USB camera for powder check

The thing that scares me the most in my reloading endeavors is a squib. To visually check every case for the proper amount of powder is inconvenient
and slow. (but better than two in the tube or a hand grenade) I load /shoot about 1k/month. So, I'm going to mount a small camera that will display a real-time video that is easy to see from my position operating the press. I have a five station progressive press and there are a few powder-check dies available that work very well, but I don't have a station to spare between the powder dump and the bullet seating. I use a separate crimp die after the bullet seating. (I did start to design an eight station press but how obsessive CAN I get?) Get just ONE squib and you'll never shoot the same, it'll always be in the back of your mind. Thankfully, I've never had a double-charge!
I can mount the camera on the ram so it's focus it constant or I can mount it to the press if the camera will auto focus fast enough to be useful. Ideally, the camera would have it's own LED lighting source.
Any recommendations on a camera or refinement of my idea?
Imagine if the camera took a still at the bottom of the stroke and instantly compared the image to a "standard" then sounded an alarm if the image was too far from the standard and locked the press? Again, a powder-check die would do just that but I would not be able to use my bullet feeder or my separate crimp die.
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How does the food packaging industry do this?
jsw
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Jim Wilkins wrote:

http://www.optoiq.com/index/machine-vision-imaging-processing.html
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John R. Carroll



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Jim Wilkins wrote:

Weight.
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"Steve W." wrote:

Yes. It should be a lot easier to setup to weigh each completed round automatically and alarm on out of tolerance ones, even log all the weights.
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You'll have to tare the weight of the empty casing first. Even minor variations due to sizing and trimming can affect your total cartridge weight.
Another weigh (pun) to do this is to measure the mass of the cartridge, first empty, then with the powder load. A clamping collar at the neck of the cartridge attached to a piezo-electric transducer can determine the resonant frequency of the whole assembly with the empty, then re-tune after filling to determine pretty precisely the mass of powder added.
LLoyd
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On Mon, 17 May 2010 09:42:41 -0500, Lloyd E. Sponenburgh wrote:

It seems like either of those ideas would need an extra station or two, which Tom wants to avoid using since all the stations of his five station progressive press already are busy; otherwise he would use a powder-check die, like he mentioned, and as Stan also suggested in his post, for some reason, just after quoting Tom's post that said, "a powder-check die would do just that but I would not be able to use my bullet feeder or my separate crimp die".
It might be practical to mount an ultrasonic distance transducer looking down into the cartridge, instead of a webcam. This would probably be good enough to distinguish no-powder from powder. Of course accurately knowing how much powder would be a good thing, but he apparently has loaded thousands of rounds without needing to measure it for each one, and just wants to make low-powder loads much less likely.
Measuring the cavity resonance frequency (with a tiny speaker and microphone) would be another alternative. Of course not as accurate as the clamp-on piezoelectric transducer Lloyd suggests, but probably good enough and wouldn't use up a station.
Would it be practical to weigh each round after it's done? I don't recall what cartridge Tom is loading, but presumably the weight difference between powder/no-powder would be a percent or more (a few grains out of a few hundred), which ought to be easy to detect, unless the brass varies by that much. Of course, if the rounds were weighed in the same order that they come off the press, it would be even more likely that the "classic sequence" Stan mentioned, a no-charge round followed by a double-charged round, could be detected.
--
jiw

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I mostly load .38 but followed closely by .45 then 9mm. Unfortunately, my sweet load is 2.7 grains of 700x which is not a bulky powder and my cast bullets vary by more than that, cases aren't much better as I use mixed headstamps with questionable pedigree. I use the .38s in a .357 Smith that would handle a double load. The auto loaders scare me the most.
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I have had a squib in 223, but the neck was tight enough that the bullet stayed put (thank goodness). With rifle cartridges, the powder charge is big enough that an empty is easy to find by weight. In addition to adding an extra inspection step, I can weigh small sets of cartridges & tell if anything is amiss.
I've got a new Dillon 650 press with a powder level checker. I will feel much better once I get that up & running.
Doug White
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Then cavity resonance might not be the best way to measure it, although it's a good idea if you were working with factory-new brass. Either weight or mass are the _only_ ways you'll tell if the load is correct. Also, you'll have to do the final check before you place and swage the bullet.
It _could_ be reasonable that the same station that did the powder loading could measure the mass before and after powder loading, but before the turret turned. The way progressive loaders work, I think it might be better to make a transducer that impinged on the side of the case being measured, than to have a transducer per station, with the requisite problems of connecting them electrically as the turret moved.
There are a number of problems to solve -- elasticity of the clamp that holds the casing, moving the transducer probe to the casing, a calibration method that "knows" how loads within the acceptable range affect the resonant frequency (dropping it, of course), and so on.
LLoyd
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wrote:

