Author Topic: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor  (Read 6893 times)

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Offline Electro Fan

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It's hard to concisely frame all the questions, but here's a try...

When using a microscope do you prefer to solder (ie, watch/direct the position of your soldering iron and utensils as you solder/de-solder parts on a PCB) while looking through a stereo microscope or while viewing via a camera/monitor?  In other words, assuming you need a microscope to aid with magnification which do you find easiest/most natural/most enjoyable - direct optical view or camera/monitor view?

Does your preference depend on how much time you will be soldering?  I.e., assuming you could use either your preferred direct optical microscope or your preferred camera/monitor microscope, which would you prefer if:
a. you were just going to work on a few solder joints for 10-15 minutes?
b. spend an hour or two soldering?
c. spend most of the day soldering?

In general, do you prefer to solder while standing or sitting, or some of both?

If the budget isn't the primary issue, is there any reason to not go with both (ie, a simulfocal so you could use both direct optical view and the camera/monitor setup)?

These questions are mostly driven by personal use cases as opposed to making youtube videos, etc. but maybe some of the reason for camera/monitor view is to enable the sharing of images for collaboration support, Q&A, etc.?

Any thoughts or comments related are A-OK.  Thx
 

Offline Renate

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I kind of have the same question, but not answers.

I've used binocular microscopes and they are great, also bulky.
And they aren't any good for documentation unless you get trinocular.

I have a crappy USB microscope.
At full 5 Meg resolution it runs at 3 frames/second! |O
You certainly can't use it for soldering even if you reduce the resolution.
I'm looking to replace it with something that is definitely USB 3.0

Still, the crappy USB microscope is good for inspection and reverse engineering.
I actually modified with a better ring light and two cross polarized filters.
I've thought about adding a through light (like a light table) to make it easier to see traces on the bottom.
 

Online rsjsouza

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I was in the same conundrum a long time ago and had the Vividia USB microscope (an all-metallic one that Dave reviewed ages ago). I was able to solder using it, but the ghosting on the image due to the frame rate was something that handicapped the process. Also, the low sharpness of the image and the very small depth of field were a bit troubling for higher density soldering.

Thus I was gifted by my wife an Amscope trinocular stereo that is absolutely perfect for soldering and inspection.

One of the major annoyances of a stereo microscope, however, is if you use glasses - they get in the way. If you could afford a Mantis, perhaps this wouldn't be a problem (I used one at work and it is really good).

I have never tried an advanced overhead camera (à la Louis Rossmann) or digital microscope (Keyence) to find out if these overcome the limitations of the cheap USB option.
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Online Berni

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I use both at work.

Its an fairly cheep but decent trinocular Amscope microscope fitted with a camera in the form of a blue anodized aluminum box sitting on top. The camera can even do 2K video to SD card but we tend to keep it at 1080p and the HDMI output is 1080p, coupled with a computer monitor the lag is rather tiny, enough to work under. The camera is also very useful for documenting things since you can save pictures to a SD card with the push of a button.  Otherwise its only USB 2.0 so PC connection is not that great, but its there.

For hand soldering i still prefer to look trough the oculars tho. Its mostly the 3D depth perception that helps you get a better sense of where your soldering iron and parts are. The ergonomics of it are also not that bad since the working distance is large enough for you to sit nice and straight in front of it. This ergonomics improvement is one of the reasons i might go do a long soldering job under the microscope even if the parts are not so tiny. Being hunched over a desk when soldering a board really makes my neck hurt after a while.

But when it comes to hot air rework i actually prefer using the monitor. I can get a more comfortable position when holding the hot air gun and its easier to go between looking at the board directly and the monitor. Its easier to pick up tools while you keep heating the board while also keeping an eye on things. My face is not above the hot air stuff and flux smoke. You can see whatever you are doing just fine on it. You don't manipulate components around quite so much so depth perception or zero lag is not quite so important here.

This being at the workplace also makes the camera very useful for showing people things. You can easily have a few people gather around the monitor while you show them a problem on a PCB. Or someone is just curious and you quickly want to show them something its easier to just turn on the monitor than getting up for the chair and getting them to sit down in front of the microscope. Id say such a microscope is a must have for any company working with electronics.
 
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Offline hagster

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Big fan of the Vision Engineering Mantis and Lynx scopes(like the Mantis on Dave's bench). If you have the money they are great and much easier than classic binocular microscopes with conventional eyepieces. Until recently I think most cheap camera systems have had too much latency or low resolution for effective working, but that's probably changed now.
 

Online jfiresto

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... One of the major annoyances of a stereo microscope, however, is if you use glasses - they get in the way....
Does the microscope have modern, high eyepoint eyepieces with little, printed eyeglass symbols? That should end the annoyance.
 

Offline Psi

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I always solder while sitting down.

In my opinion a camera and screen is only good for live-streaming or for quick inspection of things, not for soldering

Hands down it is nicer to solder under a stereo microscope compared with any sort of digital display.
The 3D you get from a stereo microscope makes all the difference compared to a 2D generated image.

When it comes to stereo microscopes for soldering there are really two types, the typical type and the funky Mantis style.
If you will be using it all day long then the mantis one will be much better, but they are costly and the camera in them sucks.
I've used my normal microscope for hours and it's fine. If you need a camera forget the mantis.

If you buy a microscope get the typical kind we all have. It has wide angle objectives and the right level of zoom range/working distance for soldering.

I've come across people thinking the following.. "I'm not going to get the typical china microscope, i'm going to get a 2nd hand one that's a really high quality brand. It will be much better".
These people usually end up with something that is not intended for soldering and has too narrow field of view, no zoom or fixed zoom at the wrong level etc.

If you want to livestream at the same time as looking though the eyepieces then get the simulfocal version
« Last Edit: October 22, 2020, 07:17:26 am by Psi »
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Online nfmax

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I've used binocular microscopes and they are great, also bulky.
And they aren't any good for documentation unless you get trinocular.

That's not quite correct. If you hold your phone camera so that the camera lens is at the exit pupil (eye point) of the eyepiece, you can get perfectly acceptable images. This works because phones, unlike proper cameras, have their lens very close to the surface, so you can get the lens in the right place.

I should 3D print a widget to help align the phone properly, but time...
 
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Online tggzzz

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When using a microscope do you prefer to solder (ie, watch/direct the position of your soldering iron and utensils as you solder/de-solder parts on a PCB) while looking through a stereo microscope or while viewing via a camera/monitor?  In other words, assuming you need a microscope to aid with magnification which do you find easiest/most natural/most enjoyable - direct optical view or camera/monitor view?

Neither.

I find head mounted visors more than adequate, with the benefits of cheapness, use with spectacles, multiple magnifications, and also use when inspecting equipment resting on the floor.

Widely available: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rolson-60390-Loupe-Magnifier-Visor/dp/B001MJ0JW2

Ultimately the best choice is highly personal, and therefore unpredictable. Hence a good strategy is to use cheap equipment to learn what works for you.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Online jfiresto

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... I've come across people thinking the following.. "I'm not going to get the typical china microscope, i'm going to get a 2nd hand one that's a really high quality brand. It will be much better"....

Some of us resemble that remark. I think what microscope you should get really depends on what you need and what you consider "better".

Some of the older, used microscopes were built to be very adaptable. I am waiting on a classic accessory for one, I think could be re-purposed to address a modern problem some folks, here, have not solved with a mass-market microscope – that would be hard to solve with many microscopes, for that matter. (I will start a new thread and cross link the old one)
« Last Edit: October 22, 2020, 10:04:04 am by jfiresto »
 

Offline AndyC_772

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I've come across people thinking the following.. "I'm not going to get the typical china microscope, i'm going to get a 2nd hand one that's a really high quality brand. It will be much better".
These people usually end up with something that is not intended for soldering and has too narrow field of view, no zoom or fixed zoom at the wrong level etc.

I did exactly this; I bought a s/h Olympus SZ40, which is an excellent binocular zoom microscope with the ability to attach a camera.

It came with a range of eyepieces with different magnification levels - I use 20x - and the only additional accessory I needed was a standard, inexpensive 48mm 0.5x Barlow lens. This increases the working distance and made it absolutely ideal for soldering.

I have it mounted on the stand at about 10 degrees to the vertical, so it looks down onto the PCB at a slight angle. This makes it easier to see that the sides of SMT components have wetted properly. If it were mounted vertically, fillets would be harder to see.

For lighting I use a twin gooseneck LED light ("Dual Flexilite" http://www.brunelmicroscopes.co.uk/coldlight.html).

I don't like trying to use any kind of camera - especially small, cheap ones - for 'live' work. The dymamic range is too low to properly expose both shadows and specular highlights, which is an issue when inspecting shiny soldered joints.

Offline Renate

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If you hold your phone camera so that the camera lens...
Sorry, I can't take a handheld cell phone as a solution. You still need to transfer the images.
Also, using a microscope camera that takes an SD card can't be viewed as convenient.

Currently I just use two stacked dollar store +3.0 reading glasses.
 

Online jfiresto

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If you hold your phone camera so that the camera lens...
Sorry, I can't take a handheld cell phone as a solution. You still need to transfer the images.
Also, using a microscope camera that takes an SD card can't be viewed as convenient.

It is not so bad if you transfer images over USB, and "plug" and "unplug" the cable by flipping a switch.
 

Offline Psi

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Nothing wrong with buying a good quality 2ndhand microscope if you know what you're looking for.
It's just a bad idea when people don't.
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Online nfmax

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If you hold your phone camera so that the camera lens...
Sorry, I can't take a handheld cell phone as a solution. You still need to transfer the images.
Also, using a microscope camera that takes an SD card can't be viewed as convenient.

The phone camera tip is for documentation purposes only, I wouldn't like to work using one! I use AirDrop to transfer images, as my phone doesn't take SD crads.
 

Offline Tarloth

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Without a doubt the stereo microscope. I have tried a camera some time ago but the working position did not help me, something simplifies in use the fact that the eyes are "looking" towards the same point where the hand is, despite having optics between the two.

I don't work with the microscope every day, but when I do it is for more than 4 hours, preferably sitting.

With enough budget I would use a trinocular microscope with a camera and monitor just to verify some static shots and to be able to document some processes.
 
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Offline SilverSolder

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When using a microscope do you prefer to solder (ie, watch/direct the position of your soldering iron and utensils as you solder/de-solder parts on a PCB) while looking through a stereo microscope or while viewing via a camera/monitor?  In other words, assuming you need a microscope to aid with magnification which do you find easiest/most natural/most enjoyable - direct optical view or camera/monitor view?

Neither.

I find head mounted visors more than adequate, with the benefits of cheapness, use with spectacles, multiple magnifications, and also use when inspecting equipment resting on the floor.

Widely available: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rolson-60390-Loupe-Magnifier-Visor/dp/B001MJ0JW2

Ultimately the best choice is highly personal, and therefore unpredictable. Hence a good strategy is to use cheap equipment to learn what works for you.

I like the headband magnifiers as well.  It is much more flexible than fixed optics in that you can angle your head in from different angles, while getting full 3D vision - there is no limitation in the size of PCB or awkwardness of construction - just a total winner overall.  And you pack them away in a drawer when you're done, they don't take up any desk space.

My particular model has been made for almost 70 years (I have an antique one from the 50's just for fun, it looks and works just like the modern ones...   this thing has stood the test of time!)

The original Donegan made one
https://www.amazon.com/Donegan-OptiVisor-Lens-LX-3-14/dp/B0006O8RWS

Cheaper clones, no experience with these
https://www.amazon.com/Headband-Magnifier-Head-Mounted-Binocular-Magnification-1-5X/dp/B07M7H3P95

« Last Edit: October 22, 2020, 09:11:05 pm by SilverSolder »
 

Offline joeqsmith

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For home, currently using an old Olympus SZ60 trinocular scope with an AMSCOPE camera attached to it and a home made mount.   I use the camera for documentation, not for soldering.  I had an older 50's Olympus prior to this that I gave away. 

For soldering I will continue to use a stereo scope with zoom. 
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Online tggzzz

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When using a microscope do you prefer to solder (ie, watch/direct the position of your soldering iron and utensils as you solder/de-solder parts on a PCB) while looking through a stereo microscope or while viewing via a camera/monitor?  In other words, assuming you need a microscope to aid with magnification which do you find easiest/most natural/most enjoyable - direct optical view or camera/monitor view?

Neither.

I find head mounted visors more than adequate, with the benefits of cheapness, use with spectacles, multiple magnifications, and also use when inspecting equipment resting on the floor.

Widely available: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rolson-60390-Loupe-Magnifier-Visor/dp/B001MJ0JW2

Ultimately the best choice is highly personal, and therefore unpredictable. Hence a good strategy is to use cheap equipment to learn what works for you.

I like the headband magnifiers as well.  It is much more flexible than fixed optics in that you can angle your head in from different angles, while getting full 3D vision - there is no limitation in the size of PCB or awkwardness of construction - just a total winner overall.  And you pack them away in a drawer when you're done, they don't take up any desk space.

My particular model has been made for almost 70 years (I have an antique one from the 50's just for fun, it looks and works just like the modern ones...   this thing has stood the test of time!)

https://www.amazon.com/Headband-Magnifier-Head-Mounted-Binocular-Magnification-1-5X/dp/B07M7H3P95

I haven't tried those, but a lot of people seem to like them.

The ones I use have 4 different strength lenses, and two can be put in series if necessary. .the only thing I dislike is that over time the lens "hinge" becomes a little loose and the lens flaps a bit. I really ought to spend 5mins looking to see if I can improve that!

I also have stereo microscopes with (I think) 12 and 24 times magnification. Most stereo microscopes give me a headache after 5mins, but these just work. I only use those for specialist work, maybe once a month. Normally the visor is good.
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Online jfiresto

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I have used a 3-step (3.2X, 8X, 20X) stereo microscope for soldering and inspection and did not find the 2.5X steps excessive.

I could see giving up zoom to have 5 fixed magnifications (3.2X, 5X, 8X, 12.5X, 20X) and get sharper and flatter images.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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When using a microscope do you prefer to solder (ie, watch/direct the position of your soldering iron and utensils as you solder/de-solder parts on a PCB) while looking through a stereo microscope or while viewing via a camera/monitor?  In other words, assuming you need a microscope to aid with magnification which do you find easiest/most natural/most enjoyable - direct optical view or camera/monitor view?

Neither.

I find head mounted visors more than adequate, with the benefits of cheapness, use with spectacles, multiple magnifications, and also use when inspecting equipment resting on the floor.

Widely available: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rolson-60390-Loupe-Magnifier-Visor/dp/B001MJ0JW2

Ultimately the best choice is highly personal, and therefore unpredictable. Hence a good strategy is to use cheap equipment to learn what works for you.

I like the headband magnifiers as well.  It is much more flexible than fixed optics in that you can angle your head in from different angles, while getting full 3D vision - there is no limitation in the size of PCB or awkwardness of construction - just a total winner overall.  And you pack them away in a drawer when you're done, they don't take up any desk space.

My particular model has been made for almost 70 years (I have an antique one from the 50's just for fun, it looks and works just like the modern ones...   this thing has stood the test of time!)

The original Donegan made one
https://www.amazon.com/Donegan-OptiVisor-Lens-LX-3-14/dp/B0006O8RWS

Cheaper clones, no experience with these
https://www.amazon.com/Headband-Magnifier-Head-Mounted-Binocular-Magnification-1-5X/dp/B07M7H3P95

I have the Donegan 2.75X.  They say they are good for a 6 inch working distance but in my case I think I'm closer to 4"-4.5" (from the lenses to the PCB) when things are in focus.  Maybe it's as much as 5.0"; it's kind of hard to measure while inside the visors :), but my best guess is about 4.25".  At  ~4.25" with the 2.75X it's pretty easy (but not super easy) to see details like 0805 resistors and individual legs on SMD ICs, but at ~4.25" it's pretty close to the heat and fumes from the soldering iron tip. I estimate that at the ~4.25" working distance with the rectangular shaped visor lenses the FOV horizontally across the two side by side visor lenses is about 7 cm and the FOV is about 5 cm diagonally.  So the FOV is not spectacular but probably good enough.

