Common Misconceptions About TouchDRO

Even though DROs have been around for several decades, only during the last decade they have become affordable enough and came to within hobbyists' reach. Furthermore, TouchDRO is less than 10 years old and can be unfamiliar to someone accustomed to the old-school 7-segment display and membrane keypad. This leads to some misconceptions

You don't need a DRO for a hobby shop

There is a misconception that DROs are only useful in high-volume production shops and are not needed in a home shop. While this is technically true: you don't strictly need a DRO and should be able to do most basic machining operations without one,DRO will make using your machine much more enjoyable, you will make fewer mistakes, and the end result will be much more accurate. Counting handwheel revolutions is "relaxing" at first but gets old fast, especially on many Chinese machines that have a strange number of divisions per revolution.

TouchDRO is less accurate than a commercial DRO

This is completely false. When used with comparable glass or magnetic DRO scales, TouchDRO is as accurate as a commercial DRO. Furthermore, compared to the inexpensive Chinese DROs, TouchDRO will likely be more accurate. The reason is that many DROs still use older embedded microcontrollers that lack proper floating point computing capabilities;so, they have to do integer math and even round the numbers up to scale resolution. As a result, they lose accuracy when it comes to linear error correction, bolt hole circle calculation and other functions that require higher precision. In contrast, TouchDRO can leverage powerful Android tablet CPUs that can do high-precision floating point calculations, therefore not suffering from rounding errors.

TouchDRO is less reliable than a commercial DRO

This is false as well. This misconception stems from the fact that people compare scratch-build TouchDRO setup with inexpensive capacitive scales to pre-made commercial DROs that use glass or magnetic scales. A TouchDRO setup that uses glass scales, pre-made adapter and a name brand tablet will be at least as reliable as an of-the-shelf Digital Readout. In fact, based on user feedback, TouchDRO is often more reliable than cheap Chinese DROs since the pre-made adapters are assembled using better name-brand parts, use proper differential quadrature decoder chips, and are built to much higher quality standard.

Building a DIY DRO is complicated and requires good soldering skills

Not at all. Depending on the type of the scales you intend to use, building a DRO controller will require very minimal soldering, if at all. For instance, there is a ready-to-go version of the iGaging scale controller and "Deluxe" Glass/Magnetic scale kit that uses push-in connectors. It will likely take more time to mount and align the scales than to mount a controller into an enclosure and start using it.

By the time you buy an Android tablet and the DRO controller, it would be cheaper to get a DRO off eBay

This is partially true: it's possible to order a cheap DRO kit from China that will end up costing less than a pre-made TouchDRO controller with a good quality tablet. Unfortunately, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. These cheap DROs are cheap for a reason: they are built to a price point, have only the basic features, use antiquated design, and come with no support. In contrast, TouchDRO offers features that you'd find in top-of-the-line DRO consoles with superior quality, reliability, and usability. Considering the features you get with TouchDRO, quality of the controller that is built in the USA from name-brand components, and continuing software and feature upgrades, TouchDRO setup is a very good deal.

BlueTooth is unreliable in a noisy machine shop

The truth is that BlueTooth doesn't suffer any reliability problems in a typical machine shop. The connection operates on the 2.4 GHz band and uses sophisticated frequency hopping spread spectrum technology to ensure reliable connection. Furthermore, common machine shop items, such as motors, speed controllers, EFD, etc. operate at much lower frequencies that don't interfere with the BlueTooth band. In fact, the absence of a ground loop between the tablet and the scales results in reduction in line noise, surges and brownouts, leading to better reliability.

A traditional DRO will hold up better in a machine shop than a fragile tablet

This is simply not true. The main reasons DROs fail over time are cracked solder joints due to vibration, dried-up capacitors, and switch failures. Tablets are designed for continuous handling, can tolerate vibration without any problems, and tempered glass touch screens simply don't wear out. Even entry level name-brand tablets are manufactured to strict quality standards using good quality parts and are designed to last for thousands of hours of use and abuse. With added protection of a silicone case and a screen protector, you will be hard pressed to damage a tablet during normal use. In contrast, budget DRO consoles are built to a price point with questionable quality and use unreliable no-name components. The button overlays tend to wear out pretty quickly and the switches often fail with only months of use.

Tactile switches are easier to use than a touch screen

This is true for high-end DROs that are usually equipped with good quality spring loaded membrane switches or mechanical buttons that last for hundreds of thousands of actuations, provide positive tactile feel and are a pleasure to use. Unfortunately, those DROs come with 4-digit price tags. In contrast, inexpensive digital readout consoles that cost a few hundred dollars come with cheap membrane switches. These aren't near as nice, stiffen over time making them hard to press reliably, or outright fail after a short period of time. While a capacitive touch screen doesn't provide tactile feedback, it is still easy to use due to the fact that it doesn't require any physical force. For someone who hasn't used a tablet much, it will feel unnatural at first but that feeling won't last long.

TouchDRO is more complicated and harder to use than a hardware DRO

TouchDRO might seem unfamiliar at first, especially for someone used to an old-school DRO, but it's definitely not harder to use. The application is not constrained by physical 7-segment screen and buttons, which means that the user interface can adapt to the task at hand. In other words, while TouchDRO might be complex under the hood, this complexity works in your favor, making each individual task you are likely to perform simpler and more streamlined.