Author Topic: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor  (Read 6901 times)

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Offline Renate

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When I started with electronics, aged 12, as a self-taught kid I didn't know any better and bought a big Weller 100/140 watt soldering gun with pocket money saved up over a long time.
I had one of those. I didn't buy it, it was my father's.
I cried when I completely massacred a project with 14 pin RTL DIPs.
I eventually got a pencil soldering iron and fixed the project with bodge wires.
I don't remember exactly how old I was but the RTL should give an idea how long ago it was.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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When I started with electronics, aged 12, as a self-taught kid I didn't know any better and bought a big Weller 100/140 watt soldering gun with pocket money saved up over a long time.
I had one of those. I didn't buy it, it was my father's.
I cried when I completely massacred a project with 14 pin RTL DIPs.
I eventually got a pencil soldering iron and fixed the project with bodge wires.
I don't remember exactly how old I was but the RTL should give an idea how long ago it was.

You were lucky in that your father was interested in that kind of stuff -  Mine wasn't, he liked the arts!  :D    ....so, I had zero encouragement messing with electronics.  A couple of good teachers made up for it later, though.
 

Offline LootMaster

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Something like this...Is what you need.

I tried the headband... Its not good enough for SMD, 0402, fine pitch... Bite the bullet now, listen to the girl from Ipad rehab... Stereo scope with adjustable zoom and adjustable light from knob.

I was gonna buy a 10x magnifier for like 30$ but I decided to save 30$ and spend an extra 400$ or so...

I bought the last one :(, with the attaching light Now you will probably see a price hike hehe.

Take those papers and buy some good Chinese gear... The sooner the better.

Also got this, sensepeek, 132$ kit... That panavise is probably gonna hit the shelf, and only needed when I want to remove solder from holes on the edge of table ( soldering iron beneath and sucking up from the top).

Yeah its expensive but there is not really anything like it.



« Last Edit: October 23, 2020, 10:49:59 pm by LootMaster »
 

Offline tggzzz

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Something like this...Is what you need.

I tried the headband... Its not good enough for SMD, 0402, fine pitch... Bite the bullet now, listen to the girl from Ipad rehab... Stereo scope with adjustable zoom and adjustable light from knob.

That may well be true for you  it is not the case for me.

It is up to the OP to work out what is right for them and their circumstances.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Offline Renate

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You were lucky in that your father was interested in that kind of stuff...
No, he wasn't. He didn't help in the least.
It's just that the Weller soldering iron was there and I used it (without any instruction).

I started with breadboards that were boards.
Hammer in some nails, tin the heads and solder in parts.
A Weller works fine for that.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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You were lucky in that your father was interested in that kind of stuff...
No, he wasn't. He didn't help in the least.
It's just that the Weller soldering iron was there and I used it (without any instruction).

I started with breadboards that were boards.
Hammer in some nails, tin the heads and solder in parts.
A Weller works fine for that.

I meant in the sense that he even owned a soldering iron! :D

Yep, that was me too, hammering nails in boards and soldering parts together.  Back in the day when a "breadboard" really was a "breadboard"! 
 

Online Electro Fan

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Ok, I'm on the fence leaning toward going for an Amscope 745 with a 0.5 Barlow, but before getting off the fence one way or another (before it starts to feel like a picket fence :)) I'd like to revisit the issue of just how much depth of field there really is with a conventional/optical microscope vs an HDMI video scope.

So the question is:  How much depth of field do you perceive when soldering with an optical scope?

The reason for the question is this - I had a chance today to use a USB microscope today and what I experienced was that it had some lag but what was much more disconcerting than the lag was the limited amount of depth perception.  I only had about a half hour with the USB microscope and it was an entry level product that wasn't set up right for soldering but it seemed like unless I wanted to just push my imaginary iron (a ballpoint pen) and solder (a resistor lead) down until I hit something the ~iron tip and ~solder were like airplanes looking for a way to land without bouncing up and down too much on the runway.

I know that with a 35mm camera the depth of field can easily be increased by adjusting the aperture to a higher numbered f stop (ie, making a smaller aperture) but with the type of optics and controls found on an Amscope SM series microscope, how much depth of field do you perceive when soldering and working on a PCB? 

Obviously, ICs are not like skyscrapers so it seems that the depth of field only needs to be within a pretty small range, but it does need to be present, yes?  Can anyone describe how easy or challenging it is to get the soldering iron (and solder, tools, etc.) at the appropriate height with an optical microscope?
 