I have tried a cheaper visor version too and I'd say the Donegans are worth the extra price in terms of the clarity and the comfort/lack of distractions vs. the cheaper visor. 

My concern with the Donegan is that if I want more working distance I'm going to give up more magnification by going with the 1.75X, 2X or 2.5X lenses.  For someone with good eye sight I think the Donegan's are certainly worth trying before springing for the cost of a microscope.  My guess is the winners might be either the Donegan 2.5x or the 2x - but at some point when you get enough working distance you might not be able to see a lot small detail.  I'm hoping the scope optics can provide both better/good working distance and good/better magnification.  You would certainly hope so for 10-20x the price (or 30x if you count the camera and a monitor).

It would be very interesting and helpful to hear form people who have soldered with both the Donegans and a good microscope.

What Donegan magnification are you using and what working distance from PCB to lenses are you getting?  Thx
« Last Edit: October 22, 2020, 10:32:40 pm by Electro Fan »
 

Offline jmelson

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One of the major annoyances of a stereo microscope, however, is if you use glasses - they get in the way. If you could afford a Mantis, perhaps this wouldn't be a problem (I used one at work and it is really good).
I have substantial astigmatism, and also one eye is twice the diopters of the other.  However, I use 3 different stereo zoom microscopes WITHOUT my glasses.  This requires me to adjust the eyepiece diopter compensation to the limits.  But, I get a wide field of view that way, and when magnified, I don't have any issue from the astigmatism.

Try it without glasses, you may never go back!

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Offline SilverSolder

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[...]
What Donegan magnification are you using and what working distance from PCB to lenses are you getting?  Thx

I use lens #5 (which is 2.5x) and get about 7" distance from the visor to the workpiece.  This is good enough to solder SMD components.


If I need more magnification, I use a camcorder with a close-up lens suspended over the work.  That gives something like 10" distance and works well enough to solder wires to 0.5mm pitch BGA devices at a pinch:


« Last Edit: October 23, 2020, 03:01:39 pm by SilverSolder »
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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Looks like you have a good view and very good control over the soldering process. It's impressive what you show in the image, and BGA would seem to be even more challenging.  Your work shows the value of visors.

Just to double check, is the 7" distance on the 2.5X visor your personal measurement?  The Donegan spec for a 2.5X says it's 8" but I think the spec assumes someone has 20-20 vision if not Superman X-ray vision.  I have a hunch your 7" is more likely to be real world.  My experience is that the Donegan specs for working distance (I think they call it Focal Length) are pretty much best case.

Something I've just started to think about is that with a microscope working distance means (of course) the distance from the PCB, etc to the objective lens, which determines how much working distance there is for a soldering iron, other tools, hands, etc.  And in this sense working distance is the same for visors.  However, the difference is that with a visor your eyes (and face/nose/mouth) are pretty much all at the working distance; but with a microscope, while the working distance for the iron and your hands and tools are the same as the visor for the same magnification, there is around 2-3 times more distance with from the PCB and iron tip to your eyes (and face/nose/mouth) because the microscope head (depending on the model) might add 10-12 inches for the distance from the objective lens to the top of the oculars.  So with a microscope your eyes and face are maybe 18-20" or slightly more vs ~7-8" from the the source of the heat and fumes.

I think for short in and out projects the visor is a very practical and much more cost-effective solution for soldering.  I don't know yet because I don't have a microscope but I'm thinking the microscope might have some advantages for extended soldering sessions. 
 

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.  Soldering small electronic parts with one of those was good practice and trial by fire, for sure!  :D   

The BGA thing was done using the camcorder and an external monitor - the image above is from the camera.  That kind of detail work is too small for the visors, at least with my eye sight.  But soldering "normal" SMD components is definitely achievable.

The 7" measurement is my personal distance - I measured it this morning.   It is possible to use reading glasses under the visor to get even more magnification, but it is rarely necessary.

Getting smoke up your nose is an issue with a visor, for sure.  I'm thinking a small fan or extractor near the work piece would help, but I am able to work around it so haven't bothered yet.

I usually get the PCB I'm working on up off the desk by 12" or so with a PCB holder / vise.  That way I don't have to hunch over it. 

If I was assembling large PCBs constantly, I would definitely want a more professional solution, e.g. a Tagano or a microscope, so I could sit comfortably and work for days, weeks, and months.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2020, 06:42:07 pm by SilverSolder »
 

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 »
 

Online 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".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

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"! 
 

Offline 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.
 

Online 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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Offline 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
 

Online 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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Offline 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  :-//
 

Online 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.
 

Online 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.
 

Online 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 »
 

Offline 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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Online Berni

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Every microscope needs a good light source to work well since having magnification means you are collecting light from a smaller area.

At low magnifications this really is not much of a issue, lots of light still makes it trough so any resonable close by light source is enugh for the job. At high magnifications, it becomes more of an issue, especialy for the camera that is trying to maintain a shutter speed fast enugh for 60 fps, but your eyes can generaly cope with a much wider range of brightness. So at very high magnifications the solution is to simply throw more light at the problem. Luckily since the area needing light is very small this is not hard to do. The light source simply needs to be focused enugh to put most of the light in the area under the microscope rather than spilling it elsewhere, combining this small area with modern efficent LEDs means you can get some ridiculusly bright light levels without needing all that much input power. So if you lost 30% of light you can simply put 1.4W in the lighting LEDs rather than 1W and get the same result. Generaly just a simple cheap ring light can provide more than enugh light for most cases (Tho can have some glare issues sometimes).

For just personal home use id say the most value is in the optical miscoscope rather than the camera. You will end up using it through the oculars most of the time, mostly the benifit of the screen is faster view change between the miscorscope image and the desk since you can move your eyes around much faster than you can move your head away from the oculars. This is why its useful for hot air rework since you can watch the board directly and only look at the microscope image when needed to verify alignment and such. The other use for the camera is easily documenting nice chrisp high res photos and video of tiny things at the push of a button. So get the camera if you want one and can afford it, but its not a must have.

Oh and the particular chinese microscope + camera kit we ended up buying actually didn't come with a properly aligned camera setup. It had adjustable optics to dial in the camera port but no matter what i did i could never get the camera to properly track focus with the oculars for all cases. With some experimenting i found out that unscrewing the camera and holding it slightly above the camera port did get me a lot closer. So i ended up buying a small few mm C-mount spacer to put on the camera. After a good bit of adjustment(and actually figuring out the process of how to do it) i got it all dialed in so that the camera image and ocular image stays always in focus as you zoom in and out all the way. The two should track together on any half decent microscope.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 05:58:30 pm by Berni »
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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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.

Doesn't seem to be an option with Amscope (or likely in this budget class).

What do you think?  Just add ~30% more light or go for regular stereo?
 

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Only add a camera if you really need one - you can save some money by not buying the camera.  Not having the camera port will also make the microscope less bulky.
The key thing to note is you will need lots of light when working at higher magnifications or under difficult conditions.  The standard lighting ring (for me) is generally not enough.  IMO - adding an additional light source that can be aimed at various angles will be a much better investment than the camera.
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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Only add a camera if you really need one - you can save some money by not buying the camera.  Not having the camera port will also make the microscope less bulky.
The key thing to note is you will need lots of light when working at higher magnifications or under difficult conditions.  The standard lighting ring (for me) is generally not enough.  IMO - adding an additional light source that can be aimed at various angles will be a much better investment than the camera.

Ok, I understand your thinking.  I was just drafting another post when I saw yours.  Just to nail it down, here is what I'm thinking through.  I think your vote is for stereo (plz correct me if I'm wrong on that) but fwiw....

These seem to be the tradeoff configurations:

SM-4NTPX (Simul-focal)
https://www.amscope.com/3-5x-45x-simul-focal-stereo-lockable-zoom-microscope-on-dual-arm-boom-stand.html

SM-4BX (Stereo)
https://www.amscope.com/3-5x-45x-binocular-stereo-zoom-microscope-with-double-arm-boom-stand.html

The tradeoff seems to be add more light to SM-4NTPX, or go with SM-4BX and occasionally use a phone camera through an eyepiece.

When you go with the SM-4BX you not only save some $ by deleting the 3rd port, but you also avoid the rest of the budgetary "scope creep" (haha) by avoiding the dedicated (non-phone) digital camera and a HDMI monitor.  While it's always good to manage the budget downward at this point the main criteria is image quality.  Will the SM-4NTPX equal the SM-4BX if you add enough extra light?; and how much light is enough?  (This leads to the question of whether, for example, the Amscope ring light and double gooseneck are going to be maxed out on the SM-4BX ....which would mean sacrificing light and image quality on the SM-4NTPX, or finding other stronger lights for the SM-4NPTX.  Not sure if it also has implications for ambient light.)

(BTW, what model scope was used to make the phone camera photo in your post, a 745, 3B-80S or something else?
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/the-ergonomics-of-microscope-soldering-direct-optical-view-vs-cameramo-257888/msg3295864/#msg3295864)

Stereo or Simul-focal?  Either way, my plan has been to go with both the ring light and double individually adjustable gooseneck light.  Currently my thinking is that if the ring plus double gooseneck lights are enough for simul-focal I'll go for the simul-focal; if on the other hand the ring plus gooseneck lights with the stereo scope will let me see not just the the landscape on Mars but also small Martians, I'd have to go with stereo.  But even then I might have to ask:  Can I just add still more light (and how much more and with what kind of lights) to the simul-focal so I can see the Martians and also capture them with a digital image?  It's rabbit hole that needs some quantification or at least some good advice based on experience, I think.
 

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Have you seen any good images out of an SMZ-4NTP photo port? Or any Amscope trinocular stereo microscope? All the reports I remember were not favorable, but I have not looked at many. It would be rather annoying if instead of its binocular sibling, you bought a less bright 4NTP only to be disappointed by its additional tube.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Have you seen any good images out of an SMZ-4NTP photo port? Or any Amscope trinocular stereo microscope? All the reports I remember were not favorable, but I have not looked at many. It would be rather annoying if instead of its binocular sibling, you bought a less bright 4NTP only to be disappointed by its additional tube.

Roger all that.  I think your comment above summarizes the situation very well (maybe perfectly).

The challenge is often to find information specific to the questions - which is often difficult, so then you have to deduce/induce/extrapolate from what info is available.

I have watched this a few times, and just watched it again.



Starting at about 10:00 he talks about the lighting.  By about 10:50 he makes a comment that keeping the lights at max makes sense because it helps reduce noise on the camera view.... but then he comments in a way that indicates the lights don't seem to make so much difference on the direct optical view:  he says "through the eye pieces you can turn the lights right down and still see perfectly."  And he goes on from there by about 11:10 to further speak very highly of the the direct optical view.  Of course this is mostly qualitative and subjective rather than quantitative.  But maybe the ring light and double gooseneck are more than enough to illuminate the direct view even in the face of 30% light attenuation - especially given that he seems to think the view was good even with the lights turned "right down."

YOMMMV (Your/Our/My Mileage May Vary) :)
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Have you seen any good images out of an SMZ-4NTP photo port? Or any Amscope trinocular stereo microscope? All the reports I remember were not favorable, but I have not looked at many. It would be rather annoying if instead of its binocular sibling, you bought a less bright 4NTP only to be disappointed by its additional tube.

An not only would it be annoying, it would also be more expensive.

Every time I think I'm ready to climb out of the rabbit hole I find something that drags me back in but so far, if I had to guess, I'd say that if someone wanted to solder with an optical microscope, you could probably get the same results for about half price if you forgo the simul-focal.  Not only could you get by without the cost of the third port and without the digital camera and without the monitor (and without some cabling) but you might possibly also get by with some different/less expensive lighting if just go with a stereo scope vs a three port scope.

Having said all that, it's hard to live in a combined analog/digital world and not want to have the capabilities offered by digital.

It's a thinker.  :-\ , :)  But based on the video in my post above, I'm pretty sure it's more likely to be a budget issue than an image quality issue for the direct optical view.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Is it worth worrying about a 30% light attenuation - in dB terms, it isn't much?  -  and you can always add more light...
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Is it worth worrying about a 30% light attenuation - in dB terms, it isn't much?  -  and you can always add more light...

Yes, the cost of adding a few watts of light is close to nothing, so it's really about the cost of adding the digital sub-system, which looks to be roughly 2x (if you need the camera and you don't already have the right monitor in the right place - which then also requires giving up some bench space - it's a spiral).  I'm convinced an optical scope will be superior to digital as the primary tool, the question is really about giving up on the digital sub-system.... which would seem to be a limited path to the future....  :)  TEA is persistent.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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I don't think you'd even notice 30% less light in any well lit scenario - it is a change in brightness of (much) less than one stop in photography terms - nothing to worry about, since you are still in the range where the eyes works well.

I would definitely prefer the ability to put a camera on there...  it comes in handy to take pictures surprisingly often!
 
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Online Berni

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The reason lots of light is more important for the camera is because your eyes are more sensitive than the typical camera sensors.

The cameras on these microscopes try to maintain 60fps so that you get a nice responsive view on the monitor to be able to work under it live. But this also limits how long the shutter can be held open per frame, so simply extending the shutter time on the image sensor to collect more light is not an option, combined with this not being the fancy state of the art image sensors found in professional cameras means they don't have the required low light performance to be able to just gain up the image enough without it being noisy, so the camera at some point just gives up on turning up the gain any more than that and gives you a too dark image.

As others said 30% light is not that much of a difference. And you only really need lots of light at the highest magnifications and that can be solved my simply putting a bright LED near by. The goose neck focused microscope lights are a good way to do it because they have a very narrow beam angle so they can be placed a good distance away and still provide nice focused light. Solving the light problem with brute force is easy since we are only taking about a few Watts of light.(If you actually went >100W of light on such a small area you could probably solder components on a PCB with just light)
 
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A 50:50 beam splitter will actually diminish each exit beam by somewhat more than a 50% (one f-stop), not 30, so that the camera and eyepieces might each see perhaps 45% of the original intensity. I notice when I switch in such a beam splitter but, as others suggest, it is something you might later overlook, until you wonder: that is funny, I seem to remember these eyepieces being a bit brighter....
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 09:21:44 am by jfiresto »
 
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Online CDN_Torsten

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(BTW, what model scope was used to make the phone camera photo in your post, a 745, 3B-80S or something else?


The image was taken with the SM-3B-80S using only the ring-light that came with the microscope.
 
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Electro Fan - there is a lot of discussion around the reduction in image brightness by adding the 3rd output...
The other thing to keep in mind, especially with these lower-cost microscopes, is that adding the 3rd output increases the complexity of the optical path.
This may result is a reduction in image quality (sharpness/contrast).  Adding more light will not correct for this. 

Your best bet here would be to get feedback from users of the exact model you are interested in to see if the image quality meets your needs.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 10:10:18 am by CDN_Torsten »
 
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I was going to suggest paying a visit to Amscope's website and looking at what images they captured from a trinocular SMZ-4NTP, images for a more expensive microscope package that, we hope, bundles one of their best cameras. For example, this stock image that Amscope uses for various packages:



Oh dear. Even at 600x600 pixels resolution, you can see that the trinocular optics are plain miserable. If this is underpromising so as to exceed the customer's expectations, include me out.

For comparison, here is an image, with a similar resolution over the foreground, from the trinocular port of a grizzled, used microscope:



I took the image with a Wild M3, Wild Heerbrugg's bottom of the line, system microscope, forty years ago – and definitely not the model you would choose for microphotography. (Just look at those spherical aberrations!)  Nonetheless, no guesses which microscope whose images I would choose to look at and work with all day.

What I am about to suggest, based on your recent threads, is that you might do what many have done. Start with a more basic, less expensive microscope to gain practical experience, one that you can make work for your purposes, although perhaps not quite as easily or pleasantly as you might wish. After discovering what works and does not work, and what is important and unimportant – for you – you can then invest in a nicer microscope you know that you will enjoy, that will do exactly what you want and very well. In short, first invest in your education, then in just the right tool.

