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Recommend a magnifier for SMT work?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author Recommend a magnifier for SMT work?
I wondered what everyone is using for this. My little third hand tool with the magnifying glass is not cutting it and I have a few SMT boards to make.
Should I get a goose neck desktop magnifier or a headset with magnifying lenses? I have a feeling that I will look kind of silly wearing the latter but if they are the best thing for the job that's fine. hihi

And what is a recommended magnification level?
Donegan OptiVISOR. Dont get a fake one. I like the LP-7 lenses for SMD, the 10s will bring you in REAL close to the work. The 7 is about 16" focal length which is perfect for me.

I wear bifocals normally and can wear the visor for hours comfortably. There is a reason every jeweler is wearing one.

I recommend AGAINST a single lense magnifier since it will mess up you depth perception. Its fine for inspection but placing parts under that sucks
Yes Optivisor plus a cheap plastic 10x eye loupe with LED for SMD inspection.
OK, thanks, I see a UK dealer with these. Some cheap steampunk ones here but probably plastic lenses and less comfortable...
I’ve got perfectly fine vision so all I need is a jewelers loupe for close-up inspection (e.g. - fine-pitch ics and whatnot).
I've got one of those Donegan things mentioned above, and they do work great. But i seem to be preferring one of these - hangeable/dp/B01H8808H6/ - it works great also, is lighter, and has a built in light.

But to be honest, I do most of my smt stuff with just some 2.5x reading glasses, and a ring light with a magnifying lens for final inspection - l - if you don't have something like this, get one, you'll never want to work without it once you get used to it.
(in the UK) I have a Rolson magnifier headset. Comes with four lenses of which two can be installed at once giving from x2 up to x20 (which is fairly extreme for general use). Higher magnifications have more limited depth of field.
Thanks for the suggestions.

sduck, do you wear the Yoctosun ones together with normal glasses? Looks like it might be a bit awkward with the nose bridge.

Yes, I’m a lucky guy... nanners
I strongly agree with Grumble - a stereo microscope makes SMT so easy - you’ll be shocked how bad your soldering really is when you can see it properly (after using a visor). So much better for your back and neck as well.... I use an Amscope SE400-Z Stereo Microscope off amazon....
I have a nice Nikon boom strereoscope. Love it and purchased it with a light source for a really cheap price locally.
Lemmy wrote:

sduck, do you wear the Yoctosun ones together with normal glasses? Looks like it might be a bit awkward with the nose bridge.

Sometimes, but mostly no. I have progressive lenses in my glasses, and it's easier for close up soldering stuff to just use readers or the yoctosun.
If you're in the UK and anywhere near stockport then I've got one of these you can have for free. o-microscope-boom-arm-with-gooseneck-light.html
@GilgaFrank That's really generous. I will PM you.
wow! awesome! applause
Noodle Twister
Thanks for this thread very useful information.

Quick question if I may, would a stereo microscope be good to do a Mutable ears DIY build ? They are 0402 passives. I have the PCB but the smallest I've done so far with x 3 reading glasses is 1206.
yes, a microscope for ears seems sensible, not digital though, the lag can be dangerous if hand soldering
Noodle Twister
Ah ok , thanks Adam. Not heard many good things about the lag-inducing (converted dash cam) microscopes.
I am aged 67, with cataracts, and my eyes are really shot. Nevertheless, I have been able to complete some SMT jobs in the last year. They are a bit rough, and I had to do some troubleshooting, but I eventually go them working properly.

I normally wear multifocals (since about age 20). I have tried both the headgear and a fixed stand magnifier. I found the fixed stand works best for me. I got one of the type with a LED light ring around it. I find the correct lighting to be a major factor to getting things right.

For me, the headgear is either too much magnification (leading to difficulty with hand-eye coordination) or too little. WIth the stand, I can adjust magnification by positioning myself, and I can look back and forwards to the unmagnified environment to get my bearings when needed.
GilgaFrank wrote:
If you're in the UK and anywhere near stockport then I've got one of these you can have for free. o-microscope-boom-arm-with-gooseneck-light.html

I have one of these. Its the entry level stereo scope and totally adequate for SMD inspection at 10x (20x is a bit extreme). I don't find it easy to work under - visors for that. But as I said before, unless its FREE!, an eye loupe is a reasonable substitute.
the 7-35x amscopes are very serviceable in both binocular and trinocular form - if you're not trying to use a camera on the mount at the same time as both eyes you can skip the simul-focal feature of the trinocular ones which saves money. i use a locked off boom stand rather than a springy arm and have been happy with the stability.

i also highly recommend a hakko omnivise with this arrangement as it allows holding the boards from one edge with great stability and at a consistent height that prevents having to constantly adjust the microscope stand height. prior to the omnivise i have used various clamps and stands and nothing comes close to the convenience and stability for working on euro modules with a handheld iron while looking through a microscope. it seems like a lot of money to spend on a fancy paperweight but the benefit is significant.
Have been working for some time with magnifying glasses, and I really like it.
Just using those, cheap but good enough IMHO: XP
I've got a magnifying glass (with greater times magnification on an inset section to one side) on a gooseneck. Cheapest one Jaycar had smile it even has some little LEDs just under the magnifying lens, to illuminate what it is focussing on.
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