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Microscopes for SMD Soldering || $15 VS $45 VS $189

Microscopes for SMD Soldering || $15 VS $45 VS $189

When it comes to soldering a SMD component to a PCB then it is quite obvious that Due to the small size of the components it can be a rather difficult task without magnification that that is why I’ve been using this microscope for while now, which is certainly not perfect But overall it does a job pretty well and many viewers really seem to like it’s recording quality as well Only problem is that costs one hundred and eighty nine dollars Which is a big price tag for people who just want to solder one SMD circuit per year The good news though is that they exist cheaper microscope alternatives like this $15 one or this $45 one? But are such cheap microscopes really suitable for SMD soldering tasks Or is investing in the expensive microscope the way to go Let’s find out This video is sponsored by JLCPCB Upload your Gerber files today and receive high quality PCBs for ridiculously low prices Currently even of without shipping costs and make your projects look more professional As a true test of those microscopes. I will be trying to complete two assembly circuits through the help of their magnification So let’s not waste any time and unbox the cheap microscopes When it comes to the packaging of the microscopes, then there’s really not much to say about it. They all do the job just fine the only silly thing which is pretty common for Chinese packaging, Is the exaggeration like for example I highly doubt that we will see something like this or this with the microscope But anyway after unwrapping the cheapy, I noticed that its material and build quality Regarding the microscope itself and its partly metal base was actually not half bad To judge its recording quality though. I firstly had to install its driver and software which were delivered on a CD After then connecting the microscope via USB to my computer. I started its software and was greeted with a blurry image Which means that everything worked correctly But to be precise there were actually two different pieces of software delivered But since they were so similar and only differentiated themselves through the missing video recording But instead image editing feature of the second software. I’m only going to focus on the first one Now after positioning the microscope above the PCB and Adjusting the brightness of the LED light as well as the focus of the microscope itself I actually got an acceptable image on the screen The resolution is 640 by 480 which can be altered But that is basically only down scaling or up scaling on the side of the microscope we also got a snap button to take pictures and the zoom button to obviously utilize the digital zoom and With the basics out of the way I started to use the microscope for SMD soldering which did actually kind of work Now don’t get me wrong It is annoying that I have to look at my computer screen while soldering and the PCB microscope distance is fairly small But for one SMD circuit in a year it does work. Just fine as the last tests Let’s take some pictures whose quality You are also acceptable for the price tag even video recording did work with 30fps at 640 by 480 But don’t make the mistake to increase the resolution because the frame rate will drop down to 7.5 fps Which is a nightmare to watch The last positive feature, I noticed was that you can adjust quite a few picture settings But sadly that does not improve the video quality greatly But all in all the $15 microscope does for it’s low price a lot of things right Moving on to the $45 microscope whose most important improvements in comparison to the cheapy Are 4.3 inch LCD a micro SD card supports and a builtin Li-Po battery Which means no cable chaos But as positive as all that sounds there are quite a few of negative aspects about this microscope First of the material and build quality of microscope and its base looks and feels very cheap The suction cup of the base does also not work on my workbench only on perfectly smooth surfaces The battery is charged thru mini-USB Be which works just fine But why do they bother giving me a 2 AMP power supply if the charging current is limited to slow 500 milliamps? Maybe there were cheaper But before I nitpick even more let’s position the microscope properly Put it up and adjust the LED light brightness as well as the focus The only problem was that no matter how precisely I tried to focus the SMD circuits it always looked a bit blurry At first I thought the LCD was the problem, but even the recorded video Showcased the same problem and while we’re at subject of video recording Let’s just say it does not look particularly nice. Heck I think the 15 dollar microscope achieved similar results and Worst of all even though microscope claims that it records in 1080p Its video files clearly present a recording resolution of 720p Now taking pictures with this microscope is also possible But since they take around a second to shoot and the microscope space is rather wobbly the pictures will often look very blurry well at least the digital zoom does work and While all of that sounds like you should stay away from this microscope I actually do prefer it for SMD soldering instead of the cheaper one Simply because it’s battery-powered and I don’t have to look at a computer screen But of course that does not excuse the other problems So all in all I had high hopes for the $45.00 microscope, but it was kind of let down But for positive change of pace let’s not forget my favorite microscope It’s completely made out of metal its height can easily be adjusted it has relatively big working space has bright LED lights offers an LCD Takes microSD cards has a mini HDMI outputs to connect bigger screens and most importantly it does record true 1080p footage with amazing quality and Can take pictures with 12 megapixels which also looked decent? There definitely do exist better microscopes for SMD soldering But for me this one offers a very nice balance between price and performance But of course not everything is perfect For example that not only the LED lights need fifl power, but also the microscope itself through a mini USB port Which can result in a cable mess and? While the firmware kind of hints at a battery capability there is no built-in one which might have even solved the last problem Which is that whenever the microscope restarts all its settings are reset to defaults which includes the annoying screensaver timer which starts after 2 minutes and makes you blind while soldering and with that being said my SMD circuits are finally complete and Work like a charm, and you should now. Have a good idea, which type of microscope would suit your SMD soldering demands I Hope you enjoyed watching this video if so don’t forget to Like share and subscribe Stay creative, and we’ll see you next time

