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  • Magnifying lamp for SMD work

    I'm looking around for a reasonable quality magnifying lamp. Ideally I'd like a Luxo Wave and have bid unsucessfully for a couple on E-bay. The general Chinese stuff that seems to be around doesn't look like it would stand up to much use but I noticed Rapid has a Xytronic magnifier that has a pretty good review and wonder if anyone has one of these;

    Xytronic Professional work light

    My Xytronic solder station has been superb, but I don't know about the quality and durability of that particular magnifier.

    I've also contacted someone about a Dazor floor standing magnifier which looks pretty good, but no reply as yet. I've been using high magnification prescription lenses but they're a real nuisance when glancing across at a schematic or anything else more than a foot away.

  • #2
    Imhe, they are all about the same and around $50. They usually have a circular fluorescent bulb around a big lens and a clamp to mount to the bench. Unfortunately, fluorescent light sucks. When I was regularly replacing 250 pin smds and the like, I had a tool called a "device or circuit viewer" it was essentially a low powered binocular microscope with a little table under it and halogen lamps. I think it was around $500 and may have been made by Hakko. It was priceless for the work I was doing. But you have to remove the boards.

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    • #3
      This is probably overkill, but the last shop I worked at used a camcorder with a variable zoom control. It was an abandoned machine with mechanism problems, so no cost there. We built it "in house" and used ultimate support tubing and fittings to make a stand and the height adjustable. Camcorder was plugged into an LCD monitor and you could get extremely good views close up and personal of those billion pin smd's. It takes a little getting used to watching a monitor while you solder/desolder, but with a little practice, it's surprisingly easy.
      "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

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      • #4
        Originally posted by olddawg View Post
        Imhe, they are all about the same and around $50. They usually have a circular fluorescent bulb around a big lens and a clamp to mount to the bench. Unfortunately, fluorescent light sucks. When I was regularly replacing 250 pin smds and the like, I had a tool called a "device or circuit viewer" it was essentially a low powered binocular microscope with a little table under it and halogen lamps. I think it was around $500 and may have been made by Hakko. It was priceless for the work I was doing. But you have to remove the boards.
        I've got a binocular inspection microscope and the drawback is, as you say, that you have to remove the board. It also relies on the board being flat on one side so it's very limited for amp repair.

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        • #5
          I used magnifier lights at work for 40 years for soldering, but I much prefer the OptiVisor professional magnifying visor.

          You can get several different optical glass lenses, with different magnifications.

          I use these along with a heavy duty "swing arm"" work light, that is bolted to the back of the work bench, but can easily be pushed out of the way. I use a 50w CFL bulb, which is as bright as a 200W incandescent, and you can even go to a 105W CFL (500W equivalent), and it's like direct sunlight

          For extra magnification, you can wear strong (3x or 4x) reading glasses under the OptiVisor.

          To me, it's just a lot easier to push a visor up than to continually swing a magnifier lamp out of the way, and since the visor moves with your head, you have a much wider area you can view.

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          • #6
            I find that peering through the lens of one of those magnifying lamps wrecks my 3d vision. I end up jabbing the soldering iron into thin air about half an inch above what I'm trying to solder. Maybe I should try the Optivisor.
            "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

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            • #7
              I ended up getting an Allen M76 with the additional 4x kit;

              ALLEN VANGUARD M76 ILLUMINATED MAGNIFIER, REACH - H Roberts

              Amazing build quality, materials and weight. The lens quality far exceeds anything else I've tried and is sharp and undistorted right to the edge.

              There's an interesting point made in the brochure - 2x is the highest magnification recommended for day-long stereo viewing through a single lens. Higher magnification is for monocular use only (one eye shut). I'm not getting the lack of 3d depth that I've had before with magnifiers. Perhaps they've always been to powerful.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by The Dude View Post
                This is probably overkill, but the last shop I worked at used a camcorder with a variable zoom control.
                What an excellent idea! I just tried this with an older digital camcorder that's pretty much obsolete, and it worked amazingly well. Just have to figure a way to mount it now.
                Sometimes an obvious solution is right in front of your face and you don't realize it.

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                • #9
                  The width of the light source and angle really determines the degree of perceived depth acuity. Many of the small Chinese mags have decent lenses but due to the ring light being small in diameter that we do not perceive depth very well with them. You can help them help you by adding some spot lights further than the work piece to either side. Then turn off the ring light.
                  There are cheap Chinese inspection video cameras that work really well since their aperture is so small depth of field of normal Macro lenses is not a major issue . When i get a board that is really hard to read I take a photo with my f/2.8 105mm macro lens with my Nikon D800 36mpx dslr and zoom in to a high mag. The next best thing to scanning electron microscope

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                  • #10
                    Try the OptiVisor with the optional Quasar LED lighting system, a frame of six high-brightness LED's that fit around the lens. Worth it's weight in gold. We DO have a microscope for board examination, but it's useless during the actual repair process. For inspection only.
                    John R. Frondelli
                    dBm Pro Audio Services, New York, NY

                    "Mediocre is the new 'Good' "

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                    • #11
                      I've got an original Optivisor somewhere, but all I can locate is the pack of spare lenses that came with it. Perhaps if I could see better I'd find it......

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                      • #12
                        At work we have purchased two of the USB connected magnifying digital microscopes. Like Dino-Lite.
                        These things are $100 and up, magnify to an astonishing extent, show a high resolution on your PC screen, and seem ideal for looking closely at stuff.
                        I haven't used one to solder as I have a B&L stereo microscope I bought used at Capovani Brothers.

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