That Wild M3 was my starter microscope and at first I held a cell phone over an eyepiece to document my work. In your case, you might start with the binocular SM-4B and use an eyepiece camera or a cell phone to get a feel and appreciation for photo/video imaging. Then later, if you feel so moved, you could buy a new Meiji Techno. Or a nice, used scope for less money (often much less) made by one the "big four": Nikon, Olympus, Zeiss or one of the several brands that merged into Leica Microsystems.

Just my two cents, in your favorite currency.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 12:29:06 pm by jfiresto »
 
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Offline SilverSolder

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[...] For example, this stock image that Amscope uses for various packages:



Oh dear.
[...]


No optics, not even the bottom of a Coca Cola glass bottle, could possibly produce such a terrible image on their own!  :D

I suspect the web designers dropped a clanger in this case...
 

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Here is their other common, stock image: I was trying to show the nicer one.



They are funny images for selling microscopes.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 12:48:52 pm by jfiresto »
 
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To give everyone a sense of scale and resolution of the image I had attached earlier (https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/the-ergonomics-of-microscope-soldering-direct-optical-view-vs-cameramo-257888/msg3295864/#msg3295864), the red wire is comprised of individual strands which are 50um in diameter...

Most of the colour and image distortion is due to JPG compression...the image is crystal clear through the eyepieces.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 12:51:32 pm by CDN_Torsten »
 
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I can see someone being happy with the binocular models. I just have my doubts about the third tube and hope someone has captured some nicer images than Amscope's.
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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To give everyone a sense of scale and resolution of the image I had attached earlier (https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/the-ergonomics-of-microscope-soldering-direct-optical-view-vs-cameramo-257888/msg3295864/#msg3295864), the red wire is comprised of individual strands which are 50um in diameter...

Most of the colour and image distortion is due to JPG compression...the image is crystal clear through the eyepieces.

Torsten - thanks again for this - I think it reasonably serves as a reference image.  As jfiresto says it’s possible to see someone being happy with this image quality. :)  I would be very happy with it. :) :)

Must be at least a few EEVers with an Amscope 745 trinocular who can put an iPhone on an eyesight port (and maybe also a trinocular port?) to show us some of their best quality PCB and soldering related images, ideally each at full zoomed in and full zoomed out.

No doubt, the images from Amscope’s site are not ideal but after seeing the state of marketing from Hayear (they sometimes don’t display model numbers) Amscope might be par for the course in some respects.  So it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Amscope web marketing team displayed less than their best.  I’m betting the EEV product review team can sort this out.  It will be interesting to see how well Amscope’s trinoculars compete with their binoculars on image quality.  I’ve done some soldering for decades without a microscope so one more week or so probably isn’t going to change my chances of seeing the Martians or the winning the Nobel prize for PCB work :)

May the thread within this thread begin:
“Show Us Your Best Amscope Trinocular Image” ....
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 03:01:16 pm by Electro Fan »
 

Online rsjsouza

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I couldn't take a photo from the trinocular (I don't have the accessory) but, just like CDN_Torsten, the photos straight from the oculars of my SM-1TSZ-V203 are reasonable (taken with a cellphone as well).

With illumination
[attach=1]

Without illumination
[attach=2]

I am using a regular Ikea lamp to illuminate my target.
[attach=3]
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Offline Electro Fan

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I couldn't take a photo from the trinocular (I don't have the accessory) but, just like CDN_Torsten, the photos straight from the oculars of my SM-1TSZ-V203 are reasonable (taken with a cellphone as well).

With illumination
[attach=1]

Without illumination
[attach=2]

I am using a regular Ikea lamp to illuminate my target.
[attach=3]

Hi rsjsouza, Thanks!

How zoomed in/out was that?  It's with a 0.5 Barlow?
What phone camera did you use?

Also, is it your perception that what you see through the eyepieces is comparable to what you see in the image, or is it possible that with your eyes the view is even better than what renders on the camera image?

Thanks again, EF
 

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I couldn't take a photo from the trinocular (I don't have the accessory) but, just like CDN_Torsten, the photos straight from the oculars of my SM-1TSZ-V203 are reasonable (taken with a cellphone as well).
Your first one looks good for a basic achromatic objective. The image becomes soft beyond roughly 0.8 * R, where R is the radius of the field of view, right where you expect.
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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This image is shown for Amscope binocular microscopes including the SM-3B-80S, which we know from Torsten's post can produce better images:

https://www.amscope.com/7x-45x-stereo-zoom-microscope-on-boom-stand-with-80-led-light.html?medium=tsa&gclid=eb4bdf7521e818d16df780ed77a8d7cb&gclsrc=3p.ds&msclkid=eb4bdf7521e818d16df780ed77a8d7cb&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Brand_SKU_Exact&utm_term=amscope%20SM-3B-80S&utm_content=SM-3B-80S

So either this image was taken through an eyepiece with a so-so camera, or with marginal lighting, or it was compressed in the web site posting process of the Amscope marketing dept, or it is an image that was taken with who-knows-what microscope but posted randomly with various models.

We need more samples of images taken with a good camera phone through an eyepiece from other Amscope trinocular users, and more such images from binocular models would also be helpful as we can get some insight into the effect of the particular camera and the lighting for each lighting.  What we won't know without a lot of samples would be any unit-to-unit variation for a given model that might be present due to the Amscope quality control process.
 
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Every microscope needs a good light source to work well since having magnification means you are collecting light from a smaller area.

At low magnifications this really is not much of a issue, lots of light still makes it trough so any resonable close by light source is enugh for the job. At high magnifications, it becomes more of an issue, especialy for the camera that is trying to maintain a shutter speed fast enugh for 60 fps, but your eyes can generaly cope with a much wider range of brightness. So at very high magnifications the solution is to simply throw more light at the problem. Luckily since the area needing light is very small this is not hard to do. The light source simply needs to be focused enugh to put most of the light in the area under the microscope rather than spilling it elsewhere, combining this small area with modern efficent LEDs means you can get some ridiculusly bright light levels without needing all that much input power. So if you lost 30% of light you can simply put 1.4W in the lighting LEDs rather than 1W and get the same result. Generaly just a simple cheap ring light can provide more than enugh light for most cases (Tho can have some glare issues sometimes).

For just personal home use id say the most value is in the optical miscoscope rather than the camera. You will end up using it through the oculars most of the time, mostly the benifit of the screen is faster view change between the miscorscope image and the desk since you can move your eyes around much faster than you can move your head away from the oculars. This is why its useful for hot air rework since you can watch the board directly and only look at the microscope image when needed to verify alignment and such. The other use for the camera is easily documenting nice chrisp high res photos and video of tiny things at the push of a button. So get the camera if you want one and can afford it, but its not a must have.

Oh and the particular chinese microscope + camera kit we ended up buying actually didn't come with a properly aligned camera setup. It had adjustable optics to dial in the camera port but no matter what i did i could never get the camera to properly track focus with the oculars for all cases. With some experimenting i found out that unscrewing the camera and holding it slightly above the camera port did get me a lot closer. So i ended up buying a small few mm C-mount spacer to put on the camera. After a good bit of adjustment(and actually figuring out the process of how to do it) i got it all dialed in so that the camera image and ocular image stays always in focus as you zoom in and out all the way. The two should track together on any half decent microscope.

Berni, what model trinocular are you using?  Any chance you can post some zoomed in and zoomed out photos with a phone camera through an eyepiece and with your blue microscope camera to show us how they compare?  Thanks
 

Online rsjsouza

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I couldn't take a photo from the trinocular (I don't have the accessory) but, just like CDN_Torsten, the photos straight from the oculars of my SM-1TSZ-V203 are reasonable (taken with a cellphone as well).
(...)

Hi rsjsouza, Thanks!

How zoomed in/out was that?  It's with a 0.5 Barlow?
What phone camera did you use?

Also, is it your perception that what you see through the eyepieces is comparable to what you see in the image, or is it possible that with your eyes the view is even better than what renders on the camera image?

Thanks again, EF
The Zoom factor was 2x with the 0.5x Barlow fitted. The phone camera is a Samsung Galaxy S9 - I uploaded the actual photos, thus the EXIF information is intact.

To my eyes, the image quality is very similar between the camera and the ocular - quite alright for a $250 stereo microscope. Before I got it, I put bids on a few Leicas from a local company closeout (I could see them before the bids, but lost all of them) and later I found one Olympus and one Leica in the local classified ads. However, I know very little about optics and how to repair them in case of disarray, and these units were quite bad looking, so I decided to buy new.

Here is another photo but with Zoom factor of 4.5x and the 0.5x Barlow. Only with illumination, otherwise it was too dark.
[attach=1]
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Offline Mechatrommer

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i have:

1) helping hand magnifier (too little magnification)
2) head band/visor loupe with variety of magnifier (the more magnification i need, the more i will smoke solder flux)
3) eye loupe (similar to head band but loupe directly on the eye which i modified 3d printed frame for handheld loupe for quick inspection)
4) old Vision Engineering TS-2 Stereo Dynascope w/ 1.5x lens (modified here Dynascope TS-2 110V Rotating Disc AC Motor, LED Light, Articulated Arm Stand Mod
5) China 1080P 60FPS Microscope Camera 130X C-Mount Lens /comboed with Samsung 24" Monitor (34MP HDMI Microscope Camera)

(5) is my primary tool now with others as auxiliary and (4) is the least used one (due to bulkiness, less magnification albeit being true optic stereo, less working area) anyone can argue its like soldering (or walking) one eye closed, but without it, its like walking blind when soldering 0402 or less or 0.5mm pitch IC, and then i can verify solder bridge by moving the pcb up and rotate 360 degrees side to side by just dialing the focus ring and for much more magnification. i can get high resolution/magnification capture too for free, and microscopy software if anyone interested (i dont).. not an affiliate, just a happy customer, fwiw ymmv.
It's extremely difficult to start life.. one features of nature.. physical laws are mathematical theory of great beauty... You may wonder Why? our knowledge shows that nature is so constructed. We simply have to accept it. One could describe the situation by saying that... (Paul Dirac)
 

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Here is another image at maximum zoom with the 0.5x Barlow lens shot through the eyepiece with a cell phone.  I have additional lighting due to the high magnification.  With the standard ring-light the image is too dark to be usable.
The part is a size 0402 thermister. 

You'll notice that at this magnification, the depth of field is very small - the PCB surface is in focus, the top of the part is slightly blurry.
 
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Your boards are cleaner than mine.  :P
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I pulled it out of the reflow oven yesterday...hasn't had time to collect Schmutz yet... :)
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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Here is another image at maximum zoom with the 0.5x Barlow lens shot through the eyepiece with a cell phone.  I have additional lighting due to the high magnification.  With the standard ring-light the image is too dark to be usable.
The part is a size 0402 thermister. 

You'll notice that at this magnification, the depth of field is very small - the PCB surface is in focus, the top of the part is slightly blurry.

Just confirming, these were both made with the same microscope and the same phone, just different zoom levels?


The green one is not at max width field of view - but something in the midrange, or it's all the way zoomed out?
« Last Edit: October 28, 2020, 12:51:05 am by Electro Fan »
 

Online Berni

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Here you go some demos of the microscope:




Attached photo is a still image out of that 16MP camera, directly as it was saved on the SD card. The jpeg compression is pretty horrible so video mode actually looks better. The photo also shows the depth of field possible. You can see the board (Its a RaspberryPi 3) is in focus but you can also see the top of those dual height USB jacks reasonably fine. The videos up there on youtube is pretty much exactly what you see on the HDMI monitor. And as usual the cameras viewing angle is more narrow than what you see trough the eyepiece because it has to get cropped down to square+some tolerance.

Went back and found the original aliexpress listing:
So apparently what i have here is a "Minsvision 7X-45X Trinocular Stereo Zoom Microscope 16MP Camera HDMI TF Card Storage 60 pc Microscope Light Ring"
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32880959393.html?spm=2114.12010615.8148356.3.475b7a8feQvzBF
 
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Online Berni

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Here is also a photo using my phone trough the ocular.

Its pretty difficult to get a good photo of it since i have to hold the phone in exactly the right spot for a good image, also my phone is fairly old so the camera is not terrific. But it does show how wide the viewing angle is.

By the way that Ethernet chip on the Raspberry Pi is a 0.5mm pitch QFN, so pretty much as fine pitch of a chip that you will regularly work with.
 
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Here is the same without the 0.5x barlow lens. And yes i know that lens is not very good, but does the job.
 
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And here is max zoom i can get out of it without the 0.5x lens. As you can see the top of capacitors are already out of focus here.

And sorry for post spam, the images are so big that only one fits per post due to attachment limits.
 
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Just confirming, these were both made with the same microscope and the same phone, just different zoom levels?


The green one is not at max width field of view - but something in the midrange, or it's all the way zoomed out?

Correct - both images are taken with the same microscope and phone - about 6months apart.  The 'green' image is at a fairly low zoom level and illuminated with only the lighting ring.  The 'blue' image is at maximum zoom (45x /2 = 22.5x) with extra illumination.
 

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Well, here's my $80 Celestron microscope.
(The manual color balance is so far off that I had to replace the ring LEDs to be able to manually adjust color balance.)
 

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Well, here's my $80 Celestron microscope.
(The manual color balance is so far off that I had to replace the ring LEDs to be able to manually adjust color balance.)

Is that a digital/USB microscope?
 

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Is that a digital/USB microscope?
Yes, it's a USB 2.0 5MP scope (if you have the time to watch 3 frames/second).
That last posted photo was at 1280 x 1024.
https://www.celestron.com/products/handheld-digital-microscope-pro
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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Here you go some demos of the microscope:




Attached photo is a still image out of that 16MP camera, directly as it was saved on the SD card. The jpeg compression is pretty horrible so video mode actually looks better. The photo also shows the depth of field possible. You can see the board (Its a RaspberryPi 3) is in focus but you can also see the top of those dual height USB jacks reasonably fine. The videos up there on youtube is pretty much exactly what you see on the HDMI monitor. And as usual the cameras viewing angle is more narrow than what you see trough the eyepiece because it has to get cropped down to square+some tolerance.

Went back and found the original aliexpress listing:
So apparently what i have here is a "Minsvision 7X-45X Trinocular Stereo Zoom Microscope 16MP Camera HDMI TF Card Storage 60 pc Microscope Light Ring"
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32880959393.html?spm=2114.12010615.8148356.3.475b7a8feQvzBF

Berni, thanks very much for getting all the images/videos and other info together.  I appreciate it.

The Minsvision head looks like it probably came from wherever Amscope gets their 745 heads, so I'm going to guess that the image quality is similar. 

I think based on your experience and your images and the other images so far in this thread that Amscope's image quality will be sufficient to make me somewhere between happy and very happy with their simulfocal.  Having said, I would not rule out the possibility that an Amscope binocular could have some image quality advantage vs. their simulfocals; whether this is the case or not, and if so, to what degree I can't say - just not enough info.  What I can say is that Torsten's "green" photo represents my best hope for what might be achieved; any more and I'd be ecstatic, similar/slightly less which is what I think we've seen from some of the other images will be ok.  Fwiw, I think Torsten's "green" image might represent what the typical Amscope stereo optics can achieve, but isn't often seen with digital images.  I'm guessing that this particular image is so impressive (at least to me) because not only did the scope do it's job, but Torsten captured it exceedingly well with his camera (along with his scope lighting and focusing).  I think there is a bit of a hit or miss when snapping a camera photo down an ocular, not unlike there is some hit or miss with any photo.  Occasionally a photographer nails it and sometimes it's just close.  Something about it, but that particular image (the "green" image) is as breathtaking as a soldering-related photo can be :).

Getting back to facts (I think) vs emotions, I did some research today and spoke with folks experienced with Leica and Olympus.  What I learned is that when you spend about $5k for a new scope in their current product lines they are very sure that their trinoculars/simulfocals don't degrade the binocular view.  As I understand slightly better now, the two binocular views converge with the view from the objective lens and how they converge is a bit of the engineering magic provided by the high end manufacturers.  I think each high end company has some amount of proprietary technique but they seem to agree that to make a 3rd port for the camera the basic approach is to put a prism somewhere inline with the path between the objective lens one of the ocular ports enabling the prism to share the image with the camera port.  The high end guys are very sure that this prism holds it's own with the rest of their optics - as a result they claim the light attenuation is negligible (and can easily be made up by putting more light on the subject), and they also claim, most importantly, that the prism introduces no discernible degradation to what reaches the oculars.  This is their confident position on the matter (as I understand it).  From there they will say that if you pay less something has to give (in addition to their overhead and profit margin) and that all bets are off as to whether manufacturers down the food chain can make such a claim regarding no degradation when adding the third port.