Is the depth of field on an optical microscope noticeably better than with a digital microscope?
 

Online jfiresto

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"The human eye can normally accommodate from infinity to about 25 centimeters, so that the depth of field can [be] considerably greater ... when one observes the microscope image through the eyepieces." (Depth of Field and Depth of Focus, Nikon Microscopy U). These days, people resort to focus stacking to take photos with the same or greater depth of field. That is awfully hard to do when streaming live, moving video.

The article focuses on compound microscopes which generally have higher numerical apertures. You can, however, apply/extrapolate the discussion to a routine stereo microscope like the one you are considering. Its (dry) achromatic objective might have a numerical Aperture (NA) of 0.05~0.06 which happily gives more depth of field.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2020, 10:04:24 am by jfiresto »
 
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Offline Renate

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"The human eye can normally accommodate from infinity to about 25 centimeters..."
Maybe your eyes can, mine can not.
With age and other factors the ability of the eye to accomodate decreases.
From Wikipedia by Hans Strasburger - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39969617
[attachimg=1]
 
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Online jfiresto

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According to the graph, my visual accommodation will not get any worse.  8)

My loss of accommodation was a reason I got into stereo microscopes.
 

Offline Berni

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Ok, I'm on the fence leaning toward going for an Amscope 745 with a 0.5 Barlow, but before getting off the fence one way or another (before it starts to feel like a picket fence :)) I'd like to revisit the issue of just how much depth of field there really is with a conventional/optical microscope vs an HDMI video scope.

So the question is:  How much depth of field do you perceive when soldering with an optical scope?

The reason for the question is this - I had a chance today to use a USB microscope today and what I experienced was that it had some lag but what was much more disconcerting than the lag was the limited amount of depth perception.  I only had about a half hour with the USB microscope and it was an entry level product that wasn't set up right for soldering but it seemed like unless I wanted to just push my imaginary iron (a ballpoint pen) and solder (a resistor lead) down until I hit something the ~iron tip and ~solder were like airplanes looking for a way to land without bouncing up and down too much on the runway.

I know that with a 35mm camera the depth of field can easily be increased by adjusting the aperture to a higher numbered f stop (ie, making a smaller aperture) but with the type of optics and controls found on an Amscope SM series microscope, how much depth of field do you perceive when soldering and working on a PCB? 

Obviously, ICs are not like skyscrapers so it seems that the depth of field only needs to be within a pretty small range, but it does need to be present, yes?  Can anyone describe how easy or challenging it is to get the soldering iron (and solder, tools, etc.) at the appropriate height with an optical microscope?
 
Is the depth of field on an optical microscope noticeably better than with a digital microscope?

The amount of depth of field you get varies depending on the microscope and how it is set up.

But yes your eyes are more tolerable to it than a camera because you can actually shift the focus point a little bit. The magnification level generaly has a big effect on it. You do want the 0.5x barlow lens and when you use the lowest magnification on that the depth of field is a few centimeters easily. This also tends to be the most usefull magnification since you can see a lot of the board while still providing enugh magnification to do the job. But when you zoom in the depth of field rapidly goes down, once you are at the high zoom levels having a pin fill almost the whole view the depth of field does become less than a milimeter. I actually use this for focusing the microscope by zooming in to the max, adjusting focus to be spot on and then zooming out to the magnification i actually want, this makes it easier to get focus spot on since its dificult to tell how accurately you got it, constantly using it slightly off can put strain on your eyes since they will adjust to correct for it.

The depth of field is mostly a problem when you are doing inspection of an suspicius area on a PCB. There you might use the high zoom levels while at the same time tilting the board at various angles by just holding it in your hands. In those cases it can be hard to keep the correct distance to keep things in focus. But for soldering it doesn't matter at all.

One more usefull thing on microscope cameras is markers for BGA alignment. Some of them have the ability to place horizontal or vertical guide lines on the screen that can be moved around freely. This can be useful when soldering BGAs on boards with no alignment markings. You just move the markers to where the corner BGA pads are, so when you place the chip on top you can still see where exactly the chip should go.
 
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Online Electro Fan

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Ok, I'm on the fence leaning toward going for an Amscope 745 with a 0.5 Barlow, but before getting off the fence one way or another (before it starts to feel like a picket fence :)) I'd like to revisit the issue of just how much depth of field there really is with a conventional/optical microscope vs an HDMI video scope.

