Precision International EDM (Beetle 500)

The Beetle 500 is a short-range, infrared EDM with automatic readout. Introduced in 1975, it was said to be "The only compact edm at a compact price." It weighed 5.5 pounds, had a range of 1,600 feet, and cost $2,995. It was designed and produced by Precision International, a firm established in June 1971 by men who had worked at the Engineering Development Center at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Precision International was bought by Wild Heerbrugg in 1979, and by Cubic Precision in 1984. This example is marked "Precision International Beetle 500 Precision International Inc. Tullahoma Tennessee U.S.A. Serial No. 784."
The Beetle, originally known as the Cricket, had been developed on contract for Teledyne-Gurley. According to one account, the front section of the Precision International building contains offices "and the back serves as the manufacturing plant. An unusual sight is the printed circuit department, where three highly skilled women busily attach wires and connections to small circuit boards for the Cricket. The work demands painstaking precision." When the Cricket turned out to have a shorter range than anticipated, Teledyne-Gurley pulled out, and Precision International renamed the instrument the Beetle. Some 7,000 units were eventually produced. The Beetle was covered in part by patent (#4,105,332) for "Apparatus for producing a light beam having a uniform phase front and distance measuring apparatus" granted on August 8, 1978, to Walter Hohne and Robin Hines, and assigned to Precision International.
Ref: Precision International, Beetle 500.
Advertisement in Civil Engineering 46 (May 1976): 42.
Robin H. Hines, "A Geodetic and Survey Infrared Distance Measurement Instrument, Proceedings of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers 95 (1976): 204-211.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Precision International
overall: 7 1/2 in x 9 3/4 in x 6 1/2 in; 19.05 cm x 24.765 cm x 16.51 cm
place made
United States: Tennessee, Tullahoma
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Measuring & Mapping
Surveying and Geodesy
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Surveying and Geodesy
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Precision International. Beetle 500
American Society of Civil Engineers. Civil Engineering
Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. Proceedings of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers

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