Ron's Review of the Ultra Tec V5
I finally upgraded my V2 Ultra Tec analog faceting machine to the new V5 configuration with the digital angle dial (DAD) some months back. Unlike some in the faceting world that upgraded their machines as soon as the DAD and the V5 was introduced I waited. Why? Because quite frankly I was very happy with my V2 analog machine. I had my V2 equipped with the stop indicator light/buzzer and was happy with the accuracy that I was achieving. After using this setup for so many years I thought why rush into changing something that is working so good? I finally made the decision to do the upgrade to both the V5 mast and the DAD this past fall. I have been using it since and here is what I have discovered.
New V5 design:
The new Ultra Tec V5 faceting machine design with the heavier mast is more rigid and stable than the V2 configuration. There doesn't seem to be as much variance in the meets as there was at times with the older V2, not that there was a lot, but some. My meet points seem to come in much faster and easier with the V5. I have especially noticed the added stability when cutting the steeper angles, 0 to 25 degrees. And yes I have used it to cut the table on some of my designs that have a small table facet in the 0 degree angle setting with excellent results. I still use the table adapter for designs with a larger table facet. Just habit I guess.
The new design of the V5 vertical postion leadscrew and numbering system are nice too. Up and down adjustments are now twice as fast as they were on the V2. A real time saver. And it didn't sacrifice fine tuning accuracy either. An other feature of the V5 is the numbering system on the side of the mast. It starts at zero at the bottom of the mast and goes up. The marks on the post are in centimeters and the markings between the numbers are millimeters. Then on the adjusting nob on the top of the mast leadscrew those numbers represent tenths of a millimeter. Ultra Tec's thought process in this design is that you can easily cut calibrated stones without having to rely on a caliper to get to the size you want. I believe the Ultra Tec V5 is the only faceting machine that offers this feature!
Digital Angle Dial (DAD):
The DAD is easier to use and a real time saver over the analog angle configuration. The DAD lets you set your design angle to the hundreth of a degree instead of just to the tenth of a degree on the analog machine. Is this really a big deal? Probably not really but I have noticed that on some of the more complicated designs that I cut the meet points seem to come together easier. And I have noticed that there is less chance of error when setting the design angle because you are setting the exact same angle number that the design calls for. No more interpreting the angle to the nearest tenth of a degree. It is just a lot easier to use to set the angle.
Using the DAD instead of the Stop Indicator Light/buzzer (SIL):
In my opinion the DAD is NOT a replacement for the SIL. I have tried to use DAD for depth of cut but I found that I wasn't getting consistent results. The DAD would be flickering between numbers and I was constantly over cutting and missing the meet points. It was very frustrating! I also have the SIL hooked up on my V5 and what I have noticed is that my SIL is dead on for the depth of cut. As soon as I have a solid red light my meet points are spot on. Much faster and much easier! Period! The DAD is nice to be able to tell where you are at when cutting in a facet, as you can see the angle going down. But that is it. I think that the DAD may be too sensitive, so that it is picking up the slight variations in the lap. For depth of cut use the SIL! Ultra Tec created a very accurate tool when they created the SIL as it is said to be accurate to .0001 inch, which is very accurate. The DAD and the SIL should still be used together, not just either or.
Ultra Tec still makes the best faceting machines available. The V5 upgrade with the DAD was well worth the money that I spent and I am happy that I did it. Is the V2 still a good faceting machine? You bet! It is still probably better than the competition, but it isn't as great as the V5. If you have a V2, upgrade to the V5 if you can afford it. You won't be sorry. If you are in the market for a new faceting machine buy a V5, if not a V5, buy a V2 and upgrade later. They are both great faceting machines.
Have fun faceting!!
Ron McMurray May 8, 2013