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Thread: Surface mount soldering magnification with a used $50 document camera?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Northfield, MN USA
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    252

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Holden View Post
    I have to agree with Chuck(G).

    To acquire an image to an optical sensor and reproduce that digitally via a camera and a display is a poorer way to image a pcb with surface mount parts, than direct optical methods. Why not look directly at it with a binocular microscope that has a good light source. These sorts of things used to be crazy expensive, because of the cost of the precision optics, but now they are very cheap, one example:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Binocular-S...Cclp%3A2334524

    If you pay just a little more you can get one of these:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Stereo-Indu....c100005.m1851
    Those look good, but how do you deal with a board that's bigger than a deck of cards?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Silicon Valley
    Posts
    2,442

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Holden View Post
    I have to agree with Chuck(G).

    To acquire an image to an optical sensor and reproduce that digitally via a camera and a display is a poorer way to image a pcb with surface mount parts, than direct optical methods. Why not look directly at it with a binocular microscope that has a good light source. These sorts of things used to be crazy expensive, because of the cost of the precision optics, but now they are very cheap, one example:
    In the video I talk about the pros and cons of a binocular microscope vs a camera. A binocular microscope does give you depth perception, i.e. a 3D view rather than a 2D view with the camera. The area of the PCB that you can see at a large enough scale to be useful is much more limited with a microscope however. In my opinion a tiny microscope is pretty useless for soldering. If your PCB is larger than a playing card odds are you will not be able to see the entire board, only the edges. The objective lens is also right over what your work area meaning you are coating the lens with solder smoke. A larger binocular microscope for this type of work, one with a cantilevered head, starts about $200 for a cheap import on eBay. Get one with a selection of lenses and a camera feed and you are in the $400 range very easily.

    I used to do PCB repair at a production facility using a very nice trinocular microscope. In the video I mentioned this and the fact that after I got used to it I made use of the camera most of the time as it was faster and easier. Hunching over staring though eyepieces for hours on end is not easy. If you have issues looking though any sort of eyepieces like I do it is even harder to do for long periods of time (i.e. using a telescope, microscope, gun sight is difficult, my eyes do not like it.)

    Also, as mentioned in the video this type of document camera was recommended to me by someone who does PCB repair professionally presently and has fancy binocular microscopes and found himself using the document camera most of the time (even though he did not have the difficulty with looking through eyepieces like me.) I was skeptical that a document camera would be suitable for this type of work but gave it a shot. It actually sat unused for a few months as my initial impression was that it might be good for showing manuals and such when making a video, i.e. its intended purpose.

    When I actually sat out to use it I was pleasantly surprised at how well it works. Not only does it work great for soldering surface mount parts it also works good for inspection. In the video I used it to find a small fleck of schmaltz that was causing an intermittent short between two pins on a TRS-80 Model 100 Option ROM. I could not see this small fleck with a lighted magnifier or my jeweler's head worn magnifier, but did see it with the document camera, removed it, verified it was gone with the camera and then plugged it in to find that it does indeed work fine now.

    Short story, don't poo-poo something until you have tried it. For $50 it is a great tool that folds up and can be sored out of the way easily. If funds and work area were not an issue, sure I would love to have a something like a Mantis Elite but then "if wishes were horses we'd all be eatin' steak."

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Burlington, VT
    Posts
    279

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Kossow View Post
    Is that sold as a complete unit, or is the boom assembly a separate component? Sources?

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