Massive delighted update on the new Dual-Measure scopes!

TL;DR: In several months, the new Dual-Measure scopes will be in production and available.

I have the (final: YIPPEE) prototypes of the new enhanced (“Dual-Measure”-reticle scope) gauges out for review by distributors, some NACE instructors, and the couple of customers who’ve been testing my prototypes for, lo these many years. (I started working on the new scopes in April 2012.) So far, the reviews are stellar! (And I am just deliriously happy with the scopes.)
I’ve already “re-designed” the reticle twice – in the first week – here’s the current/latest, probably final, drawing. I’m getting some brilliant suggestions, and a number of version of: “Very happy to see your progress! Excited!!!” and “It looks awesome. Love the new optics and the really easy-to-read scales.” and “3 thumbs up.”

reticle number 3

Approximate timeline

I’m still working up a more-formal schedule, but my approximate timeline looks like this:

  1. Review period ends around the end of April.
  2. A week for me to collate, synthesize, and send back out the comments, suggestions, objections, and requests for final review.
  3. A week or so for final comments.
  4. Set the reticle designer to redoing the final design (this is my third reticle design – but I don’t regret the $$$$ {wince} AT ALL!) and a couple weeks for them to send me a final prototype.
  5. Then set the reticle maker to making several hundred new D-M reticles. So, a month-plus for delivery?
  6. At the same time, my new (subcontractor) machinist sets to work making several hundred of the whole-lotta-parts that make the new scopes. (Don’t want to pull the trigger till I’m SURE I’ve got it right!)
  7. And I order several hundred of the other lens kits (two kits of two lenses).
  8. When everything arrives, I sit down and assemble (well, get a start on assembling) several hundred scopes; and a whole bunch of new gauges.

All along, my first (subcontractor) machinist (whom I call “The Blessed Harry” – because he has “saved” me multiple times) is making me boatloads of metal bodies (OG202; soon-to-be the OG212!); and I’m doing all the prep work and fitting out on a boatload of plastic body-shells (OG204; soon-to-be the OG214!); so they’re ready for immediate assembly when I get the scopes in-hand.

So, I’m figuring … several months till the new Tooke Gages with the new enhanced “Dual-Measure” scopes are into full production. (It is my oft-stated goal to get the universal scopes out of the coating field entirely!)

New programs and more changes

And, oh yeah, I’m designing and preparing to implement several new programs:

  1. the (already in operation) Body Transplant program. Info on my site: and a customer ‘testimonial’ on the blog: (upgrade your old body using your old-style scope).
  2. the (waiting on the D-M scopes) Scope Swap program (get rid of your universal scope for a brand-new D-M scope)
  3. the (waiting on the D-M reticles) Upgrade your Old-style Scope program (yes, of course I made sure the new reticles would work in the old gauges!)

And, the biggie: I will FINALLY be able to make some noise and let the coatings world know that Micro-Metrics is still here and still great! I have not advertised since Michael died (and he never did any advertising)… but with the new scopes, I finally have a product *I* am totally happy with! Hoping this results in me and my distributors being “burdened” with lots and lots of sales!

And, in and around all that I’m re-doing the website and the Technical Data Sheets entirely: both of which, I realized, have way Way WAY too much text. (I’m a technical editor by profession: it’s an addiction). I’m creating a new “Quick Start” card (cause there needs to be one)! Further down the pipeline is a set of short videos on use and calculating and other info.

The next big project

Once I have the new scopes and gauges into full production, my amazing new industrial designer and I are going to start on the next big project: a Tooke Gage camera adapter! I welcome any suggestions, desires, and ideas for the camera adapter. I already have a long list of folks who want one, so give me ideas and/or get on the list to be notified when the project succeeds! The designer says it won’t be a huge problem — and HE is the one who was finally able to get the new D-M scopes correctly designed!

