Author Topic: DIY Handheld Microscope  (Read 3057 times)

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Offline nikonoid

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DIY Handheld Microscope
« on: September 10, 2017, 03:38:58 am »
This is not technically a repair thread. I am in the process of repairing and old Keithley 2002. The repair pushed me to make a DIY tool that might be useful for others. So here I am sharing the experience and construction.

The repair required me to pay close attention to some minute details on the board. I do have a 7x-40x inspection stereo microscope that is excellent in itself. It has drawbacks of only having a limited space available under it, limited reach and limited viewing angles. Fully articulated mounting arm for the microscope would help, but they are hard to find and cost more than my microscope.

I also have a 10x triplet loupe (Belomo x10 from Amazon). It is also very good, but has a very short working distance. On a fairly three-dimensional circuit, like Keithley 2002, I could not physically get close enough to what I needed to see.   

Therefore I decided to make a small handheld microscope that would combine maneuverability of a loupe and working distance and stereo view of a microscope.

I started by buying a little toy-like microscope on eBay. http://www.ebay.com/itm/20X-Binocular-Stereo-Microscope-LED-Light-For-Circuit-Board-Lab-Phone-Repairing/122434659671   They usually sell for about $50, but it was on sale and I paid $35 delivered.

This microscope has few clear advantages for the job:
1)   While toy looking, it has real glass optics and it is fairly good.
2)   It is very light and this is important for a handheld operation.
3)   Because objective lenses are small, it transfers less light and more importantly allows more of depth of field for viewing three-dimensional structures, like PCBs.

Undoing four tiny screws allowed me to quickly separate the stand and the light from microscope. The focusing knob was removed by unscrewing left side against right side of it.

Light that came with microscope was not very good and also required 3 batteries to run it and that is weight and bulk. I decided to substitute it for a cheap focusable flashlight I got from Amazon.  The plastic stem of the microscope was cut with Dremel by hand to make space to mount flashlight at 45 degree angle (horizontal cut and then half rounded opening from the front). Now a simple tie wrap can be used to hold flashlight in place. This mounting still allows focusing the light, turning it on and off and also changing the battery without a need to detach it.

Being handheld, this does not require a focusing knob, as focusing is done with your hands. This is all.

This worked very well for me. At 20x magnification I can still handhold it and able to inspect boards from strange and unusual angles. 3" working distance is very comfortable. The microscope can be used with flashlight on top, or turned 180 degrees with flashlight on the bottom depending on the best angle for your piece. If your hand a little less stable, you might consider 10x magnification instead of 20x.

Later when inspecting new and very shiny PCB boards, I discovered that light from flashlight could be at times too harsh. The easiest solution was to use a Ping-Pong ball and make a hole in it that is roughly a diameter of the flashlight. Now we have a removable soft box in front of your light source.

For a grand total of about $40 and 15 minutes of work here is a tool that I keep using over and over again. Pictures are below. If you have questions or comments, please let me know.   
 
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Offline Armadillo

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2017, 06:22:34 am »
Free your hand with field proven products for the cheap.!
 
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Offline nikonoid

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2017, 01:27:14 am »
I tried several of these cheapies. It was few years ago. What I got was plastic lenses, blurry and distorted view and a headache.

I use the handheld microscope I described strictly for inspection, so heaving freehand is not needed.
For small chips I do soldering under stationary 7x microscope. It works well.



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Offline cdev

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2017, 02:36:19 am »
Ive been curious about this specific model for awhile. It seems to come from one of the same factories that supply "Amscope" (i'm not sure but most parts look identical except for styling changes - the shape of cosmetic plastic parts)

To me, straight through seems to offer an advantage over the prism ones that bend the optical path?

Anyway, thank you, I would be very interested in seeing more.

Do you have a Barlow lens for it?

Glad to hear the optical quality is good.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 02:47:58 am by cdev »
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Offline nikonoid

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2017, 11:31:53 am »
On a physically bigger microscopes the bent path is very helpfull, as it makes viewing more comfortable. On a small microscope like this is goes not matter as much. Plus for this project I specifically looked for straight path so it is easier to point it manually in the right direction.

Microscope I bought is 20x  (10x eye pieces and 2x head). This is the most common for that size,

This is a very basic scope. I do not think it accepts Barlow. There is no thread for it.


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Offline cdev

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2017, 12:50:21 pm »
Have you ever used the bent/prism type microscope while soldering?

I am wondering which kind to get. The prism type can be found for $10-15 more.

I don't need frills, just to be able to see things like solder bridges, etc, before I apply power.