I have no doubt that when looking through the optics of a Leica or Olympus that the image would be clearer, more detailed, and more faithfully rendered and overall better magnified than a product costing 20% or 10% of what they get for a fully configured (head, boom, camera, etc) microscope.  In their case they start with exquisite optics for the binoc and then they add sufficient beam splitting optics to avoid degrading the binoc view.  It's just a matter of throwing enough knowhow and $ at the problem until there are no weak links in the chain.

So, the question is not whether Amscope can provide a binoc (or a trinoc) that matches the big guys, but whether Amscope can provide a trinoc that can match it's own binoc.  I guess time will tell but I'm inclined to give it a whirl unless anyone has any new persuasive info to surface.  My thinking is that the trinoc/simulfocal will be substantially close to the binoc and the flexibility to have the digital image will be useful.   Worst case, it's time to bailout of microscopy or upgrade the head (resale value on an Amscope trinoc head might be half?). 

In summary, microscopy is another another department within TEA. 

Thx for all the info and guidance from everyone on this thread.  Plz feel free to weigh-in with more sample images and other info/advice.  Thx again, EF
 

Online Berni

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Id say the quality of a microscope is not really all that important as long as it does the job.

The optics for these low magnification ones are not that hard to do, so id say its not really worth the slight optical quality improvement you might get on a name brand microscope. The only thing i find a bit meh on this chinese microscope is that 0.5x barlow lens, it does the job or giving you a wide view field and lots of working distance but i can notice the reduction in image quality using it.

The bigger differences are in the microscope cameras. Depending on what camera you get there might be very large differences in resolution, framerate, latency, low light performance, dynamic range, noise etc... The particular camera on this microscope is really good value for money with with 16MP sensor, decent dynamic range, low latency HDMI output and ability to record up to 4K video to SD cards. Tho you do need a HDMI capture card to get proper 1080p 60Hz into a PC due to the USB2.0 port being too slow for that. Sure the menus are chinglish but its also pretty cheap for its performance.

There is one more good quality chinese camera out there that also has a moving lens autofocus inside, it also looks like a anodized aluminum cube. but its much bigger to fit the autofocus mechanism in front. Dave found someone showing it off on a trade show in some video (It was that camera being rebranded as something more expensive, since those are the people that pay for nice big booths at trade shows)

In any case having 60fps is a must for doing any proper live work under a camera. 30fps is fine for inspection, lower than that is a pain to use for anything other than taking static photos.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Id say the quality of a microscope is not really all that important as long as it does the job.

The optics for these low magnification ones are not that hard to do, so id say its not really worth the slight optical quality improvement you might get on a name brand microscope. The only thing i find a bit meh on this chinese microscope is that 0.5x barlow lens, it does the job or giving you a wide view field and lots of working distance but i can notice the reduction in image quality using it.

The bigger differences are in the microscope cameras. Depending on what camera you get there might be very large differences in resolution, framerate, latency, low light performance, dynamic range, noise etc... The particular camera on this microscope is really good value for money with with 16MP sensor, decent dynamic range, low latency HDMI output and ability to record up to 4K video to SD cards. Tho you do need a HDMI capture card to get proper 1080p 60Hz into a PC due to the USB2.0 port being too slow for that. Sure the menus are chinglish but its also pretty cheap for its performance.

There is one more good quality chinese camera out there that also has a moving lens autofocus inside, it also looks like a anodized aluminum cube. but its much bigger to fit the autofocus mechanism in front. Dave found someone showing it off on a trade show in some video (It was that camera being rebranded as something more expensive, since those are the people that pay for nice big booths at trade shows)

In any case having 60fps is a must for doing any proper live work under a camera. 30fps is fine for inspection, lower than that is a pain to use for anything other than taking static photos.

Roger on all that.

If there is an alternative to the Amscope 0.5 Barlow that should be considered, that would be good to know about.

Now that I think I'm headed for a simulfocal I tried a couple monitors for the soldering work bench and in the process I watched several videos - some about soldering PCBs and some just demo 1080P videos.  In adjusting the settings it struck me that 1080P at 60 fps, maybe depending on the material - at least on good recordings, is noticeably better than 30 fps.  I would have guessed as much for video games but I was a little surprised on more regular content.  So I'm holding out for a camera that does 1080P at 60 fps, for sure.  Maybe a Hayear HY-3307 but that's subject to change.  Autofocus would be great but the price seems to jump up a bunch.
 

Online Berni

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Roger on all that.

If there is an alternative to the Amscope 0.5 Barlow that should be considered, that would be good to know about.

Now that I think I'm headed for a simulfocal I tried a couple monitors for the soldering work bench and in the process I watched several videos - some about soldering PCBs and some just demo 1080P videos.  In adjusting the settings it struck me that 1080P at 60 fps, maybe depending on the material - at least on good recordings, is noticeably better than 30 fps.  I would have guessed as much for video games but I was a little surprised on more regular content.  So I'm holding out for a camera that does 1080P at 60 fps, for sure.  Maybe a Hayear HY-3307 but that's subject to change.  Autofocus would be great but the price seems to jump up a bunch.

I think the mounting thread on these barlow lenses are somewhat standardized so you should be able to find a better one with the same thread and just screw it on. And if it does not fit you can also 3D print an adapter or something since the positioning of this lens is not so critical.

The reason why 60fps is important in games but 24fps is fine for movies is because of games being interactive. A closed loop control system is formed between your eyes, brain, hands, input, monitor. When a control loop has too much delay between its actions and seeing the result, it becomes unstable. It makes a movement input, sees the result is still not there, makes more input into that direction, still not moving enough, then the delay comes around and suddenly there is way too much movement in that direction so a strong counter movement is applied and once it gets around the loop it ends up being too much again, needs to be corrected again...etc.

So low fps causes this delay to be too long and even be irregular, since doing input just before the frame gives a shorter round trip delay than doing it just after the frame. This causes problems with the control loops in your brain just as much, making it struggle with quick accurate movements. The result is that you seam to be a lot clumsier than usual. You don't notice the delay, you just notice that all faster movements become very difficult to do with a good deal of accuracy.
 

Online Zbig

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Sorry for plugging my own thread but it seems very much on topic here.

I am stereo-blind so any binocular devices don't work for me. I've got myself a ViTiny digital microscope and it works fine out of the box for the most part but I really did't like the inflexibility of its original smallish plate and stand assembly. More generally, I'm not big on the idea of having to move the thing you're working on under the microscope, especially after getting a set of PCBite (and liking it). So I came up with a sliding mount that hangs from under my over-bench shelf and allows me to move the microscope in an X-Y axes freely and effortlessly:



More photos, short video demo and some project details can by found there: https://www.eevblog.com/forum/projects/sliding-microscope-mount/msg3268392/

But more on the original topic itself: I was a bit worried I wouldn't manage the eye-hand coordination when looking at the monitor that is off to the side of the thing I'm working on but I accommodated surprisingly easily. The thing I was anticipating the most - not being able to resist the urge of looking away from the monitor but directly on my hands, isn't happening much. The only funny moment is the initial "reckoning" where I'm fumbling for a while trying to get my soldering iron-wielding hand into the view. I begin to think that the fact that I am stereo-blind and had to develop some workaround solutions in my brain's circuitry that allow me to function normally and not bump into things early in my life, actually helps me working like that as to me it's not really that different than actually using my eye. Singular, as my dominant eyeball is the right one and seeing in 3D is mostly an abstract notion to me  ;)

Also - partially as a 3D-designing and -printing exercise and partially out of frustration with a generic "watchmaker" type loupe falling off and hurting my eye socket - I made my own:



The goal was for it to be anatomically-shaped and tailor-fitted to my eye socket so it wouldn't cause me pain and for my face to be able to get a better grip on it. While I've managed to achieve the former pretty well, the latter is a bit of a mixed bag; those two requirements seem to be mutually exclusive to a degree.
 
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Online jfiresto

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...  So, the question is not whether Amscope can provide a binoc (or a trinoc) that matches the big guys, but whether Amscope can provide a trinoc that can match it's own binoc.  I guess time will tell but I'm inclined to give it a whirl unless anyone has any new persuasive info to surface.  My thinking is that the trinoc/simulfocal will be substantially close to the binoc and the flexibility to have the digital image will be useful.... 

I expect you will see good images looking through the eyepieces of both the binocular and trinocular models. I would not, however, count on a good image out of Amscope's trinocular camera port. All the reviews I have read found the port images were anywhere from poor to useless. To suppose otherwise runs the great risk of buying a bill of goods – with regards to the third tube and just that tube – I expect the eyepiece images will be fine. Except it will arguably not be a bill of goods because Amscope's own website plainly show the images out of the third tube are crap. (Sorry for getting technical and probably stating the obvious.) Whether that possible (probable?) outcome is worth the money is something for you to decide.

A $5k microscope will likely be a Common Main Objective design. One of its biggest advantages, arguably its biggest one, is that you can easily insert accessories, such as a third photo tube, into an optical path and negligibly degrade its image. Inserting an accessory in to a Greenough design microscope, like the ones you are considering, is much less of a no-brainer and became so complicated that pretty much all flexible system microscopes went to CMO designs.

The art and science of producing good stereo microscopes were largely settled by the mid-1980s. The knowledge is out there: it is just a matter of making the effort, and spending the time and money, to get things exactly and consistently right. Does Amscope, or some other vendor, and for what parts of the microscope?

[Sorry about the multiple edits.]
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 02:12:09 pm by jfiresto »
 
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Online jfiresto

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Since I have been unable to convince anyone to examine the image out of a Amscope SM-4NTP, I have had to reduce myself to arguing like an economist  :-\ and have ran a cost analysis on a well regarded stereo microscope head that can be ordered with or without a trinocular photo tube.

It is the Meiji EMZ-5, which I can very well believe is the archetype that Amscope and colleagues copy. According to tequipment.net, the binocular and trinocular versions list for $1260 and $1630, respectively. If Meiji's list prices reflect their production costs, a photo tube adds 29% to the cost. Tequipment sells both at the same 19.75% discount.

The current list (and selling prices) for Amscope's look alikes, the SM745NB and SM745NTP, are $611.99 ($305.99) and $709.98 ($354.99), respectively. Adding a photo tube adds 16% to the price, suggesting that Amscope's supplier is investing only half as much in their photo tubes as Meiji – and cutting corners.

 

Offline Mechatrommer

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  • reassessing directives...
I have had to reduce myself to arguing like an economist  :-\ and have ran a cost analysis...
list for $1260 and $1630...
are $611.99 ($305.99) and $709.98 ($354.99)...
this is one of the thing that i did which ending me up buying a $100 camera+monitor setup... to add more points..

1) being angled like 135º objective lens to eyepiece.. with my bench setup at my chest level it wont cut it, bench has to be on my belly button or on my lap level to get comfortable soldering space, or else soldering while standing.. i was searching stereoscope that can be adjusted to like 90º angle (eye looking to the front not down) but none found except the super expensive mantis.

2) i dont like to keep swinging my head to the side of stereoscope to see the actual pcb and hand+solder position. and again, so far only the mantis (or dynascope) can fullfill this, problem is no annual budget allocated yet so far for years. even if there's budget, i'm not sure if it fits my bench.

anyway, most people seems to like stereoscope, so i'm among the unpopular minority report...
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Offline SilverSolder

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Since I have been unable to convince anyone to examine the image out of a Amscope SM-4NTP, I have had to reduce myself to arguing like an economist  :-\ and have ran a cost analysis on a well regarded stereo microscope head that can be ordered with or without a trinocular photo tube.

It is the Meiji EMZ-5, which I can very well believe is the archetype that Amscope and colleagues copy. According to tequipment.net, the binocular and trinocular versions list for $1260 and $1630, respectively. If Meiji's list prices reflect their production costs, a photo tube adds 29% to the cost. Tequipment sells both at the same 19.75% discount.

The current list (and selling prices) for Amscope's look alikes, the SM745NB and SM745NTP, are $611.99 ($305.99) and $709.98 ($354.99), respectively. Adding a photo tube adds 16% to the price, suggesting that Amscope's supplier is investing only half as much in their photo tubes as Meiji – and cutting corners.

An economist/marketing type will tell you that the price of a product must be set "at the level that the market will bear", completely independently of what it costs to produce.  The correct way (from a marketing specialist perspective) to introduce a new product is to first figure out what price the market will bear, then figure out if you can produce the product cheaply enough to turn a profit.

The market will also be segmented according to what people are willing to pay -  it is a central marketing tenet that you always allow people to pay as much as they want!  Hence, you see basically the same car model sold in different variants, where the difference between the cheapest and most expensive does not reflect the difference in production costs.

In other words - taking the price of the product as an indicator of quality is full of traps for young and old players alike, and you have a lot of clever people intentionally setting those traps for you! :D
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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...  So, the question is not whether Amscope can provide a binoc (or a trinoc) that matches the big guys, but whether Amscope can provide a trinoc that can match it's own binoc.  I guess time will tell but I'm inclined to give it a whirl unless anyone has any new persuasive info to surface.  My thinking is that the trinoc/simulfocal will be substantially close to the binoc and the flexibility to have the digital image will be useful.... 

I expect you will see good images looking through the eyepieces of both the binocular and trinocular models. I would not, however, count on a good image out of Amscope's trinocular camera port. All the reviews I have read found the port images were anywhere from poor to useless. To suppose otherwise runs the great risk of buying a bill of goods – with regards to the third tube and just that tube – I expect the eyepiece images will be fine. Except it will arguably not be a bill of goods because Amscope's own website plainly show the images out of the third tube are crap. (Sorry for getting technical and probably stating the obvious.) Whether that possible (probable?) outcome is worth the money is something for you to decide.

A $5k microscope will likely be a Common Main Objective design. One of its biggest advantages, arguably its biggest one, is that you can easily insert accessories, such as a third photo tube, into an optical path and negligibly degrade its image. Inserting an accessory in to a Greenough design microscope, like the ones you are considering, is much less of a no-brainer and became so complicated that pretty much all flexible system microscopes went to CMO designs.

The art and science of producing good stereo microscopes were largely settled by the mid-1980s. The knowledge is out there: it is just a matter of making the effort, and spending the time and money, to get things exactly and consistently right. Does Amscope, or some other vendor, and for what parts of the microscope?

[Sorry about the multiple edits.]

Hi jfiresto,

First and foremost, thanks for sharing your knowledge, experience, and passion regarding microscopes.  Your insight is very helpful.

As for rookies making partially informed decisions, I will definitely put myself in this bucket.  Until yesterday I was unaware of CMO and Greenough... every day is a chance to learn new stuff, for sure.

If I had a need and budget to justify $2500 - $5k on a microscope that would be a fun position to enjoy, but my reality is that I'm in the Amscope range; it's more about learning and gaining experience than doing anything super productive.  I just don't see a lot of better alternatives.  Of course there is the used market but in the same way that members in the Test Equipment forum often advise new users that unless a buyer is prepared to fix a scope the used market doesn't come without some risk of it's own.

Clearly, a choice would be to leave out the 3rd port digital view (just use a phone camera); so adding the simulfocal instead of going straight binoc is a bit of a leap of logic (it might be just faith and hope), I admit.  When talking with the Leica and Olympus folks it was clear their products had models that kept the price down (to ~2.5k from ~5k) but at the future expense of foregoing some of the more smoothly incremental upgrade path.  It's not uncommon for product lines to have some amount of digital-like step functionality rather than an analog-like continuously variable upgrade curve.  This seems to be the case with binoc vs simulfocal. 

So, once you crossover to the decision to go for a simulfocal scope, while there are multiple brands they appear to generally come from whatever factory produces Amscope's scopes.  You would think by now someone would have done a Dave-like teardown and test video on an Amscope simulfocal to address the various questions we've been discussing in this thread but I haven't found it yet.  Pieces of the info are out there but not quite the whole story measured and documented.  Just exactly how and how well the light path works in Amscope trinoculars/simulfocals remains somewhat out of the FOV (haha) as best I can tell.