Major major thanks to:

  • Harry Robinson (“The Blessed Harry”) of Robinson Racing Enterprises (just 9 miles away, here in Cumming GA) who does my designs (starting the month after Michael died) and the necessary CAD programming — and the even more necessary hand-holding when I needed it. And Sandra who runs Harry’s CAM (and does some of the CAD programming) and makes my parts!
  • Jon Butler of Apex Designs over in Gainesville GA (just ~30 miles)
  • Constant Laubscher of Lazerlinez (just 13 miles) — the machinist who had the necessary “5-axis precision lathe with precision milling capabilities and a push bar” — which was the beastie necessary to MAKE all the scope parts (and he has FOUR of these machines)! (And he has been exceedingly patient as we tweaked and asked for yet-another prototype scope part.)
  • Tim Loden, my SCORE adviser, who has been beyond-helpful as I work out all the changes that are coming. When I made my first appt, he emailed me on Friday before the first (Monday) appt and asked if I had read his resume before making the appt, “or was it just dumb luck?” Huh? Nope, hadn’t read it. HE turns out to have worked for 25 years for one of my major corporate customers! He has been IN this field for most of his career! (He’s a consultant now.)

Where we are on scopes

So, great new design for the reticle. Whole new set-up fee for the tooling. ($$ ow. $$ really ow.) BUT it’s worth doing! You’ll notice it has BOTH English and metric units – so one scope can measure easily in either!


My new machinist, Constant, will be making the ten new sets of barrel and optic shells and so on. (Alas, he’s in the middle of a big job so his machines are tied up, so he can’t get my stuff done till Nov!)

The new lens kits for the bottom optics turned out to work perfectly. So, fingers crossed!

At long last, an update on the scopes!

Wow. It has been so very very long since an update!

The local machinist is brilliant! We’ve managed a couple of good prototypes. Got a superb custom reticle (HUGELY expensive, but necessary!) from an American company. This past couple months struggled with and found a solution for what I describe as ‘barrel distortion’ in the view. Got (several different) new lens kits and have re-machined the ‘bottom optic shell’ a couple times. We’ve about got it right! Picking up what we think is the final machined version this afternoon or tomorrow morning!

optic lens in shell

The longer version

So, the new machinist with the fancy machines: Constant, a brilliant guy from South Africa, with not just one but FOUR of the fancy precision lathes and decades of experience! Designer Jon and I met with him (last year!) and went over the drawings. A few tweaks and adjustments, and Constant produced the first prototype body: (it has, like, 14 pieces!). He has since helped (tremendously!) with redesigning suggestions and remaking parts as needed. (We’ve run through 3-4 barrel prototypes, a few other bits and pieces.)

The new reticles (also hugely expensive) came and checked out really well! The eyepiece lens kit came and works beautifully in the new eyepiece shell. The … sticking point … has been the bottom optic. When the whole prototype was put together, there was … distortion on the outer edges. (What I describe as ‘barrel distortion’; there’s a name for it, but I can’t remember it.) The scope focused okay, but the scale (the reticle) sort-of … expaaaaanded to read too long (on both the NIST block and the standard slide). Could get it focused, but then … oops.

Jon the designer came and our one-hour meeting ran five hours – BUT we worked out how to fix it! First, dumped the objective lens kits ($$ ow.) and ordered samples of two new lenses (different size from the first set to provide/allow for an aperture). New bottom optic “shell” from Constant, expanding the ‘space’ for the new top lens in the objective lens shell. New spacer and retaining ring (which I’m calling a “retaining star,” cause it looks kinda like that). Got all the parts in this past week-or-so, and I put the first (bottom) lens (very tiny, barely convex, so make sure it’s right-side-up!) And it fit great. Next, the lens spacer… Oh hell. Won’t go in at all. Juuuuast barely too wide. (It’s OTS, and it’s SUPPOSED to fit.)

optic lens in shell

Discussion with Jon and Constant. Ah, if we expand the ‘bottom well’ in the bottom optic shell, just enough to let the spacer in, NOT enough to let the lenses slide around, it SHOULD work! SO, Constant is redoing the bottom optic shell — probably as I write this! – and I hope to pick three prototypes up tonight. (It is SO wonderful to have both the designer AND the machinist within easy driving distance!! CONVENIENT!)

So, fingers crossed this is the final tweak needed. Plan is: if this IS it; I’ll be ordering ten of everything, assemble ten scopes and ten trial gauges. I have several customers who’ve been helpful (for YEARS!) testing the prototypes in their actual work, and so they and my major distributors will get a chance to whack ‘em around and see how they do. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to find a way to mass produce them that will NOT cost an arm-and-a-leg so I can put them into actual production.