I also think one could find or build one's own boom for much less than what is charged for them.
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline nikonoid

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2017, 03:29:25 am »
I do at times use a bent light path microscope when soldering. But this is a big microscope.
The small toy microscope I referred to it only good for inspections afterwards. Do not buy it (other straight or bent) if you need to solder under it. It offers too little space under microscope and too much magnification for soldering.


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Offline nikonoid

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2017, 04:23:50 am »
Let me know, if you have any questions. I used Dremel with cutoff wheel and sandpaper roll to modify plastic stem.


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Offline arsh

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2017, 04:45:51 pm »
Just a quick question about magnification of this microscope, is it from 1x to 20x or just 20x fixed?
 

Offline nikonoid

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2017, 05:14:15 pm »
This on is only 20x.   Objective is 2x and eyepieces are 10x giving combined 20x magnification. I think you can buy 5x eyepieces for combined 10x magnification.


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Offline Samogon

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2017, 06:25:00 pm »
Ordered one to check.
 

Offline ez24

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2017, 06:38:13 pm »
Hi

I received my scope a few days ago.  First thing is I ordered it via ebay from

http://www.ebay.com/itm/20X-Binocular-Stereo-Microscope-LED-Light-For-Circuit-Board-Lab-Phone-Repairing/122692597357?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

for $33.00 (best offer)

Then it came from Amazon.  I checked and it came from the same seller.  On Amazon it costs more.  So it looks like ebay sellers can stockpile their stuff at Amazon.

The only "bad" thing about this (if someone cares) is that it comes with a bug.  I do not like to see something killed like this. 

But the thing is the optics are so good, I do not have the heart to cut it up.  Within seconds I could use it.  I have a real B&L scope and I hardly can see anything with it.  So now I do not feel bad when I get rid of the B&L.  Much better than a 20x lope.

I am looking for my small saw and if and when I find it, then I will order one to cut up.

Great scope for the money, especially for the challenged.

Thanks nikonoid


« Last Edit: September 18, 2017, 09:09:39 pm by ez24 »
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Offline arsh

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2017, 08:22:42 pm »
Thanks, just ordered one. If everything works out good, will order the 5x eyepieces.
 

Offline nikonoid

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2017, 11:58:20 pm »
I have one suggestion on cutting that I forgot to include into original post:

Put the microscope into a poly bad enclosing all of the microscope inside beside the part to be cut. You can tape it shot with packing tape. This way you can now cut plastic and be sure that no plastic dust will make it to the optical parts of the microscope.

I used Dremel Cut-Off Wheel for straight parts of the cut, then drawn semi-circular cut with a sharpie. Rounded part was cut with a course grit Dremel Sanding Drum.

Other methods should work too. This is just what I used.
 
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Offline Armadillo

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2017, 09:51:40 am »
Thanks, just ordered one. If everything works out good, will order the 5x eyepieces.

Hi, any updates on the handheld modification.? Thanks.
 

Offline arsh

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2017, 02:01:10 am »
Still waiting for it to arrive.
 

Offline cdev

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2017, 05:43:47 am »
Did you guys have to pay for shipping? If so, how much?

Hi

I received my scope a few days ago.  First thing is I ordered it via ebay from

http://www.ebay.com/itm/20X-Binocular-Stereo-Microscope-LED-Light-For-Circuit-Board-Lab-Phone-Repairing/122692597357?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

for $33.00 (best offer)

Then it came from Amazon.  I checked and it came from the same seller.  On Amazon it costs more.  So it looks like ebay sellers can stockpile their stuff at Amazon.

The only "bad" thing about this (if someone cares) is that it comes with a bug.  I do not like to see something killed like this. 

But the thing is the optics are so good, I do not have the heart to cut it up.  Within seconds I could use it.  I have a real B&L scope and I hardly can see anything with it.  So now I do not feel bad when I get rid of the B&L.  Much better than a 20x lope.

I am looking for my small saw and if and when I find it, then I will order one to cut up.

Great scope for the money, especially for the challenged.

Thanks nikonoid
"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 

Offline Armadillo

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2017, 06:14:04 am »
Ordered one to check.

I can rely on your assessment. Waiting to hear from you. thanks. :D
 

Offline ez24

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Offline cdev

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Re: DIY Handheld Microscope
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2017, 12:00:40 am »
I think the price increase was temporary  - at least when I last looked it was back to $35. the seller sold it to me for $35.

 it only took a few days to arrive (fulfilled by Amazon, not from China, even though I bought it on ebay) after the holiday was over.

I like mine, I use it a lot. 

"What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away."
 


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