|Home - Volume 2 (2007) - Issue 1 (Winter '07) - Chronograph Review: CED Millennium Chronograph|
Competitive Edge Dynamics Millennium Chronograph
Reviewed by Steve Clark (Rio Vista Slim, ) and Hunter Lee Elliott (Hunter, )
The Competitive Edge Dynamics Millennium Chronograph represents just one of a new breed of chronographs available for today's well informed shooter. Reading the list of standard features offered with the CED Millennium, and comparing that with the standard features of other manufacturers' units, soon leads one to the conclusion that the CED chronograph deserves some added attention.
If one defining phrase can be used for this product, we would choose sophisticated simplicity. A chronograph's primary function is to measure the velocity of a projectile as it travels between the skyscreens of the chronograph. What the sophisticated circuitry of the CED unit accomplishes with this information and the additional data available to the consumer as a result, is the basis for this test and review.
The CED Millennium comes packaged in an 8.75 x 17.75 x 5.75 inch box, as pictured below.
For size comparison, a Colt Mark IV/Series 70 Government Model and a standard yard stick are shown. This box contains everything that one needs to begin the chronograph experience, except for a 9 volt alkaline battery and a suitable camera tri-pod. The items included are the CED Millennium Chronograph, a two foot foldable mounting bracket, two skyscreen sensors (with 20 ft.shielded cables), six piece diffuser screens, a CD-ROM, a serial port computer connector, and the instruction manual.
The set-up is simple. Unfold the mounting bracket and attach the standard camera screw hole to the corresponding screw on the tri-pod. CED suggests that the end attached to the tri-pod be closest to the shooter, to stabilize the unit against muzzle blast. Attach a skyscreen sensor to each end of the mounting bracket, making sure that these are pushed onto the brackets as far as they will go. Plate screws at the bottom of each sensor are used to tighten them in place. The diffuser screens are placed in the sensors, and the top plate is affixed to each set of diffuser screens. The shielded cable is run from each sensor to the CED Millennium Chronograph, with the sensor closest to the shooter being placed in the Start jack on the back of the chrono, and the rear sensor to the Stop jack Position the tri-pod 7 to 10 feet away from your shooting position and you're almost ready to go.
The CED Millennium Chronograph
Pressing the ON/OFF key at the top left of the keypad activates the CED Millennium Chronograph. The initial display (the largest LCD in the industry) shows Shot #, the default mode of "2 feet" (as in ft /sec.), and 4 large zeros. The first shot fired will register as shot #1, and so forth, up to the chronograph's capacity of 220 shots. Most shooters, however, will register their shots in strings, of up to 20 "groups" of shots. The large display will show the velocity of each shot in either feet-per-second or meters-per-second, depending on the shooter's preference, and decided by pressing the M/F key. The SCREEN 2468 key will activate differences in the distance between the sensor screens, for those wishing a greater variance between the skyscreens. Appropriately sized mounting brackets are available (for additional cost) from the manufacturer.
Once a shooting string begins, any entries can be reviewed by pressing the RE key. Each pressing of the RE key will advance the data through the string of shots fired. Going down, briefly, to the bottom left side of the keypad, the CL/RESET key should be mentioned. When one desires to begin another "string" of shots, one merely presses the CL/RESET key briefly. The display will return to "0000", and a new string of shots can be recorded. Data received by the chronograph, to that point, will be saved in the unit's memory. When one wishes to erase all the memory, they should press the CL/RESET key continuously for 3 seconds. All data recorded to that point will be erased, and the unit will be ready for new data.
The third row of keys on the keypad is the one that a majority of shooters will use the most in their calculations of various loads and velocities. Pressing the HI key displays the highest velocity reading of any particular string of shots. The LO key reveals the lowest velocity of that string. When pressed, the ES key allows the shooter to view the "extreme velocity spread" between the highest and lowest velocities recorded in the memory, for that string of shots. Finally, the "mean or average velocity" for the entire string will be displayed when the AV key is pressed.
Highest velocity reading of a 7-shot string, measuring Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point ammunition, 185 gr., fired from a Colt's Mark IV/Series 70 Government Model pistol of current production.
