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Using a digital scale to measure doses

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JoLe   
JoLe

Admin note:
Measure precise amounts for controlled tapering with a digital electronic scale
 
The basic digital scale method:
 
To calculate your daily dosage, you need to know the weight of the beads or powder in one capsule.

 

The number of beads in a capsule varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and from dosage to dosage. There will even be a little variation in the number of beads among the capsules in one prescription vial.

 

This method will require you to keep notes about what you're doing.

 

At the beginning, for convenience, instead of weighing the contents of each capsule each day, I would take an average weight from several capsules and work with that.

  • Have large empty gelatin (or vegetarian) capsules handy into which to  put the beads.
  • Empty one capsule at a time and weigh the beads or powder. Note the weight on a piece of paper.
  • Put the beads or powder back in a large, empty gelatin capsule.
  • Add all your weights together and divide by the number of capsules you've weighed. This is the average weight of the contents of a capsule for that prescription vial.
  • If you wish to taper by 10%, multiply the average weight by 90%. This will give you the amount you need to weigh out for your first stage of tapering. Example: If you have been taking 100mg, multiply the weight by 90% to find the weight equivalent to 90mg.
  • For the next stage, subtract the prior decrement from the weight and then multiply the result by 90%. Example: You've decreased from 100mg to 90mg, now you want to take 90% of what the 90mg weighed. To find this, subtract the weight of 10mg from 100mg, then multiply by 90%.
  • And so forth. The amounts of the decrements should keep getting smaller as your dosage decreases.

Much later, when you're down to a low dose, you'll probably want to count beads instead. See Counting beads in a capsule versus weighing
 
Also see

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Counting beads in a capsule versus weighing
 
Excel spreadsheet to calculate dose weights using a scale
 
Combining tablets or capsules with liquid to taper
 
How to make a liquid from tablets or capsules
 
Did I go wrong with my nailfile?
 




@JoLe Tapering off Cymbalta

This is the method I'm using. I'm not recommending it to anyone, I'm just delineating my methodology.

First I bought a bag of empty clear "1" gel caps. (They're the same size as my Cymbalta capsules, so later, when I lower the dose, I'm going to use half an original capsule and half a clear one, to differentiate the dosage.)

After I got frustrated with counting the grains in a capsule (because the numbers weren't the same from one capsule to the next), I bought this: Gemini-20 Portable Milligram Scale http://www.awscales.com/portable-precision-scales-01-gram/75-gemini-20-portable-milligram-scale I chose this one because it weighs down to milligrams, I found it at a good price on Amazon, and the shipping was free. Anyone who wants to weigh dosages will need to be able to weigh milligrams.

I also use these tools:
A tray with sides (those little grains bounce!)
post-162-0-88264200-1309921673_thumb.jpg
A plate with sections
post-162-0-33758200-1309921685_thumb.jpg
The top of an eyedropper with the round part cut off
post-162-0-35214600-1309921701_thumb.jpg
post-162-0-57847800-1309921714_thumb.jpg
post-162-0-84138000-1309921726_thumb.jpg



And I have a face mask like they were giving out during the bird flu scare.

My first step was to weigh the grains in several capsules. They all weighed the same amount. So I divided that number in half (because right now all I'm doing is breaking 60mg capsules down to 30mg--the dosage I'm supposed to be on).

First I put the electronic scale on the tray and calibrate the scale. The instructions for calibrating are included with the scale. Then I put on my face mask, stick an empty capsule half in the eyedropper top and put it on the scale. There's a tare button on the scale that will remove that weight from the display.

Then I open a capsule and pour in some grains. The number I'm looking for is 115, so I stop anywhere between 100 and 110. After that I use tweezers (that come with the scale) to add grains.

It's very important to do this on a level surface, and to calibrate the scale each time I start. Because the scale weighs to such small amounts, even breathing on it can effect the weight, which is why I wear the face mask.