I know, over the past … since April 2012 (so, five years and four months!) I’ve been saying; I’m hopeful, I think maybe THIS time I’ve got it… and then it wasn’t. But — I REALLY think that this time I may have it!!

Wish me luck!!

Latest on the custom-designed enhanced scopes!

Met this past week with my new industrial designer Jon; with Harry, my amazing lead machinist; and an intermediary machinist (also John, who works with both the designer and with Harry, mostly on medical gear). We went over the designer’s drawings in detail. They discussed what machinery would be needed to do the fine/precision lathe and milling work that would be needed to make all the parts. The decision was “a 5-axis precision lathe with precision milling capability.” (!!) Well, ooookay! Harry called his rep for those types of machines (he has some of their machines, but not this one.)

Next day, Harry said the rep had referred him to a guy who is … amazingly … just 11 miles away!! (The intermediary guy said he knew a bunch of folks up in NJ with that machining capability, but we wanted someone we could actually go look over their shop and, as Harry phrased it: “see if they were flakes.” Harry also says his rep has never yet referred him to someone who was not excellent.)

Harry has spoken with the guy, who says his shop can do what Harry was describing, and he has the … push-off bar? I think the intermediary machinist said would be useful for making the retaining rings … that allows the part to be machined on the lathe, then automatically pushed to the edge and sawn off, sequentially – saving massive amounts of hand work!)

So, we’ve emailed the package of drawings for the custom scopes to this guy, and are planning to go up and meet him once he has had a chance to look over all the drawings. the cut-away drawing

Update on the new enhanced scopes.

As you know, getting the new scopes designed and manufactured has been a hellish process. (Now hitting four years and five months!) I’ve run out of patience and ability to keep trying and waiting with the sourcing company I have been working with (yes, it has taken me WAY too long; I should’ve pulled the plug about 2 years ago!). I’ve tried many times to find a company that was willing to take on this project (custom size and shape microscopes and with such a fine reticle — so, not your average OTS item!) and failing. (Got LOTS of replies: “yeah-sure, we’ll be HAPPY to make you scopes…. Oh, well, no, not CUSTOM scopes!” {sigh})

By amazing coincidence, my main machinist (whom I call “the Blessed Harry,” because he has “saved” me multiple times) has a customer who has a customer — who turns out to be an industrial designer with ten-plus years working in medical microscopes!! I’ve met with him twice in the past three weeks; he has prepared a good proposal which I have accepted; and has prepared preliminary drawings and is working on finals. After much discussion about possible sourcing (options and possible problems) and minor design changes (that might be needed or possible) without interfering with the required backward compatibility, he has started on the first prototype; we’re just waiting on delivery of a specific lens kit.

In the meantime, he has done a drawing of the proposed custom reticle. (Of course, we need a custom reticle too; and since it has to be custom; I’ve decided to make it really custom — instead of going back to having two ‘styles’ of Tooke Gage (an ‘English-unit’ version and a metric-unit version), let’s have both scales on one reticle. Et voila:


(Oh! And the new guy will also be helping me with the camera adapter; the next big project once we get the scopes into production! Whoo hoo!)

Camera Adapter?

Had another engineer ask me about a camera adapter for the Tooke Gage. Alas, not yet.

My next big project, after getting the new enhanced custom-made microscopes is a camera adapter for the Tooke Gage. I’ve done some preliminary investigation and discussion with possible sources, but have nothing solid yet. (Please send me any details or requirements y’all would like for an adapter; it will help me zero in on what is needed!)

There are lots of cameras/adapters are available, but most that I’ve found so far require unscrewing the eye piece and screwing in the adapter — and I visualize a guy in a safety harness hanging off a bridge abutment, watching in horror as the just-removed eyepiece tumbles down into a gorge!

dropped? OH NO!

Other possibilities I’ve looked into can’t measure or can’t ‘see’ on the fine scale we need. I need to find an adapter that mounts ON the gauge, rather than requiring modification OF the gauge.

Currently, what I do — and what most likely cannot be done in a safety harness — is hold an ‘instamatic-style’ camera lens to the scope, and take many pix to get a couple usable ones… It’s (way!) less than optimal, but it’s all I have at the moment.

