By: Mary and Dr. Jim Clary
The last time we checked, there were at least a dozen electronic powder measure dispensers on the market. They ranged in price from $200 to $500. Most all of them are reliable (or they wouldn't still be on the market), and differ only in their physical appearance and their degree of precision. Most will measure and dispense loads to within 0.10 grains, which is adequate for the majority of reloaders. A select few (the very high end units) will dispense loads to within 0.01 grains. We could fill a book with the pros and cons of that level of accuracy, which is unnecessary for 99% of the shooters in the world. We have no intention of writing a book; as such, we will go with the subject unit which produces consistent loads to +/- 0.1 grain.
Perhaps the most important aspect of setting up the Intellidropper for use is:
Give it 30-45 minutes to warm up and stabilize and beware of drafts. Not all units on the market specify a warm up time as most users are anxious to start dispensing powder as soon as they turn their units on. However, the Intellidropper has a very high-end scale that requires a warm up and operation at temperatures above 55F. We determined that low-end temperature when we began our testing in February in our unheated reloading building. There are, in fact, a lot of high-end pieces of equipment that are temperature sensitive, so do not be discouraged or deterred from getting this unit because of the warm-up period for stabilization. It is worth the wait.
The second critical aspect is leveling. All of the units on the market recommend/require that the units be leveled for accuracy and stability.... but, only the Intellidropper has a built-in Bubble Level. It is of the utmost importance that you level this machine out (and ALL machines) or the powder may be off (usually higher) by as much as 0.3 grains.
Once the machine is leveled and stabilized, follow the calibration instructions in the manual utilizing the two 50-grain weights included with the Intellidropper. Once calibrated, you are ready to go.........well, almost.
Frankford Arsenal added an algorithm to the Intellidropper that is unique to the industry. It is called the Powder Calibration Dispensing Algorithm. You fill the powder hopper tube with your powder, replacing the cover and press the “Powder CAL” button. And make sure that you have the powder pan on the platen, as the machine will now cycle through several steps to determine the optimum speed for accurate dispensing. When the cycle is complete, the machine will display “STABLE”. Pour the powder back into the tube, replace the pan and ZERO the device. You are now ready to load.
Type in the charge you need and press the GO button and you have your first charge. This algorithm is superior to anything on the market and rarely is there an overcharge, which is a definite safety feature (we never got one with 1,000 loads). Just remember to run the Algorithm each time you use a new powder. This machine will auto and/or manually dispense loads up to 250 grains per throw... that is a hefty charge. Depending on the powder type, the dispensing speed is two to three times faster than any other device on the market.
Because the machine is sensitive to air currents/drafts in the room, they recommend using the cover when dispensing.. however, we found out that in a closed room with no appreciable drafts, the cover was not necessary when dispensing... accuracy was still superb.
As a “stand alone” powder dispensing scale, we doubt that there is a better one on the market at its price point and then some. However, we would like to see the powder tube empty spout cap improved. It is difficult to turn, especially if one has a bit of arthritis or joint issues. A threaded cap, similar to the ones on other drains would be better.
We miss the memory storage function for our regular recipes that is found on several other units. However, Frankford Arsenal went one better on that issue. They have a free app available online that will pair (via Bluetooth) with the Intellidropper.
This app not only allows one to store all of the information relevant to your favorite recipes, but also comes with the following preloaded information:
*Bullet type by caliber, weight, ballistic coefficient, sectional density and length options
*Bullet and powder databases
*Cartridge list for powder brands, such as Hodgdon, Alliant, etc.
*Allows for input of atmospheric conditions, primer type, length of barrel and more for future reference
*Cost center-calculator for determining what the actual cost to build per round.
The app is really awesome and provides more flexibility for “load info storage” than any built-in system on the market. However, Bluetooth pairing can be a problem with some phones, Jim's, for example. He has a “lower-end” smart phone which does not “like” pairing with any device; whereas, my Samsung pairs with the Intellidropper and works perfectly with the F.A. App. So, if you have problems with the app, it is NOT the app, but your phone.
As an additional note: We are told that the software engineers at Frankford Arsenal will continue to improve/refine and develop the app with direct updates available to expand the intellectual capacity of the Intellidropper, at no additional cost. That is great..... now, if we could only get Jim's cheap phone to pair it would be awesome!
The Intellidropper is a very precise, easy to use and affordably priced machine. Although the MSRP is $216.99, we found it online for as low as $159.96. That is a real bargain.