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I recently discovered the “Nectar Detector” hive weighing instrument. I’ve started using it and it is one of the cleverest devices I’ve ever seen.

Each spring I commit to trying to figure out a reasonable way to determine hive weights as the seasons progress. My latest attempt was to buy load cells and a microprocessor from Radio Shack with the intent of equipping two hives to download data by Bluetooth to my phone. Fortunately, I haven’t spent a huge amount of money on a project that probably exceeds my hardware and software capabilities. Recently I enlisted the 14 year old neighbor kid’s help. He has made far more progress than I have despite lots of distractions.

Up until now, my best effort was to use a tee post jack and an electronic fisherman’s scale. A chain and hook from a hanging luggage bag completed the assembly. I’d get a helper to raise the hive and I’d read the scale as best I could. We’d lift it from the left a tiny bit then do the same on the right then add the two numbers to get total weight. The side-to-side numbers were usually quite close. Just doubling one number halved the work, but pretty soon I was back to just picking up hives from the back and trying to remember how heavy it was last time.

I ordered a “Nectar Detector” as soon as I saw it in a catalogue or online somewhere. At first, I tried to use it the way I had been weighing hives....left then right then add the two (instructions are for wimps). Somehow the thing was coming up with total weight on either side. AHAA! If evenly distributed, the weight will be the same, side to side or front to back...that was apparent long ago. But how clever can you get?? The instrument is a torque gauge that you read in inch-pounds. You lift the hive with a clever 2” lever.

Let’s say the hive weighs 100 lbs. The instrument lifts half of that with the 2” “clever lever”: (100 lbs x ½ )x 2 inches = 100 inch-pounds measured torque = the total weight of the hive in lbs. INCREDIBLY SIMPLE AND INCREDIBLY CLEVER!! (Why didn’t I think of that?!?) Congratulations to Jim Fischer!!!
 

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It is actually a bit more complex than "use of a torque wrench". Took 8 years of work, on and off to figure out.

1) If you lift something with, for example, a handheld luggage scale, it does not give a good reading unless you lift the bag completely off the ground.

2) If you partly lift something, leaving one side or edge on the ground, the more you lift, the more the "weight" reading will be.

3) The math gets messy, "moment of inertia" and so on. Lots of guesstimates. If you want to "partly lift" or "lift one end", you have a puzzle.

4) The end result was a Field-Programmable Logic Array that replaces the standard chip inside the electronics module, which does a very good job of dealing with extrapolating a true weight that initial 1/6th of an inch that one lifts one corner of the bottom super.

5) Just to confuse matters further, if you measure the bracket part, you will find that it is not 2 inches, it is 2.03 inches, exactly. So the above analysis by SL Tx is where I started out with the idea, not at all where I finished.

BUT DO NOT USE A FISCHER'S NECTAR DETECTOR TO TIGHTEN BOLTS ON YOUR CAR!
You will not get the bolts tight enough, and, in the case of a head gasket, will get water in your oil and visa versa.
It is NOT a standard toruqe wrench any more.
 
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