I wonder if simply shaking each round near the ear and both listening and feeling how much mass is moving would suffice to detect grossly out of range powder loads.
The vision systems will have difficulty telling a very thin layer of powder from a full load unless there is some kind of probe rod involved.
Joe Gwinn
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Shaking each round would take a lot of time. But maybe you could roll the cartridges down a incline. The powder tumbling inside would take some energy. A cartridge without powder might fall a bit further out and one with a double load might fall short.
Would probably only work for rimless brass, if it works at all. But could be worth trying.
Dan
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But would it work well enough? Tom said he had one short every 5,000 rounds or so.

I think that the powder weight is a small fraction of the weight of the entire round.
Joe Gwinn
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wrote:

In a "hardball" 45 ACP round, you are looking at a 230 grain bullet and a couple grains of powder. The stuff often literally is a "powder", and it doesn't really rattle. Some rifle powder has larger grains, and you can hear it, but it depends a lot on the specific powder. Pistol powders are often small flat flakes, and they just don't rattle much.
Doug White
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wrote:

GACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
teeny weenie bitsy amount of powder.....
Gunner, 7.2gr Unique under a 200gr SWC
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Many industries are utilizing machine vision. A check point may have 6 or more small cameras to image a part or measure of volume in a container.
I believe the actual go/no go (pass-fail) is done by the software.
I don't fully understand the capability of using a certain amount of pixels in a CMOS imaging device, but someone here has implemented an imaging device for a measuring or comparator device.. I forget who it was.
There are a lot of surplus RFE removed from equipment industrial machine vision components for sale, many on eBay. One problem with the surplus odds 'n ends is getting good cables that fit the uncommon connectors on industrial video components. Not BNC, but various miniature Hirose, JAE, LEMO and other high quality connectors on high quality Japanese cables.
I dunno what Tom's particular situation would require, but if it's a matter of the amount of travel a part makes, opto interrupters could probably handle that.
--
WB
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As an old computer video guy (3-D machine or robot vision), I'd suggest a transparent drop tube on your powder measure. Watch each powder drop. Sinclair <http://www.sinclairintl.com/ sells them and adapters for most powder measures. Works super... Joel in Florida rust central

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wrote:

Assuming that you use "squib" to mean a load with less then the correct amount of powder, this was common when loading shotgun shells. Probably because many people had progressive machines for shotgun shells but used a single station press for anything else.
The "problem" was so common that I have shot on Skeet ranges that had a ramrod hanging on both the high and low house.
But being less facetious, the problem was almost always that the powder ran out and a few primed cases were loaded without powder and firing them would blow the wad and shot about half way up the barrel. If you shot a second round you had an instant short barrel gun :-)
In reference to your camera idea I have seen an article about how to rig a security camera and compare each frame with the previous to detect entry. the same sort of thing would certainly work for checking powder levels.
I'll look around tomorrow and see whether I can locate the article and perhaps I can give you a reference to how it was done.
John B. Slocomb (johnbslocombatgmaildotcom)
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On Mon, 17 May 2010 22:22:24 +0700, John B. Slocomb

Further to the above. Have a look at http://www.lavrsen.dk/foswiki/bin/view/Motion/MotionGuide3x1x20 for information on a system that compares one frame to another and can detect a difference. It seems mainly concerned with motion <g> but there is no reason that it cannot detect difference between any two frames.
What I looked at is Linux software but if you are setting up a dedicated system that shouldn't cause problems.
John B. Slocomb (johnbslocombatgmaildotcom)
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A simpler method is already out there, an additional die body with a movable rod in it. Rod checks powder level. Google up "powder-level check" or "powder check die". Sometimes high-tech isn't the best.
To the other poster that asked, yes, a "squib" is a round with little or no powder in it, invariably sticks the bullet in the bore. The classic sequence is a no-charge round followed by a double-charged round in rapid fire, followed by an orbiting revolver top strap. Mostly happens with dense powders and light target charges and on semi- progressive and progressive tools. The tools have been improved over past units, it's harder to half-stroke and advance the case without getting a powder charge, but CAN happen. One of those deals where you need your eyes on the tool, not on a screen.
Stan
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