Soldering microscopes that let you do more high-margin work for your customers. Find the right microscope for electronic repair below. Yours will pay for itself in just a few months.
You're meticulous with your repair work, because the success of your business relies on the quality of your work. Repeat customers and word of mouth go a long way, so you need tools, like a soldering microscope, that help you do your best. Below you'll find the right microscope for electronic repair to bring value into your business. Before you buy, get familiar with:
You need enough space between the microscope and your subject to actually work with your tools, that's at least 4 inches. Any microscope for electronic repair with less working distance won't do what you need.
LED illumination is preferred in your line of work because the bulbs last long, don't emit uncomfortable heat, and emit the right color temperature to afford you a good view.
A stereo microscope is what you're looking for. Any higher magnification and hat you see through the lens won't be of any value to your work.
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A soldering microscope is a stereo microscope with features that make your repair work easier. That includes:
SMD soldering or SMT soldering
Printed circuit board or PCB soldering
Hot air gun soldering
With an added microscope camera, it can also be considered a digital microscope or usb microscope, since it can take digital images and videos of your micro soldering, pcb inspection workflow, and any electronics work you do on other electronic components and display them on a screen.
A compound microscope is not a suitable microscope for electronic repair or your other repair work. The focal length of a compound microscope vs a stereo microscope is too long. Working on your repairs while looking through the objective lens of a compound microscope would be like cooking dinner with a telescope attached to your eyes. It's just the wrong type of optical microscope.
So, stick to a stereo microscope (which, again, can also be a digital microscope by adding a digital camera) for your soldering applications.
What feature matters most for my soldering or micro soldering microscope?
Maybe the most important factor in your next purchase of a soldering microscope is the working distance - or the distance between the microscope head and the surface where you do your work.
An average soldering iron or other small soldering tool should almost fit totally upright in the working distance of your stereo microscope if you want to get the best value out of it for your business. The soldering microscope is a tool to help improve your business and your income. It allows you to perform micro soldering repairs you couldn’t perform otherwise, and can pay for itself within a month - then you’ll be making money from using it for the next 20 years.
If your microscope has a shallow or low working distance, it’s useful for recovering parts from old circuit boards, and there’s certainly value to that. It’s why many repair technicians use a low-priced model for parts recovery set up in one location, and a more expensive model (in the $500-$650 range) for the detailed repair work. Plus, when you’re concentrating on soldering an LVDS connector or 0201 resistors or doing fine work with heat sink screws or DC inboards, you’ll be more comfortable and precise with a greater working distance.
Your soldering microscope stand is another important piece of your repair microscope rig. Your repair shop isn’t a sterile environment. Chances are you’re moving around a lot, and it’s not uncommon to bump into a counter or a piece of equipment. Your stand needs to be stable so the microscope head doesn’t fall over, break, and cause you a giant headache because you have to switch back to a magnifying glass until your microscope is repaired (and trust us, once switch from your old magnifier glass to a microscope, you’re never going to be satisfied with switching back to the old way).
Is Simul-Focal important for a soldering microscope?
In most situations, yes.
Simul-Focal means you can look through both eyepieces while simultaneously capturing video through the trinocular port.
Why does that matter to you?
If you want to record your work to protect your business from customer complaints, you can look through the microscope with two eyes while a video of your workflow is recorded through the trinocular port. Your best work requires two eyes, so you shouldn’t give up one of the eyepieces to a digital camera. The trinocular port allows you to work with both eyes while recording your digital video.
If you run a business with staff completing repairs and you want to help develop their skills and review their work, this setup allows them to work without you looking over their shoulder, and for you to get a more fulsome look at how they work, and how you can help them improve.
A Simul-Focal microscope head is also a valuable tool for onboarding new staff or creating your own best practices videos. Record yourself completing a workflow, and your new staff doesn’t need you to walk them through any training. They can review the video and complete workflows on their own.
What about the lens?
A soldering microscope with a 10X eyepiece lens and 3.5X to 45X magnification is the best value and most versatile for your work. The magnification and large field of view are such that you can see a small QFN package much better than your old magnifying glass.
You’ll be doing most of your work in the low magnification range. But you will also want to inspect some of your work up close (after or before you do the work). You’ll look at a solder joint or a wire you ran under a VGA chipset, or you might do long screws at a higher magnification. So it’s good to be able to scale up your magnification to 45X.
An adjustable light is useful in soldering and other repair work because as you zoom in, you need more light. An LED light is best for electronics repair, because the image you see through the eyepiece and the camera sensor are more true-to-life with LED illumination than other optics. Your field of view gets darker as you get closer to the subject, and when you work at lower zoom levels, you need lower light. So an adjustable light helps you work more efficiently and accurately. A ring light is good for even illumination and to create a realistic image within the digital microscope image sensor as well as in the eyepiece where you look at your solder work.
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