Speed Up Your RCBS ChargeMaster

Tips to enhance the speed, reliability, and accuracy of the ChargeMaster

RCBS ChargeMaster 1500The RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 electronic powder scale and dispenser is the most popular product of its kind on the market. In our original Electronic Powder Dispenser Comparison Test, the ChargeMaster normally dispensed most kinds of powder faster than competitive units from Lyman and PACT. However, after the initial release of the ChargeMaster 1500, RCBS “tweaked” the software a bit to achieve more consistent charge-throws. This slowed down the process somewhat. Some owners have wanted to speed up their ChargeMaster. This IS possible with a relatively simple reprogramming. Most of the internal parameters of the Chargemaster can be modified, under guidance from the tech staff at RCBS.

Gunsmith and Forum member NAT Lambeth reports: “I thought My RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 Combo was fast enough. But I still called RCBS and asked for the programing changes to see if I could speed it up. It was a lot easier than I thought. My 1500 Combo was taking from 15-30 seconds to dispense the powder to the tenth of a grain. I reprogrammed the numbers and now it takes between 7 and 15 seconds to dispense to a tenth. This effectively doubled my loading speed. I only changed the HSB_A1, HSB_B1, and BSP_C1 settings.”

Key ChargeMaster Parameters with Default Settings
HSB_A1 (15.68) Grains under target weight to go from full to high speed
HSB_B1 (3.42) Grains under target weight to go from high to slow speed
BSP_C1 (1.08) Grains under target weight to go from slow to final trickle speed

Nat cautions that you should talk to a RCBS tech before attempting to re-program your ChargeMaster: “You will benefit from talking to the RCBS tech. I have now gone back and played with the numbers a couple of times. (The numbers given to me by the tech at RCBS were still a little conservative.) I think each machine may have its own likes and dislikes. If you get too aggresive with lowering your numbers it will over-throw your intended load.

Source for ALL the Parameters
There is an extensive discussion of RCBS ChargeMaster programming on the South Africa Hunting Rifle Shooting Assn. (SAJSV) Forum. In this SAJSV Forum ARTICLE, Jaco Brink lists virtually all the programming codes. Importantly, Jaco also provides the default values for various parameters. This is very important, because the ChargeMaster does not have a “return to default” option. Once you change any value, if you want to return to the original value you must enter it manually. Jaco cautions: “I have to advise you to only make changes to your scale if you are confident to do so, and remember that there is not a ‘return to default’ setting in the scale. If all else fails return your scale to the default settings [I have listed].”

CLICK HERE for list of RCBS ChargeMaster Default Programming Values

General Chargemaster Performance Enhancements

If you own an RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 electronic powder scale/dispenser, or are thinking about purchasing one, here are a few tips that can cut your loading times and eliminate some petty annoyances.

Mute That Annoying Beep
Some ChargeMaster users complain about the loud beep at the end of each cycle. There’s a simple way to silence the beep — and you don’t have to cut any wires or permanently disable the speaker. To mute the beep, simply hold down the Zero button until “beep off” displays. Repeat to restore the beep function.

Activating the Auto-Dispense Mode
You can set the ChargeMaster to automatically dispense your pre-programmed charge as soon as you put the pan back on the scale. Simply press and hold the “Enter” button. The code “Auto” should then appear on the display. At this point, push “Disp” to dispense the first charge. When you replace the pan, the unit will automatically dispense the same charge. For some people this is an added convenience. You can always go back to the default manual dispense method by changing the dispense mode using the “Enter” button again.

Use a McDonald’s Straw to Reduce Over-Throws
Jaco Brink provided another useful tip to avoid “over-throws” (excess charge weight): “The RCBS employee advised me to take a McDonnell’s straw (because it is thicker than a normal straw), cut off about a half inch piece and put it into the tube where the powder exits. This caused the last part of an extruded powder to cluster less, and reduced the amount of overthrows dramatically.”

Instructional Video
The video below shows how to set up and calibrate a Chargemaster 1500. Be sure to level the unit carefully, both left to right and front to back. Starting at the 1:44 mark in the video you can see the unit dispense a 50-grain charge in 30 seconds. The slow, final trickle stage takes about half of the total time.

YouTube Preview Image

How to Shorten Dispensing Times
The last tip is for advanced users only. You can alter the programming settings to speed up powder dispensing dramatically. One user reported that, by re-programming his machine, his cut his dispensing time for a 30-grain load from 22 to 13 seconds “with no overthrows”. WARNING: once you change the parameters, there is no “restore” command to set everything back to the defaults. So proceed carefully. The speed enhancement procedure is described on the pages linked below:

Basic ChargeMaster Speed Enhancement | Advanced ChargeMaster Programming Tips

Trouble-Shooting the RCBS Charge-Master

TECH UPDATE for the RCBS ChargeMaster. In a few short months the RCBS ChargeMaster has become the top-selling digital dispenser on the market. Most people using the RCBS ChargeMaster digital powder dispenser have been very happy with the unit. However, we’ve heard some reports that, on completing a dispensing cycle, the display shows the load to be the correct target weight, when in fact the unit is off by a one or two tenths of a grain. Since the read-out appears “dead-on”, the user doesn’t know he has a high or low charge. This is why we advise all ChargeMaster owners to initially check their charge weights with a precision scale of known accuracy. If the unit does not meet spec, RCBS will replace it during the warranty period. However, keep in mind that the unit is rated ± 0.1 grain, which means you can’t expect it to deliver the EXACT charge (to the tenth) every time–it may be a tenth high or a tenth low, for a spread of 0.2 grains. A recent ChargeMaster evaluation we’ve done, with charges checked with a Denver Instruments laboratory scale, did show the unit to be within ± 0.1 grain 95% of the time with H4350, and, with most powders, it delivered the exact charge (to the tenth) over 2/3 of the time.

Still there are things that can improve the unit’s consistency. Here are some helpful hints, from Chargemaster owners:

1. Make sure the unit is perfectly level front to rear. Some ChargeMasters, particularly the early-production units, are sensitive to front/rear leveling.

2. Don’t leave the power cord coiled up in a loop; this can cause a magnetic field that can affect read-outs.

3. Use the hinged door that covers the dispensing tray. This will eliminate drafts.

4. IMPORTANT–after dispensing a load, pick up the plastic powder cup, swish it gently to distribute the kernels evenly, and place it back on the load cell. This “double-checks” the weight and will catch the vast majority of over-charges.

5. There is a high speed/low speed transition point at 25.0 grains of powder–if your load is right near this point you’ll see some fluctuation. You can call RCBS and they can tell you how to modify the high speed/low speed parameters.

6. RCBS can also tell you how to re-program the unit to slow the speed right at the end of the dispensing cycle. This has resulted in greater consistency for some users, who report fewer cases of charges “missing the mark.”

7. RCBS now ships the unit with a metal pan that is a bit heavier than the original plastic powder pan. Again, this seems to work a bit better.

8. Use the factory-supplied check weights to test for calibration with each session; this only takes a few seconds.

9. Use a good surge suppressor, or better yet, plug the ChargeMaster into a line conditioner that provides “clean”, correct voltage. A few users told us all their problems disappeared when they plugged the power cord into a line conditioner or UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).

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