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Entry level Inspection / working 3d microscope?

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Hey guys up until niw the only thing i have had for work inspection was a little 80x-100x hand held microscope from radioshack.. Super cheap, no FOV whatsoever and a working distance of about 6mm


I am thinking its time to get something real although i dont think i need to drop a grand on a mantis super 3d one ( although it would be cool my wife would shoot me) my question is what is a reasonable price for an entry level inspection binocular microscope (if i could use a camera with it all the better, but probably make it pricier)


So far I can do my soldering by eye, but a decent scope would make it so much easier to inspect after soldering.


I dont even know what to look for or where i could find a good deal ( other than ebay)


Thanks guys :)

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I have a Lieca ms5 stereo microscope. I got it for $100 when the local Flextronix CM went out of business. Expect to pay $400 for one off of ebay.


I have also used a usb microscope from ebay and found it to be just fine. The focal depth and field of view are perfect for board inspection and soldering. Specifically, this one:



Any one of these will suit your needs:



Yeah, I know it's ebay but it is the best $35-ish solution.


Otherwise, you are going to have to pony up the big cash for a Lieca or similar:


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People often recommend the Amscope brand for inexpensive entry level scopes:




The general suggestion seems to be to get something with 5x and 10x magnification.  Amscope has a number of models in the $100 - $150 price range, but the web site doesn't seem to give enough information to tell them apart.


While a USB scope will be fine for inspection, the latency will make it useless for actual construction.

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Agree USB microscopes are unusable for soldering due to lag.


I've heard good things about am scope as well.


I ended up buying a Nikon SMZ-1 on eBay for about 240. It came with a stand and a really mice fiberoptic light. I think the pain is that you not only need a scope but a good light source too. Fiber optic ones are brightest and most uniform but are sometimes as much as the scope itself.


In my case I just watched eBay for awhile, eventually you'll find a seller who came across the unit by luck and doesn't know what it is worth the you can usually get a good price. You will know because it will have a bad description and maybe 1 or two pictures.


Otherwise $400 is probably a good number, for the most part, you get what you pay for...

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  • 1 month later...

I just got a very cheap (about $20) eBay USB microscope for inspecting my SMD soldering - the low end of the ones zeke linked to. I must admit it's really useful and I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality of the image. Maybe I'm easily pleased, but if if you've not got a microscope at all and are wondering then I'd suggest you go with the cheap option and see if that's enough for you.

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  • 1 year later...

After a good bit of waffling, I decided that it is more appropriate to bring back this thread than start a new one....


Looking or information about a binocular scope....


I just picked up a Nikon SMZ-U bin scope with diascopic illuminator stand, beamsplitter (for second path, primarily camera), C-mount adapter, and camera. Unforunately no co-ax illuminator (and I am NOT paying over $1000 for one), so I will be making up a ring, eventually. Right now using an old fluorescent ring bulb desk lamp.


Questions I have, among others, are primarily about the camera and the stand: Techni-quiop Micro-mac VII (type HAD-CCD, mod t-Q/VDC) It has NTSC and Y/C outputs, but power supply is missing.  No clue what it wants. Anyone have a clue?


Second, anyone know about the stand? It is missing the stage, the reflector (which I think is supposed to be specular/diffuse changable), and the reflector mount. Also, the power supply seems to be bad, but I can deal with that. Anyone ever seen the inside, or have a repair book?


For a not-very old machine, that was maybe $5000 to $10000 new (depending on configuration) I was surprised that neither Nikon nor Techniquip show ANY info on their sites. TQ no longer does cameras, and Ican't find the microscope on the nikon site at all...Only the original SMZ, and the current numbered models, which are different.


Ideas? (figured I'd start here before going to microscopy forums.... Can't hurt)

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