The numbers will go up and down for a few seconds, but once it's stabilized and I'm at the right number, I turn off the scale, take out the capsule, make sure there aren't any grains on the scale itself (I have missed getting them in the capsule), and snap on the other end.

Then I start over.

The reason I turn off the scale is that it has an auto-shut off feature, which I find annoying. If I don't turn it off, I don't have time to do another capsule before it shuts itself off.

If anyone has questions, feel free to ask! I took pictures of my other equipment in case my descriptions weren't clear. I'm planning on buying a new tray, since there's a lot of white on the one I have, and those tiny, bouncy grains are white. Camouflaged little creeps! Edited by Altostrata
updated

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

More tips on using the inexpensive electronic digital scale JoLe mentioned above, the Gemini-20 Portable Milligram Scale -- these from the comments on Amazon:

 

1) Let the scale stabilize on a hard, flat and level surface.

2) Make sure the sample tray is properly seated inside the circular indent of the scale's metal measuring platform. Take care that the sample tray (as provided) does not touch the body of the scale, grossly throwing off the measurement.

3) Tap the table that the scale is on to help everything settle.

4) Calibrate as described in the manual.

5) Place and remove materials to be weighed consistently and carefully - don't drop them. Even the slightest impact can throw off the measurement.

6) Wait for ten seconds or so for the sample to settle.

7) For minuscule samples, use the ten gram weight in addition to the sample to put the scale in the middle of its operating range. With a little care, one will get closer to the performance of a lab-grade milligram scale than anything else for this price.

 

NOTE: If you a looking for a digital scale that measures milligrams, it must measure to at least .001g. A milligram is 1/1000 of a gram. A scale that measures to only 0.1g will not measure milligrams accurately.

 

Another reasonably priced digital scale that measures milligrams is the Grobet Precision Pocket Scale 10g x .001g Model 50.303, for about $55 here. I don't know how accurate or easy to use it might be. It's for weighing precious stones.

Edited by Altostrata
updated and expanded

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

Ironic that we're discussing LEGAL drugs

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Shanti   
Shanti

I've thought of this. I'm sitting here with a mirror, blade and digital scales chopping up my pills. I scrape them and it makes a fine powder. When I scrape the powder away it forms a "line" of powder. I've thought "My gawd if someone comes in here they'll think I'm doing cocaine".

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Barbarannamated   
Barbarannamated

Docs would understand and help with that problem.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Important note when weighing tablets and capsules: They contain filler

You will find, when you weigh a tablet or capsule, that the weight in milligrams is more that the dosage in milligrams. A 25mg tablet of Effexor weighs more than 25mg.

25mg means there's 25mg of active ingredient in the tablet, it's not the weight of the tablet.

All tablets and capsules have filler in them, that's why they weigh more on the scale.

Use a percentage, as Jole does up above, to calculate how much to take by weight.

For example, if you want to take 10mg of Effexor, it would be 40% of a 25mg tablet by weight (10 divided by 25 = .40 or 40%). Multiply the percentage by the weight of the whole tablet. If the tablet weighs 100mg before you cut it, you would want to 40% of it, or 40mg by weight.

A lot of people would crush the tablet into powder so they can measure these fine gradations in weight.

Nice big gelatin capsules (sizes 00 or 0) will help you deal with the powder.  Comparison picture with measurements  The capsule size doesn't have to be the same as your initial capsule of medication. Unless you have the fingers of a pygmy loris,pygmy loris.png it's easier to handle the larger capsule sizes and get the powder into them.

Edited by ChessieCat
Added link to capsule comparison

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Question: I would like to take 70mg of Effexor, which is 5 mg less than the 75mg I am now taking. How would I calculate the scale weight of a 70mg dosage to be taken from a 75mg tablet?

 

Answer: It's easier to calculate weight by using a percentage. Use a desktop calculator or the calculator on your computer.

 

(Usually we start with a percentage we want to decrease, such as 5% or 10%.)

