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

Brett58

Brett58

Thread Starter
Geek
Original poster
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 1, 2006
3,003
2,809
Roseville, CA 121W
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: FTA4PA
primestar31

primestar31

SatelliteGuys Master
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 15, 2005
12,180
10,735
Beta Omicron Delta III
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
 
  • Like
Reactions: Josephinelcajon and Brett58
Brett58

Brett58

Thread Starter
Geek
Original poster
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 1, 2006
3,003
2,809
Roseville, CA 121W
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: primestar31
primestar31

primestar31

SatelliteGuys Master
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 15, 2005
12,180
10,735
Beta Omicron Delta III
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Josephinelcajon and Brett58
A

arlo

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 4, 2016
948
616
North Eastern
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Brett58
Brett58

Brett58

Thread Starter
Geek
Original poster
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 1, 2006
3,003
2,809
Roseville, CA 121W
...
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
 
  • Like
Reactions: KE4EST
A

arlo

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 4, 2016
948
616
North Eastern
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Josephinelcajon and Brett58
I

Inclined Orbit

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jan 2, 2018
460
287
Los Angeles
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: arlo and Brett58
A

arlo

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 4, 2016
948
616
North Eastern
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!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Brett58
Brett58

Brett58

Thread Starter
Geek
Original poster
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 1, 2006
3,003
2,809
Roseville, CA 121W
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

Brett58

Thread Starter
Geek
Original poster
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 1, 2006
3,003
2,809
Roseville, CA 121W
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
 
Last edited:
A

arlo

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 4, 2016
948
616
North Eastern
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.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Brett58, primestar31 and KE4EST
Brett58

Brett58

Thread Starter
Geek
Original poster
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 1, 2006
3,003
2,809
Roseville, CA 121W
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......
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: FTA4PA and arlo
Brett58

Brett58

Thread Starter
Geek
Original poster
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 1, 2006
3,003
2,809
Roseville, CA 121W
I bought an Adonstar AD-407 Pro: Amazon product

I am happy with the camera and lens, but not the stand. So I'll do as suggested in many of the reviews and mount the camera on a microphone arm that clamps to my desk. That way I will be able to position the camera easily.

Am going to have to find a way to attach the camera and lights to the microphone arm. Then I'll be able to move the camera around freely.

Below is a photo of what it looked like when I was examining a power supply circuit board last night. The secondary transformer wire burned up and left a mess. Fortunately its a toroid coil and it will be easy to replace the 6 turns of the secondary coil.

I checked most the nearby components and the only other damage so far is one of the four diodes in the rectifier bridge.

My multimeter (a Fluke 117) works great for testing diodes but not for the surface mount capacitors.

Is there an easy way to test surface mount capacitors? My multimeter can test the large electrolytic capacitors (after I short any remaining charge out of them), but not the surface mount type.


DigitalMicroscope
 
A

arlo

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 4, 2016
948
616
North Eastern
Oh man. No matter what look out for the flimsy arms with chintzy square tubes and springs. That was my first one for the USB borescope . Mine was clamped to the desk and every little movement caused a magnified earthquake of a jiggling image. PITA!
Advertised as mic arms, microscope arms. They're all the same.....junk. What's going to really suck is the price jump from one of those to a good one. If you do have to get one of the springy ones at least find a way to mount it to a wall shelf or something like it. Seriously.
In the interim you could just spin the little table 180 and weight it down, and wally world a silicone baking mat to work on. Just a suggestion. Lots of people like those 'scopes though. Even your mate cod3r!
 
A

arlo

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 4, 2016
948
616
North Eastern
You can test for a direct short or short to ground. Use hot air to pull and verify. Look at Alex on Northridge Fix on the 'tube. Shorted, no schematic, it's a crap shoot unless you have a donor with a good one.Vcc/Vdd bypass caps, a high value like .1uf will do. Other than that....make a circuit purpose up and guess.
Looks like you have an unhappy diode there, Mister.
Haha. 3rd edit. Please get a few syringes of Amtech 213 & 559 flux. They don't cook-off like paste fluxes and keeps bridging to a minimum. Just a suggestion.
 
Last edited:
Brett58

Brett58

Thread Starter
Geek
Original poster
Lifetime Supporter
Mar 1, 2006
3,003
2,809
Roseville, CA 121W
Oh man. No matter what look out for the flimsy arms with chintzy square tubes and springs. That was my first one for the USB borescope . Mine was clamped to the desk and every little movement caused a magnified earthquake of a jiggling image. PITA!
Advertised as mic arms, microscope arms. They're all the same.....junk. What's going to really suck is the price jump from one of those to a good one. If you do have to get one of the springy ones at least find a way to mount it to a wall shelf or something like it. Seriously.
In the interim you could just spin the little table 180 and weight it down, and wally world a silicone baking mat to work on. Just a suggestion. Lots of people like those 'scopes though. Even your mate cod3r!
It's an Elgato Wave Mic Arm:
Amazon product
I have to get a bracket to attach the camera to it. On YouTube there is a guy who 3D printed a bracket and made the 3D printer file available to all. With the file I can find someone who does 3D printing as a service.
You can't really check them in-circuit, not with a multimeter anyway.
That's what I figured. My multimeter couldn't get a reading on any of the surface mount caps in circuit. But it could read most of the electrolytic caps. However I discovered that some were in parallel with others and the capacitance reading was the combined sum.
You can test for a direct short or short to ground. Use hot air to pull and verify. Look at Alex on Northridge Fix on the 'tube. Shorted, no schematic, it's a crap shoot unless you have a donor with a good one.Vcc/Vdd bypass caps, a high value like .1uf will do. Other than that....make a circuit purpose up and guess.
Looks like you have an unhappy diode there, Mister.
Haha. 3rd edit. Please get a few syringes of Amtech 213 & 559 flux. They don't cook-off like paste fluxes and keeps bridging to a minimum. Just a suggestion.
I got some Chipquik flux in a syringe that works well.

... This power supply belongs to a Velodyne SPL8BG2 subwoofer that I bought cheap on eBay (for parts or not working). If I can fix it I can sell it for around $250. It weighs 42 pounds!.
 

Similar threads

N5XZS
Replies
1
Views
522
FTA4PA
FTA4PA
Comptech
Replies
11
Views
1K
ft8lover
F
A
Replies
40
Views
2K
Inclined Orbit
I
cpalmer2k
Replies
6
Views
1K
Comptech
Comptech

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 0, Members: 0, Guests: 0)

Who Read This Thread (Total Members: 37)

  • Brett58
  • nelson61
  • Titanium
  • jaytee4320
  • Foxbat
  • waylew
  • primestar31
  • GravelChan
  • n0qcu
  • gasman882001
  • arlo
  • Keith Brannen
  • harshness
  • FTA4PA
  • Lajaba
  • KE4EST
  • RimaNTSS
  • chiodo
  • sonyajon
  • Elsguy
  • Inclined Orbit
  • clucas
  • Ziptied
  • brice52
  • klang
  • thomasjk
  • AZ.
  • Josephinelcajon
  • Radioguy41
  • jorgek
  • lost_mesa
  • Jim S.
  • jayn_j
  • norman881
  • lfp302
  • teachsac
  • dishdude
Top