So the question is:  How much depth of field do you perceive when soldering with an optical scope?

The reason for the question is this - I had a chance today to use a USB microscope today and what I experienced was that it had some lag but what was much more disconcerting than the lag was the limited amount of depth perception.  I only had about a half hour with the USB microscope and it was an entry level product that wasn't set up right for soldering but it seemed like unless I wanted to just push my imaginary iron (a ballpoint pen) and solder (a resistor lead) down until I hit something the ~iron tip and ~solder were like airplanes looking for a way to land without bouncing up and down too much on the runway.

I know that with a 35mm camera the depth of field can easily be increased by adjusting the aperture to a higher numbered f stop (ie, making a smaller aperture) but with the type of optics and controls found on an Amscope SM series microscope, how much depth of field do you perceive when soldering and working on a PCB? 

Obviously, ICs are not like skyscrapers so it seems that the depth of field only needs to be within a pretty small range, but it does need to be present, yes?  Can anyone describe how easy or challenging it is to get the soldering iron (and solder, tools, etc.) at the appropriate height with an optical microscope?
 
Is the depth of field on an optical microscope noticeably better than with a digital microscope?

The amount of depth of field you get varies depending on the microscope and how it is set up.

But yes your eyes are more tolerable to it than a camera because you can actually shift the focus point a little bit. The magnification level generaly has a big effect on it. You do want the 0.5x barlow lens and when you use the lowest magnification on that the depth of field is a few centimeters easily. This also tends to be the most usefull magnification since you can see a lot of the board while still providing enugh magnification to do the job. But when you zoom in the depth of field rapidly goes down, once you are at the high zoom levels having a pin fill almost the whole view the depth of field does become less than a milimeter. I actually use this for focusing the microscope by zooming in to the max, adjusting focus to be spot on and then zooming out to the magnification i actually want, this makes it easier to get focus spot on since its dificult to tell how accurately you got it, constantly using it slightly off can put strain on your eyes since they will adjust to correct for it.

The depth of field is mostly a problem when you are doing inspection of an suspicius area on a PCB. There you might use the high zoom levels while at the same time tilting the board at various angles by just holding it in your hands. In those cases it can be hard to keep the correct distance to keep things in focus. But for soldering it doesn't matter at all.

One more usefull thing on microscope cameras is markers for BGA alignment. Some of them have the ability to place horizontal or vertical guide lines on the screen that can be moved around freely. This can be useful when soldering BGAs on boards with no alignment markings. You just move the markers to where the corner BGA pads are, so when you place the chip on top you can still see where exactly the chip should go.

Hi Berni,

Thanks for your post above and also for your earlier post:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/the-ergonomics-of-microscope-soldering-direct-optical-view-vs-cameramo-257888/msg3290236/#msg3290236

These are both super helpful.  I think based on your info and other info in this thread and that I've been collecting I'm pretty much there.  I'm going to give the microscope a try.  Thanks very much.  EF
 

Offline CDN_Torsten

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FWIW - on occasion I spend months working on (soldering) hearing aid electronics...the really small types. 
I find that a stereo microscope is the best solution for this type of work - cameras just don't give you the 3D positional feedback needed to make quality solder joints (and not burn yourself with the iron).
The Amscope745 is a good choice...I've worked with the AmScope SM-3B-80S and it is good value for the money.  The 0.5x Barlow lens choice is perfect as it will increase the working distance between the scope and PCB so that you have room for the soldering iron.
If you need pictures for documentation, simply using a cell phone over the eyepiece gives decent results...

 
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Online Electro Fan

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Very cool image, especially with a phone camera.
Thanks for the encouragement & positive reinforcement.  :-+
 

Offline Psi

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Trying to solder using a display screen is like trying to walk around the house with one eye closed.
You can do it, but it's not very nice compared to walking around with both eyes open :)

Depth is important when soldering, it allows you to see joints much clearer and it's easier to spot a bad joint.
Using a display screen you often cannot tell the difference between a bad joint and a light reflection off the curved solder fillets.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 08:46:06 am by Psi »
Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 
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Online jfiresto

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Very cool image, especially with a phone camera....

On some microscopes afocal photography gives the best images – sometimes even better than using the dedicated photo tube! I will not give names to protect the innocent.

My father was an expert witness on a case where the clever opposing council let him examine their evidence through a binocular microscope. They did not realize you could photograph through an eyepiece and were rather disconcerted when his images came out in court. This was before cell phones and digital cameras, so he may have used a Minox. I will have to ask him.