 

1. Determine the percentage of your current dose that you want to take. If you want to drop by 5%, you'll be taking 95% of a tablet. If you want to drop by 10%, you'd take 90% of a tablet.

 

In this case, 70mg is 93.3% of 75mg (70 divided by 75), or a decrease of 6.67%.

 

2. Weigh your 75mg tablet. It will be more than 75mg because it contains filler, binder, etc. (75mg means it contains 75mg of the active ingredient, Effexor.)

 

3. Let's say your tablet weighs 105mg. Multiply that by 93.3% and you get 98mg, which will contain 70mg of Effexor.

 

4. Weigh out 98mg with your digital scale.

 

Keep extra tablet fragments in a clean medicine container, labeled with the dosage (example, 75mg). You may wish to use them later when your doses get smaller.

 

Question: How can I convert between grams, milligrams, etc.?

 

See this Unit Conversion Calculator http://easycalculation.com/unit-conversion/weight-factors.php

Edited by Altostrata
updated and expanded

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InNeedOfHope   
InNeedOfHope

I have ordered some scales.

 

I just want to see what people think of my idea for weighing. I can't put the beads back in the capsule have tried that and it is too tricky.

 

I currently take out 134 beads, there are around 292 in a capsule. Some of the beads look stuck together some look like pin pricks. I work this out to around 16.2mg as 10 beads =9.73mg. or 1mg = 9.73 beads, my mind wont work right now but I've worked it out loads and had it checked at the beginning.

 

I intend to weigh 134 beads and see what they weigh, i will do that each day for a week, then i will average out what this comes to. My intention is to then use this weight (not beads) as an indication of what to remove each week.

 

I am worried that as I am getting lower the inaccuracy of fillers etc and ingredients is showing up, more and more, hence the worsening of symtoms.

 

I might need some advice when they arrive even after all the reading on here.

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Daisy   
Daisy

Hi,

 

This might be old news...but you can order empty gelatin capsules in different sizes on Amazon.com

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Thanks, EWF.

 

Just wanted to note: Get LARGE gelatin capsules (size 000 or 00), they will be easier for you to handle and to fill. You only need to fill them part way.

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jr1985   
jr1985

Hi

 

Someone has contacted me because they are wanting to taper off Prozac by breaking open the capsules and weighing the powder, doctors won't prescribe liquid and we've been through all the options for this. Can anyone recommend some accurate scales? she has already ordered one set of scales which turned out to be useless. This friend is in the UK not sure if that will make a difference, if it's something off Amazon it'll be fairly universal I would think.

 

Strawberry

 

This is the one I use, it seems fine - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Neewer-0-001g-20g-Digital-Jewelry-Diamond/dp/B007H4AR28/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346790326&sr=8-1

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strawberry17   
strawberry17

OK so I hope someone can help with this one, a friend is embarking on breaking open Prozac capsules and weighing the powder. Her first cut is 39mg, her scales measure in 0.000g. What should she be weighing?

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

She should

  • Empty a full Prozac capsule on the scale, note the weight. Example: 62.4mg (I have no idea how much the capsule contents weigh.)
  • Figure out her desired dosage as a proportion (percentage) of the full Prozac capsule dosage. Example: 39mg out of a 40mg capsule (39/40) = .975
  • Multiply the proportion times the weight. Example: .975 x 62.4mg = 60.84mg
  • Measure out 60.84mg as her dose

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

You wouldn't weigh the capsule, you'd throw it away before taking the fractional dose. Weighing it would confuse the calculations.

 

A liquid preparation is somewhat easier to use.

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primrose   
primrose

I have three questions please and some benzo information as I have a bit of benzo knowledge due to being on a taper for three years and counting

 

The questions

 

What do you use to transfer tiny bits of "pill-powder" from the scale to the capsule?

 

I cannot afford those scales mentioned and would like to know, would a cheaper scale that measures 0.001g be sufficient?

 

When the batteries run out on the scales, so they start deteriorating, or do they just switch off?