Net, net:  as much as I truly am curious to understand how the watch works I'm also hoping that at least it keeps decent time.  Once I learn that the hard way (with a purchase) maybe I'll be able to better learn, understand, and appreciate how it works.  In any event, it's a journey and I definitely appreciate the attempts to keep me and others on a good path. :)

As for the forecast on likely results, if it turns out that the SM-4NTP is reasonably good with the direct view optics but just so-so with the camera view that's an outcome I can probably live with; it would definitely be better than vice versa.  My goal is to get at least a few Torsten "green"-quality images with the digital view and some correspondingly better views through the oculars.  (Knock on Wood.)

I'll do my best to share the results as I get there.
 
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Online jfiresto

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... The market will also be segmented according to what people are willing to pay -  it is a central marketing tenet that you always allow people to pay as much as they want!  Hence, you see basically the same car model sold in different variants, where the difference between the cheapest and most expensive does not reflect the difference in production costs....

So then I would argue that the photo tube fractional price increments reflect the microscopists' marginal utility, that they get nearly twice the value from Meiji's photo tube as Amscope's. Or I better stop before I get silly.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Since I have been unable to convince anyone to examine the image out of a Amscope SM-4NTP, I have had to reduce myself to arguing like an economist  :-\ and have ran a cost analysis on a well regarded stereo microscope head that can be ordered with or without a trinocular photo tube.

It is the Meiji EMZ-5, which I can very well believe is the archetype that Amscope and colleagues copy. According to tequipment.net, the binocular and trinocular versions list for $1260 and $1630, respectively. If Meiji's list prices reflect their production costs, a photo tube adds 29% to the cost. Tequipment sells both at the same 19.75% discount.

The current list (and selling prices) for Amscope's look alikes, the SM745NB and SM745NTP, are $611.99 ($305.99) and $709.98 ($354.99), respectively. Adding a photo tube adds 16% to the price, suggesting that Amscope's supplier is investing only half as much in their photo tubes as Meiji – and cutting corners.

I think it's A-OK for engineers to argue like an economist; I don't think that is "reducing" at all.  In the end I think being competitive with technology (the application of science to business) generally generally requires the efficient use of resources (time, $, bandwidth, you name it).  So I wouldn't look at your approach as anything but positive.

As for Meiji and the EMZ-5 those look like a very plausible next step up.  Seems smart of Meiji to wedgie (:)) it's way in between Amscope and Zeiss/Leica/Nikon/Olympus et al.  Part of TEA is to know what your next bout of OCD will compel you toward as you try to shake the current bout.
 

Online jfiresto

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As for the forecast on likely results, if it turns out that the SM-4NTP is reasonably good with the direct view optics but just so-so with the camera view that's an outcome I can probably live with; it would definitely be better than vice versa.  My goal is to get at least a few Torsten "green"-quality images with the digital view and some correspondingly better views through the oculars.  (Knock on Wood.)

That sounds good to me. The trinocular version does not cost much more, and as far as I can tell, it will only take a little brightness from the eyepieces, a little more focus tension and probably inconsequentially more airspace over the head.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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... The market will also be segmented according to what people are willing to pay -  it is a central marketing tenet that you always allow people to pay as much as they want!  Hence, you see basically the same car model sold in different variants, where the difference between the cheapest and most expensive does not reflect the difference in production costs....

So then I would argue that the photo tube fractional price increments reflect the microscopists' marginal utility, that they get nearly twice the value from Meiji's photo tube as Amscope's. Or I better stop before I get silly.

Not silly at all, really - but fwiw if you look closely you might see some 10-15% offs on Amscope.  So now that you have crossed over to the dark side it's good to keep the apples with the apples. :)  Thanks again  :-+

PS, maybe Dave can go all out and do the Amscope simulfocal teardown in parallel with the Meiji simulfocal. :)
 

Online jfiresto

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... PS, maybe Dave can go all out and do the Amscope simulfocal teardown in parallel with the Meiji simulfocal. :)

I would love to see that comparison.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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As for the forecast on likely results, if it turns out that the SM-4NTP is reasonably good with the direct view optics but just so-so with the camera view that's an outcome I can probably live with; it would definitely be better than vice versa.  My goal is to get at least a few Torsten "green"-quality images with the digital view and some correspondingly better views through the oculars.  (Knock on Wood.)

That sounds good to me. The trinocular version does not cost much more, and as far as I can tell, it will only take a little brightness from the eyepieces, a little more focus tension and probably inconsequentially more airspace over the head.

jfiresto, you are a mighty fine microscope coach.  I understand appreciate your idea here as a way to deal with the uncertainty of the light path design and performance while preserving the ability to use a scope mounted camera - ie, go with the trinoc rather than the simulfocal.  It would seem that the optical difference between binoc and trinoc should be pretty close to zero, almost without a doubt.  And it would seem that the difference between the trinoc and the simulfocal might be something perceptibly more than zero, I get the thinking.   But I'm hoping (knock on wood) that whatever the binoc-simulfcoal delta is that it's negligible on the direct view, and a reasonable tradeoff for the convenience and flexibility of the simulfocal.  Certainly no one can say you didn't do everything in your power to keep me from erroring on this.  I really appreciate the whole-hearted effort.  Thanks  :-+ :-+
 

Offline SilverSolder

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... The market will also be segmented according to what people are willing to pay -  it is a central marketing tenet that you always allow people to pay as much as they want!  Hence, you see basically the same car model sold in different variants, where the difference between the cheapest and most expensive does not reflect the difference in production costs....

So then I would argue that the photo tube fractional price increments reflect the microscopists' marginal utility, that they get nearly twice the value from Meiji's photo tube as Amscope's. Or I better stop before I get silly.

Economic theory starts to make a lot more sense as soon as you realize that most people are not rational actors in the market!  Even professional traders are essentially just trend followers...
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 08:02:18 pm by SilverSolder »
 

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So where does this leave us for people who are still thinking USB only?
Where should I be looking for something with good refresh (30-60 fps), decent res (2-5 MP) and a decent DoF and working space?
 

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I have an AMSCOPE MU300 camera that for documentation is fine but I can't imagine trying to solder with it.   It's just too slow.   

My scope in its current state.  Don't laugh too hard.
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Offline Electro Fan

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So where does this leave us for people who are still thinking USB only?
Where should I be looking for something with good refresh (30-60 fps), decent res (2-5 MP) and a decent DoF and working space?

fwiw, my impression after all the discussion in this thread is a few things:

1. When looking at the specs for fps, it appears easier to find cameras that do HDMI at 60 fps for a given resolution (such as 1080P) than it is to find USB cameras that get to 60 fps; it appears easier to find USB cameras that do 30 fps rather than 60 fps for 1080P, for example.  Related to this, my personal sense after limited experimenting is that 60 fps is preferred even though previously I would have bet that 30 fps would be sufficient.

2. Finding 2 plus MP will be easy.

3. The hard part, and the key point here, is that there seems to be a consensus that DoF is among the most difficult of attribute to render well with digital cameras* vs. direct viewing optics.  fwiw, I have ordered up a digital camera that I plan to use on the Amscope 745 simulfocal port and I might have enough parts to try it out on a standalone basis this weekend.  I'll see what I can determine about digital only depth of field and post something here but I won't have the 745 with the optical capability probably for a couple weeks so unfortunately it might be a while before I can compare and contrast the two.

As to where to look, you can find cameras, a few C-mount lenses, and some stands on Amazon.  I'm going to try some Hayear products but ymmv.

* I'm talking about entry level cameras that get mounted on microscope tubes for trinocular or simulfocal scopes; perhaps with other dedicated lenses these or other digital cameras will provide enough DoF for soldering.  Obviously 35mm digital cameras with good lenses can provide outstanding DoF.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2020, 01:29:45 am by Electro Fan »
 

Online rsjsouza

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Regarding USB cameras, a few years ago a company in Hong Kong advertised a microscope camera based on a really good camera from Microsoft. I checked and here is their website:
https://www.diyinhk.com/shop/11-usb-microscope-1080p-for-smt-soldering

I think that Dave did a review of it.
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Online Berni

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The reason for most USB cameras not supporting 1080p 60fps is that USB 2.0 is too slow for that. It needs to be USB 3.0 to have enough bandwidth to handle it, such cameras are certainly out there but are a lot more rare.

For working under a camera you might actually want to have HDMI anyway due to its latency advantage. Getting a image from a USB camera to the screen jumps trough quite a few hoops. There will typically be some buffering in the camera controller itself to handle hitches in USB bandwidth, then there is some more buffering on the PC side because the CPU might be doing other important stuff sometimes, then once the camera driver gets the USB data it has to translate it into a framebuffer. the camera application has to take this framebuffer and draw it into the display framebuffer on the graphics card (On a modern windows this might be done twice due to the window manager having to move from application framebuffers into the screen buffer), then the graphics cards display output refresh cycle has to come around to the actual pixels that show the camera application and start sending them out to the monitor for display. Each step here can induce some unpredictable latency or cause hitches in the framerate since the camera and display framerate are not synchronized to each other.

On the other hand a HDMI camera simply on the fly coverts the raw data stream coming out of the image sensor into pixels going out of the HDMI output. This involves minimal buffering of perhaps a only a few video lines while the image sensor scan stays perfectly in sync with the monitors LCD scan rate since the monitors timings are driven from the HDMI signal timings. This can significantly reduce average latency and jitter.

So i you don't have an extra monitor to spare for a HDMI camera then think about perhaps getting a HDMI switching box to easily put the signal into your existing computer monitor.
 
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Online jfiresto

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My scope in its current state.  Don't laugh too hard.

Laugh at it? I think it looks no-nonsense industrious.
 

Offline Mechatrommer

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24" monitors is cheap nowadays.. https://www.amazon.com/24-inch-monitor/s?k=24+inch+monitor if you think its too big, then smaller LCD can be bought from PC shop at fraction of price (or find used market you can get free). if you think they are expensive, Amscope and any other stereoscopes are more expensive, so i cant follow the logic.
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The reason for most USB cameras not supporting 1080p 60fps is that USB 2.0 is too slow for that. It needs to be USB 3.0 to have enough bandwidth to handle it, such cameras are certainly out there but are a lot more rare.

For working under a camera you might actually want to have HDMI anyway due to its latency advantage. Getting a image from a USB camera to the screen jumps trough quite a few hoops. There will typically be some buffering in the camera controller itself to handle hitches in USB bandwidth, then there is some more buffering on the PC side because the CPU might be doing other important stuff sometimes, then once the camera driver gets the USB data it has to translate it into a framebuffer. the camera application has to take this framebuffer and draw it into the display framebuffer on the graphics card (On a modern windows this might be done twice due to the window manager having to move from application framebuffers into the screen buffer), then the graphics cards display output refresh cycle has to come around to the actual pixels that show the camera application and start sending them out to the monitor for display. Each step here can induce some unpredictable latency or cause hitches in the framerate since the camera and display framerate are not synchronized to each other.

On the other hand a HDMI camera simply on the fly coverts the raw data stream coming out of the image sensor into pixels going out of the HDMI output. This involves minimal buffering of perhaps a only a few video lines while the image sensor scan stays perfectly in sync with the monitors LCD scan rate since the monitors timings are driven from the HDMI signal timings. This can significantly reduce average latency and jitter.

So i you don't have an extra monitor to spare for a HDMI camera then think about perhaps getting a HDMI switching box to easily put the signal into your existing computer monitor.

That is essentially what I do -  using a "retired" camcorder with a close-up lens, and an external monitor connected using HDMI, to get a minimum latency solution.  This works at up to 60fps and soldering is no problem.  -  That said, I don't think 30fps is a problem for soldering - as long as there is little latency, I could live with even less than 30fps, in all honesty.  Latency is the real "deal killer" and is hardly ever specified...

 

Offline Electro Fan

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24" monitors is cheap nowadays.. https://www.amazon.com/24-inch-monitor/s?k=24+inch+monitor if you think its too big, then smaller LCD can be bought from PC shop at fraction of price (or find used market you can get free). if you think they are expensive, Amscope and any other stereoscopes are more expensive, so i cant follow the logic.

Note:  this started out as a short (not my specialty) reply/comment to Mechatrommer; but it caused me to go back and review the Amscope product line - not 100% fully but somewhat quickly - to pick-out the models that seem relevant for soldering (ie, ~3.5x-22.5 using a 0.5 Barlow to give ~8" working space).  So you can zip past the digital camera and monitor stuff and maybe the Amscope model recap below will help someone get beyond decoding the numbering system of the Amscope models and just focus-in (haha) on some of the more interesting models/configurations for soldering.

---

Without a doubt using a HDMI monitor is part of the equation.  With a HDMI camera you can go directly to the monitor and not even need a computer (if one isn't available nearby); you can move the image with a SD card to a computer for post processing if you don't have a USB connection from the camera to a computer.

Dell P2219H
If you are low on space, this might be a consideration; it can sometimes be found for $129 or less:
https://www.amazon.com/Dell-Screen-LED-Lit-Monitor-P2219H/dp/B07F8Z2WFL/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=2219h+dell&qid=1604078410&sr=8-2

Dell U2415
This will provide some extra real estate (1920 x 1200) and a brighter (300cd/m2), better picture and it would be a great general purpose monitor as well as a good microscope monitor.
https://www.microcenter.com/search/search_results.aspx?N=&cat=&Ntt=dell+u2415&searchButton=search

Whatever monitor you choose you can add a digital camera for about $100 plus or minus; with a stand and some other accessories maybe another $100, so all in it's about $200-$250 (if you have HDMI monitor), or about $350-$400 (if you need a monitor) for 1080P 60 fps. (Don't forget some type of lighting.) 

---

Alternatively, for around the same price you could have a pretty nice optical scope (might be able to find these for ~10% off):

Amscope microscope model recap for soldering

SM-3BX (~$400 with discount)
https://www.amscope.com/3-5x-45x-stereo-zoom-microscope-with-single-arm-boom-stand.html

SM-3TX (adds trinocular port)
https://www.amscope.com/3-5x-45x-trinocular-stereo-zoom-microscope-on-single-arm-boom-stand.html

SM-3NTPX (adds simulfocal port)
https://www.amscope.com/3-5x-45x-simul-focal-stereo-lockable-zoom-microscope-on-single-arm-boom-stand.html

Or for 2x $ you could have both optical and digital - either each standalone, or integrated (as trinocular or simulfocal).

Still more possibilities: (same opticals as the SM-3 series; what the SM-1 series gives up vs the SM-3 series is the boom flexibility, but it might be possible to find the ideal location on your bench and leave the scope there; in other words you position the PCB for the scope rather than positioning the scope (with the boom) for the PCB; maybe not much of a give in return for going easier on the budget) :

SM-1BX (~$330 with discount) - maybe just add light and call it a day with this
https://www.amscope.com/3-5x-45x-stereo-inspection-microscope-with-super-large-stand.html

SM-1TSZ-V203 (maybe better yet @ ~$265 with discount) - this could be the sweet spot for entry optical; this would (maybe) make jfiresto happy :) (with this model, or any of the trinocs (instead of the simulfocals) I think you can close down the 3rd port when you don't need it and (maybe) thereby keep all the light (clearly and reasonably undistorted?) for the binoc view; then you can open the 3rd port when you want an image or video).  I think the only limitation might be the size of the stand: (10" x 7-7/8" x 7/8", allow for some horizontal space taken by the pillar) - will your PCBs fit?  If not, the 1BX (above) with the larger stand might be a solution.  Or maybe go for this SM-1TSZ-V203, ditch the stand, and mount the pillar directly on your bench?
https://www.amscope.com/3-5x-90x-zoom-trinocular-stereo-microscope-with-table-pillar-stand.html

SE400-Z - yet another alternative, at about $200 (with discount) including a light this would seem to give most digital scopes a run for their money
https://www.amscope.com/10x-20x-led-binocular-stereo-microscope-boom-arm-with-gooseneck-light.html


BIG DISCLAIMERS: 
1. Watch out for scope creep; you can start at the entry level and pretty soon walk yourself up the ladder to more features.
2. This is strictly research to help you find some info in one place.  I don't have an Amscope model [anything] yet. 
3. YMMV

Edit:

found another interesting video:


looks like this is the reviewers configuration:
- from the review it appeared to be a simufocal rather than a regular trinocular
- I think MinsVision is what Berni has been using
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32880372287.html
(it isn't clear if this has a 14" post; it seems to include a 1080P camera but it isn't clear if it's 60 fps vs 30/other fps)
- another Disclaimer:  I have zero experience with aliexpress
« Last Edit: October 30, 2020, 08:21:40 pm by Electro Fan »
 
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I went for the SM-1TSZ-V203 due to the following factors, ordered by importance:
- Price: it is a reasonable cost of entry for a stereoscope to allow better SMD and small soldering
- Bench size: it was the one that used less bench space. Its surface has a reasonable size for 15x15cm PCBs and it is not raised too high from the table, which helps use boards larger than this.
- Replaceable parts and accessories available: one never knows if something falls and breaks... Or add something for the future.
- Trinocular: I still have a desire to add a camera accessory.
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Offline joeqsmith

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It sounds like from what is being posted,  there may not be a good solution when it comes to soldering using USB.  That's been my experience but I would have thought by now with USB3 that there would be better cameras out there.  Do they make HDMI cameras for them or is everyone making their own adapters?

