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Digital angle gauges

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Malc21/06/2020 21:36:16
79 forum posts
5 photos

Evening all, I have been looking at buying one of those digital angle gauges. Wixey seems to be the original but I see there are various cheaper versions about now so I wondered whether any of you fellows have any experiences of either the Wixey or the cheaper versions, any opinions will be welcome. Thanks all.

Baz21/06/2020 22:03:16
473 forum posts

Bought a Wixey a few years ago and am quite pleased with it.

JohnF21/06/2020 23:14:23
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1021 forum posts
143 photos

I have a Wixey not too bad and they do seem to have a better resolution than some others however one source of annoyance is even when switched off they still have a drain on the battery thus I often find the battery is flay when i need it. I now remove the battery after use.

At a tool show I saw another brand that was rechargeable via a usb cable, looked an even nicer tool than Wixey so purchased one but found the resolution was not so good -- company concerned very good and offered a replacement or refund.

Check the resolution before purchase and make sure it within your expectations.

John

Richard -21/06/2020 23:25:10
58 forum posts
7 photos

Bought one a few years ago for setting up the pitch on model helicopter rotors, very pleased with it, used more on the mill now!! Not a brand named one, and not expensive, dare I say it China clone!!

Richard

Edited By Richard - on 21/06/2020 23:28:00

MC Black 221/06/2020 23:36:12
99 forum posts

I bought one branded Trend from FFX in Folkestone.

Good price, quick delivery (post free).

I’ve not had it long but no problems so far.

FFX has excellent, helpful customer service people who remember “the customer is always right” - a rare things these days.

Paul Lousick22/06/2020 00:39:04
1541 forum posts
578 photos

I have one that came with my mill to set the drive head angle.. No name on the gauge but I am happy with it. Useful for most applications and probably accurate to 1/2 degree or so.

The battery has been in use for a couple of years and still working.

Like a spirit level, rotate the gauge by 180 degrees to check if it is working correctly and you should get the same reading but in the opposite direction.

Paul

Ady122/06/2020 01:30:53
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3859 forum posts
522 photos

I used a mobile phone one for a while, bubble gauge or something like that

It was amazingly accurate

AdrianR22/06/2020 07:17:57
488 forum posts
25 photos

I recently bought one from ARC, I am happy with it. A repeatable +/- 0.1 degree, if I need more accurate than that I would need to make an angle gauge or sine bar.

Bo'sun22/06/2020 07:33:51
202 forum posts

I think they are OK for woodwork and some basic metal work, but as a metrology instrument I think I'd be looking elsewhere. Like a lot of digital instruments, I've found they need regular re-zeroing to inspire confidence. Like a lot of things, you get what you pay for (generally).

DMB22/06/2020 07:35:31
1014 forum posts

I obtained a Wixey at an ME exhibition some years ago. Very happy with it. Accuracy good enough for most uses same as digital calipers. For more accurate work, use other methods. Make sure battery is removed or buy good quality one which will last much longer.

John

John Haine22/06/2020 08:50:31
3328 forum posts
176 photos

+1 for Wixey. I take the battery out and pop it on one of the magnets on the base to keep together when not in use. Somewhere on this forum I published some measurements I did using the gauge on both a rotary table and my digital divider to get an idea of its (relative) accuracy and it was IIRC within 0.1 degrees.

It's worth noting that these gauges can use two different methods for measurement. One is to use an angular resolver, like a circular version of a standard digital "vernier", which can measure in any plane independent of gravity. Equip that with a pivoted weight and it will act as a spirit level.

There are also chips available made for mobile phones, cars etc, that combine 3-axis accelerometers and gyros. The accelerometers measure the direction of gravity and are quite stable but noisy. The gyros measure rotation, but drift. Some clever software can combine the measurements to get the best of both, but still you need to "zero" the unit and it will slowly drift over a period of time so needs occasional resetting. These can only measure relative to gravity. This is what lies behind the bubble level on your phone.

I'm not sure which of these the Wixey uses, I suspect the latter from its price. The digital angle gauges must I think use the first.

Andrew Johnston22/06/2020 09:02:59
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5657 forum posts
653 photos

I have a clone angle gauge - works fine and the battery lasts for ages. I've had to repair it once to fix the 'click' mechanism that angles the display. It's ok for rough work, like bending the spokes for my traction engines or setting the angle plate for basic work. If I need better accuracy I've got a Taylor Hobson clinometer.

I've just finished machining the valve chests on my traction engine cylinders. The cylinder was bolted to an angle plate, but there is no reference surface to set the valve chest face parallel to the table. I used the digital angle gauge to set zero on the face, relative to the table, and then indicated in X and Y with a DTI to eliminate the last few thou of error.

Andrew

mechman4822/06/2020 10:39:04
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2746 forum posts
422 photos

I have a clone too a 'GemRed' of Sino origin of course, it serves me well with good battery longevity, I replaced the batteries back in Jan this year & it is still going strong. I made a set of angle gauges earlier this year using trigonometry & used mine to validate my calculations,glad to say I was within acceptable limits... 0.1*

home made angle plate 45 deg (4).jpg

homemade angle pl;ates 70.20 (1).jpg

George.

SillyOldDuffer22/06/2020 11:06:08
Moderator
6322 forum posts
1384 photos

A while back Neil compared a number of different Digital Calipers. I wonder if he could do the same with these devices? I have a cheap model, and so far it's performed well.

