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Digital inclinometers

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ChrisB18/08/2019 07:34:09
394 forum posts
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I have not yet really needed one, but I had occasions where I had to work around or guess the angle (where the angle was not critical)

Are they any good for non precision work? I don't have slip gauges and a sine bar (yet) so an inclinometer seems like a low cost solution. I was wondering what your opinions of these (mostly cheap) instruments are?

Edited By ChrisB on 18/08/2019 07:35:26

JasonB18/08/2019 07:42:39
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I set most of my angles with an original Wixey "box" and it seems to work for me.

Philip Powell18/08/2019 07:59:10
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I use my phone...

Phil

Gary Wooding18/08/2019 08:15:53
572 forum posts
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Definitely +1 for a Wixey.

But it really loves batteries - I always remove the battery when it's not being used.

Edited By Gary Wooding on 18/08/2019 08:17:32

not done it yet18/08/2019 08:32:55
3240 forum posts
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If your eye is good enough for non-critical settings, then an instrument should do just as well (or better) for non-critical settings, too! I think you need to distinguish between non-critical and precision. They are not the same.

Only if the angle needs to be a precise value or you are matching an existing part (even then you would check it?) are angles that critical. In those cases the angle must be precise. If making two parts to fit together the angles might need to be precise but still not so critical that the angle must be of a specific value.

ChrisB18/08/2019 08:55:37
394 forum posts
162 photos

I thought about the phone app, but it's a bit awkward to work with (and I do have a tendency to let things slip out of my hands dont know)

Wixey looks similar to the rest I've seen, but better if you have used it and happy with it!

Most of the inclinometers I saw ( the £30 range ) have the same functions, then I found this: **LINK** It looks interesting with two axes and what appears to be better resolution and accuracy.

ChrisB18/08/2019 09:10:02
394 forum posts
162 photos
Posted by not done it yet on 18/08/2019 08:32:55:

If your eye is good enough for non-critical settings, then an instrument should do just as well (or better) for non-critical settings, too! I think you need to distinguish between non-critical and precision. They are not the same.

You're right I need to rephrase. What I mean by non-critical is, for example I'm aiming for 45 deg, but does not matter if its 50deg. I could use a protractor and get closer but I'd still be in my ''non-critical'' standard.

For critical, I would need something more precise, say an inclinometer.

For precision I would need gauge blocks and a sine bar - but that is out of my scope for what I do.

Probably my terminology is still incorrect but at least I hope this explains the mindset to my original post.

John Haine18/08/2019 09:21:11
2591 forum posts
133 photos

Whatever the niceties of (non) critical and precision. the Wixey is a good choice IMHO. Phones work, but are a bit large and have to be held against whatever you are setting. They Wixey is a handy size, sticks to the work with magnets so it doesn't slide off, can be put on a parallel if needed to reach the work. It does eat batteries, so I now take the battery out, pop it on one of the magnets, and put the gauge on a shelf. I reported on some accuracy measurements on mine here.

Michael Gilligan18/08/2019 09:24:47
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Posted by ChrisB on 18/08/2019 08:55:37:

[ ... ]

Most of the inclinometers I saw ( the £30 range ) have the same functions, then I found this: **LINK** It looks interesting with two axes and what appears to be better resolution and accuracy.

.

Certainly an interesting development, Chris

BUT do be aware that the listing states:

High accuracy ±0.1°, high resolution 0.02°.

If you are comfortable that you appreciate the difference between resolution and accuracy, that's fine.

±0.1° is probably adequate for most hobby machining work

MichaelG.

Clive Foster18/08/2019 10:03:13
1802 forum posts
59 photos

Basically two types of tilt sensors in these devices.

Old style single axis ones like the Wixey have a pendulum and angle sensor. Tilt it, the pendulum swings and the sensor says how far. Simple, easy to understand and fundamentally accurate but they do need to be well made. You do need to be aware of axis orthogonality issues when making measurements of small angles. If its not directly aligned with the tilt axis funny results are possible. Fundamentally a good technology but, as ever, the consumer variants are "made too cheap". No excuse for the flat battery issue. Electronic variant of the Dumpy and Cowley levels really.

Two axis ones and some more modern single axis ones use MEMS (Micro-Electronic Mechanical System) devices. Silicon chip technology applied to itsy bitsy teensy mechanics. Basically they measure the acceleration due to gravity which changes when you tilt the device. According to MEMSIC "the amount of acceleration due to gravity in 1 arc-degree of inclination from a horizontal plane is 0.017g. In order measure to within ±0.3 arc-degree the accelerometer must be accurate to within ±0.005g".

Not a lot.

The results you get are very dependant on the software in the device. Lots of calculations going on to make it behave due to the inherent non linearities and cross coupling over orthogonal axes. No reason why an inexpensive device can't be good but phone devices can be notoriously badly behaved due to poor software. Pure laziness really as the maths is well understood and any decent MEMS sensor will be well characterised but if the phone OS folk can't be bothered to get it right, with much more resources than an inclinometer maker, whats the chances of getting a bad implementation in your Amazon/E-Bay/Ali-Baba bargain.

