How to Calibrate a Pocket Digital Scale

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How to Calibrate a Pocket Digital Scale
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How to Calibrate a Pocket Digital Scale

The use of weighing scales dates back a few thousand years, with the oldest evidence pointing to balance scales being regularly used in the Indus River Valley around 2400 BCE. Throughout man’s history, scales have been used to conduct business of all sorts. In fact, with only the exception of the abacus, the scale was the one major device that created the business of doing business.

As technology and society have advanced hand in hand, so has the weighing scale. At one time, if a dealer wanted to purchase gold, silver, or other precious metal, they had to lug along huge scales, including several sets of counter weights, to measure the weight of the metals they were buying. Accuracy was essential, and still is, whether determining the precious metals in jewelry, or weighing ingredients for a cake recipe. The scales these days may be digital and small enough to fit in your pocket, but they are useless if they are not accurate.

This guide takes a look at pocket digital scales and how the user can ensure that their pocket digital scale is calibrated correctly for accurate measuring. There is also information on how to find pocket digital scales on eBay.


The Pocket Digital Scale

A digital scale is a weight measuring device that measures the weight of an object or a substance. Digital scales are internal strain gauge scales that need an electric power supply to operate. A strain gauge is a thin strip of electrically-charged, deformation-sensitive foil. When objects are placed on digital scales, the strain gauge is pressed down, causing it to flex. This flexing of the gauge sends an electronic signal to the device’s measuring program. This program interprets the degree to which the gauge has flexed and translates this into a weight measurement reading.

Uses for Pocket Digital Scales

In the past, weighing anything required sizeable measuring equipment. Pocket digital scales rose out of the need for a measuring device that was portable, yet durable enough, to be used both indoors and outdoors to weigh a variety of objects and substances. While these scales are very durable, they are still sensitive measuring device and they need to be cared for when being transported. It will be necessary to calibrate the scales regularly. Pocket digital scales are used to measure precious metals and gems, parcels before shipping, and ingredients for cooking, especially baking.

Weighing Gold, Gems, etc

The gold and precious jewels trade have always required that buyers and sellers have the most accurate scales possible. For the merchants, the requirement to lug that heavy equipment, almost made the effort not worth the profit. With pocket digital scales, all that buyers and sellers need to carry along now are their scales and their checkbooks. Many jewelry pocket digital scales used for weighing gold and gems are easily carried in a case or satchel.

Packages for Postage

Most small and home-based businesses today are processing their own postage. Businesses that do process their own postage need digital postal scales (or scales that have a postage setting) to determine how much postage to print and pay for. Unless the business is shipping boxes of 20 to 30 pounds or heavier, a space-saving pocket digital scale is a really good option. Since most small and home-based businesses are always looking for inexpensive ways to do businesses, pocket-sized digital scales can save on space and costs related to postage.

In the Kitchen

Pocket digital scales make for perfect kitchen scales. Not only are they accurate, but their small size makes them easy to store in even the most modestly-sized kitchen. Being preprogrammed for metric and standard weights and measures, amateur and professional chefs can get quick and accurate measures for recipes. Being compact, light, and battery-powered, pocket digital scales are perfect for cooking while camping and on vacation.


Care and Calibration of a Pocket Digital Scale

Regardless of what the scales will be used for, keeping the scales in good working order is important to ensure accuracy. This not only includes making sure that a pocket digital scale has a reliable power source, but that the scale is regularly cleaned and most importantly calibrated properly. It is vitally important that the scale be cleaned properly before being calibrated, as dirt and debris will adversely affect the calibration process. Depending on what the scales are used for and how often they are used, the need for cleaning, calibrating and changing or recharging batteries will vary.

Cleaning a Pocket Digital Scale

In order to be certain that your pocket digital scale is performing at its best, regular cleaning must be performed. If the scale is only used once in a while, cleaning after use and then a good cleaning every three months is adequate to keep the scale in great shape. If however, the scales are used several times per week to daily, then constant cleaning at least once a week is called for.