I've used it in a few videos and the slow update rate isn't impressive.   Stills are good enough for me.  I attached a few pictures. 

My scope in its current state.  Don't laugh too hard.

Laugh at it? I think it looks no-nonsense industrious.

Like that custom ring mount I made?   :-DD   I can swing the head off to the side if I want to work on the bench but have thought about making some sort of sliding boom mount to be able to move the head further away for larger parts.    Still, I like how stable it is. 
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 


Offline Electro Fan

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Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #119 on: November 01, 2020, 02:04:03 am »
Ok, doing some digital testing.  The results of this might influence the final choice of optical scope (regular binoc, trinoc, or simul-focal).  Spoiler alert:  nothing in these tests is dissuading me from going with some form of optical scope.

Test bed:

1.   Hayear 3307 (think) 16MP 1080P 60 fps camera (using HDMI)
2.   Hayear 8x-100x 43mm-150mm C-Mount Lens
3.   Hayear stand
4.   Sony 1920 x 1200 U2415 24” monitor (using HDMI)

Preliminary measurements:

1.   The test bed provides about 2” of working distance; doesn’t change much regardless of the lens zoom ring settings.
2.   The lens zoom ring provides a width (fov) of ~5mm – 9.5mm.

Preliminary impressions:

1.   There is little to no lag.
2.   The working distance is of course too small.
3.   The depth of field is extremely small.
4.   My guess is that the monitor and the camera are A-OK.
5.   My guess is that the lens optics are possibly sufficient – but it’s the wrong focal length (it’s too long); it needs to be a shorter focal length to provide a wider fov as 9.5mm fov max is too narrow.
6.   This setup wouldn’t seem to make much sense for soldering but it could possibly be used for inspection.

The problem of course is that as the focal length gets shorter to provide a wider fov, the dof will get still shallower (assuming the same aperture).  So far it doesn’t seem like it’s easy to go shopping for C-mount lenses where you can individually specify focal length and aperture; and in general the whole notion of any sufficient amount of dof with the low end digital cameras for microscope setups seems to be unlikely.

Net, net:  too limited working distance, not enough FOV, too limited depth of field.  Other than that perfect.  (On the upside, what you see on the monitor has enough detail and good color.)

---

Attached are some images taken with a phone camera of the images as they were displayed on the monitor

You can see that when looking at the transistor legs just a tiny adjustment on the focal plane allows the focus to move from leg to leg to leg at the point where they attach to the underside of the transistor – but it’s impossible to get the full transistor can in focus.  In one image you can see that pretty much just the tab is in focus, and the focus runs out on the transistor leg running through the pliers.

Not sure what happens with the 0.5 Barlow but rumor has it that is not going to create a superlative optical enhancement in terms of image quality but it will give a wider fov.  This whole thing is a puzzle.  :)

« Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 02:07:08 am by Electro Fan »
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #120 on: November 01, 2020, 02:29:36 am »
PS, waiting for jfiresto say "told you so - you are pushing this whole thing too far; in an effort to easily get some semi-ok digital images you are going to tax the Amscope optics by adding complexity to the light path in order to support a trinoc or simul-focal, and therefore the image quality of the normal binoc will incrementally degrade to the point where everything is marginal when it could be sufficient with the Amscope binoc".  Am I getting this right jfiresto? :)  (My hope is still that other users who have used the trinoc and simul-focal have reported happy experiences with the optics and it's just hard to capture and display the direct view experience other than with an occasional very good phone camera shot through an eyepiece like Torsten did with his green image.)

What I don't know is how poor to marginal the Hayear lens is (ie, how it compares to what would be seen by the same camera through an Amscope trinoc or simulfocal).

Edit:  added a couple images captured to the Micro SD card rather than camera photos of images on the monitor.

Edit 2:  I tried to upload the two images from the Micro SD card and I got a message back from EEVblog saying that the images had failed a security test....??  So I next ran a scan with some antivirus software on the specific files on the Micro SD card (which had to be formatted by the Hayear camera) and my normally reliable antivirus program just ran and ran with no results until I terminated the program.  Hope Hayear is on the up and up.

So,
I took a screen shot of the two images and uploaded those but it's strange that I got the msg from EEVblog and that my software scan didn't like something...  Thoughts on this...?  Thx

Update:  I think the files were too big for the forum and for some reason my scanner seemed to hiccup at the same time; I can't explain why it did, it's kind of unusual.  I happened to this review from another user:

https://www.amazon.com/HAYEAR-C-Mount-Electronic-Industry-Microscope/dp/B07MPY1BHV#customerReviews

So I'm kind of on-watch.  If anyone else uses a Hayear camera, maybe run some scans and let us know if you see anything out of the ordinary.  For now I'm going to move from code red to code yellow.  Thx

.... back to microscope stuff :)
« Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 07:34:56 am by Electro Fan »
 
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Online jfiresto

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #121 on: November 01, 2020, 11:15:56 am »
PS, waiting for jfiresto say "told you so - you are pushing this whole thing too far; in an effort to easily get some semi-ok digital images you are going to tax the Amscope optics by adding complexity to the light path in order to support a trinoc or simul-focal, and therefore the image quality of the normal binoc will incrementally degrade to the point where everything is marginal when it could be sufficient with the Amscope binoc".  Am I getting this right jfiresto? :)...

I am not sure I would put it that way. The image you view or capture is sourced by the objective and that is all the optics and image processing downstream have to work with. The stuff downstream can only do so much to improve the image; they have much greater latitude to degrade it. Which way things go depends on the resources thrown at the problem.

I noticed for the same price, Meiji Techno also sells a version of the EMZ-5TR I linked to earlier, the EMZ-8TR with 50:50 beam splitters that alway output an image to to all three viewing ports simultaneously. I am sure its image quality is nothing to worry about, so that their customers can freely choose the best version for the things they look at.

When I get a chance I will compare and post the images I get with and without a 0.5X auxiliary lens on a zoom microscope. The lens may win enough depth of field for your transistor.

« Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 11:20:05 am by jfiresto »
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #122 on: November 01, 2020, 07:26:12 pm »
PS, waiting for jfiresto say "told you so - you are pushing this whole thing too far; in an effort to easily get some semi-ok digital images you are going to tax the Amscope optics by adding complexity to the light path in order to support a trinoc or simul-focal, and therefore the image quality of the normal binoc will incrementally degrade to the point where everything is marginal when it could be sufficient with the Amscope binoc".  Am I getting this right jfiresto? :)...

I am not sure I would put it that way. The image you view or capture is sourced by the objective and that is all the optics and image processing downstream have to work with. The stuff downstream can only do so much to improve the image; they have much greater latitude to degrade it. Which way things go depends on the resources thrown at the problem.

I noticed for the same price, Meiji Techno also sells a version of the EMZ-5TR I linked to earlier, the EMZ-8TR with 50:50 beam splitters that alway output an image to to all three viewing ports simultaneously. I am sure its image quality is nothing to worry about, so that their customers can freely choose the best version for the things they look at.

When I get a chance I will compare and post the images I get with and without a 0.5X auxiliary lens on a zoom microscope. The lens may win enough depth of field for your transistor.

Ok, Thanks.  I'm still trying to get it figured out.  My thought is to find exploded part diagrams to show how entry-mid level stereo microscopes work and then move on from the stereo baseline to learn how entry-mid level trinocular and simul-focal microscopes work.

As to how the stereo scopes work I saw this:

http://microscopy.berkeley.edu/courses/tlm/stereo/index.html

a) is Common Main Objective and b) is Greenough, yes?

This seems to confirm that a) is CMO:
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1634/0335/files/CMO_Greenough_Diagram.png?v=1591645817

This states the Amscope SM-745 is Greenough:
https://www.amscope.com/stereo-magnification
Optical System   Greenough stereoscopic

Saw this about Greenough and CMO:
https://youtu.be/l3BtJPBJ7Vo
This seems to indicate that for soldering (less than ~22x) Greenough might be ok.

Maybe this is enough on how the baseline (stereo, ie "binoc") works and now it's time to figure out how binoc gets adapted to accommodate trinocular and simul-focal..... in an effort to see what the risk of degradation to the baseline binoc view might be when adding a third port for the camera (which will share some optics with the stereo view but even so will only give a mono view, right?).

At the risk of jumping ahead a couple steps, on a semi-related matter (digital), it has dawned on me that with a USB microscope I can work as hard as I want to get the right combination of focal length and aperture to optimize magnification so as to dial-in the tradeoff between working distance and depth of focus - and while that might include some relatively more vs less depth of in-focus view - it's never going to compete with optical because the larger sense of depth is provided by the fact that the optics of a stereo microscope are by definition "stereo" and stereo (with binoculars) is what creates perspective and a sense of depth much more so than even what is in focus due to lens aperture.  In other words, assuming all the camera sees is mono, by definition stereo (through the eyepieces) is going to be inherently superior to mono for spatial imaging.  This is probably obvious for people who have experience with soldering applications but it has had me a little tangled up when looking at entry level scopes.  So while it would still be good to find the right digital solution, it's the reason why USB/digital scopes (at least at the entry level) just don't compete well with optical scopes for soldering - yes?  But it sort of raises the question of why not make a an entry level stereo digital scope?  I'm curious to know more about this but my main mission is to next run to ground the notion of what degradation might occur to the Greenough stereo configuration when it's adapted to accommodate trinocular and simul-focal. 
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #123 on: November 01, 2020, 07:48:24 pm »
Sometimes to figure out why we do it today the way we do it it helps to understand how we used to do it :)

According to this once upon a time in 1671... and then about 1820....  and then in the 1890s.... and then in 1957 we got Cycloptic (CMO).

https://www.microscopyu.com/techniques/stereomicroscopy/introduction-to-stereomicroscopy
- highly recommended article

CMO or Greenough

"It is a difficult task to determine which of the two designs (CMO or Greenough) is superior, because there are no universally accepted criteria for comparing performance between the stereomicroscope systems. Common main objective microscopes, in general, have a greater light-gathering power than the Greenough-design and are often more highly corrected for optical aberration. Some observations and photomicrography might best be conducted utilizing a CMO microscope, while other situations may call for features exclusive to the Greenough design. As a consequence, each microscopist must make the determination whether one design will be more appropriate for the task at hand and use this information to develop a strategy for stereomicroscopy investigations.

In most circumstances, the choice between Greenough or common main objective stereomicroscopes is usually based on the application, and not whether one design is superior to the other. Greenough microscopes are typically employed for "workhorse" applications, such as soldering miniature electronic components, dissecting biological specimens, and similar routine tasks. These microscopes are relatively small, inexpensive, very rugged, simple to use, and easy to maintain. Common main objective microscopes are generally utilized for more complex applications requiring high resolution with advanced optical and illumination accessories. The wide spectrum of accessories available for these microscopes lends to their strength in the research arena. In many industrial situations, Greenough microscopes are likely to be found in production lines, while common main objective microscopes are limited to the research and development laboratories. Another consideration is the economics of microscope purchase, especially on a large scale. Common main objective stereomicroscopes can cost several times more than a Greenough microscope, which is a chief consideration for manufacturers who may require tens to hundreds of microscopes. However, there are exceptions. If a common main objective microscope is the better tool for a job, the true cost of ownership may be lower in the end."


Photomicrography and Digital Imaging

"Both Greenough and common main objective stereomicroscopes are readily adaptable to image capture utilizing traditional photomicrography techniques (film) or through advanced digital imaging. Often photomicrography is employed as a tool for recording the spatial distribution of specimen details prior to observation and imaging with a higher-power compound microscope. This technique is often necessary for biological specimens, where dissecting, staining, and selective mounts are performed.

The principal concern with digital imaging and photomicrography in stereomicroscopy is the low numerical aperture of the objectives, and the inability to capture on film (or in a digital image) the tremendous depth of field observed through the eyepieces. There are also several limiting factors that should be considered when photographing specimens through a single body tube utilizing a Greenough-style stereomicroscope. Because the microscope objective is positioned at a slight angle to the specimen, depth and resolution seen in the microscope eyepieces is not recorded on film.

Newer stereomicroscopes have trinocular heads or photographic intermediate tubes (sometimes requiring a projection eyepiece) as an option, but these are often limited in use to the camera systems specified by the microscope manufacturer.

The microscope presented in Figure 9 is a state-of-the-art Nikon research-level stereomicroscope equipped for both traditional imaging with Polaroid film and with a digital video camera. The camera systems are coupled to the microscope through a beamsplitter attachment that is attached as an intermediate piece between the microscope body and the binocular head. Both single and double-port beamsplitters are available from Nikon for use with either one or two camera systems. The optical path is directed into the camera ports with a selection lever located on the front portion of the intermediate piece. Standard c-mount, f-mount, and proprietary coupling systems are available to support a wide variety of camera systems. In addition, Nikon offers projection lenses of varying magnification that can be utilized to vary the image size on film or in digital images."
« Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 08:08:33 pm by Electro Fan »
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #124 on: November 01, 2020, 08:03:51 pm »
Ok, Thanks.  I'm still trying to get it figured out.  My thought is to find exploded part diagrams to show how entry-mid level stereo microscopes work and then move on from the stereo baseline to learn how entry-mid level trinocular and simul-focal microscopes work.

Have you seen Nikon's online, partly interactive tutorials? Here is one to start with.

EDIT: I see you have. Strange, the very-italic post just before this one appeared after I had posted it.

Quote
As to how the stereo scopes work I saw this:

http://microscopy.berkeley.edu/courses/tlm/stereo/index.html

a) is Common Main Objective and b) is Greenough, yes?

Yes.

Quote
... my main mission is to next run to ground the notion of what degradation might occur to the Greenough stereo configuration when it's adapted to accommodate trinocular and simul-focal.

I would not sweat it. Giving a microscope continuous zoom rather than stepped magnifications probably makes more of a difference. I would choose the camera tube that is best for the things you are looking at: that either takes half the light from and shares the view with one eyepiece, or takes all of it and lets the eyepiece go dark.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 08:16:47 pm by jfiresto »
 

Offline Renate

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #125 on: November 01, 2020, 08:05:45 pm »
https://www.microscopyu.com/techniques/stereomicroscopy/introduction-to-stereomicroscopy
Nice article, but when was it written?
Quote
The microscope presented in Figure 9 is a state-of-the-art Nikon research-level stereomicroscope equipped for both traditional imaging with Polaroid film...
I went to my chemist but they were all out of Polaroid film.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #126 on: November 01, 2020, 08:28:58 pm »
Ok, Thanks.  I'm still trying to get it figured out.  My thought is to find exploded part diagrams to show how entry-mid level stereo microscopes work and then move on from the stereo baseline to learn how entry-mid level trinocular and simul-focal microscopes work.

