What you must know about using a digital readout on a lathe

If you have a small lathe and wish to retrofit it with a DRO system, you should be able to do it relatively quickly. Indeed, the great majority of lathes and milling machines often seen in a model engineer’s workshop may be equipped with a digital readout and control system. The Myford ML7 pickup truck from 1954 served as a demonstration vehicle for this point of view. It was decided on this computer since it is one of the more common ones we come across, and we started prepping it for installation of the using a digital readout on a lathe shortly after.


Counting rates of up to 5m/s may be reached using a specialized counting integrated circuit with 24 bits of memory. Other features include the capacity to remember a current position after a power loss, a wide voltage input range, and input voltages ranging from 90V to 240V. With the optional RS232 interface, data feedback and connection to a computer or PLC are straightforward.

The digital readout (DRO), which uses a grating scale to display the machine’s measurement locations, may be installed on various machine tools or equipment, including lathes, milling machines, grinding machines, planing machines, and other similar machines and equipment. Despite the fact that the power supply has anti-interference and signal anti-interference abilities that are both more than 2200V, the baud rate of 9600 is compatible with a broad voltage input range of 90 to 240V, allowing both devices to work successfully under these conditions.

What is the purpose of a DRO for your lathe?

For precise positioning information, digital readouts (DRO) are linear scales mounted to the cross slide and carriage axes of a turning machine. When utilising this scale, mechanical wear and backlash are not a concern since it reads position independently of the lead screw and presents correct tool positioning information on the display. There is no longer any need to read lines on vernier dials, count hand wheel revolutions, or be valid for lead screw backlash since these functions have been eliminated.


As a result, precision linear scales provide excellent accuracy and repeatability, allowing users to accurately position the tool where the print dimensions are – exactly where the print reads. The three phases of stop-check-measure have been mostly eliminated. As a consequence of operator error, features such as direct diameter reading help drastically reduce the quantity of arithmetic, calculations, and garbage generated. Spending less time on verification and measurement enables you to spend more time on the actual chip-making process.

By settling on a few fundamental concepts, putting scales around the machine, and sketching out the different mounting choices, any reservations about installing a digital readout on the smaller lathe were put to rest. Typical of most engineering projects, there are many alternative solutions to consider, which makes the process fresh and enjoyable.


In the field of numerical displays, a DRO (also known as Digital Location Readout (or simply Digital Readout)) assists in showing the location of machine components on a computer screen. In terms of work operations, it is a crucial piece of equipment that significantly accelerates the pace of advancement. While a digital readout for lathes may be pretty valuable, I am well aware that picking the most suitable DRO for the machine can be a time-consuming and challenging procedure.

It is understood since many of us have gone through the same experience ourselves. On the other hand, you may be wondering whether or not you need a DRO in the first place. While it is not required, it will attach directly to the compound rest and cross slide, enabling you to get a precise depth of cut data.

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