Email me, and I’ll add you to my ‘list of folks who want to be notified’ when I finally get a working adapter! Or just keep an eye on the blog — I will absolutely be announcing it when I succeed!

Body Transplant report

I’ve received a lovely report from a happy customer that I want to brag about.

We were in need of purchasing some new Tooke Gages, but were not happy with the measurement increments on the universal scope. After reading on the Micro-Metrics website that they were able to rebuild old Tooke Gages, we decided to take a chance.

original gauges

We received the finished gauges yesterday and could not be happier. We sent 4 gauges in for repair and when we got the quote back, one of the scopes was unrepairable, but Elenor stated that she would try to find some pieces from old gauges to make it work. We received all 4 gauges back just as good as new. We had 2 plastic gauges that got the free plastic body and 2 metal gauges which we had transplanted into new bodies.

remade and Body Transplants

We would highly recommend that anyone having broken gauges with the old scope to send them in for repair. We would also recommend getting the plastic carrying case for extra protection.

Dena Yetsko
Precoat Metals, Portage, Indiana
May 2016

Thanks Dena, I was very happy to put your gauges back in working order!

Free plastic bodies? Huh-what?

My plastics-guy says there was some problem with the green dye and the plastic matrix, which occasionally results in the plastic cracking around the tip slot screw holes.

If your company has an old green-shell OG204, please know that I am replacing the shell under warranty, you just pay shipping (and any missing parts). Of course, this makes it not cost-effective to get a Body Transplant for a green-shell Tooke Gage, but you will still have effectively a new gauge. If you have an old Tooke Gage (either metal or black-plastic body) that you’d like to upgrade and update, please see the Body Transplant page.

Closer and closer … but not here yet

So, it’s mid-April. I started working on the custom-made scopes in April 2012 (that’s not a typo — it was four full years ago!). My sourcing co. prez returned last week from his latest trip to China to check on (among many other things, I’m sure), the second set of samples from the second microscope factory.

He, his engineer, and I just ended our conference call. And, just like always, it seems: some maybe-good news and some definitely mediocre news…

The maybe-good
The second factory has fixed the ‘up-side-down part’ in the eyepiece that caused rejection of the first sample set this past January. Mechanically/physically, everything in this second set of samples seems good.

The pretty darned mediocre
However…. and here we get back to my commitment: “if it’s not right, it’s not acceptable”: The English reticle, at the outer edges, seemed distorted. We have (and always use!) what’s called a ‘standard slide’ — it’s a certified microscope slide marked with exact ‘hashmark placement’ that allows one to look through a scope and verify/validate the hashmarks on a scope’s reticle by matching the hashmarks up. It’s how we make sure the reticle is accurate. (And, if it’s not right, it’s not acceptable. {sigh})

The metric reticle was (what, again: different factory, same problem!?) flat-out wrong. At least (is this a consolation?), the second factory wrongly multiplied a DIFFERENT factor than the first factory. (Hmmm nope, no consolation there!)

My sourcing co. left the standard slide and a metal-bodied and a plastic-bodied Tooke Gage with the factory engineers, after working with them to make sure they knew exactly and precisely and completely what is needed. The factory promises a new set of samples in ten days. (I’ll believe THAT when I hear they’ve done it! But sourcing co. prez will call them on the 28th, and if they say they’re done, he will send in his ‘guys on the ground there’ to go check, before they send the third set of samples over here for review.

So, once again, I must rely on your patience for what I sincerely hope will be only a little bit longer till we finally get the new enhanced scopes actually manufactured.

As always: if it’s not right, it’s not acceptable. And that’s non-negotiable.

January 2016: Happy New Year!

Well-so, more good news and bad news. (Well, bad news followed by hopeful news, followed by putative good news!)

Short version:
I spent Monday driving (6 hr each way!) down to Brunswick GA (out on the South Georgia coast) to meet with the sourcing company president and the engineer I’ve been working with about the benighted new enhanced scopes. The first samples from the second factory arrived last Monday and were not acceptable at all. ({sigh} Just how hard CAN it be to make an exact duplicate of a scope?!)

First face-to-face meeting for us-all, and it was a good meeting. We went over everything. The sourcing co. is going to go back to the second factory to see if they can make the scopes right AND to the first factory (to see if they can fix the mechanical problem that made us drop them).