 

Thanks

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areyouthere   
areyouthere

I have three questions please and some benzo information as I have a bit of benzo knowledge due to being on a taper for three years and counting

 

The questions

 

What do you use to transfer tiny bits of "pill-powder" from the scale to the capsule?

 

 

 

I use the very small cup cake or candy cups that you can get in most grocery stores. You have to zero the scale with the cup on it to be the most accurate.

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music321   
music321

this scale has an accuracy of 1mg, and this is what the manufacturer says. for dealing with doses of 10mg or less, you'd be off by at least 10%. At 5 mg you'd be off by 20%.

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primrose   
primrose

I have tested all of the surfaces in my home with a carpenters spirit level, and none of them are level.

 

Does this mean that scales are not an option for me?

 

Also, according to http://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB01224, seroquel is only moderately soluble in water, does this mean that the water method is not an option also for me?

 

If both of the above are not an option, how will I taper my seroquel?

 

Thanks

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Copied from http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/235-tapering-techniques/

 

More tips on using the Gemini-20 Portable Milligram Scale

-- these from the comments on Amazon:

 

1) Let the scale stabilize on a hard, flat and level surface.

2) Make sure the sample tray is properly seated inside the circular indent of the scale's metal measuring platform. Take care that the sample tray (as provided) does not touch the body of the scale, grossly throwing off the measurement.

3) Tap the table that the scale is on to help everything settle.

4) Calibrate as described in the manual.

5) Place and remove materials to be weighed consistently and carefully - don't drop them. Even the slightest impact can throw off the measurement.

6) Wait for ten seconds or so for the sample to settle.

7) For minuscule samples, use the ten gram weight in addition to the sample to put the scale in the middle of its operating range. With a little care, one will get closer to the performance of a lab-grade milligram scale than anything else for this price.

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mammaP   
mammaP

Quick question, sorry but I need a dummy proof answer! I have my micro scale,

it's in grams so if I need, say 1 milligrams, what do I look for on the scale?

is it 0.01, or 0.001? Annd half a milligram?

 

I'm embarrassed to be asking but I grew up with pounds and ounces, and am

a wee bit 'fick' lol.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

mammaP, I moved your post here.

 

Do you have a manual for your scale? If each major division is 1mg, a half-milligram would be .5mg.

 

What kind of scale do you have? Can you post a photo showing the divisions?

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mammaP   
mammaP

Thank you for putting this where it belongs Alto. My brain is addled

the last few days and I couldn't find this post! The scales are Mercury.

I weighed half an empty capsule shell and it weighs 0.04. Was just testing it

and it was the empty shell that was to hand.

 

Posted Image

 

I'm going to stick to 3 beads for a while then try make liquid for the next drop.

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areyouthere   
areyouthere

I have no idea what this is. I can't find a Mercury digital scale via Google.

 

This may be measuring in grams, which won't be accurate for milligrams.

 

Does it come with instructions?

 

I found the scale here Alto: http://www.juno.co.uk/products/mercury-pocket-micro-weighing-scales/411024-01/

 

It measures in grams. Depending on what MammaP is trying to accomplish it may suffice.

 

RU

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mammaP   
mammaP

That's the one, it says 0.05 minimum load but after that goes up by 0.01.

Am away for a week now so will play with it when I get back. :) Thank you.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Graduation 0.01g means it measures to 10s of milligrams. You cannot get an accurate measurement of anything less than 10mg with this scale -- not even 27mg, it will read it as 30mg (nearest tens of milligrams).

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Jerome   
Jerome

More tips on using the inexpensive electronic digital scale JoLe mentioned above, the Gemini-20 Portable Milligram Scale -- these from the comments on Amazon:

 

1) Let the scale stabilize on a hard, flat and level surface.

2) Make sure the sample tray is properly seated inside the circular indent of the scale's metal measuring platform. Take care that the sample tray (as provided) does not touch the body of the scale, grossly throwing off the measurement.

