March 20th, 2020

Better Viewing with Magnifier for Balance Beam Scales

RCBS 10-10 Scale

When he measures his loads or sorts bullets by weight, Forum Member Boyd Allen often employs his trusty RCBS 10-10 balance beam scale (although he does have handy digital scales as well). He finds that the balance beam scale works predictably, time after time, and it doesn’t suffer from the drift and calibration issues that plague some of the less expensive electronic scales on the market.

RCBS Balance Beam scale 10-10

To make it easier to see the balance point, Boyd has adapted a magnifying glass with a mirror. This makes the end of his balance beam easier to view from his normal position on the bench. Boyd explains: “This set-up uses a cheap magnifier with positioning arms that was probably designed to hold and magnify small objects while soldering them. I think that it came from Harbor Freight many years ago. The mirror lets you look at the scale as if is was at eye level, and of course the magnifier makes the image easier to see.”

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
October 4th, 2018

Quick Tip: Mirror & Magnifier for Beam Scales

Beam Scale hack Magnify Magnifier Mirror RCBS 10-10 Scale

Here’s a simple modification that makes your classic beam balance more user-friendly. For a few dollars you can enhance your balance scale system to improve work-flow and reduce eye strain. This clever modification makes it easier to see the balance’s zero-mark center-line when weighing charges.

When he chooses to measure his loads or sort bullets by weight, Forum Member Boyd Allen likes his trusty RCBS 10-10 scale. He finds that it works predictably, time after time, and it doesn’t suffer from the drift and calibration issues that plague some of the less-expensive electronic scales on the market.

To make it easier to see the balance point, Boyd has adapted a magnifying glass with a mirror. This makes the end of his balance beam easier to view from his normal position on the bench. Boyd explains: “This set-up uses a cheap magnifier with positioning arms that was probably designed to hold and magnify small objects while soldering them. I think that it came from Harbor Freight many years ago. The mirror lets you look at the scale as if is was at eye level, and of course the magnifier makes the image easier to see.”

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
September 23rd, 2013

Handy Small Magnifiers Aid Many Reloading Tasks

pocket fold-out magnifierWhat is the most-used piece of equipment on this editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check primer pockets, inspect meplats, and look for flaws on bullet jackets. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless. I keep one magnifier at my reloading bench and another in my range kit.

Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at FoldingMagnifier.com and WidgetSupply.com starting at just $1.95. To see the finest details, Widget Supply offers a powerful 17X/50X slide-out magnifier with a built-in, battery-powered LED light. With that gadget, you can easily see any minute flaws in your barrel crowns. That’s important because crown damage can cause hard-to-diagnose accuracy issues. We’ve known guys who spend weeks tinkering with loads, when the real problem was a worn-out or damaged crown.

pocket fold-out magnifier

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 3 Comments »
July 17th, 2012

Monitor Balance Beam with Magnified Image on SmartPhone

If you use a balance-beam scale to weigh powder and reloading components, here’s a clever way to magnify the view of the beam tip. Of course you can use an old-fashioned magnifying glass, clamped in place, to upsize the view. But now there’s a parallax-free, electronic solution that works for anyone with an iPhone or Android OS smartphone.

Forum member Allan E. (aka “1066”) discovered that he could use the camera on his smartphone to display and magnify the image of a balance-beam tip. This works via a Magnifying Glass App you can download for free. Just turn on the smartphone, activate the Magnifying Glass App and zoom-in to suit your preference. Alan explains: “This saves those tired eyes. It’s much more accurate because there’s no parallax — the lens is directly in line with the pointer so we can see [the pointer] off the screen from any angle. It’s a much clearer view, and it costs nothing.”

You’ll need to fabricate some kind of stand or clamp for the phone. Allan created a smartphone mount with a bit of wire, rubber bands, and a bullet box. You can see the system working in the video below. (The video starts by showing a webcam + laptop balance-beam monitor system. The Smartphone system demo begins at the 1:30″ time-mark.)

Magnifying Glass Apps AndroidMagnifying Glass Apps for iPhones and Android Phones
There are numerous ‘magnifying glass’ programs for Apple and Android smartphones that use the built-in camera. Most include a zoom function and auto-focus. You might try a couple different Apps and see which works best for you. Some perform better in low light, while others resolve better. All of the following have 4-star or better user ratings:

Magnifying Glass App, (iBeam), Apple iPhone/iPod, $0.99.

Magnifying Glass App, (David Perry), Android OS, Free.

Magnifying Glass App, (Perun Labs), Android OS, Free.

Magnify App, (Appd Lab), Android OS, Free.

Ultra-Magnifier +, (zapDroid), Android OS, include Flashlight Function, Free.

Story find by Boyd Allen. We welcome readers submissions.
Permalink - Videos, New Product, Optics 1 Comment »
November 7th, 2009

Reloading Tip: Inspect Ammo Components with Magnifier

What is the most-used piece of equipment on this Editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check flash-holes, and look for flaws on bullet jackets and bullet tips. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless.

When loading match ammo, here are some of the things you should check with a magnifier:

  • Flash Holes (make sure they are round and not obstructed)
  • Case Necks and Bushings (check necks for scratching; inspect bushings for embedded grit or brass shavings)
  • Case Mouth (check inside and out for small burrs or cuts — either can damage your bullet jackets)
  • Bullet Meplats (check meplats CAREFULLY — look for damaged tips and significant meplat size variations)
  • Plastic Ballistic Tips (check for crooked or broken tips; look at jacket edge where it meets the plastic — this can be very ragged with burrs or gaps so it doesn’t fit flush with the plastic tip)

    Ballistic Tips

    Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at Edmund Scientifics and WidgetSupply.com starting at just $1.97.

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