Checking Wixey specifications I see the original device claimed to be ±0.1° accurate whereas current models only claim ±0.2° accuracy. Being a suspicious old Hector, I suspect it's the same mechanism, and the original claim was optimistic, whereas the current figure is pessimistic. Either way, 0.1° isn't wonderful compared with other angle measuring techniques.

One thing I find iffy about some angle gauge specs is they mention repeatability rather than accuracy. Accuracy depends on the qualities of the mechanism whereas repeatability in digital displays may be a software feature. Common for digital scales to remember last time so sensor errors can be hidden by reporting the last value. That way the customer stays confident in his Bathroom scales because they're reassuringly consistent, even though the sensor is inaccurate.

As always with tools, what's it for? Though useful a Wixey-type gauge, whoever made it, is a relatively crude instrument, and buying the actual brand is unlikely to guarantee more precision. Paying more may get smoother operation, hopefully more robust, plus damp & dustproofing. The tool will be easier to use because it's trustworthy and it may last longer. These qualities are likely to be vital to professionals, but amateur work is less demanding. Pride of ownership is important to many amateurs, but that's not engineering. For occasional amateur use, inexpensive kit is often 'good enough', but not if one is easily frustrated!

Provided they're not cheap and nasty, inexpensive tools have other advantages. They release money for more purchases and it's far less upsetting when a low-cost tool is dropped on a concrete floor! And there's no psychological obstacle to replacing them when something better comes along.

I feel if you don't know why the expensive version of anything is needed, buying one just risks wasting money! On the other hand, if purchasing an inexpensive tool works out, you've won. If it doesn't work out, you understand what to look for in future. To my mind personal experience is better than buying a particular Brand just because someone else likes it, or hates foreign tools, or has an out-of-date understanding of the market, and above all doesn't know the needs of your workshop. This last is particularly dangerous for beginners - I didn't know anything when I started. I've made many mistakes, but failing to progress because I didn't buy the best possible tools isn't one of them.

Dave

Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 22/06/2020 11:07:09

not done it yet22/06/2020 13:36:43
5007 forum posts
20 photos

I still use a lowly lidl (Powerfix?) angle finder/measurer/gauge. Works close enough for me. Comes in handy for measuring lengths and drawing straight lines, too. Likely cost a tenner when new and has been around for three or four years so far. It has gone through one 2032 lithium cell in that time (on its second). Hangs on a nail, so handy to find.

Anything that only reads to 0.1 degrees cannot, IMO, really be claimed as ‘accurate’ to that degree (pardon the pun). Repeatability is not the same as accuracy.

Mick B122/06/2020 13:58:30
1725 forum posts
91 photos

When I was larnin' in the 70s, a M&W Vernier protractor, reading to 5 min. was the effective limit of workshop angular measuring accuracy. Perhaps you might've done a little better with a top-of-the-range dividing head setup. That's not a whole lot better than 0.1 degrees. A friend gave me an old one about 10 years ago and I cleaned it up and use it now and again.

I've also got a 0.1 degree PowerFix thing from Lidl, but you have to zero that first against a known flat surface.

But I'm not sure in the model eng. world what would make you need better?

Edited By Mick B1 on 22/06/2020 13:59:49

Gary Wooding22/06/2020 14:33:21
763 forum posts
196 photos

Just to put 0.1 degrees into perspective. When using a 5" sine bar to set an angle of 45 degrees, a 0.1 degree difference would translate into a height difference of about 0.006". For 10 degrees it works out at about 0.0085", and for 70 degrees, about 0.003".

Malc22/06/2020 18:40:56
79 forum posts
5 photos

Many thanks to all of you fellows for the benefit of your experiences and opinions. Always worth asking for help on this forum. Thanks again.

Michael Gilligan22/06/2020 18:44:36
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16360 forum posts
712 photos
Posted by Gary Wooding on 22/06/2020 14:33:21:

Just to put 0.1 degrees into perspective. When using a 5" sine bar to set an angle of 45 degrees, a 0.1 degree difference would translate into a height difference of about 0.006". […]

.

Useful benchmark, Gary yes

MichaelG.

SillyOldDuffer23/06/2020 16:59:12
Moderator
6322 forum posts
1384 photos
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 22/06/2020 18:44:36:
Posted by Gary Wooding on 22/06/2020 14:33:21:

Just to put 0.1 degrees into perspective. When using a 5" sine bar to set an angle of 45 degrees, a 0.1 degree difference would translate into a height difference of about 0.006". […]

.

Useful benchmark, Gary yes

MichaelG.

Good point, it's OK for many purposes but you wouldn't use one to tram a mill. Over 5" a 0.1° slope is nearly 0.009" out! And it could be worse - Wixeys are ±0.2°

Here's what an MCU6050 accelerometer/gyro chip and an Arduino can do:

dsc06277.jpg

It's measuring X,Y and Z ie roll, yaw and pitch. The top number is pitch, with the breadboard tilted on one of Ketan's Famous 35° Precision Angle Blocks.

Not bad but all the angles are relative to my Polish Communist era dining table which is hardly trustworthy. As is balancing the gauge on a bendy plastic box. That 0.04°reading could be pure luck.

John Haine mentioned readings from these devices would jitter and float around a bit. He's right: after 20 minutes rest yaw drifted -33.43°, and Pitch -0.5°

These chips perform best when moved about continually because the accelerometer and gyro readings can then be used to cross correct: even better if there are magnetometer readings to help as well. So probably more useful as a stabiliser than a precision workshop tool. One feature I've not used. The chip is able to detect when it's in free-fall, which might be handy for some form of emergency stop. Fitted to a dropped hammer, it could deploy a parachute and save toes...

Dave

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