EDIT: I bet Torsten has steady hands. I find a stereo microscope makes my eye-hand coordination more exact.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 09:19:42 am by jfiresto »
 

Offline CharlotteSwiss

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To weld I use one of those masks with interchangeable lenses and spotlight, I find it convenient. I also have a usb digital microscope, but I only use it to inspect the circuit or check the soldering after it has been done; I don't think I would be able to solder without looking in the direction of the circuit but on a monitor  :-//
 

Offline CDN_Torsten

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EDIT: I bet Torsten has steady hands. I find a stereo microscope makes my eye-hand coordination more exact.

It's important to get a good nights sleep and not drink more than 2 cups of coffee...otherwise it's impossible to keep your hands steady enough :)
 

Online jfiresto

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EDIT: I bet Torsten has steady hands. I find a stereo microscope makes my eye-hand coordination more exact.

It's important to get a good nights sleep and not drink more than 2 cups of coffee...otherwise it's impossible to keep your hands steady enough :)

Oh, that may be my problem. I drink about a liter of tea each morning.
 

Offline CDN_Torsten

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That's a lot of caffeine jfiresto.
Funny thing is, the shaking in like jitter - if you could put a low-pass filter on your hand, you would be perfectly over the target.

Otherwise it looks like Parkinson's disease due to the magnification.
 

Offline digsys

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I'm 100% voting for a damn good quality 3D Trinocular Amscope w/ good lighting. Tried just about every other alternative, but just can't get the same "feel".
For me, especially precise when working down inside a connector / under an IC / etc. You should do a vote :-)
Hello <tap> <tap> .. is this thing on?
 

Offline Psi

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I'm 100% voting for a damn good quality 3D Trinocular Amscope w/ good lighting. Tried just about every other alternative, but just can't get the same "feel".

That is odd because Amscope do not manufacture microscopes, they buy them from a big microscope OEM in china, slap their logo on the front and markup the price.
Better off bypassing Amscope and getting exactly the same microscope from elsewhere for cheaper.
Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 

Online jfiresto

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That's a lot of caffeine jfiresto.
Funny thing is, the shaking in like jitter - if you could put a low-pass filter on your hand, you would be perfectly over the target.

Otherwise it looks like Parkinson's disease due to the magnification.

The tradition in these parts is to drink three cups of strong black tea, five times a day. I drink somewhat less, green tea that has less than half the caffeine.

I had a kindly ophthalmologist who had Parkinson's, a Frau Dr. Phelps. To do an examination, she would curl up one hand and place it on your cheek, curl her other hand around the instrument, sandwich the hand with instrument between her cheek and the improvised cheek platform, and then physician, monocular and patient would all shake as one. I am trying to imagine how you might do that with a microscope.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 12:10:20 pm by jfiresto »
 

Online Electro Fan

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New question:

Now that it appears that the direct optical view is very likely to provide noticeably better depth of field than the digital camera view I'm starting to wonder if accommodating the digital view with a simul-focal might be the wrong approach. 

I think the SM745T has a silver pin that let's you select from the light going 50%/50% to each eye piece, or 50% to the left eyepiece and 50% to the camera port.  On the SM745TP there is no such selector switch and each eye piece gets 35% of the light and 30% of the light goes to the camera port. 

So, would it be better to have no 3rd port for the camera (just use a regular stereo scope rather than a tri or simul focal) and thereby give all the light to the two eyepieces?  Or, is this just a matter of giving the PCB ~30% more light and then you have sacrificed nothing with the 3rd port while gaining the convenience of simultaneous viewing? 

For an entry level use case I'm thinking the ability to get both a good magnified view and a reasonably wide view, along with the ability to have good depth of field perception are probably more important for soldering and navigating a PCB than the digital capture/view capabilities, but if it's just a matter of adding and controlling the light then the simul-focal capability would seem preferable.  Or I guess you could make a case to go with the standard trinocular and mostly use the two eye pieces at full light (with the pin selector closing off the camera port) and then give up stereo when you want to display a digital image.  Around and around it goes....

I'm hoping the answer is Simul-focal plus add ~30% more light and then it's cake and eat it too. 

Thx
 

Online jfiresto

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I gather Amscope does not let you flip a switch to optionally remove "simul-focal" (simul-view) and send all the light to the eyepieces and none to the camera, like this.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 05:46:02 pm by jfiresto »
 
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