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Miguel!

Review of the Dewalt 8 Volt Gyroscopic Screwdriver

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Miguel!

Yeah, you read that right, Gyroscopic Screwdriver. 

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Background: I recently did a horn upgrade to my R1100RT. To do that I had to remove about fifty(50) 3 mm x 25 mm aluminum hex-head screws that hold the fairing in place. I could have used a T-handle hex-head wrench or my 18V Makita screwdriver with a hex head bit. I knew the T-handle would be hard on my hands with that many screws. I also knew using a large drill has the potential to slip and really destroy the fairing finish, strip a screw (they are almost $3 each!!) or strip a threaded insert. I recently had a tire put on bike by my independent BMW mechanic and he was using a small electric screwdriver. It got me to thinking about my horn project and the fairing screws. 

I decided to evaluate a few small electric screw screwdrivers. Some were available from the local Home Depot, others I purchased from Amazon. I took them all for a spin one afternoon. I had two criteria: It needed to be light. The small electric screwdrivers weigh about a pound (0.5 kg). Second, they needed to have a very light torque setting since the aluminum screws are easily cross-threaded and/or strip the threaded inserts - something I wanted to be very careful to avoid, hence the low torque requirement. 

I had five screwdrivers to evaluate. The screwdrivers were of two styles: a straight-handled screwdriver like that shown above and a pistol-grip screwdriver that cleverly morphs into straight-handled screwdrivers. The pistol-grip screwdrivers I evaluated were from Dewalt, Metalbo/Hitachi (now called Metalbo), Milwaukee and Ryobi, the first three being highly-regarded professional handtool suppliers. These screwdrivers were all pretty similar in function and ergonomics tho each had strengths and weaknesses. When folded out straight, they were about 12"-13" long, longer than I thought I'd want because its easy to lose control of long screwdrivers, something that would definitely destroy the fairing finish. Most of the screwdrivers did not have a variable speed control so the torque control was via the chuck torque setting alone. I tested the torque by chucking in a screwdriver bit and trying to hold the bit stationary with my hand on the lowest torque setting. They were all pretty similar and had just a bit too much torque to risk stripping screw/inserts in my opinion so I rejected them all. (Sorry the images below are so large!)

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The only straight-handled-only screwdriver I evaluated was the Dewalt shown at the top of this post. This Dewalt screwdriver is about 8-9" long so I am less likely to lose control of it. I was a bit dubious about the Dewalt straight-handled gyroscopic control tho. 

The gyroscopic control is really different. You basically insert the screwdriver bit into the screw head and rotate the screwdriver in the direction you want it to go and it turns in that direction. The screwdriver torque and speed increases and decreases with the amount of rotation from the resting position. The torque and speed when just engaged is very light and slow so there's not much chance of stripping a screw or insert. It seems odd but it really worked well. I'll mention here that the Dewalt pistol-gripped screwdriver also had this gyroscopic control.

Because of the low speed and low torque, I was confident that the Dewalt straight-handled screwdriver was going to work for me. It did and I returned all the other screwdrivers. 

Here's a pretty good and short YouTube review tho he is using the pistol-gripped version. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OFOZlD43bM

Somewhat unrelated to the screwdriver choice was my workflow. I loosened all the screws with a T-handle hex-head wrench, then took out the screws with the Dewalt electric straight-handle screwdriver. When I put them back, I started them by hand and made sure they weren't cross-threaded and then drove them mostly home with the Dewalt screwdriver. I hand-torqued them with the T-handle wrench to avoid stripping the threads. This process probably took me about the same time as doing the whole thing with a T-handle hex-head wrench but it was WAAAY easier on my hands, one of my key criteria. 

In short, I recommend this screwdriver for relatively light-duty and where you need to be delicate such as removing all the fairing screws. I've used this for a number of other projects as well. This is not a screwdriver you could use to build houses with but for low-speed, low torque work on small projects, it is worthwhile and your hands and fingers will thank you. 

I hope this was useful to someone!!

Best
Miguel

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MikeB60

Miguel,

Good review.  I have the Hitachi model listed above.  Think I've owned it for 6 or 7 years, long enough to wear out a charger and a battery.  I like the adjustable torque and primarily use it for the removal of fairing screws as well but also tend to grab it when i need a screwdriver.  Its been a great tool and gets a ton of use. 