The lowest reading recorded within the same data grouping.
The average velocity of the 7-shot group fired using the Speer GDHP load.
These basic functions were utilized to initially test the CED Millennium Chronograph for function, ease of use, and reliability of data. The chronograph and skyscreen/sensors were set up outside, in clear weather. The temperature was 45 degrees Fahrenheit, with a light southerly breeze.
The tri-pod and skyscreen/sensor unit was set up so that I could take standing, two-handed shots for velocity data. The small table contained the ammunition, writing material, and the CED Chronograph. This table was placed approximately ten feet to the side of the tri-pod. The pistol was discharged at a distance of 10 feet from the skyscreens.
As can be seen from this chart, variations occur even in factory-produced ammunition. This emphasizes one of the chronograph's most important roles. Those who hand load their ammunition have a need to know how that ammo performs. They also need to see whether or not the loads they produce fall within the published acceptable guidelines in reloading manuals. In the event that a hand loader exceeds the recommended high limits, as published in these manuals, a chronograph can give invaluable information to determine if a particular load is "too hot". In addition, standard deviation between velocities is an invaluable tool to the serious hand loader. The SD key on the keypad performs this complex mathematical function for the shooter, and displays the results on the LCD screen.
Those who participate in IPSC or NRA action shooting competitions must know the "power factor" of the loads they are using. The PF key on the lower right hand side of the CED Millennium Chronograph allows one to easily ascertain this figure. For any individual shot data displayed, as well as the HI, LO, or AVERAGE figures, one needs only to press the PF key when that data is displayed. The bullet weight (either 3 or 4 digit) is then entered, using the numbers on the keypad. For example, for a 230 gr. bullet, one would press the 2, 3, and 0. Re-pressing the PF key will then display the Power Factor for that particular bullet weight, at that particular velocity.
LCD display, showing the power factor of a Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point. A glaring personal error in data entry can be seen by the 257.1 reading. Mistakenly 2, 3, and 0 were entered into the chronograph memory for the bullet weight, instead of 185. As with all computations, the results are only as good as the data entered.
Immediately to the left of the PF key, is a key marked SP. Quote from the CED manual:
Through advanced voice chip technology, the CED Millennium Chronograph provides the User with the capability of hearing each data entry (shot/velocity) recorded. The speaker, when turned on, provides the velocity entry appearing on the primary LCD display to be heard as well as seen. The audio has a 1.5 second delay built in to allow time for the muzzle blast noise to subside, allowing the User to hear the results. The SP function works in the HI, LO, ES, AV, and SD modes as well.
Second from the left, on the bottom row, is a key marked 10X. When pressed, this key allows the user to see shot/velocity data calculated in decimeters/tenths per second. This function allows for more precise measurement of low velocities such as those generated by precision air rifles.
Rounding out the keyboard takes us back to the top two rows. On the second row from the top, the ED (edit) key allows one to remove an entry (such as an undesirable shot) from the calculations. The edited shot will appear on any subsequent printouts and PC downloads with a "-" in front of the entry, but that entry will not be included in the calculations. Pressing the OM (omit) key permanently erases the shot/velocity data from the memory of the CED chronograph. That data cannot be recalled.
One of the most outstanding features of the CED Millennium Chronograph is the ability to download all data into a personal computer, running Windows 95 or newer. The package from CED contains a CD-ROM that makes installation of the system quite easy, in computers so equipped. There are also detailed installation instructions in the manual that accompanies each CED Millennium Chronograph. A connector is included in the package, which plugs into the back of the CED unit, with the other end being secured to a serial computer port (or between a USB port and a Keyspan PDA adaptor). When properly programmed, pressing the PR/PC key on the CED unit will activate a download of all gathered data into one's personal computer. If no computer is attached, then pressing the PR/PC key activates a download into a properly equipped Hewlett-Packard printer, if that printer is located within one foot of the infrared beam on the rear of the CED. Remember, these functions work separately, as only one function will work at a time.
