TouchDRO V3 Status Update

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Last week, I got back to working on the next release of the TouchDRO Android application. There is still much work left before it's fully ready for public Beta testing but until then, the application is my main focus. After my last post, a few people contacted me with concerns about the future of this release since it's been over 4 years since version 2.5 was finished. I can't promise any timelines since this is my side-project but to be more transparent about the progress, I will be posting periodic updates that outline the work that has been completed.

State of The TouchDRO Project

Friday, July 2, 2021

I haven't posted much on the blog over the last year, so the number of emails asking if I'm still alive and/or if the TouchDRO project is dead has been steadily going up. One of the main complaints is that the TouchDRO application, which is currently on Google Play, is four years old. You probably remember my blog post from mid-2017 about some new features that I was working on. Those features are still not released; so, understandably, people are wondering what is happening with the app.

Common iGaging EZ-View DRO Problems

Sunday, May 9, 2021

One of the most common problems that TouchDRO users report is jumping of the position redout. There are a few different flavors of this problem, but the common factor is that the position jumps up or down by some amount and then returns to the normal reading. Most common are frequent small jumps by one encoder count; in some rare cases, the scale might rapidly jump up and down by a few encoder counts as well. Much less common are cases where the position momentarily jumps by a random large amount and then returns to the correct reading. These particular problems affect almost exclusively only the iGaging EZ-View and DigiMag "Remote DRO" scales [and their rebranded counterparts]. Since the iGaging display masks this behavior, it leads many TouchDRO users to believe that there is something wrong with their setup.

More Info About New TouchDRO Adapter

Monday, May 3, 2021

After my last post I received a few dozen emails from people with follow-up questions. Some of them were covered in the last post, but I suspect that it was too long and most people mostly skimmed it for the highlights. Rather than answering the same four or five questions in individual emails, let me just post the abbreviated version of the last post in an FAQ format.

Upgraded Adapters for iGaging and Shahe Scales

Saturday, April 24, 2021

If you've been following my Facebook page, you probably know that for the last few months I've been working on redesigning the TouchDRO adapters for Shahe and iGaging scales to use the ESP32 microcontroller module. The work started around the end of December of 2020 and at this point, I have gone through a couple of iterations. After a lot of testing and tweaking, I'm finally pretty happy with the performance of the new iGaging scale adapter, and all of the parts appear to finally be in stock; so, I will be finally placing an order for the first production run; Shahe version is still a few weeks out. If things go as planned, I should have the iGaging adapters ready for sale by the end of May. The technical details will be posted on the product page; so, in this post, I want to address some of the questions that came up so far or I anticipate will come up as the adapter is available for sale.

New TouchDRO Adapters Coming Soon

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Since the pre-assembled TouchDRO Adapter for Glass DRO scales has been out of stock for over a month, I got a fair number of emails and Facebook messages asking when the board will be in stock. The short answer is that it won't be - I have discontinued that version of the adapter and am replacing it with two new options for Glass/Magnetic scales.

I have been working on a DIY DRO Kit and a more advanced pre assembled DRO adapter for a few months now. My original plan was to order one more batch of the old adapter version and phase it out by the end of the year. Unfortunately, as I was placing my order, I was informed that the assembly has been re-quote using a new formula, and it will now cost two-and-a-half times more. This caught me completely by surprise. The new boards were still not fully ready for the production run, but I didn't want to rush them to avoid dumb mistakes. Now that I have ironed out a few of the remaining issues, I'm finally ready to place the first production order for both adapters. If things go as planned, I will have the first production batch of the two new boards by the end of November and will start shipping them in the beginning of December. Meanwhile, I will take this opportunity to do a quick preview of the new adapters and go over the differences and what my motivations were for the change.

Introducing the New DYI DRO Adapter Kit

Thursday, March 5, 2020

From the start, my goal for TouchDRO was to create a do-it-yourself DRO project that would allow people to build a powerful digital readout as inexpensively as possible. To make the project more accessible to people who are not comfortable with electronics, a few years ago I started offering pre-assembled adapter boards for sale.

Since the boards are manufactured in the USA on a relatively small scale, their cost is much higher compared to a scratch-built DIY DRO adapter. The original TouchDRO Mixed Scale DIY Kit was designed to bridge the gap at a price point that was about half-way in between. The kit was very successful from the sales standpoint but created an unexpectedly large support burden.

Because I wasn't able to sustainable deal with it, I pulled the plug on the kit and removed it from the store. Since then, I've been getting a constant trickle of emails asking when the kit will be available or if I have any left for sale. After some "soul searching" I decided to offer a new version of the TouchDRO DIY kit, taking into account lessons learned from the last one.

Dedicated DRO Adapter for Shahe Scales

Saturday, January 18, 2020

A few years ago, Shanhe Measurement Instrument Co. introduced a new line of capacitive scales called Shahe "Digital Linear Scale with Remote Square Display" (model numbers 5403-150A/200A, etc.). Thanks to their low price and world-wide availability, the new scales have become a popular choice for budget do-it-yourself DRO builds. Unfortunately, these scales use Mini-USB connectors with pinout different from the iGaging DigiMag, which precluded the use of straight Mini-to-Micro USB adapters to connect them to the TouchDRO Adapter for iGaging scales. To offer a solution that didn't require soldering, I was planning to sell a kit that included the adapter board and a set of USB Mini-B breakout boards that could be connected with ribbon cables. The feedback I received from most of the "Beta" users was that the result was rather awkward; so instead, I decided to design a dedicated adapter board that is pre-wired for Shahe 5403-xxxA scales.

Grizzly G0720 Motor Power Supply Repair - Part 2

Right before Christmas, my three-year-old Grizzly G0720 (AKA SIEG SX4) milling machine's main controller board released some of it's magic smoke. In the previous post I went over the initial troubleshooting steps that led me to believe that my failure was due to a blown output transistor. This appears to be a very common failure point of these brushless motor controllers and the replacement boards are very costly. Since the cost of output transistor replacement is less than 1/10th of the replacement board I decided to attempt it before buying a new board. If you find yourself in a similar situation, this post will guide you through the replacement process.

Grizzly G0720 Motor Power Supply Repair - Part 1

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A couple of years ago, I sold my Grizzly G0463 milling machine and upgraded to the larger Grizzly G0720R (SIEG SX4). To this point, various SIEG machines I've owned have been pretty reliable but my luck finally ran out a day before Christmas. In the middle of power-taping a hole at low speed, the spindle abruptly stopped with a loud clunk and would not restart.