Tuesday, July 14, 2015

RCBS Chargemaster 1500 Defect & DIY Repair

After many years of dealing with my RCBS Chargemaster 1500 combo that appears to have an issue with responsiveness in reference to the keypads, I decided to make the following video and send it to RCBS and see if they had a solution for the issue.  Be sure to see what really fixed the scale near the end of this post.



Here is RCBS's response via email:

SOMETIMES THIS IS DUE TO THE CONNECTION ON BOTH UNITS. DISASSSEMBLY BOTH UNIT AND APPLY ELECTRICAL GEL ON BOTH CONNECTION PORT. REASSEMBLY AND PRESS FIRM ON BOTH UNITS WHEN ATTACHING THIS WILL GIVE A GOOD CONNECTION WHEN COMMUNICATING. USE A LAUNDRY STATIC REMOVER SHEET TO REMOVE ANY STATIC ON THE BLACK PLATEN. RECALIBRATE YOUR SCALE AND LET US KNOW.

So I gave the reccomendation a try. Here are the results:


In short the procedure RCBS recommended did not fix the issue. Below is the email exchange with the RCBS tech. I realize that my particular unit is clearly out of warranty and I do not have any illusions that RCBS would repair of fix my unit for free. However I thought it odd that RCBS would not "middle" any repair work since they have the most knowledge of the product and connections to the manufacturer. But instead they pointed me in the direction of a "calibration" equipment company when calibration is clearly not the issue.

If anyone knows how to fix the problem seen in the video, please let me know.

Nic:
I finally got to try out the suggestion and the problem still exists. Can you assign an RMA number so I can send this scale and powder dispenser in for repair? I have the original box to ship it in.

RCBS:
HOW LONG HAVE YOU HAD THIS UNIT?

Nic:
it's been years. 5 maybe???

RCBS:
I AM SORRY WE DO NOT REPAIR THESE CHARGEMASTER UNIT. WE PURCHASE THESE CHARGEMASTER 1500 COMBO SCALE AND OUR VENDOR DOES NOT ALLOW US TO REPAIR. PLEASE TRY TO CONTACT MICRO PRECISION CALIBRATION INC 1-530-268-1860 AND SEE IF THEY CAN REPAIR THE UNIT.

Nic:
Hold on. You sell your branded RCBS unit, but do not repair or replace? But rather direct issues back to the OEM/ODM?

What is the website and address of the OEM/ODM?

RCBS:
THESE UNITS ARE PURCHASE OVER SEAS BY EXCELL.

Nic:
I did contact RCBS right? Not some other vendor? I find it odd that the company that brands and sells its product with it's company name on the product would point to the vender for issues and not the company that sells and markets their own products.

Seems kinda like buying a Ford and having an issue with the Ford and then Ford referring the customer to the plant that assembled the Ford.

Here's the site associated with that phone number

http://www.microprecision.com/calibration-contact/

I do not think calibration is the issue. I will dispose of the unit and go with another brand. Thanks for your time.

RCBS:
I AM SORRY TO LOSE ANOTHER CUSTOMER BUT THIS IS JUST WHAT THE POLICY ON THESE CHARGEMASTER UNITS. THERE IS 1 YR WARRANTY FROM FACTORY FROM THE DATE OF PURCHASE. MICRO PRECISION CALIBRATION IS JUST ONE OF ANOTHER COMPANY THAT I KNOW THAT MIGHT HELP. THIS MICRO PRECISION CALIBRATION DOES NOT ASSOCAITE WITH US RCBS.

Nic:
Yeah, I paid the extra for RCBS when shopping for a scale because there are plenty of other brands cheaper for the same features. However, I've had good luck with RCBS until now. But it looks like the extra expense was not worth the frustration in this case. For what it is worth, I've had this issue for years with this scale. I finally got tired of messing with it.

THE FIX
After taking a few says to think on it, I borrowed another Chargemaster 1500 from a friend and swapped the parts of the unit and was able to isolate the defective part. Turns out my powder dispenser unit was causing the problem. I voided the warranty (already out of date) and took it apart with 4 simple screws. Take care not to damage the ribbon cable inside when you unplug it from the small PCB inside the dispenser.


After inspecting the little PCB I found that the connector that connects the dispenser to the scale had "cold solder joints". Cold solder joints are solder joints that did not cool or flow properly when the soldering process took place at the factory. This is a manufacturing defect and should have been caught by the QA process at the time of manufacture.



This is a relatively simple fix assuming you have a soldering iron. Just reflow the solder joints on the BERG connector so that the frosty looking solder joint is nice and shinny. Adding solder to the joint and using flux will make it easier to reflow. The video below shows a sample of the soldering process and speaks more in depth of the error.



1 comment:

  1. Nic,
    Found this review/repair video & wanted to share my similar experience.
    I bought my chargemaster 1500 combo about 2 years ago and until yesterday it has worked flawlessly. I went to reload some .45 ACP and after I put some powder in the hopper and turned it on, it beeped 4-5 times while doing its countdown to the ready state. I thought 'that's weird' then quickly found that almost all the keypad buttons were unresponsive. Nothing at all happened when pressing the calibrate or zero buttons, and on the dispenser the only one that worked was the trickle button. I powered it off & on several timex & messed with it for a while last night; finally gave up in disgust. I researched it on the web & found yours & lots of other similar stories with possible fixes so decided this morning to try some of them. I seperated the scale & dispenser & tested the scale by itself; it worked fine. I was able to calibrate & zero it several times, no problem. I carefully reconnected it to the dispenser & voila, same problem back again, so I decided that' where the problem was. I took a static dryer sheet & went over all the connectors & the platen; no change. I carefully took apart the powder dispenser & checked out the small circuit board; no cold solder joints at all so I very carefully reconnected everything & powered up; bottom line it's working fine now. Weird, huh? I cycled power several times & recalibrated it several times & it's still working this afternoon so I'm thankful for that at least. Time will tell I suppose.

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