3) Tap the table that the scale is on to help everything settle.

4) Calibrate as described in the manual.

5) Place and remove materials to be weighed consistently and carefully - don't drop them. Even the slightest impact can throw off the measurement.

6) Wait for ten seconds or so for the sample to settle.

7) For minuscule samples, use the ten gram weight in addition to the sample to put the scale in the middle of its operating range. With a little care, one will get closer to the performance of a lab-grade milligram scale than anything else for this price.

 

 

NOTE: If you a looking for a digital scale that measures milligrams, it must measure to at least .001g. A milligram is 1/1000 of a gram. A scale that measures to only 0.1g will not measure milligrams accurately.

 

Another reasonably priced digital scale that measures milligrams is the Grobet Precision Pocket Scale 10g x .001g Model 50.303, for about $55 here. I don't know how accurate or easy to use it might be. It's for weighing precious stones.

Alto: Another method for weighing higher in the scale range is to put a coin under (or in) the plastic pan. It's somewhat easier to handle, and so less likely to fall and damage the balance, than are the 10 g calibration weights. Also, if you can get even 5 min. access to an analytical balance you can weigh various sized pieces of Al foil and have a set of reference weights to check your accuracy at 5 points, like they do in commercial labs. But they don't use foil.

 

Jerome

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Abella   
Abella

Not sure if the answer is here and i just missed it--how do you know to what decimal place to take your measurement of 10%? Like, I'm at 70mg doxepin, so eventually will I need to take the dosage out to the .001mg? or when do I round down/up, or does this depend on how I do?

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areyouthere   
areyouthere

If you want to decrease 70 mg of doxepin by 10% you first have to figure out what 10 % of 70 mg is. To do this you multiplply 70 mg by .10 or

 

70mg X .10 = 7mg      so  10 % of 70mg is 7mg.      To decrease by 10 %, then , you need to take 7 fewer milligrams of doxepin than you are now or…. 70 mg - 7 mg = 63 mg doxepin.

 

 

Another way to think about it is that 63 mg is 90 % of 70 mg. So if you take 63 mg of doxepin you will have decreased you previous dose of 70 mg by 10 %.

 

63 mg of doxepin would be your new dose assuming you want to decrease your previous dose ( 70 mg ) by 10 % ( or 7 mg). 

 

Hope this helps.

 

RU

 

 

To prove this …. 63mg / 70 mg = .90 X 100 ( for 100 %) =  90 %.  

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Abella, keep on figuring a 10% reduction on your last dosage. You are right, this will result in fractional amounts.

 

Round UP on the dosage so you will be making a smaller decrease rather than a larger decrease.

 

Depending on how you measure the dosage (digital scale, oral syringe, etc.), you may be able to measure the dose to hundredths of a milligram (0.01mg). You would round UP from a calculation in the thousandths (0.001mg).

 

If you cannot actually measure your dose to hundredths of a milligram, round UP calculations of your dose to tenths (0.1mg).

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altruist   
altruist

Measure precise amounts for controlled tapering with a digital electronic scale

 

 

@JoLe Tapering off Cymbalta

 

This is the method I'm using. I'm not recommending it to anyone, I'm just delineating my methodology.

 

First I bought a bag of empty clear "1" gel caps. (They're the same size as my Cymbalta capsules, so later, when I lower the dose, I'm going to use half an original capsule and half a clear one, to differentiate the dosage.)

 

After I got frustrated with counting the grains in a capsule (because the numbers weren't the same from one capsule to the next), I bought this: Gemini-20 Portable Milligram Scale http://www.awscales.com/portable-precision-scales-01-gram/75-gemini-20-portable-milligram-scale I chose this one because it weighs down to milligrams, I found it at a good price on Amazon, and the shipping was free. Anyone who wants to weigh dosages will need to be able to weigh milligrams.