To clean a pocket digital scale, the first thing that should be done is to consult the owner’s manual for any specific warnings or cleaning tips.

Cleaning a digital scale is a little different than cleaning regular scales. Obviously, water and a powered scale is not a good mix, so cleaning a pocket digital scale should be done with care and patience. Follow these three steps to clean your digital scale.

  1. Remove all loose debris. The best way to do this is to use a soft brush (a small horse hair paint brush will work great). When dusting off the weighing surface, be sure not to put any undue pressure on it. This could damage the strain gauge. Use the brush over the entire scale. Remember to support the weighing surface when you turn the scale over to dust off the bottom. This cleaning step should be performed after every use.
  2. To clean off more stubborn dirt and debris from the case or sides of the scales, use a very damp and soft cloth with a mild all-purpose cleaner. Avoid any moisture that could get into the scale. If the scales are battery-operated, take the time to open up the battery compartment and wipe it out as well. Inspect the batteries for corrosion. This could be an issue for scales that are not used often. Also keep in mind that batteries in a device will run down a little over time whether used or not.
  3. Hard, caked on dirt and debris can be difficult to remove with just a damp or dry cloth. This is especially true of scales used in kitchen settings. When this happens, carefully use a pin or exacto knife to chip the debris from the scale.

It should go without saying, but it bears repeating: Do not ever for any reason submerge a scale or rinse it off with running water.

Calibration

Finally, it’s time to calibrate your pocket digital scale. Before starting the calibration process, you should consult your owner’s manual for any specific instructions from the manufacturer.

  1. Locate a flat surface in your home that is as level as possible. Use a small carpenter’s level to determine if the surface is level. Also make sure the surface is flat. A ceramic-tiled countertop might not be the best choice. Place a mousepad (or two) on the surface to limit vibrations.
  2. Place the scale on the mousepad and power the unit on.
  3. Digital scales will have a button that reads "ZERO" or "TARE". Press this button after the unit is powered up to zero out the scale. This will clear any current data.
  4. Consult the manual and set the scale to "calibration" mode. Since models of scales are slightly different in design, there may be some programming or simultaneous button manipulation to complete the task. However, newer scales come with self-calibrating features, so the job might be easier than you think.
  5. Place a calibration weight on the scale. The display will indicate when the scale is ready to calibrate. Again different scales will have different indicators. Manually enter the calibration weight’s mass into the scale.
  6. There will be some sort of enter key that needs to be pressed once the amount has been entered. The owners manual will indicate what button will enter the weight.
  7. Once the scale indicates that the data has been accepted and stored, turn the unit off.


Buying a New Scale

Whether your old scale is worn out or you are buying for the first time, getting a quality scale at a good price is what most people are looking for. You can find pocket digital scales at most retail and office supply stores as well as electronics stores. However, the best deals and largest selections are to be found online.

Several manufacturers and wholesalers have scales for sale and good deals can be found on their sites. This includes refurbished units that are very affordable. Another online source for pocket digital scales are classified and merchandise auction sites like eBay. To find pocket digital scales on eBay simply go to the homepage and enter "Pocket Digital Scales" into the search window. Select "All Categories" from the pulldown filter menu, and then click search. If you have a very particular pocket digital scale in mind, simply use a more specific keywords. For example, if you are looking for a pocket-sized jewelry scale, simply enter "jewelry pocket digital scales" into the search bar at the top of the page. You can narrow down the listings by condition (new or used), price, and location.


Conclusion

Today’s pocket digital scales have taken the place of the much larger and bulky scales of days gone by. Many people use pocket digital scales as part of their jobs, so they must be accurate to serve their purpose. To ensure that the scales are accurate, they should be kept clean, batteries changed regularly, and calibrated on a regular basis. The process of calibrating pocket digital scales will be a little different for each model, but for the most part it is a relatively simple and quick process with only a few simple steps to follow. Be sure to clean and calibrate as often as is necessary depending on what the scale is used for and how often it is used.

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