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Author Topic: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?  (Read 5184 times)

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Offline rookie08

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Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« on: October 21, 2011, 08:31 AM »
Hi,

Anyone using these?  I installed a bunch of huge windows and a slider recently and having to look at the vials on my standard stabila's dead on to make sure I was plum and level got to be a bit cumbersome.  Over time I've accumulated practically ever length of the standard stabila's so I'm hesitant to have to start replacing them with the electronic ones, especially at their added cost. 

If you have an electronic one do you think it's made a big enough difference to justify replacing your other ones?

I was hoping a could buy a magnetic 14 and let it attach to the others but since they are not steel....


If you had to buy just one, 14, 24, 48, which one would you buy? 

Thanks!!

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Offline Ken Nagrod

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2011, 08:50 AM »
I'd say, yes.  I don't own the Stabila electronic models, yet, but years ago I bought a Macklenburg-Duncan 48" that's very similar and it's been very helpful over the years.  A 24" in addition to the 48" would have made some things a bit easier.  It's helpful with the audio level signal, when you can't get a visual on a bubble, you're needing to figure out the pitch in percent or degrees or your OCMD (perfectionist) kicks in and the digital satisfies that over the bubbles.  [smile]

Online Scarpia

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2011, 09:08 AM »
I bought a 48 and ended up buying the rest of the sizes as well. I think they are a lot easier to use especially now that my eyesight is going in my older age. I have found that now that I need to wear reading glasses on site, it is hard (for me at least) to see a bubble accurately, I need to get up close at a 90 deg. angle.  I only wish that the digital read-out was lighted. The other slightly disappointing thing to me was that you calibrate them by using the bilt-in  bubble to set the electronic read out to zero. I had hoped they would come from the factory pre-set to be magically level/ plumb all the time.

And also- they impress the homeowners!

Offline mishle

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2011, 09:37 AM »
I bought the 4' stabila electronic level. And have used the festool rails when I needed it longer. I use the kreg level for everything shorter.

Offline rookie08

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2011, 09:45 AM »
OCMD/ perfectionist LOL, right there with you Ken.

Scarpia, I saw the calibration video and I agree it seems a bit disappointing to use the bubble as the benchmark; I too was hoping it would come calibrated from the factory like laser levels.  I think the new ones have 2 levels of backlight brightness to help with the sighting.  

If they made a separate digital unit that you could switch from different level length to level length as needed and it was auto calibrated and locked at the factory it would be a slam dunk.  I'm sure as soon as I buy the first one, they'll figure that out.  [big grin]

Sounds like it's going to be open the checkbook time...24?48?24?48?; wonder if they have a jamber type deal for the 2 together?

Offline Rob Lee

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2011, 10:02 AM »
Hi -

I had a 48" Stabila that I really liked...

A contractor working at my place needed a short level and didn't have one, so he turned my 48" into a 16" and a 32" with his chop saw....

Did I say contractor? I meant ex-contractor....

Cheers -

Rob

Offline Ken Nagrod

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2011, 10:03 AM »
OCMD/ perfectionist LOL, right there with you Ken.

Scarpia, I saw the calibration video and I agree it seems a bit disappointing to use the bubble as the benchmark; I too was hoping it would come calibrated from the factory like laser levels.  I think the new ones have 2 levels of backlight brightness to help with the sighting.  

If they made a separate digital unit that you could switch from different level length to level length as needed and it was auto calibrated and locked at the factory it would be a slam dunk.  I'm sure as soon as I buy the first one, they'll figure that out.  [big grin]

Sounds like it's going to be open the checkbook time...24?48?24?48?; wonder if they have a jamber type deal for the 2 together?

You mean like Macklenburg-Duncan has done for many years? (If you weren't aware).  Stabila would probably, rather sell you complete levels for the extra profit.

I also forgot to mention about the hold measurement feature.  That's been handy as well, for when you need to take an angle measurement out of your line of sight, then bring it to you to read it.

By the way, another method other than previously mentioned or in the level's manual, is to shoot a horizontal and vertical line on a wall with a quality auto leveling laser, then put the digital level up to the line and zero it.

Offline rookie08

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2011, 10:28 AM »
Hey Ken,

Great idea on the laser line!

I looked MD up but I only see them with the permanently attached modules.  Maybe they phased them out?  I'll shoot them an email and find out.

Thanks!

James

Offline Ikisumu

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2011, 02:42 PM »
Hello,

especially now that my eyesight is going in my older age. I have found that now that I need to wear reading glasses on site, it is hard (for me at least) to see a bubble accurately,

I can relate. I have no problems with my eyesight (yet), but I have worked in low visibility conditions with bubble levels.

Take a small blue shaded adjustable LED flashlight, something like Varta/Maglite. Put some amount of layers of transparent photocopier sheets (lens sized round pieces taped together) in front of the flashlight lens as filters. Put this behind the level bubble screen. Adjust the flashlight focus according to your eye.

***

I do not blame anyone for using digital displays. I have Mitutoyo digital calipers in use (as well as them trad verniers). They are easy to use, and clear to understand even for those who can only read ( I guess you know what I mean, guys. No offense at anyone of course).

Cheers,

Ikisumu

Offline Alan m

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2011, 02:46 PM »
i dont think he means that your eyes arnt able to see the bubble but rather that the position of the vile in the level is obscured by something or that you are in a position that you arnt able to see the vile
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Online Tom Bellemare

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2011, 02:55 PM »
There are 3 kinds of Stabila Electronic Levels.

There are magnetic and non-magnetic versions of the latest, which are equivalent to the big-frame spirit levels. These current levels are rated IP 65 - that means you can use them in just about any environment except under water. They have the hold measurement feature that Ken mentioned and lighted electronic displays on the side and top. There is an audible alarm if you can't or don't want to see the display.

There are also lesser versions in the smaller frame with one display and reduced functionality.

I agree with Ken about calibration, I'd use a laser level if I could. I have a LaserBob level, which is easy to carry around so I can usually have it with me.

If you just need to see the vial better, you can always get "The Lights" or if you can find one, the Festool level.


Tom
« Last Edit: October 21, 2011, 07:47 PM by Tom Bellemare »
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Offline fritter63

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2011, 05:23 PM »
I used one for building my house and it was nice. You can switch between a decimal display (super accurate) or a fractional display (only on +- 1/8" ) "out of plumb".

We always joked that the latter was meant for use in America  - "Close enough!".

Online Peter Halle

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2011, 07:05 PM »
I have the original digital level - the Wedge.  It had a module that could be interchanged with various rails.  It had the ability to be recalibrated either using a quick method or a more detailed method that had like ten different steps.  I think the company that made it sold out to MD years ago.  I imagine that is why Ken has one that has an interchangeable rail system.

Peter
Any day using a Festool is a special day.  Enjoy!

Peter

Offline Ken Nagrod

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2011, 07:11 PM »
Peter,

I never had the interchangeable models.  I've just seen them and have a brochure somewhere.

Online Peter Halle

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2011, 07:16 PM »
OOPS!

Ken, 

Does your MD have varying accuracies?  The Wedge allowed you to set the sensitivity to three ranges - .01, .03, or .05 degrees.

Peter
Any day using a Festool is a special day.  Enjoy!

Peter

Offline Ken Nagrod

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Re: Stabila Electronic Levels - Worth It?
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2011, 09:31 PM »
OOPS!

Ken, 

Does your MD have varying accuracies?  The Wedge allowed you to set the sensitivity to three ranges - .01, .03, or .05 degrees.

Peter

Nope.
I had bought mine in Sears in the late '90's.