 

Not going to look at the youtube video you posted!  I already have two tool boxes that are busting at the seams with tools!

 

Mike      

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RTinNC

Are they all lithium Ion batteries? 

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Miguel!
1 hour ago, RTinNC said:

Are they all lithium Ion batteries? 

Yes. They are all Lithium ion. They are also all pretty low voltage and the run time will not be as long their larger brethren. The Dewalt removed and installed the 50+ on my R1100RT fairing with 2 out of 3 bars left on the battery fuel gauge. I didn't test the run time of the others.

 

Best 

Miguel

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Cap

I had a similar need, and chose a Bosch PS22.  I liked it for several reasons: First, it is very small and light weight.  Second, it has adjustable torque.  Third, it comes in a variant with a quick-disconnect instead of a drill collett. And finally, it comes in a few kit versions, one of which is has a case and a spare battery.  I hate it when the battery dies in the middle of a job.

 

This thing works great.  I use it to remove the zillions of torx panel screws on my R1200RTW.  I bought a set of assorted torx bits, in 6", 4", and 1" lengths.  I can set the torque to be just right for driving the screws back into the panels.  The batteries last a long time.  The quick-change bits are wonderful.  It is a lot more powerful than I thought it would be, and I have evolved to using it for many jobs that I once reserved for either my 18v impact driver or drill.

 

I think there is a newer model, but this one is great.

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Miguel!
1 hour ago, Cap said:

I had a similar need, and chose a Bosch PS22.  I liked it for several reasons: First, it is very small and light weight.  Second, it has adjustable torque.  Third, it comes in a variant with a quick-disconnect instead of a drill collett. And finally, it comes in a few kit versions, one of which is has a case and a spare battery.  I hate it when the battery dies in the middle of a job.

 

This thing works great.  I use it to remove the zillions of torx panel screws on my R1200RTW.  I bought a set of assorted torx bits, in 6", 4", and 1" lengths.  I can set the torque to be just right for driving the screws back into the panels.  The batteries last a long time.  The quick-change bits are wonderful.  It is a lot more powerful than I thought it would be, and I have evolved to using it for many jobs that I once reserved for either my 18v impact driver or drill.

 

I think there is a newer model, but this one is great.

Bosch are excellent tools. I've had a number of Bosch tools over the years and still have several including a 12" sliding compound saw. 

 

I did not try the Bosch. I'm glad it worked well for you and should be a candidate tool for others to look at. The Dewalt I got includes 1 battery and charger for about $65 from Home Depot if I remember right. It also has a quick-disconnect bit holder which is very handy. I also had a full set of hex bits about 2" long that work fine for removing the fairing screws.

 

Cheers

Miguel

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RTinNC
5 hours ago, Miguel! said:

Bosch are excellent tools. I've had a number of Bosch tools over the years and still have several including a 12" sliding compound saw. 

 

I did not try the Bosch. I'm glad it worked well for you and should be a candidate tool for others to look at. The Dewalt I got includes 1 battery and charger for about $65 from Home Depot if I remember right. It also has a quick-disconnect bit holder which is very handy. I also had a full set of hex bits about 2" long that work fine for removing the fairing screws.

 

Cheers

Miguel

I did some checking and there is a Dewalt kit that includes 2 batteries for around $100.

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Miguel!
3 minutes ago, RTinNC said:

I did some checking and there is a Dewalt kit that includes 2 batteries for around $100.

Yeah I saw that but I didn't think I needed both batteries and decided to invest the $40 in other things. Battery capacity doesn't seem to be an issue if you are using it to remove and install the fairing screws. Thanks for posting, that may be an important factor for other people.

 

Miguel

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Cap
12 hours ago, Miguel! said:

...Battery capacity doesn't seem to be an issue if you are using it to remove and install the fairing screws. ...

 

I agree that if you start with a fully-charged battery, then you shouldn't need to worry about removing and replacing your panel screws with a single charge.  

