I got one a little after Jim did, apparently, but my experiences are quite a bit different (in my mind).
First off... my unit was slow. Dog-***** slow. 46.5gr Varget took anywhere from 30 seconds to 50 seconds, average in the low 40's. I saw the test times on 6mmBR.com (similar to what Jim posted) and thought this unit would be a great improvement over my old Pact dispenser/scale combo - not so much! The dispense time wasn't an issue of great concern at first, as I was weighing my charges out on a AccuLab VIC123 scale. I was mainly using the Chargemaster to get 'close' and then tweaked the charge to 46.50 +/- 0.02gr using the AccuLab, a seed bulb, and a lot of sweat (all the air vents turned off) and a lot of cussing. 600rds of precision .308 made that way puts a new hate for weighing charges into a person.
The good news was that my scale was on... when it said '46.5gr' it was 46.5gr +/- 0.1gr according to my AccuLab, every time. It rarely overshot, and when it did, that was easily fixed.
When I got back from FCNC, I decided that weighing charges out that precise was something I was going to avoid if at all possible. When you find yourself *avoiding* loading and going to the range because weighing charges sucks so much... something needs to change. And, I reasoned, if my charges have to be weighed that tight to maintain elevation, I might need to tune/tweak the load a little more.
Anywho, I picked up one trick from some folks @ FCNC - go to McDonald's and get one (1) drinking straw, preferably clean/unused ;) Cut off about 1" of it, and stick it up inside the dispensing tube, and tape it in place (duct tape works wonders). Probably 99% of the over shoot problems go away, as the powder cannot 'climb' the screw and clump up at the tube mouth like it did before. Once in a great while, you may get a 0.1gr overshoot... I pinch it off and toss it back, re-weigh the pan and carry on about my business.
The other 'trick' is to mod some of those parameters Jim talked about. On my dispenser, the big time killer was the setpoints at which it started slowing down... the measure would kick down a gear way too early (50% or so) and then again, and again, until it was trickling like the last grain and a half in super-slow speed, and it took *forever* :mad: Tweaking those parameters sped things up a bunch. You have to kind of experiment a bit w/ them, as you can get things going too fast and the scale can't keep up - by the time it tells the dispenser to SLOW DOWN!!! it's too late, it overshot the target weight. But it's pretty simple to adjust the parameters, and once you get it going, it makes a world of difference - speed *and* accuracy. Now it goes along fast enough that I have just enough time to pick up the round I just poured powder in, seat a bullet, buzz the meplat in my Giraud trimmer, and set in the box before the BEEP! from the Chargemaster signals another charge is ready. Just about right!
To the "Do's and Don'ts" category... Don't just grab the pan as soon as the beep sounds. Wait for it to display the counter info, and then go back to the actual charge weight. On the occasions when it *does* overshoot, it'll display the target weight, then beep, then display the actual final weight (the scale has finally caught up) which may be a skosh heavy. Wait for the final weight, just to be sure.
I found your contribution to the discussion very interesting, so may I ask some advice (from a newbee):
I just started shooting a Savage .223, and will shoot mostly with this one to save money, and thus use a cartridge with 24++ grains. For this sort of loading it appears that perhaps I will need a scale such as the Acculab VIC123, since it measures with +-one hundreth of a grain accuracy. I also shoot .338-.378 and load in the 96+grain range. I have difficulty defending buying both the RCBC 1500 AND the Acculab VIC123, in other words one for each. I'd like to get by with only one, the RCBS, even though it might be a tad "callous" loading the smaller cartridge.
Do you think I really would need to measure in the hundreth grain category for a small cartdidge as the .223?
I'd appreciate your opinion since you have both scales.
Actually... unless you are shooting something fairly demanding in the accuracy/consistency department at longer ranges (beyond 500-600yds) I'd say weighing to the milligram level is somewhat of a waste. I realize everybody wants to make the best ammo they can, but unless its really really matters... you're pretty much hitting the point of diminishing returns. Odds are good you won't see a night-n-day difference... maybe a little flatter group, depending on all the other variables falling into place, etc.
The Acculab VIC-123... is not a piece of equipment I have much good to say about. It was built to meet a price point, and a lot of compromises were made to achieve that. If you look at what a 'real' milligram analytical balance costs (usually the 'low end' units start north of $800, and go up rapidly from there) you might start to get an inkling of just how many corners they had to cut to reach a $300 price on the VIC-123. I realize a lot of people have no problems with them and love 'em to death; mine was an ongoing source of aggravation and frustration nearly every time I used it. I went 'round and 'round with the seller (Sinclair Int'l) and the vendor (Sartorious makes both Acculab and DI) and *nothing* was wrong with my setup; it was in fact far better than most people's. Eventually I said enough was enough, caught a better model on sale (Sartorius GD-503) and sold that VIC-123 to someone who wanted one and thought $150 was a screaming deal. As far as I know, they're still happy with it - maybe I just have too much EMI around here or a radio transmitter in the neighbors garage that I don't know about, but the GD-503 has the necessary shielding to handle it as it has *zero* problems in the same environment.
If you have $300 to spend on *one*, I'd get the Chargemaster 1500 in a heartbeat and not even think about the VIC-123. When/if you think you really want a milligram scale, save up about $1000 and *then* go shopping.
Thank you for both a prompt reply, and a good one!
Why reinvent the wheel? This forum must have save many a lot of "grief" and simpified the learning process.
You point out the real issue here (assuming the VIC123 worked flawlessly), that since I am not planning to enter F-class competition, I might well live with "almost perfect" ammo. I'd rather shoot than spend time reloading and being frustrated, so I'll take your advice.
And as you say, should I evolve and deem it necessary in the future, I can still get a milligram scale.
Thanks again, for sharing your experience and advice.
I guess that depends on what your doing and trying to accomplish. When I shot pistol comp. I would do anything to get or try to get the best I could out of the round I was loading. I try for perfection but have never reached yet. If your plinking for fun have fun. The other becomes work or should I say a labor of love. I have three balance beam scales and three digital scale. Some times I check against one another. There again it depends on what I"M doing. I guess what ever You do have fun and be safe. I do like my charge master 1500 it is easy and does what I want it too. I had some bad luck with the key pad but it will be back under warranty after I send it in. RCBS has always stood behind their products with my experience. Heavy wall a newbee to the forum
I see on page 8 of the instruction manual it tells you how to set up the automatic dispense (dispensing as soon as you place the pan back on the scale). I have tried multiple times to make this work following the instructions step by step, but nothing works. I've had this for 5 years and I wonder if mine is too early and is maybe not equipped with this. Thoughts or helpful hints?
Last edited by jasonprox700; 01-24-2011 at 08:03 AM.