$200 Shenzhen DRO (JCS900-2AE)

About 6 months ago I purchased a digital readout off eBay for the Rong-Fu mill drill. Originally I had planned to purchase either iGaging scales or standard import calipers and utilizing a tablet based DRO. Once I started looking at prices however I was shocked to find that for less than the price of either the iGaging scales or the import calipers I could have a full blown 2 axis DRO complete with proper glass scales.

I went ahead and ordered the scales off a eBay seller. It was a typical Chinese eBay seller that sells everything from DROs for machine tools to various useless cell phone and house gadgets. The total for the order was around $200 USD plus about $30 for shipping. I then communicated the scale lengths I needed via email. In about 2 days I had a shipping confirmation including a tracking number.

I was excepting to wait about 3-4 weeks for the shipment to arrive, typical of most stuff ordered from China. I was shocked at the end of the week when I received an email from DHL that my shipment was to arrive on the following Monday – about a week for the entire process! Sure enough Monday afternoon a DHL driver dropped off the 2 boxes.
The one box contained the DRO – a JingCE JCS900-2AE 2 axis DRO unit. The other box contained the 2 glass scales both of proper length. Also included was a large amount of hardware, mounting brackets and associated items you would need to install the DRO.

I spent the next few days thinking about how to mount the scales. The X axis was easy – I decided to mount it to the front of the table using the T slot already present. I thought about mounting it to the back of the table but I didn’t want to loose any Y axis travel. The Glass scales are rather bulky – something to note if you are considering installing them on a smaller mill like the X2 mini mill. The Y axis was a bit of a different story – there really isn’t anything to fasten the scales to. I decided to make up a bracket to hold the Y axis scale. That took a fair bit of work to do.

Y Axis Scale (behind the fabricated bracket)
X Axis Scale

After mounting the scales and trying out the DRO I also fitted a inexpensive import digital caliper to the quill to get a .001″ resolution readout for Z depth. This also took a few hours to do properly. 2 brackets were made out of aluminum to hold each end of the caliper. I modified the caliper using a Dremel tool. I drilled mounting holes using a standard off the shelf masonry drill bit – a poor man’s way of drilling hardened steel. High speed steel usually won’t touch hardened calipers.

Hard Drilling Using a Masonry Bit

After using the DRO for 6 months I can say that it is a very good unit. I haven’t had any issues. As far as accuracy and repeatability is considered, I really don’t have the proper measuring tools to qualify the DRO but I will say that I tested it using a dial indicator over the travel of the table. At each point where I tested the DRO it corresponded to the dial indicator – within at least .0005″ (as best as my judgment permits). I also ran the table up against a hard stop several times to test the repeatability and each reading was easily within .0005″. I probably should do a proper gauge R and R study on it, but just with the general testing I’ve done it’s easily within .001″. And to be honest doing work closer than .001″ on a Rong Fu mill drill is unreasonable.

I filmed and edited a number of videos showing the install and finally a video review of the DRO.  The first video shows the hard part: the installation of the Y axis scale.

The second video shows the installation of the X axis scale and also the mounting of a digital caliper on the quill.

The final video is me talking about the DRO itself and contains much of what is written here.

If you are interested in reading the manual, I scanned a copy of it and it is available here.

One thing to note is that you will get little to no support with the DRO. To me this isn’t a big deal at all when you consider the price. The next closest DRO in price in the North American market is approaching 4 times the cost. And the unit looks suspicious like this unit. If something breaks I am willing to try and fix the unit myself or simply replace it.
If I had a high end knee mill I would probably buy a Mitutoyo DRO and be done with it. But putting a Mitutoyo DRO on inexpensive import mills is a bit like putting lipstick on a pig.

It was a $200 well spent. Having a DRO on a milling machine is exceptionally handy. I won’t say it is a necessity, but it greatly improves your efficiency – especially on larger mills or making larger parts. Time will tell how durable the unit is but I think it is an excellent addition to a home metal shop.

8 thoughts on “$200 Shenzhen DRO (JCS900-2AE)

  1. Thank you so much for this set of vids, I just purchased one of these DROs for my Central Machinery mill of this type. Your step by step video of the install was very informative, thank you again.



    1. I bought the JCS 900-3AE and the place I ordered sent me a scale that was way too long for the quill. Almost twice as long as it should be. It was several months before I could install it because of health reasons. The place I got it from is no longer in business. Does anyone know how I can get the proper scale? I can’t find the manufacturer that makes them to get a replacement. I hope someone can please point me in the right direction.
      Thanks guys, and girls,
      Raph Alt Jr


  2. the manual you scanned does not match the unit you show? do you know if there is a manual for the unit you show? I bought a 3axis HXX GCS 900 3db from ashley trade1984 (fleebay) last dec. the manual is poop and mostly useless, the unit seems to be poop too( especialy with a manual that isant right for the unit nor is the manual right for…transulation., but sofar Im using it for some stuff, it’s a back&forth and months lator they want to send me the 3 axis jing unit you show. but there seems to be no manual that matches that unit either, they say oh it’s the same and no new manual was made for the functions(keys&such) for this new unit.I dont know if they are made by the same company or not. I wish i had bought from a usa seller and paid $150 more. I should stick this pos on my lathe and get a good unit form my mill. but….theirs that $$$ thing getting in the way of play time.


  3. Hello, Very informative install and review video(s). Just put one of these on my Enco 13X40 lathe. Would like to change the resolution, from reading to the 5th place. When I turn on the machine, that last place digit tends to flicker. Wish it would just read 4 places (much of my carriage moves, could even be 3rd place resolution – thousandths) Thanks, Dave


  4. Thanks for the insight. Bought one. The manual is good for starting the fire in the fireplace. Utterly worse than useless. It actually has a manual chapter titled “Sunddenly”! Really.


  5. Just curious.. What are the lengths you used for the scales?

    Came across this while surfing some other pages.. Thanks for taking the time to make the vids.


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