Looking for a good magnifying glass with light for working with electronics

Brett58

Brett58

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I have been doing electronic repairs for long time. Now my close up vision isn't nearly as good as it used to be.

Can anyone recommend a good magnifying glass + light for doing work with circuit boards?

I have seen three types of these. Some are simple magnifying glasses on a stand with LED lights around the rim. Others are worn on your head. And some even have a video screen which can take photos or record video. I can't decide which type of magnifier/light I should get. Ideally I could go into a store and try some in person, but now it would have to be mail order.

Electronic repair is just a hobby for me. I often buy broken electronic devices to see if I can fix them and either use them or sell for a profit. (Mostly laptop computers and radios so far, but I may start fixing game consoles too.)

About a month ago I had to replace the logic board in my MacBook pro. At times I had to have my wife hold a magnifying glass and aim a flashlight where I was working. After that she has given me approval to spend some money on a proper setup.

I recently acquired a heat gun and can now remove and replace chips (with legs). I have not attempted replacing a BGA (ball grid array) chip yet, but I have watched someone on YouTube do it with a heat gun, soldering flux, and lots of skill!

THE master of repair is definitely a guy on YouTube named "TheCod3r". He repairs mostly game consoles. Another highly skilled YouTuber is "TronicsFix". Check them out.
 
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primestar31

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I have been doing electronic repairs for long time. Now my close up vision isn't nearly as good as it used to be.

Can anyone recommend a good magnifying glass + light for doing work with circuit boards?

I have seen three types of these. Some are simple magnifying glasses on a stand with LED lights around the rim. Others are worn on your head. And some even have a video screen which can take photos or record video. I can't decide which type of magnifier/light I should get. Ideally I could go into a store and try some in person, but now it would have to be mail order.

Electronic repair is just a hobby for me. I often buy broken electronic devices to see if I can fix them and either use them or sell for a profit. (Mostly laptop computers and radios so far, but I may start fixing game consoles too.)

About a month ago I had to replace the logic board in my MacBook pro. At times I had to have my wife hold a magnifying glass and aim a flashlight where I was working. After that she has given me approval to spend some money on a proper setup.

I recently acquired a heat gun and can now remove and replace chips (with legs). I have not attempted replacing a BGA (ball grid array) chip yet, but I have watched someone on YouTube do it with a heat gun, soldering flux, and lots of skill!

THE master of repair is definitely a guy on YouTube named "TheCod3r". He repairs mostly game consoles. Another highly skilled YouTuber is "TronicsFix". Check them out.
I use this, though there's slightly newer, and much more expensive ones. This works so well, I can see and unsolder and resolder traces as thin as a hair. Amazon product
 
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Brett58

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Thanks Mike! I just ordered one, along with some desoldering wick (braided copper). Much less expensive than I expected.

... I have learned so much from watching "TheCod3r" and "TronicsFix" on YouTube. Highly recommend checking them out if you get a chance.
 
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Thanks Mike! I just ordered one, along with some desoldering wick (braided copper). Much less expensive than I expected.

... I have learned so much from watching "TheCod3r" and "TronicsFix" on YouTube. Highly recommend checking them out if you get a chance.
I've been playing with electronics since I was 7 years old and built my first crystal radio. As a teenager, I built all sorts of electronic devices to fool around with. I also spent 15 years as an electronics bench tech. I'm now 64. I really don't need to brush up on much, lol.
 
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arlo

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I'll tell you. I got into smd repairs a few years ago. Used an opti visor. Then a mag visor like the one Mike linked to.
The old peepers aren't as sharp as they used to be so having a good optician to hook me up with a good pair of progressive lens glasses who 'understood' i did close work was a plus.
I think the best bang for my buck was when I got one of the USB borescope cameras like a Teslong. And an el-cheapo Amazon microphone boom. A bit of thinking and velcro. More recently an Amscope boom microscope and high res camera.
It gets to be a pain focusing close through visors. I mean. Sure. Flipping it up and down and adjusting your eyes to grab stuff off the bench back and forth led to a trip to the Advil bottle after a few hours.
It's pretty surprising how your eye/hand coordination builds when you get used to working off of a laptop and large monitor. Almost second nature. The microscope alone was a big plus. Adding a camera to it was the best.
Besides when you return your attention to the spot you were working on, it's right there in the eyepiece and screen.
Of course doing occasional repairs, a good visor is great. My 2 cents.
Check out a few of Alex's Northridge Fix 'tube videos. He works almost exclusively from a large monitor.
Louis Rossman seems to prefer a stereo microscope.
 
