Calibrating …

A couple of months ago I bought a platform scale for Piney Mountain Foster Care. I used funds we received from The Binky Foundation for building and equipping an I.C.U. room to better care for sick or injured dogs. The scale counts (no pun intended) because knowing a dogs weight is needed to properly dispense medications and some preventatives as well as monitoring a dogs body condition.

I discovered that our new scale was weighing 1 pound 4 ounces heavier than the scale at our veterinarian – which is frequently checked to be sure it’s accurate. So I decided to recalibrate our scale. That turned into quite an adventure.

First off, I found that while the scale will display in pounds or kilograms, it must be calibrated in kilograms. But I used an on-line conversion calculator to determine that 7 Kg is 15.43 pounds. I used a 15 pound bag of dog food and a baggie with 6.9 ounces (.43 pounds) of loose kibble. Armed with these I ran through the sparse directions (yes, ladies, I do read directions). It took me a couple of tries before I got it to say that the process had been completed successfully and the 15 pound bag of dog food weighed in at 15 pounds.

Unfortunately I discovered that I had inadvertently reset the scale’s upper limit from 600 pounds to 15.43 pounds and anything above that weight errored out.

About that time I bought a truck load of building supplies for a renovation project we have underway and needed to store them indoors. To make room I had to unplug the scale and stand it up on its end. It has been there until those materials were used up last weekend. So today I took another run at calibrating the scale.

I don’t have 600 pounds of anything. If I did I would not want to have to load it onto the scale and unload it to put it away again. But I don’t really need the scale to handle 600 pounds – I’m not caring for cattle or hogs, just dogs. 200 pounds should be plenty.

The calibration weight has to be in Kg and a whole number. So I settled on 91 Kg, which is 200 pounds 9.6 ounces. I can produce that weight in bags of dog food. The bags are assorted brands and weights, so I had to do some “cyphering” to get the closest combination and make up the last bit with kibble weighed into a bowl. Then drag all of that over to the new kennel from the bunkhouse.

200 pounds (plus a smidge) of dog food

With the required weight at hand I set about recalibrating the scale and setting a useable upper limit. Did I mention that the manual (pamphlet) is sketchy on details? I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m no dullard. But I had to run through this complicated process of holding these two buttons down while pressing that one, then press this key for 1.5 seconds when you see that displayed, than press that one while standing on my left leg and poking my tongue out the right side of my mouth …

Okay, I’m kidding (in case you could not tell). But it’s almost accurate. Once I got the scale into the right state and configured I had to pile the 200 pounds (plus a little) of dog food onto the scale and do another incantation and turn the scale off to save it. Then take the 200 pounds of weight off of the scale, turn it on and set a known weight back on the scale to test it.

It took me about 6 repeats of this process before I managed to get the thing calibrated AND increase the weight limit. That’s 2,400 pounds of kibble I moved on or off of the scale that morning.

But perseverance (and prayer for clarity) paid off and I finally completed the process successfully.

Then I hauled the 200 pounds of pet food back to the bunkhouse, tossed it up onto the dock and carried it inside and to the far end to be stacked up for storage again.

I was SO glad to be done with all that! Now, where is my Ibuprophen?

Author: Doug

I've been a wordsmith since the 1970s. Mostly for print magazine and newspapers, but I do have a few books, and now gazillions of web site articles.

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