Have you seen Nikon's online, partly interactive tutorials? Here is one to start with.

EDIT: I see you have. Strange, the very-italic post just before this one appeared after I had posted it.

Quote
As to how the stereo scopes work I saw this:

http://microscopy.berkeley.edu/courses/tlm/stereo/index.html

a) is Common Main Objective and b) is Greenough, yes?

Yes.

Quote
... my main mission is to next run to ground the notion of what degradation might occur to the Greenough stereo configuration when it's adapted to accommodate trinocular and simul-focal.

I would not sweat it. Giving a microscope continuous zoom rather than stepped magnifications probably makes more of a difference. I would choose the camera tube that is best for the things you are looking at: that either takes half the light from and shares the view with one eyepiece, or takes all of it and lets the eyepiece go dark.

It bugs me that Nikon seems to only offer Trinocular and not Simu-focal.
 
"The SMZ745T incorporates an optical path switching lever that enables easy switchover between eyepiece and camera. A
Nikon Digital Sight series camera can be attached."


https://www.nikon.com/products/industrial-metrology/lineup/microscope/stereoscopic_microscopes/smz745_745t/

If simul-focal could meet their quality standards why wouldn't they offer it?  I'm guessing they know something about the subject :)

Look at their switching lever.  The marking seems to indicate that you can go from 0 to 100 on one end and 0 to 100 on the other end.  What isn't clear is whether it's binary, continuously variable, or maybe has some click stops in between.  If it's continuously variable or click stops, I'm feeling better because anything other than binary would seem to indicate some degree of simul-focal; otherwise with binary it would seem to be trinocular but not simul-focal.  Time to find the manual :)

Edit:  found
http://www.mvi-inc.com/wp-content/uploads/SMZ745T-manual.pdf
reading....

Edit 2:
Ok, Page 12 indicates it's binary.  It's Trinocular but not simul-focal.  You can send 100% of the light from the right eyepiece to the camera port (and presumably keep viewing in mono with the left eye piece while the camera gets a mono view).  Gotta make you wonder why they wouldn't give you a simul-focal view....?  Must be a good reason.  Can't believe they haven't considered it.  Sure would be nice to have Amscope make a video showing the difference between their stereo, trinoc, and simul 745s.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2020, 08:39:55 pm by Electro Fan »
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #127 on: November 01, 2020, 08:46:19 pm »
It bugs me that Nikon seems to only offer Trinocular and not Simu-focal.

My father's SMZ-2T is the same way, the camera or an eyepiece takes all or gets nothing, and the -2T was meant for microphotography. It is still a lot better than having no phototube.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #128 on: November 01, 2020, 09:23:07 pm »
https://www.amscope.com/7x-45x-trinocular-zoom-stereo-microscope-head.html

https://www.amscope.com/7x-45x-trinocular-zoom-stereo-microscope-simul-focal-head.html

I just don't get it.  $6 difference.  Sure would be nice to know what the difference inside is.

Not even much difference ($23) from the baseline binoc to the trinoc:
https://www.amscope.com/7x-45x-binocular-zoom-power-stereo-microscope-head.html

Introduction to Splitters
https://www.photometrics.com/products/imaging-splitters/introduction-to-splitters

Doesn't seem like $6 -$23 or all the way to $29 could be buying a lot of super high quality splitter parts, not to mention some share of the incremental revenue that has to go to overhead and profit.  Either splitters are the cheapest easiest multiplexers known to mankind and therefore therefore there is little to no impact on image quality, or there is some discernible impact.  Obviously the light needs to be replaced (no big deal) but what if anything is happening to the image quality once the light is replaced/augmented?

Amscope could charge more than total $29 delta top to bottom in return for sharing some info that would save customers (or at least one :)) the time in trying to figure it out. 
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #129 on: November 02, 2020, 09:46:33 am »
https://www.amscope.com/7x-45x-trinocular-zoom-stereo-microscope-head.html

https://www.amscope.com/7x-45x-trinocular-zoom-stereo-microscope-simul-focal-head.html

I just don't get it.  $6 difference.  Sure would be nice to know what the difference inside is.

Not even much difference ($23) from the baseline binoc to the trinoc:
https://www.amscope.com/7x-45x-binocular-zoom-power-stereo-microscope-head.html

Marketers can move in strange and mysterious ways.
 
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Online Berni

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #130 on: November 02, 2020, 12:40:21 pm »
Not all markets make sense.

For example when buying a certain sports car you can pay a few grand extra to have the door handles replaced by the weight reduced racing alternative of a steel cable loop hanging in the door handle location that you pull on to open the door. So you are essentially paying for them to not put door handles on the car.
 
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Offline joeqsmith

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #131 on: November 02, 2020, 01:50:20 pm »
...


Update:  I think the files were too big for the forum and for some reason my scanner seemed to hiccup at the same time; I can't explain why it did, it's kind of unusual.  I happened to this review from another user:

https://www.amazon.com/HAYEAR-C-Mount-Electronic-Industry-Microscope/dp/B07MPY1BHV#customerReviews

So I'm kind of on-watch.  If anyone else uses a Hayear camera, maybe run some scans and let us know if you see anything out of the ordinary.  For now I'm going to move from code red to code yellow.  Thx

.... back to microscope stuff :)

That camera looks nice.  I would like to try one.     

I tried to replicate some of your photos using the same transistor package with my old Olympus and it is apparent that I do not have near the depth you do.  It's not been a problem for me when soldering but I am impressed with how good yours looks. 

I saw a microscope a few years ago that would scan the depth and stitch the images together, live.   
How electrically robust is your meter?? https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsK99WXk9VhcghnAauTBsbg
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #132 on: November 02, 2020, 05:26:55 pm »
...


Update:  I think the files were too big for the forum and for some reason my scanner seemed to hiccup at the same time; I can't explain why it did, it's kind of unusual.  I happened to this review from another user:

https://www.amazon.com/HAYEAR-C-Mount-Electronic-Industry-Microscope/dp/B07MPY1BHV#customerReviews

So I'm kind of on-watch.  If anyone else uses a Hayear camera, maybe run some scans and let us know if you see anything out of the ordinary.  For now I'm going to move from code red to code yellow.  Thx

.... back to microscope stuff :)

That camera looks nice.  I would like to try one.     

I tried to replicate some of your photos using the same transistor package with my old Olympus and it is apparent that I do not have near the depth you do.  It's not been a problem for me when soldering but I am impressed with how good yours looks. 

I saw a microscope a few years ago that would scan the depth and stitch the images together, live.   

Thanks.

Just to avoid any confusion the link above is not my camera but for a review of another Hayear camera where the user had some concerns about a virus.  I didn’t use the Hayear software on the included small CD, just the embedded software, and I am mostly over this concern but I would recommend people run their virus scanners.  I’m think the EEV msg I got was just a standard msg that simply meant the default file size was too large.  Moving on…

The camera I am using is this:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DYV815S/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Speaking of goofy marketing it appears there is no indication of the particular model number - but I think it is a Hayear HY-3307.

The camera has some basic but pretty good embedded software but the UI is not 100% intuitive.  I recommend learning the Hayear UI conventions with the button pushes on the camera rather than learning with the remote.  The remote is very intermittent and/or random so learning the UI with remote can be kind of frustrating.  Once you have the general Hayear concept figured out on the camera button pushes then you can try your luck with the remote - maybe your remote will work better than mine (ymmv).  The remote would of course be nice if it worked properly to avoid camera shake.

I have found the results using HDMI (1080P 60 fps) straight to the monitor (with no computer) to be pretty good.

Here is the lens I am using.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016NPUE9C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I think the lens (of course) helps determine the depth that is in focus and while this configuration is ok-ish I have a hunch there are still better lens focal lengths for soldering.  I have some ideas and will report back as I do some more testing.

As I mentioned yesterday, what has dawned on me (duh) is that while we can fight for more optimized depth (dof) and width (fov) by choosing different focal length and aperture parameters (and potentially different sensors) the real key to getting good depth perception is stereo.  Stereo with binocular viewing gives the brain information to create perspective which is why binocular stereo scopes kick butt on depth vs digital monocular scopes.  Digital is not likely to be our limiting factor, it's the lack of the two views needed to achieve a sense of depth.  Of course digital has a bunch of advantages (freedom of movement while large screen viewing vs having your head stationary looking into to oculars, shared viewing for teaching including local in-lab collaboration plus remote collaboration with image and video sharing via networks, plus on-screen measurements, etc.).  Digital viewing and sharing is nice but if the primary purpose is soldering depth of field is also nice if not required.  So it would definitely be very nice to have the best of both worlds (or at least sufficient in both worlds) which is why I'm diligently trying to find a reasonably cost-effective simul-focal configuration. 

It's worth noting that one parameter within digital than can be (is) a limiting factor is USB 2.0.  It's not enough bandwidth to avoid motion lag.  USB 3.0 is better than 2.0 but HDMI at 1080P 60 fps seems to get the job done for microscope soldering.  Of course if you play video games you can read-up on HDMI vs Display Port and there is a good case to be made for DP especially when you start pushing up both frame rates and higher resolutions - but the standards for all three (USB, HDMI, and DP) keep moving so system engineering can be an ongoing pursuit.


Transistor label etching is the point of focus; one leg is sort of in focus; the whole thing could be sharper but it's a start.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #133 on: November 02, 2020, 05:30:56 pm »
Torsten's "green" image is still the reference champ.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #134 on: November 06, 2020, 03:08:33 am »
Update

First try today with the Amscope SM745NTP.

fwiw, the packaging was done very well by Amscope.  Hard to imagine something that weighed as much and had as many parts (some heavy and some delicate) could have been packed better to protect everything and to survive shipping.  So nice work Amscope on the packing.

I still don't have the camera set up but the rest took about 30 minutes to put it together, no surprises.

All the parts seems to be of very good quality.  Everything seems to have good fit and finish and is very durable, very substantial.

The 144 LED plus the double gooseneck with the individual light controls are a great combination for controlling light.

I tried the scope without the 0.5 Barlow and just looked at the brass cleaning pad; I have one of these:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/120989275793?mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=711-53200-19255-0&campid=5338679340&customid=120989275793_3&toolid=11000

My first impression was WOW.  There is excellent clarity and sharpness, very good width (FOV), and excellent depth.  I could see the entire silver holder all the way around the top circumference, and I could look deep inside the brass pad to pick any brass loop of interest and focus with very sharp detail on the particular loop.  Zooming in and out is easy.  Compared to the USB camera it was 3D; almost like being at an Imax with the 3D glasses.  You could almost feel being inside the brass pad among the loops.  Overall, it met my expectations and probably exceeded them.  (I really didn't know what to expect, but I was hoping it would be good.)

Next I tried the 0.5 Barlow.  My impression is that it is still good but not as good as without the Barlow.  I'm already thinking about trying to find a better Barlow - maybe an Olympus or Nikon, etc. if there is such a thing that will fit.  I have a hunch that when you stack glass it might be an additive sort of challenge, but if I could get better glass and minimize the additive problem that would be good.  The view without the Barlow spoiled me.  It was REALLY good.

The working distance is similar to what everyone describes: about 8" with the 0.5 Barlow and about 4" without it.  It might be possible to solder with just the 4" clearance if it turns out the added sharpness is the way to fly (without the Barlow).

I tried holding a phone camera to the lens but it's pretty tricky to get it lined up and focused.  My guess is you might have to take about 100 to get one really good photo with the handholding method.  I tried setting a small tripod on cardboard box to get the phone camera lined up better but it was too rickety to get anything that resembles what you can see with your eyes.

There is no doubt that what your eyes can see with the optical view is substantially better than what the HDMI camera captures in terms of sharpness and it's a different experience completely with respect to depth.  Overall, I'd say the direct optical view is somewhere between substantially better and dramatically better compared to what I saw with my interim HDMI camera tests.  And to be fair what you see with the HDMI camera on a good 1080P 60 fps monitor is not bad, it just doesn't compare to what your eyes see directly through the scope.

Tomorrow I'll try to get the simul-focal part of the scope with the camera running and see what happens.

So far, I'd rate the experience as worthwhile but I'm still early - only about an hour so of initial impressions. 
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #135 on: November 06, 2020, 09:31:02 pm »
I installed the HDMI camera and included some photos of what shows on the monitor.  All of the HDMI camera images are just pictures of the monitor, none are directly from the micro SD card.

I tried to get some photos through an ocular with the phone camera.  It is very hard to get a good photo this way but I've attached some attempts to show how just slight movement adjusts the angle and focus (mostly lack of focus).  There is almost nothing other than the general subject that looks the same with these camera shots vs. what you can see through the oculars, but you get a sense of what's in view.  Both the phone camera through an ocular and the HDMI camera can't match the quality of the direct optical view - with stereo the direct optical view kicks butt on the mono camera view.

Overall there is a bit of a learning curve - it's kind of like learning to drive.  At a coarse level it's easy but to get precision takes a little bit of experience and I'm only a couple hours into the process.

The two first major but still preliminary conclusions continue to be:  1) the direct optical view is way beyond what you can get with a camera, and 2) the scope is sharper without the 0.5 Barlow but you give up half the working distance.  I have a hunch that for soldering you might just have to live without some the sharpness and then if you really need the sharpest details for inspection you can remove the Barlow.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #136 on: November 06, 2020, 09:34:15 pm »
Part 2
« Last Edit: November 06, 2020, 09:39:03 pm by Electro Fan »
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #137 on: November 06, 2020, 11:44:03 pm »
Part 3

I tried a second 0.5 Barlow, it might be a tad sharper and I think sharp enough when viewed through the oculars. 

These are with the 0.5; they still don't show what you see on the direct view in terms of either sharpness or depth but you get a sense of what can see through one eyepiece and on a monitor.  That's a Hakko T18-D24 for scale.

The components look 3D with real depth and good sharpness through the oculars.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #138 on: November 08, 2020, 01:27:17 am »
Working on the camera through the ocular approach... just can't get it to show show the sharpness and depth you can see with your eyes.

Edit: Still trying, some more :)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 04:20:56 am by Electro Fan »
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #139 on: November 08, 2020, 12:29:58 pm »

Looks awesome!  -  The HDMI images are awesome as well.  You don't need the ultimate high res for soldering, just like you don't need a 500hp car...  but it is nevertheless nice!  :D
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #140 on: November 08, 2020, 01:37:41 pm »
The eyepiece images look good.

Any chance you could post some images that the HDMI camera saved to the micro SD card? The monitor images show some picture-of-a-picture artifacts.
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #141 on: November 08, 2020, 09:02:19 pm »

Looks awesome!  -  The HDMI images are awesome as well.  You don't need the ultimate high res for soldering, just like you don't need a 500hp car...  but it is nevertheless nice!  :D

Thanks.  I'm very happy to report that so far so good. 

For anyone who hasn't experienced first hand the differences I think you can take it at face value that the human view through the oculars is well beyond what you can get from the monitor with a camera photo of the monitor or what you can get from a SD card image (I'll post one of those below), or even what you can get with a camera view down an ocular.

As for soldering (which of course was the use case driver for the scope) I completely agree that you don't need ultimate high res.  The clarity/sharpness of what you get with an Amscope through the oculars will probably help anyone who had capped out with through hole to start doing SMD with some decent confidence.  This of course depends somewhat on your eye sight and dexterity and general soldering skills but in my case none of those have been the greatest (far from it) but already I'm able to remove and replace SMD components with a much better ability to visualize what's happening - and now that I can see it some of it isn't too pretty :)  In fact, crossing over to seeing SMD with the microscope is leading to all sorts of questions about soldering in general and SMD in particular.  I'll probably have lots of questions and comments on various flavors of soldering shortly, probably in another thread.