 

I also use these tools:

A tray with sides (those little grains bounce!)

attachicon.gifplatter.JPG

A plate with sections

attachicon.gifplate.JPG

The top of an eyedropper with the round part cut off

attachicon.gifeyedropper.JPG

attachicon.gifeyedropper2.JPG

attachicon.gifeyedropperwithpill.JPG

 

 

 

And I have a face mask like they were giving out during the bird flu scare.

 

My first step was to weigh the grains in several capsules. They all weighed the same amount. So I divided that number in half (because right now all I'm doing is breaking 60mg capsules down to 30mg--the dosage I'm supposed to be on).

 

First I put the electronic scale on the tray and calibrate the scale. The instructions for calibrating are included with the scale. Then I put on my face mask, stick an empty capsule half in the eyedropper top and put it on the scale. There's a tare button on the scale that will remove that weight from the display.

 

Then I open a capsule and pour in some grains. The number I'm looking for is 115, so I stop anywhere between 100 and 110. After that I use tweezers (that come with the scale) to add grains.

 

It's very important to do this on a level surface, and to calibrate the scale each time I start. Because the scale weighs to such small amounts, even breathing on it can effect the weight, which is why I wear the face mask.

 

The numbers will go up and down for a few seconds, but once it's stabilized and I'm at the right number, I turn off the scale, take out the capsule, make sure there aren't any grains on the scale itself (I have missed getting them in the capsule), and snap on the other end.

 

Then I start over.

 

The reason I turn off the scale is that it has an auto-shut off feature, which I find annoying. If I don't turn it off, I don't have time to do another capsule before it shuts itself off.

 

If anyone has questions, feel free to ask! I took pictures of my other equipment in case my descriptions weren't clear. I'm planning on buying a new tray, since there's a lot of white on the one I have, and those tiny, bouncy grains are white. Camouflaged little creeps!

 

 

Hi, alot of details have gone into this post, yet still I am left with many questions:

 

1) I have bought the Gemini-20 mg weigh scale 9http://www.awscales.com/portable-precision-scales-01-gram/75-gemini-20-portable-milligram-scale)

recommended on this thread, but how can this scale possibly be able to weigh a plastic plate when the only thing that can be put on the indented scale ,

that takes the measurement, is the small tray included? How do you physically weigh a plastic plate on an indented scale that is not able to weigh the plate itself?

Do I have to balance the plastic plate on the metal mini tray that comes with it?

 

2) When I press the 'tare' button on this scale, after about a minute the scale turns of and resets itself, so with this issue,

I have to repeatedly keep pressing tare to weigh the metal tray to zero.

So my question is, Is there a better way to weigh the beads when the weigh scale keeps turning itself off all of the time?

 

3) Why do I have to weigh the empty capsule? Why can't I just weigh the beads without the capsule

(especially when the scale keeps turning off and I have to keep pressing the tare button to reset an empty plate back to zero!

 

4) When you use the eye-drop container to hold the empty capsule, do you have to cut out the drip part of the eye-drop container so that it can rest evenly on the plastic plate?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

If you read the Amazon comments http://www.amazon.com/American-Weigh-GEMINI-20-Portable-MilliGram/product-reviews/B0012TDNAM, you will see detailed instructions for calibrating.

 

It seems JoLe was filling the capsule with beads as she was weighing. This is not necessary. You can weigh the beads separately, then put them in a capsule. You don't need to weigh the empty capsule. You probably will have to figure out a way to keep the beads from rolling around on the platform.

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LovingSupport   
LovingSupport

Hi,

 

Someone previously mentioned in a thread a sort of tiny spoon for scooping out some beads in a capsule, but I can't find that info anymore. Can anyone tell me the name of this kind of mini-spoon?

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tgirl   
tgirl

Alto,

Say I'm at 5 mg. And I need to reduce by 10% down to 4.5mg. Or .0045 grams.how can you measure it on the scales above that only go to .001 gram incraments. They only measure to the nearest milligram not 1/2 milligram required.

Thank you

tgirl

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