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Brett58

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...
Check out a few of Alex's Northridge Fix 'tube videos. He works almost exclusively from a large monitor.
Louis Rossman seems to prefer a stereo microscope.
Will watch some of Alex's videos tonight.

"TheCod3r" uses a stereo microscope with a camera so his YouTube viewers can see what is going on.

This one looks good too. If I get eye strain from the Beileshi Head Magnifier I could upgrade in the future to an LCD screen: Amazon product
 
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arlo

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Will watch some of Alex's videos tonight.

"TheCod3r" uses a stereo microscope with a camera so his YouTube viewers can see what is going on.

This one looks good too. If I get eye strain from the Beileshi Head Magnifier I could upgrade in the future to an LCD screen: Amazon product

Those are nice and many use them. Depends on eye/hand coordination. My buddy uses one like it and covered the lights with a piece of his wifey's white stockings. He said the glare was unbearable. I saw what he was talking about. Look at hands on reviews though first. Just like high power magifier headgear. The depth of field for focus is very shallow. Beware of advertised magnification also. You'll want a pretty good native mag. value with digital mag. as their bling.
 
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Inclined Orbit

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Luxo is the industry standard for desk mounted lighted magnifying glass stuff, just search eBay for "luxo magnifying" and there will be lots of new and surplus lights. When I worked in the 2-way radio industry then aerospace there was a Luxo on every work bench.
 
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arlo

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oooh yeah. i have my dad's luxo drafting mag lamp. no good for half of a grain of rice sized smd components. it's a microscope world these days. don't forget the amtech flux and expendables. low melt solder. and a nice set of diamond tipped tweezers. and the good old weller soldering gun. lol!
 
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Brett58

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oooh yeah. i have my dad's luxo drafting mag lamp. no good for half of a grain of rice sized smd components. it's a microscope world these days. don't forget the amtech flux and expendables. low melt solder. and a nice set of diamond tipped tweezers. and the good old weller soldering gun. lol!
I tried the head magnifier and decided it won't work for me. Unless I put my face within inches of what I am working on, it is blurry. And I have to bend my neck looking down, which hurts. So I am going to have to get a microscope with an LCD screen that I can look at easier.

There are lots of LCD screen microscopes on Amazon!

Each mfr. has several configurations. Now I have to make the tough choice of which one to get.

Andonstar Digital Microscope

TOMLOV - More Than A Microscope

Elikliv

Explore the world of microscop

Going to have to read the reviews and decide what features are important for me.
 
Brett58

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Below is the hot air rework station that I got. I like it so far.

I plan on using the hot air gun with the circuit board lying on a piece of scrap granite countertop. (It's the piece that they cut out for the sink.) Should be able to handle plenty of heat!

What I need to research is how hot to set the temperature and the proper airflow for various tasks. I know that solder melts around 190C, but how much heat can most chips handle without burning up?