All data for each string of shots will be downloaded, and retrievable/printable from the computer. Any items that were edited during the string will appear with a "-" in front of the data entry on the PC download and behind the data entry on the HP printer mode. Any omitted items will NOT appear.
It is important to note that any new CED Millennium Data Collector software programs that are released in the future can be downloaded free, by utilizing the web addresses provided in the instruction manual.
At the beginning of this test, we described the Competitive Edge Dynamics Millennium Chronograph with the term sophisticated simplicity. To elaborate, the disassembled size of the entire unit fits neatly into the box it comes packed in. An optional carrying case reduces the size of the package further, but in either case, the unit is relatively compact. Assembly is easy and straight-forward. In fact, it took much longer to type the procedure than to actually perform it. Once assembled, the unit is sturdy and not prone to damage during the adjustments necessary during a range session. Admittedly, there are chronographs available from other manufacturers that are more compact. However, none of those come standard with the features that set the CED unit in a class by itself.
Be assured that the instructions are quite well written, and transposing those, as well as editing this copy, might account for some initial confusion. In actual use, one quickly finds the keypad easy to operate. Any of the functions become crystal clear as one's shooting progresses, and the evaluation of the data is gathered. Writing data on a notepad, for further review later, or, the mathematical computations necessary to make sense of the numbers, is "old school", and not necessary with this chronograph. Whether one prefers to print out the data using an HP printer equipped for infrared download, or enter it into their personal computer, the process is quick and easy. The unit comes with a low battery indicator, which is displayed in the center of the LCD screen. It allows sufficient time to change out a low battery. In addition, a spare battery compartment sits next to the battery compartment. The battery itself is easily changed, and the compartment is one-way only, with drop-in capability. There is no need to snap any connections to the battery leads.
The LCD display is very readable, and is advertised as the largest LCD display in the industry. While shooting, one has only to glance at the chronograph to see the results of each shot fired.
For those individuals who are forced to use either an indoor range with insufficient lighting, or those who must subject themselves to various weather-related issues at private or public outdoor ranges, CED has an answer. Optional custom designed lighting kits, as well as an infrared upgrade kit are available. With the infrared kit, one would be able to get readings, even in total darkness.
The instruction manual suggests setting the skycreen/sensor unit 7 to 10 feet from the muzzle of the firearm being used, to avoid muzzle blast interference. In this day and age of rising ammunition prices, the thoughtful positioning of the chronograph in relation to the target will serve a two-fold purpose. Accuracy results, as well as the information to be learned from the chronograph, may be obtained simultaneously. Certain high-powered rifles might need to be positioned further from the unit, to avoid the interference of muzzle blast. If velocity readings from further downrange are desired, just increase the distance from the firearm to the skyscreens.
Remember, though, to shoot between the skycreens! The instruction manual also gives detailed advice on how to set-up the chronograph to measure the velocities of shotgun loads and bow and arrow velocities.
The CED Millennium Chronograph provides the casual shooter, as well as the serious competitor and hand loader, with a sophisticated tool to gather the information necessary to evaluate loads and velocities. In addition, the advanced technology built into the chronograph provides data (such as standard deviation and power factor) that saves the shooter tedious mathematical calculations. All functions are quickly and easily understood after but a few minutes use. We highly recommend it!
We would like to thank Mr. Charles Hardy and the staff at Competitive Edge Dynamics U.S.A for their help. Mr. Hardy was understanding of our needs, and very helpful in making suggestions about the use of the chronograph. From the front office to shipping, courteous and helpful services were the norm. We recognize good customer service, and these folks excel at it.
We would also like to inform our readers that CED will soon come out with a new version of their chronograph, which will use a USB port to connect with a computer, and which will store up to 1,000 data items instead of 220 that the current model can handle. Please contact CED for availability.
The Millennium chrono has an MSRP of 180 US$.
You may discuss about this product, ask questions or in general discuss about this review, in this thread in our Forums Site:
Competitive Edge Dynamics USA
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|Home - Volume 2 (2007) - Issue 1 (Winter '07) - Chronograph Review: CED Millennium Chronograph|