Its not difficult to check the performance with very simple equipment. Just monumentally tedious. Wave goodby to a weekend basically. For fairly obvious reasons worst errors will probably be at small angles but you have to check the whole darn thing as there is a lot of maths going on. Hidden gotcha is how well the sensor is aligned to the axes of the body.

Clive

ChrisB18/08/2019 10:07:11
394 forum posts
162 photos

Hi John, I was trying to explaining to ndiy what I meant by my original post. The Wixey looks like it's tried and tested, if the batteries used are AAAs than it's not a big issue, I'll use rechargeables. Read your thread, it looks accurate enough for my uses.

Michael, most of the inclinometers I've seen are listed ±0.2° accuracy. The Wixey is also listed as ±0.2° accuracy but as John mentioned in his thread he got better results. The one I linked probably will be less user friendly given it's got more functions.

Anyway we're splitting hairs now! As long as the readings are not off by a half degree I'll be fine. Thanks. Chris

JasonB18/08/2019 10:27:21
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Wixey uses button cell CR2032. Like a lot of callipers it remembers the last zero so is still working and only the display is off. Mine goes a couple of years at a time and pack of 5 batteries cheap enough. When the Wixey first came out about 18-20yrs ago it was aimed at woodworkers for setting saw blades to an angle and I still use mine for that a lot so maybe with more use my batteries last longer that being sat in a cold shed for 6months between uses.

That one you linked to looks larger so may be harder to use on small items and the base being hollowed out plastic would be less accurate than the metal wixey. Though you can stick it to a flat bar to extend the base.

Emgee18/08/2019 10:45:37
1157 forum posts
206 photos

Perhaps the battery issue is only on models that have more functions such as later models with ABS function ?

Can the Wixey check and indicate a level surface or is it always relative to the last Zeroed setting ?

Emgee

Ian McVickers18/08/2019 10:56:42
134 forum posts
69 photos

I have two of the digital boxes. Larger one at home and a small magnetic type at work. Work one is used for calibrating the bevel heads on our plasma cutters. It is Bluetooth equipped so I can be at the controller with my tablet and set the head up from there. Handy devices.

John Haine18/08/2019 11:06:38
2591 forum posts
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Posted by Emgee on 18/08/2019 10:45:37:

Perhaps the battery issue is only on models that have more functions such as later models with ABS function ?

Can the Wixey check and indicate a level surface or is it always relative to the last Zeroed setting ?

Emgee

My Wixey was quite early, battery issue is just down to not having an on/off switch. It is a relative instrument, so you need to reference it to your "level" surface.

Jim Nic18/08/2019 11:59:07
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203 forum posts
107 photos

My Wixey Model WR365 is 9 years old. It uses 2 off AAA batteries which last for years, I think I've replaced them just once. The display can be turned off by holding down the "On/zero" button rather than wait for it to get fed up and turn off itself. The display has 2 readings: a level setting and a reading which can be zeroed to your own datum (eg machine bed) and reads from there.

When I need an angular indication I find it simple and quick to use and plenty accurate enough for my modelling purposes.

Jim

Howard Lewis18/08/2019 12:05:06
2209 forum posts
2 photos

Wixey used for setting, most of the time.

Battery issue can be that it is gets switched on, inadvertently, while in the box. Cut a piece of 4mm plastic with cut out to clear the buttons, ( sort of rectangular C shape ) and that goes in the box after the instrument, so that any pressure on the box does not press any of the three buttons.

The Zero is set using one surface as a datum, so that it measures the one face relative to the other.

Agree with the comments re making sure that the Wixey is square on the work when measuring, to avoid spurious results.

For measuring, tend to use a vernier protractor, bit of an overkill, most of the time. For a quick check use a cheap metal angle gauge/protractor, from one of our favourite suppliers.

Howard.

ChrisB18/08/2019 12:10:34
394 forum posts
162 photos

Thanks gents for the feedback, much appreciated. Seems like there are different types of Wixeys regarding batteries.

The one I found on ebay (From M-dro) uses a single AAA battery **LINK** Probably it's a later model.

mechman4818/08/2019 12:21:36
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I have one of the digital Wixey type & it works just fine; I have made a set of angle plates using trigonometry, as described in an article / YouTube video posted a while back & checked with the digi gauge, all within... 0.01" ( minute ) so one confirms the other. I also have a digi protractor & an angle protractor on hand, a case of overkill methinks... I am one of those that tend to have a lot of 'it would be a nice to have' moments.

George.

JasonB18/08/2019 12:43:53
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You can still check if a surface is flat or vertical with a wixey, just zero it when facing away from youu and then turn it 180deg so you can see the display and half whatever the difference is, if no difference then the surface is level to within what the particular model reads in.

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