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RCBS ChargeMaster Combo

One of the reasons I ultimately bought the powder dispenser option was due to my original research into the ChargeMaster Combo.  The powder clean out port, shown above, is located on the side of the dispenser and is super easy to use.  The port has a semi-circular opening with a tight fitting rotary cover.  I have it partially open in the above photo so you can see what it looks like.  Rotate the cover to the right and the port is closed.  Rotate the cover further to the left and it is full open for powder clean out.  At the time I was conducting my research, I noticed that some of the competing brands were noted for being too difficult to clean.  I certainly didn't need that headache.  The above design allows the powder hopper to empty in a few seconds (depending on how full it is).  Just sit the dispenser along the edge of your reloading bench, put a funnel in your powder can right under the port, and open the cover. 

While not supplied with the RCBS ChargeMaster Combo, I consider it mandatory to have a set of calibrated check weights for esting the accuracy of a scale, be it an electronic or balance scale.  This is the RCBS check weight "kit" and includes calibrated weights for checking your scale in the range of virtually any powder weight you intend to use.  With my .308 loads being a little short of 50 grains, I'll put the 50 grain weight on the scale to verify my scale is indicating 50 grains.  For the .223 loads, I'll put a 20 grain and a 5 grain weight on the scale for an accuracy check. 

I should mention that the dispenser comes with a clear plastic cover that protects the scale pan from drafts while you use it.  Air conditioning ducts, fans, etc. can all cause an unstable or inaccurate measurement.  The covers is designed so it can be easily pivoted to either side of the ChargeMaster Combo.  This gives you max flexibility depending on how you have things arranged on your reloading bench.  If you have no drafts to worry about, the plastic cover can be easily removed (it just snaps into position).  I have noticed that in the winter, when the relative humidity is very low and static electricity is more notable, moving the plastic cover can (and does) change the reading.  Unless I have my evap cooler running in the summer, I usually won't use the draft cover while I reload.

One thing that comes up in forum discussions is the time to fully dispense a charge of powder.  As delivered from the factory, I decided to check my ChargeMaster to see how it did.  I filled the powder hopper with Varget powder and punched in a 45.0 gr charge weight.  Using a stop watch, I threw 12 powder charges and recorded the times.  I tossed the highest and lowest time and then did a simply average on the remaining 10 charges.  My 45 gr Varget load averaged 22.9 seconds.

One nice feature offered by the ChargeMaster is that you can change many of the parameters in the programming of the unit.  There is quite a bit of content about it on the net and a quick search will come up with quite a few links. I did a little reading, here and there, and decided to see if I could shorten my dispense time a bit while maintaining accuracy.  If you speed up the fill procedure too much, the powder charge will typically overshoot the desired weight and so wastes even more time.  Here is the process I used to change my settings:

1.  Turn on the ChargeMaster.

2.  When the display shows 0.0 gn, press BOTH the ENTER and EDIT MEM keys at the same time. Hold both for a second or two and then release. If done correctly, ADJUST PARAMETER should display followed by HSP A1 00015.68 (this is the factory setting for the HSP A1 parameter). 

At this point you, you have entered the mode where you can change parameter values. The first 3 parameters are the ones that you will be adjusting. The HSP parameters are basically different speeds for different stages of the powder throw.

3.  These parameters change the points at which the motor controller will switch speeds, those being high, medium, and slow speed.

HSP A1 - This is the first stage the powder starts flowing at, wide open.
HSP B1 - This is medium speed.
HSP C1 - This is the last stage, a slow trickle.

To change the parameter values, use the key pad and enter the new value. To change the first value to 9.00, you would type in 900 and then press the ENTER key.  This will store the new value and move to the next parameter, HSP B1.  Enter the new value (or don't enter a new value if you want to leave it as is) and then press ENTER.  When you have finished with the HSP C1 parameter, you'll have to press ENTER about 20 more times to get through the rest of the settings.  Once you do, the unit will reboot, going through its normal startup procedure.

Here are the settings I finally decided on.  I tried several different settings, making the changes and then using the stopwatch to see how long it took to throw the powder charge.  These new values gave me a 16 second dispense time with no overshoots on the weight. 

HSP A1 - 9.00
HSP B1 - 1.90
HSP C1 - 0.50

Be aware that there is no "reset" function that will restore all of the parameters to their factory values.  Only the folks at RCBS can make that happen.  You should write down the factory values before entering your new values.  If need be, you can always enter the original values and return the ChargeMaster to its factory settings if things don't work out for you.

There isn't much else to say about the RCBS ChargeMaster combo.  It works well (it has for several years anyway) and I expect it to be on my reloading bench for many more years to come.  If you're looking for a good dispenser, consider the RCBS ChargeMaster Combo. 


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