HeatGun
 
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arlo

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Did you get different tips with it? There is no book on how to figure out temps and airflow.
Practice on old pc boards and gut them. Single and double sided boards, around 320-400c. Air will vary.
Too little and you wont overcome heat soak of the actual board itself.
Too much and you blow other components all over the place.
Components on large ground planes need lots of heat and airflow.
So will 4 layer and more boards. You can't tell by board thickness. Candle it with a bright light to see the inner traces. ...."Usually"
Look at some of the good guy's videos.
SMD solder paste...eutectic. Or easy bake oven solder used in manufacturing is a pain to work with.
Alloy it with liquid flux and lead solder. 60/40. You will thank me for spending the bucks for a few sticks of low melt solder. Man. The neighborhood Ace Hardware has Alpha brand solder that is pretty nice to work with. Nice shiny joints and plays well with your work. But you will still need much finer gauge solder.
Some parts are better removed/replaced by heating the under side of the board. Connectors, wire wound inductos, anything plastic does not play well with hot air. Aluminum A/C duct tape, Kapton tape. Sometimes layers of both to protect adjacent components, you'll need it.
Can capacitors. Keep your hot air away from them. Wear eye protection. If you didn't blow one today. Don't think that tomorrow you won't be heading your butt to the ER. You better pay attention to that.
No book? Yeah. Don't believe the temperature readings on the display. They are only accurate around where you calibrated it. If yours allows calibration.
Your dreams of reworking large BGA chips will need a pre-heater. Period.
Hot air and/or hot tweezers plus low melt solder and Amtech fluxes. Good desoldering braid.
Believe me. Armed with a good soldering station with a good assortment of tips and hot air station with different nozzles is not going to make you dangerous in a day.
Depopulate an old cell phone and laptop main board. Then try putting some of the parts back on. Even if they aren't in the right places. If you have carpet around your workstation. Bad. Real bad!
Another tip. A phone or tablet screen protector taped sticky side up on your bench someplace out of reach of heat. You'll figure that out on your own. Plus a wally world silicone counter top baking mat to work on.
 
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Brett58

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Did you get different tips with it? There is no book on how to figure out temps and airflow.
Practice on old pc boards and gut them. Single and double sided boards, around 320-400c. Air will vary.
Too little and you wont overcome heat soak of the actual board itself.
Too much and you blow other components all over the place.
Components on large ground planes need lots of heat and airflow.
So will 4 layer and more boards. You can't tell by board thickness. Candle it with a bright light to see the inner traces. ...."Usually"
Look at some of the good guy's videos.
SMD solder paste...eutectic. Or easy bake oven solder used in manufacturing is a pain to work with.
Alloy it with liquid flux and lead solder. 60/40. You will thank me for spending the bucks for a few sticks of low melt solder. Man. The neighborhood Ace Hardware has Alpha brand solder that is pretty nice to work with. Nice shiny joints and plays well with your work. But you will still need much finer gauge solder.
Some parts are better removed/replaced by heating the under side of the board. Connectors, wire wound inductos, anything plastic does not play well with hot air. Aluminum A/C duct tape, Kapton tape. Sometimes layers of both to protect adjacent components, you'll need it.
Can capacitors. Keep your hot air away from them. Wear eye protection. If you didn't blow one today. Don't think that tomorrow you won't be heading your butt to the ER. You better pay attention to that.
No book? Yeah. Don't believe the temperature readings on the display. They are only accurate around where you calibrated it. If yours allows calibration.
Your dreams of reworking large BGA chips will need a pre-heater. Period.
Hot air and/or hot tweezers plus low melt solder and Amtech fluxes. Good desoldering braid.
Believe me. Armed with a good soldering station with a good assortment of tips and hot air station with different nozzles is not going to make you dangerous in a day.
Depopulate an old cell phone and laptop main board. Then try putting some of the parts back on. Even if they aren't in the right places. If you have carpet around your workstation. Bad. Real bad!
Another tip. A phone or tablet screen protector taped sticky side up on your bench someplace out of reach of heat. You'll figure that out on your own. Plus a wally world silicone counter top baking mat to work on.
Thanks for the excellent advice.

Yes, got 3 additional smaller tips with the heat gun. I don't plan on re-balling BGA chips any time soon!

I'm getting some solder 63/37 tin/lead 0.015". Should be small enough.

I will practice a LOT with various devices.Things that still work or partially work but are nearly worthless. Will want to be able to test them before and after removal / replacement of some components.

I have one very old laptop computer that will only work if you press down on where the video BGA chip is. I might try heating it until the solder melts. Don't care a lot if I fail. Not much to gain if I succeed either, lol.

And I have a lightning damaged Amiko Mini HD SE that works except there is no power to the LNBF. It works with a dual input LNBF if you power the second input with a working receiver.

These and many, many more projects in the future......
 
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