Microscope recommendation needed

I see a lot of people recommending traditional Microscopes here? I have access to that, but I personally perfer using one of these with a large screen https://aliexpress.com/item/32992225432.html This one is amazing with 37mp, but simpler version will work well too. We have a 4k with autofocus at the office, but that was quite expensive. Not sure if Autofocus is required at all imo?

Here’s an example of a board I soldered at home today using a quite cheap 720p scope on a 7" monitor https://twitter.com/jenschr/status/1258324559037685760 so even 01005 is possible without stereo vision. I second the problem with finding the right optics, but cheap(ish) Barlow lenses with C-Mount make that easier to tweak. With my current home setup, I have about 20 cm working distance, so it does not feel cramped at all. Took a while to find the right setup though, so in many cases it can be easier to just get whatever you can test yourself.

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That looks like a very cool toy at a very reasonable price. Just seems to me it would be weird to be looking off to the side at a monitor while soldering something in front of you, but I guess you get used to it?

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@jensa interesting, this is one of the things that I would need to try to believe. My latency comment was wrt USB based cameras. Surely HDMI ones are better. Can you really do a 4 hour session of rework with a setup like this and not get fatigue? If so that is a pretty nice game changer. It has been on my list to add a nice digital scope/camera just for taking pictures anyway.

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And one last note about the AF cameras,

they do have manual focus, some have spot focus. It’s useful for inspection and scanning to have the AF, easy to turn it off and go back to MF than it is to convert a MF camera to an AF.

you can also just put the monitor above the work area so you are looking forward, i never liked leaning into the microscope and it is a hassle with eyewear, you can also move the camera to the work piece which is not really possible with the microscope.

Less clutter around the work area too since boom microscopes have a lot going on, they are heavy too.

also since streaming is very popular its easy to do workshops etc.

that 37MP camera, is only 37MP for saving to TF, the HDMI is still 1920x1080

i did a test with hdmi to a very cheap monitor connected to hdmi, https://i.imgur.com/hf1bHZR.jpg so 101ms latency going direct to hdmi

It’s actually the oppsite for me @LukeBeno? After two hours of squinting into the traditional scopes, I feel tired or get a headache. Even when it’s well adjusted, you’ll use very specific eye muscles when focusing through the scope and I’ll often get a sore neck from sitting still for a prolonged time in odd positions.

With the HDMI scopes I have a much more relaxed working posture and can work much longer. When putting together a batch of prototype PCB’s I’ll usually use a Pick’n’place to do all the components I have many of (worth the setup time) and then place those that are only 1-2 per board by hand using such a microscope. I don’t know how much the lag there is, but it certainly is some in my cheap scope. I haven’t noticed it on the more expensive one at work though. I’d estimate max 200ms on the cheap one at home and imperceptible on the one at my office.

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I followed @voltlog’s suggestion and have that sitting on my bench now, without the microscope. Less than $100 shipped from China. Have been able to solder very tiny things. I haven’t played too much with getting it closer but am guessing that will also help the zoom level (just didn’t want it in the way)

Currently shown with full digital zoom, with a close up of 0402 resistors and caps on that dev board


nice that little 2k monitor looks neat, i just ordered one off amazon., thanks for that.

but yeah look at all that working space you get, that’s why i dig the cameras, so versatile.

also the nice thing is a lot of them run linux internally so you can do post processing inside the camera, custom overlays etc.

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This setup is great. It’s the first I’ve seen that makes me consider jumping on the cam bandwagon. Probably I’d use the hardware & software from @charliex because I’m in love with his multi-focus captures, but the way you hang the camera is the way I’d also want it.

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Need some kind of robot + AI solution that detects my hand is in the way, keeps the chip location centered and then uses some kind of gimbal action to try and get a good shot of the chip again :slight_smile:


I’m thinking about hooking it up to a hanging boom arm, maybe something cheap that’s rescued from craigslist. There is going to be a lot of cheap office & lab furniture available in San Francisco this summer…


multiple cameras :slight_smile:

but yes i also dig chris’s layout, i am going to rebuild a stand for that.

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2k monitor arrived from amazon, pretty decent. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VS5LKFS/

sadly this pcb won’t make it to defcon this year, meant to be its first outing :slight_smile: oh well gives us more time to do something extra sneaky for next years competitions

It will run through a splitter so i can do PC capture as well direct viewing

I have the same Eakins scope. I highly recommend getting the following.


Goose necks lights. Much better than the LED ring as is causes too much reflections.


This Amscope at 10x has served me very well. Depth perspective is tough without 2 eyeballs. I have enough encountered a digital setup I would want to work under for more than 1 hour. To get something clear without lag usually means 1000+. At that price, I would consider getting some else to do rework if it takes longer than I am comfortable with the Amscope and requires super fine pitch work.

yeah that looks useful, i use the ring light since i want to minimise shadows for imaging work but it’d be handy to have that gooseneck too. i should get that extensible y boom as well. this is turning into an expensive thread :slight_smile:

its always interesting seeing other peoples workspaces and seeing the common items, the blue ipa dispensers etc.

not to go too far off thread, but one thing i’ve wanted is to be able to overlay the design over the boards, so i started putting something together, spent about 20 minutes to parse the eagle xml and draw it, so far so good. i’ve added the tracking and that in, so just have to hook up all the rest…


i wanted dual video output from the camera, so i ordered this box, and confirmed it works with the camera, 2k monitor and capture card.


Thanks everyone for the suggestions and thoughts. I went for the Amscope SM-3T with the 144 LED light ring. The optical quality is fantastic. – Seems as good as the Nikon with the fiber optic light ring I had at my last day job. I can’t wait for financial justification for a camera!



I just moved and I’m setting up a somewhat similar configuration to yours. I’m a hot air user though.