Loooong drive home, and Tuesday morning, (sourcing co. engineer) Charlie calls and says he was disassembling the (new, second-factory) scopes to make sure he knew everything that needed to be addressed, and he found that one part of the top optics (in the eyepiece) had been **screwed in up-side-down**! When he reversed that piece, the new-new scopes worked perfectly. He is sending me one again to test and, we hope, approve. (Because I won’t accept ANYthing I have not actually had in my hands to test!)

So, I once again have hope we might actually GET there! “There” being actual great working scopes to replace those mostly undesirable “universal” scopes! (Cock-eyed optimist or am I being reasonable? Only time will tell!)

Semi-random entertainment: The first factory made a ‘proof of concept’
version, without tooling up for it. Shown next to their final version.

Longer version:
In our last installment, you may remember that last August we fired the first (and, to that point, only) microscope factory after a continuing “Keystone-cop cascade” (am I the only one old enough to remember who they were?) of mistakes, flaws, and less-than-optimal choices (not ours, theirs!).

The sourcing co. found a new factory that promised great new sample-scopes would be supplied within 30 days of … you know … last AUGUST?! The first samples arrived in late December. Engineer Charlie called and said he was just going to send them straight back to China, because the samples couldn’t even focus on the surface the gauge was standing on. ({sigh} I said: let me come down there and we’ll go over everything.)

I had emailed to the SBDC fellow who referred me (in April 2012!) that I didn’t know if I was going down there to fire the sourcing co. president, or he was going to fire me, or we were going to find a way to make this process work! (Turns out: the third…)

We went over all the previous prototypes and the drawings and the gauges and the problems and the successes. End result: They are going back to both the second and first factories (the first one did the optics perfectly — but there was an insuperable mechanical problem (with their “final production” run!). The disqualifying problem was a mechanical flaw: the bottom collar was not made smooth-and-flush (see previous blog entry for pix), and so the focusing screw would hang up and prevent the scope from focusing without backing-out the focusing screw, raising the scope by hand, and then continuing with the focusing screw. But they had the optics right!

The second factory? Pretty scopes, worked well in the gauge bodies: but could NOT focus on the surface the gauge was standing on.

Tuesday morning, Charlie calls and says he was disassembling the second-factory scopes to make sure he knew everything that needed to be addressed, and he found that one part of the top optics (in the eyepiece) had been **screwed in up-side-down**! When he reversed that piece, the new-new scopes worked perfectly. He is sending me one again to test and, we hope, approve. (Because I won’t accept ANYthing I have not actually had in my hands to test!)

I stressed that I need them to make sure there was some ‘physical’ way for a future-assembler to know which way is up on this piece. Five years down the track, could be some new guy at the factory, maybe new guys at the sourcing co., and I needed to make ABSOLUTELY SURE they wouldn’t be putting the eyepiece components in up-side-down again. I don’t care if it’s a notch or a stamped-on arrow, or they make one side a half-inch longer (it’s inside the barrel — no effect on the focus): there has to be a(s close as possible to a) “sailor-proof” way to assemble these things.

(I described for Charlie the old P-250 pump in the Navy (here’s a version: — it has NO moving parts, not one! And yet (granted, rarely), sailors STILL sometimes manage to break it! So I want to make this assembly process as close to “sailor-proof” as we can! “THIS SIDE UP!” eh?)

So, I once again have hope we might actually be on track to finally (three years and at least ten months down the track!) have the new enhanced microscopes.

October 2015: new enhanced scopes status

We’ve had to pull all the scopes from the first factory. They were just unable to meet our specs. One example: Here is the original bottom collar from the old-style scopes:

This was the fix we agreed to back in February 2015 — the metal cap prevents the focusing screw from ‘hanging up’ and binding the scope from extending and retracting.

And then… here are the “final-final” samples they sent. (No cap. And also no “flush and level,” which was “rejected-for-correction” in both August 2013 and January 2014 and for which the metal cap WAS the fix!)

And this one is sort-of flush but not level. (I’m guessing these sorts of lack of quality are WHY no metal-cap fixes were used: the caps couldn’t go on!)

The sourcing company president and I are both ‘keeping after’ the new factory (now that they’re back from their two-week national holiday!) and will let y’all know how it goes.