Technology
Surface mount soldering tip: Boom-style microscopes

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It can be really difficult to see those little components when surface mount soldering. Bring in the funny looking headgear! Some type of head-mounted magnification is a great solution, but it isn’t always the best choice. You might want to invest in a stereoscopic microscope. A microscope will give you more magnification and the ability to go from a magnified view to an unmagnified view more easily, and hands free. They’re great for checking traces, solder joints, and many other solder-related tasks. The down side is they can be very expensive, running upwards of $500 or more. The good news is they can be picked up used for very little money.

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Long story short, I picked up this beautiful stereo microscope for only $20 on eBay. Now that’s a deal! One of the nice things about this model is the ability to swing the entire head to the side, almost like a boom-style, except it’s about $1000 less. I love it! I still use my magnifying glasses headset, but having a microscope has been very useful and it didn’t break the bank.

Do you have any other great tips, finds, or stories about places to get inexpensive equipment? Share your insight with all our readers in the comments below. Thanks!

8 thoughts on “Surface mount soldering tip: Boom-style microscopes

  1. I haven’t tried them myself but there are a variety of cheap (<~$50) USB microscopes available online that are small and portable that would serve the same need, plus have the advantage of having digital output to document/share.

      1. I got an older Intel microscope webcam to use for small work off ebay. The resolution was so low and the updates so infrequent that it just won’t work well.

        I hope there are some newer, faster webcams out there that do magnification with higher resolution.

        I bought my daughter an Eyeclops camera for her birthday. I’m excited to see if it might be possible to use it for this kind of work.

  2. It’s an American Optical Stereostar model 569 stereo zoom microscope. I picked it up very cheap on ebay a few months back, around $300.

    It’s old but works very well and is easily the most useful tool I have purchased in years.

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