As for how much better another step up in optical could be (like 500 hp and beyond), I am certain that with higher end microscopes that the wow factor would increase (while possibly also reducing some eye fatigue).  I can already catch myself trying to focus in the middle vs. the edges and sometimes I can see flat surfaces that don't look flat - probably optics imperfections.  Volt nuts and time nuts probably have some cousin optic nuts but I think for SMD soldering an Amscope can get you there and maybe at an entry cost in the $200 - $350 range depending on the options.  I like the double boom stand for it's flexibility.  I know about the boom rod groove problem and I've tried to deal with that by highly minimizing the sliding to necessary vs fun sliding, and by trying to handhold assist the sliding process to go easy on the rods and bearings.  The net of this is I think for most casual soldering use you could pick a location on the bench and maybe not need all the double boom flexibility, thereby lowering the overall cost.  Likewise, the Amscope double gooseneck with individual light controls is VERY nice but I think there are lower cost alternatives that will get the job done.  I think if you leave off the bells and whistles the entry price for an Amscope might come within $100 or so of various digital alternatives and I'd say for anyone doing more than infrequent soldering Amscope is a good way to fly.  For pro users or other daily drivers I could see why they would be interested in more bells and whistles and still better optics.

I don't have any long term results yet of course, but on a preliminary base I'm giving the Amscope SM4NTP  :-+ :-+
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 11:26:31 pm by Electro Fan »
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #142 on: November 08, 2020, 09:06:27 pm »
The eyepiece images look good.

Any chance you could post some images that the HDMI camera saved to the micro SD card? The monitor images show some picture-of-a-picture artifacts.

Here you go - posted below.  Thanks for all the good coaching along the way.

Edit:  The following is the EF made some stuff up on the fly microscope scale :)

If on a scale of 1-10 the difference between the SD card and the photo taken of the image on the monitor is less than 1 point (and together they start at about 1 as the reference point), the difference between either of these and the phone camera view down the ocular (when done well which is somewhat challenging) is 2 points (for improved overall clarity and detailed sharpness of the camera down the ocular), and the difference between the camera view down the ocular and what your eye can see in one ocular is another 2 points (for still better clarity and sharpness for what one eye can see in one ocular), and the view with two eyes down the two oculars is yet another 2 points (for better fov and better sense of depth).  So if you started toward the bottom around 1, you might get to 7 leaving some room for Nikon et al further up the scale (often by spending 80% more you can get 20% better), or depending on how good Nikon et all are you might have to compress 7 by some factor, possibly two to 3.5.

Disclaimer:  this is Rev 1.0 on this scale and I reserve the right to modify the scale, the values assigned, and the associated definitions, along with all other Terms and Conditions :)

Current Conclusion:  In any event, scale attempt aside, in my experience, two eyes down two oculars will noticeably and easily surpass any of the camera views I've seen (although admittedly I'm limited by what I've experienced so far....).  YMMV
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 10:02:46 pm by Electro Fan »
 

Online Berni

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #143 on: November 09, 2020, 05:37:14 am »
Not being able to focus both the center and edges is common.

This is because edges are actually slightly farther away from the lens than the center. The board would actually need to be slightly domed inwards to keep a constant distance to the lens. This is rarely a problem in photography (or in some cases might even be desired for the artistic effect) but is often an issue with microscopes that are most commonly used looking straight down at something flat. For this reason microscope objectives with so called flatplane correction having the word "plan" in front. These objectives are designed to focus slightly farther away at the edges using some more funky lens shapes that are more difficult to grind so they tend to be rather expensive.

But with the typical depth of field in these soldering microscopes and the fact your eyes can adjust themselves to focus a bit means that this is usually not a problem anyway. I find that a lot of the time during soldering i end up using the microscope near the minimum possible zoom level where depth of field is really wide. Trough the eyepiece things are still large enough to see while giving the most possible viewing area. Its only when soldering particularly tricky tiny components like bodge wiring on a 0201 resistor where the high magnifications are used to work under. Otherwise the high zoom levels are more for close inspection and taking close up photos for documentation. If you want a really nice crisp photo with everything sharp at those zoom levels you need to do focus stacking anyway.
 

Offline Renate

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #144 on: November 09, 2020, 01:20:12 pm »
I appreciate the benefits of stereo vision.
So how about an Oculus VR headset and a dual HDMI microscope? >:D
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #145 on: November 09, 2020, 05:10:02 pm »
I appreciate the benefits of stereo vision.
So how about an Oculus VR headset and a dual HDMI microscope? >:D

That would actually be kind of cool...  With dual cameras on the soldering iron as well, for the ultimate immersive soldering experience! :D
 

Online jfiresto

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #146 on: November 09, 2020, 05:56:33 pm »
Thank you for the micro SD card image. I started shrinking it down until I got a sharp image – which you could then display at full, 640x468 resolution on a VGA monitor.  :( If the image on the 24 inch(?) monitor was in best focus, I think something is not right with one or more of the following: the photo port, the relay lens or the camera.

EDIT: Have you seen this review, especially the photo toward the end (Amscope Optics vs. Nikon Optics)? I was expecting more like that.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2020, 06:10:33 pm by jfiresto »
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #147 on: November 09, 2020, 08:27:24 pm »
Thank you for the micro SD card image. I started shrinking it down until I got a sharp image – which you could then display at full, 640x468 resolution on a VGA monitor.  :( If the image on the 24 inch(?) monitor was in best focus, I think something is not right with one or more of the following: the photo port, the relay lens or the camera.

EDIT: Have you seen this review, especially the photo toward the end (Amscope Optics vs. Nikon Optics)? I was expecting more like that.

Thanks for the review link.  I hadn't seen it but did look it over including the comparison with the Nikon scope.  The difference in the images is fairly consistent with what I've seen from the Amscope, and I can believe the Nikon is sharper - as it hopefully is for what I'm guessing is a 2-5x price (not sure exactly what the configurations and prices need to be in order to be apples and apples).  I am not claiming that Amscope is as good as Nikon et al, for sure. 

Not sure what leads you to believe that there is a problem with some combination of the the photo port, the relay lens or the camera but I trust your experience.  I can try another camera and I might do that.  The camera I am using I think is very similar to the one in the article but an extra 2MP (16 vs 14); other than that the design and specs look pretty much the same but maybe there are other differences.  Or maybe there is some unit to unit variation and I just need another copy of the same camera model I am using. 

Not sure what can go wrong with the photo port - any ideas?  I'm guessing the relay lens is the relay lens and it's unlikely there is much I can do about that but maybe you have some suggestions on how to diagnose it if not adjust it.

Fwiw, my main hope for the microscope was that the direct view optics would be sufficient to solder most SMD components and I think the scope has already enabled me to gain confidence that this will be doable.  The direct view optics have been the primary purpose and the camera views have been the secondary purpose, so I think I can live with the camera views even if they are marginal.  Having said that, I find the view on the monitor (24" HDMI input 60 fps 1920 x 1200) to be pretty good.  It's not like I'm wondering where the components are or what condition they are in.  In fact, for some reason, what I see on the monitor seems to render more "enjoyable" (only a semi-technical term) than the SD card images.  I can't think of any reason why this would be the case but if you look at the images I posted of the two, even though the images of the monitor are a picture of a picture, the monitor images hold up pretty well vs. the SD card images.  (You might notice that this is something I tried to describe in my 1-10 scale in one of the posts above.)  I would have expected the SD card images to render better than the picture of the images on the monitor.  Either way, the images aren't going to be any better than what the camera sees or captures, or so it would seem.  So maybe there is an issue with the camera, or as you say something between the object being imaged and the camera.  If I can improve any of this path that would be good but if not I can live with it.

One possible explanation for what you see in the camera view image (and maybe even why some of my picture of the monitor images look better than what you saw on your examination of the SD card) is that in order to get either the monitor image or an SD card image to look good you have to focus the 3rd port tube.  This is a pretty fincky up-down back and forth alternately bound up and slippery sliding process with no detents in a so-so cylinder in a cylinder fit that needs probably a fraction of a mm to perfectly focus and then needs to be tightened down with the set screw.  During which the only reference is the monitor view because until I get that looking about right there is no sense in taking a still frame image (writing to the SD card).  And even after the camera looks focused (up-down) it can easily rotate.  The point is that it's possible that in the case of the SD card image you studied I didn't have this very manual up-down slide focusing process dialed-in and maybe some of the similar but different images made with a photo of the monitor happened to be taken when I got lucky with a better up-down port focus.  (What the 3rd port needs is a good knob for focusing.)  All this is just guessin'....  I can do some more trial and error tests.  Actually, now that I think about another operator area with room for error there is the "shutter" release.  Sometimes I hit the button on the camera (which wiggles everything no matter how gentle you try) and sometimes I use the remote which should be much better but I've found it to be somewhat intermittent on the communications so I don't rely on it as much as I should - but I'll try harder with the remote now.

What I would like to improve most, if possible and practical, is the 0.5 Barlow view.  Through the oculars 0.5 view is good (much better than what any of the digital views show) but the ocular view is even better with the regular 1.0 configuration (which gives up ~half the working distance).  Any chance there is a better 0.5 Barlow from Nikon et al that would fit?  I believe the specs are 1-7/8" (48mm) mounting thread.  I'd be willing to invest in a better 0.5 Barlow if that had a reasonable chance of improving what I see through the scope with another 0.5.

Thanks again for the observations and critiques, it's all very helpful.

Edit:  seems like there should be a more precisely adjustable C mount 0.5 relay lens; and one that maybe is sharper, and as long as we are asking for everything maybe one that provides a slightly wider view.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2020, 10:30:24 pm by Electro Fan »
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #148 on: November 09, 2020, 11:34:44 pm »
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Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #149 on: November 09, 2020, 11:37:22 pm »
another (too big to post together)
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #150 on: November 09, 2020, 11:38:33 pm »
and another (too big to post together)
 

Offline Renate

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #151 on: November 10, 2020, 05:32:50 pm »
I appreciate the benefits of stereo vision.
So how about an Oculus VR headset and a dual HDMI microscope? >:D

That would actually be kind of cool...  With dual cameras on the soldering iron as well, for the ultimate immersive soldering experience! :D
I'm not sure if it would be a good idea for me.
I was watching Dave's tour of the old lab video.
After about 5 minutes I had to stop as all the camera movement was making me seriously nauseaous.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #152 on: November 10, 2020, 06:37:50 pm »
I appreciate the benefits of stereo vision.
So how about an Oculus VR headset and a dual HDMI microscope? >:D

That would actually be kind of cool...  With dual cameras on the soldering iron as well, for the ultimate immersive soldering experience! :D
I'm not sure if it would be a good idea for me.
I was watching Dave's tour of the old lab video.
After about 5 minutes I had to stop as all the camera movement was making me seriously nauseaous.

Just hold the iron steady, you'll be allright!  :D
 

Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #153 on: November 18, 2020, 09:25:42 pm »
Here is a recap of the ergonomic measurements and findings from my microscope project.  (Measurements are provided in the table attached below).

I tried the Amscope SM-4NTP simul-lfocal microscope for soldering and overall the results were good to very good.  I'm sure there are better optics available at a higher price but I believe this Amscope product provides very good value. 

I am very sure that with the improved ability to see detail my soldering skills went from not very good to better :).  Seriously, after a couple hundred components and a few practice PCBs, and after trying some new tips and temperature settings I am certain it is much easier to get at least semi-desirable results, and with much better consistency than without the aid of an optical microscope.  The main thing I have learned is that with an improved ability to see PCB pads, component leads, the iron tip, and the solder melting action I can now much better select tips (size and shape) and temperature settings based on the particular project, which in turn provides better control over the soldering process, and better results.

Eye hand coordination is not an issue as the optical view provides good navigation and iron control in each dimension including height (up and down with the solder tip just above the board.)  The ability to see things on the monitor is nice but the largest benefits so far come from the direct optical view.

One of the keys is now how long I can comfortably solder while looking through the scope which leads to consideration of working distance and in particular whether the preference is to stand or sit while soldering – which in turn drives the decision on lens selection.

IMO, for the SM-4NPT (which zooms from 7X-45X in the base configuration) the working distance is slightly too small without a magnification reducing Barlow lens.  (A magnification reducing lens increases the working distance).  The working distance is the distance from the focal plane of the item being viewed (in this case a PCB and/or components on the PCB) to the bottom of the objective lens – possibly minus a small amount (~2-3mm) for a ring light that protrudes slightly lower than the objective lens.

I tried three Barlow lenses:  SM07, SM05, and SM03.  The SM07 didn’t add enough working distance to make it worthwhile but for someone with good soldering dexterity it might suffice.  The SM05 is probably the sweet spot for most users in terms of working distance but the SM03 is also worth considering. 

I think the best way to make the tradeoff between the 05 and the 03 is to consider not only the working distance but also the height of  your bench from the floor, and whether you will be standing or sitting – as this will determine where you want the oculars for comfortable viewing with your eyes (and for your back, shoulders, neck, and head).

In my case, given the height of my bench (97 cm from floor to workbench surface) and my height, the oculars when using the 03 are just about at eye height when standing (about 147 cm from floor to eye height).  So if I was going to be mostly soldering while standing, the 03 would probably be the best choice.

I am going to try to find a chair/stool, and while sitting I think the 05 might be the right height – this is still TBD.  (I am guessing that knee clearance might also become a consideration when designing the work area layout.)

In addition to the most working distance (240 mm) the 03 Barlow also provides the widest Field of View:  85 mm when zoomed out and 12 mm when zoomed in – these measurements are through the oculars.  Using the digital camera and a 24” monitor the FOV is less:  57 mm when zoomed out and 9 mm when zoomed in. 

(All of the camera FOV measurements were using the Amscope RU050 camera reduction lens; I haven't found other alternatives but they might be out there.)

The FOV, both zoomed out and zoomed in, through the oculars with the SM03 and on the monitor with the RU050 on the camera, is very sufficient for soldering. 

While the 05 Barlow provides a less wide FOV than the 03 it also seems plenty sufficient for soldering.  However, all of this might depend on how big the boards that are you are soldering and what else might be in the way on your bench.  The gooseneck light is the first thing that my boards and board holders bump into; depending on the microscope stand and how it is arranged on your bench I suspect the stand might also factor into how much space you have to reorient a board for microscope viewing.

Moving from horizontal plane FOV back to vertical working distance, something else to keep in mind is whether PCBs will be resting flat on your bench or whether they will be raised slightly with a board holder such as a Stickvise, or whether the board might be somewhat higher off the bench as with a helping hands device, etc.  This is worth considering as the height of a board with these devices will drive the ceiling height of the working distance (rather than simply measuring from the bench surface).  This leads to the ability to adjust the microscope head height.  I was on the fence about the choice of stands and I’m happy that I went with the double boom stand as I have found it very helpful in enabling the scope to be positioned for all of the various considerations (standing, sitting, lens combinations, and the height of the PCB including the use of various PCB holders).

So, I think the choice is best made based on your particulars including whether you will be primarily standing or sitting while soldering.

Configuration:
Amscope SM-4NTP 7X-45X at 1.0 Magnification Microscope
Amscope SM03 Barlow Lens
Amscope SM05 Barlow Lens
Amscope SM07 Barlow Lens
Amscope RU050 C-mount Reduction Lens
Hayear HY-3307 16MP 1080P 60 FPS HDMI Camera
Dell U2415 24” 1900x1200 1080P Monitor

Note:  the measurements in the table attached below were made with a ruler and a tape measure. Millimeters are kind of small so I’d give these about a +/- 2 mm error margin.

Floor to workbench surface = 97 cm
Floor to oculars with SM03 = 147 cm (provides 240 mm Working Distance)
« Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 10:06:56 pm by Electro Fan »
 
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Offline Electro Fan

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Re: The Ergonomics of Microscope Soldering: Direct Optical View vs Camera/Monitor
« Reply #154 on: November 22, 2020, 07:29:47 pm »
Found a stable and relatively high chair/stool with an adjustable up down lever for the seat height.  The 0.3 Barlow lens requires the sitting height to be a bit higher (than the 0.5) which in turn decreases some knee clearance under the bench.  After trying the 0.3 and the 0.5 Barlow lenses while seated I prefer the 0.5 even though it has less working distance and a smaller FOV (see attached table in previous post).  The 0.5 seems a bit sharper (might be due to the higher magnification, or it could just be something in the particular lenses I have) and overall seated with the 0.5 turned out to be the preferred combination.  I'm going to keep the 0.3 for times when I might prefer to sit up higher (not sure why that would be), or stand (and need a little more floor to ocular height), or need the greater working distance and/or FOV.
 


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