HC6?

    Thanks, Camillo

    1. I have tested both and couldn't see any difference. I believe that the DRO readout is the master in the pairing. The HC5 is capable of being the slave only. Let me know if I'm wrong.