 

What concerns me, and is a topic that others on this forum may know more about, is the issue of charging the batteries before they have discharged substantially.  Perhaps this is some legacy from pre-lithium days, but I have always tried to let my tool batteries run low before charging them.  A consequence of that is starting every new job with a partially charged battery.  That's why I like having a second, fully charged, battery available.  Again, perhaps just superstitious behavior, but I find that my tool batteries last many years.

 

Dewalt makes some fine tools.  I think, like many tool manufacturers, they sell both commercial-grade and consumer-grade products that appear very similar but have different price points and different expected service lives.  I have a couple of Dewalt commercial-grade tools from their first generation of Li-ion 18v battery packs.  They have been in frequent service for about 10 years and through several home construction/remodeling efforts.  They continue to work flawlessly on their original batteries.

 

On my R1200RTW, there are a couple of places where, if I try to use a motorized driver, I need one with a very short distance between the tip of the bit and the back of the tool.  The "folding screwdriver" style that Miguel! evaluated are too long to fit where I needed them.  The Bosch driver is the only one I found that was short enough.  Thanks to Miguel! for his thoughtful evaluation of tools.  I mention my success using the Bosch alternative in case anyone has similar constraints on size.

 

Cap

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Joe Frickin' Friday
10 minutes ago, Cap said:

What concerns me, and is a topic that others on this forum may know more about, is the issue of charging the batteries before they have discharged substantially.  Perhaps this is some legacy from pre-lithium days, but I have always tried to let my tool batteries run low before charging them.  A consequence of that is starting every new job with a partially charged battery.  That's why I like having a second, fully charged, battery available.  Again, perhaps just superstitious behavior, but I find that my tool batteries last many years.

 

Ni-Cd and nickel-metal-hydride batteries were known to suffer from a memory effect that was related to partial charging/discharging to/from the same state of charge, but this isn't particularly a problem for Li-ion batteries.  However, like all rechargeable batteries, Li-ion batteries have a limited lifespan.  

 

Li-ion battery chemistry doesn't like being fully charged or fully discharged.  Tesla's Model S (and probably their other cars too) deliberately prevented owners from casually charging the battery to 100% capacity on a regular basis so as to prolong battery life; if the owner wanted to charge to 100% before a long trip, they had to go through the menu and specifically allow that higher state of charge.

 

This site has a lot of good quality info on the aging of Li-ion batteries and how your charging/discharging/usage behavior affects it:

 

https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

 

Figure 6 is most relevant to your concern, as it shows that operating a Li-ion battery between fully charged and (near) fully discharged results in the most rapid loss of charge capacity (although it will still take a few thousand cycles before the loss of capacity becomes problematic).  There are occasions where an absolutely full charge is useful (e.g. taking your phone out and about all day without access to a charger), but when that's not required, you get best battery life (in terms of maintaining capacity) by keeping it near some middling state of charge most of the time.  Cell phones make this a little easier, since they report their state of charge with a percentage on the display, but this is a lot harder to do for the batteries used in cordless power tools, where - if you're lucky - you maybe get  two or three LEDs that give you coarse estimate of the state of charge.  But that figure shows that even in the worst case - cycling the battery between 100% and 25% - it still had 80% of its original capacity after 3600 charge cycles.  In other words, you could charge that nearly-empty Li-ion battery to full once per day for 10 years and still have a perfectly serviceable battery after that.

 

 

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Miguel!
Quote

...In other words, you could charge that nearly-empty Li-ion battery to full once per day for 10 years and still have a perfectly serviceable battery after that.

My experience mirrors that comment. I stopped worrying about charging/discharging batteries to extend it life. If it goes bad, I just buy another but they do last a long time.

 

Best

Miguel

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Miguel!
47 minutes ago, Cap said:

On my R1200RTW, there are a couple of places where, if I try to use a motorized driver, I need one with a very short distance between the tip of the bit and the back of the tool.  The "folding screwdriver" style that Miguel! evaluated are too long to fit where I needed them.  The Bosch driver is the only one I found that was short enough.  Thanks to Miguel! for his thoughtful evaluation of tools.  I mention my success using the Bosch alternative in case anyone has similar constraints on size.

Thanks Cap. I recognized that the length might be a problem in some situations. It's not a problem for my R1100RT fairing except for two screws under the headlight for which I just use a T-handled hexed driver. 

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