100 thoughts on “Microscopes for SMD Soldering || $15 VS $45 VS $189”

  1. I use magnifier app on my phone, works quite well if you have a holder for the phone. If I was using it everyday I would buy a camera but for the occasional job the phone does the job.

  2. You have to take a look at this

  3. how about option #4: just mount your smart phone on a stand and use it as a microscope? I am doing that with my galaxy s7 and it's definitely better than $15 microscope. Another idea – run android version of amscap program and output $15 microscope output to android tablet/phone via otg cable. Mount the tablet so that it's comfortable to look at while working.

  4. This video makes one thing perfectly clear – stand quality is as important as camera quality. Two cheaper microscope can be vastly improved in my opinion, if their stands (if they can be called stands) are replaced with sturdier ones, like the stand the most expensive microscope uses.They sell those, and they're not expensive, just search for "aluminum microscope stand" on ebay or aliexpress, or wherever.

    Another thing.
    Having a shaky cam at this magnification is a nightmare, and having to press buttons on microscope body is something you want to avoid, as you inevitably move your camera (and bad stand makes it even worse). So if you must use buttons while working, look for a microscope with a remote control.

  5. OBS: You have the protective lens cap on !! The chrapest one is far bether with out 😉 I used mine for quite some time before I noticed the dust cap. LIKE YOUR VIDEOS

  6. Seems like it would be easier to use a magnifying lamp. While they can't zoom in as much as a digital microscope can, or record video, there isn't much that can go wrong with a simple glass magnifying lens with a light underneath it.

  7. I just watched this video again and once again, I laughed until I cried at the pictures of the microbes on the Chinese box! When I do my own unboxing, I just ignore the ridiculous artwork, but I shouldn't, because it's so incredibly funny!

  8. You forgot to take off the lens cap on the first one!! It's semi-clear plastic, but is meant to be popped off and really kills the image quality otherwise.

  9. Pro-tip for the $15 Microscope! Open the bottom part (Where the lens is) and twist the focal lens into place properly, when I did it with mine it actually improved the image quality a heck of a lot!

  10. Forgot to remove the protective cover from the 15 dollar microscope. Works great without it, makes a job go quite easy when inspecting small parts for deburring operations etc.

  11. Can't you like… use a magnifying glass? There are some holders that have alligator clips and a magnifying glass.

  12. I made a huge improvement to mine. Added a pendant switch to the OK button. No more camera shakes in video or pictures for recording. I found the height too low so I normally use mine on a 4 inch elevated platform. At the greater distance, another light source is very helpful.

  13. Seriously ? why bother with this magnifiers while you can simply use head set magnifiying glasses ???? i have microscope for examining parts but for soldering i use headsetmagnifiyingglass .

  14. Instead you could use a microscope lens for your smartphone and some base to hold the phone upright
    Way cheaper and way more quality

  15. I bought the $45 one. The main problem it had was that the knob wouldn't stay in place, a pain to focus it. I fixed it by putting a 2.5 mm heatshrink piece on the axle of the knob to increase friction. I also ground some burrs on the rack piece that moves the lens.

  16. Great video. To me the first two microscopes looked like they had finger-grease on the lens. That blur around white is the giveaway to me. I think if there became a good way to make another lens for a specific webcam we could possibly make our own microscopes. The Microsoft Studio series of webcams are especially good quality, many of them are FHD (or better) and have superior CCD's in them – if only I could find a way to mount a lens to magnify what I want, and then hold that 2nd lens stable and shift it higher and lower in small increments (to pull focus) then someone could make a seriously kickass and affordable SMD microscope.

  17. I have some spare old usb webcams i just opened one of them and rotate(screw type focusing) the lense to get perfect focus but mistakenly i focused it to full macro

    I wondered that it can capture Mobile screen' (RGB) pixels by placing it direct to screen (no gape between screen and lens)

    But problem is that it's pretty hard to get desirable focus + need a separate light source

  18. Great! I'd probably get one of those 15.00 one of these days… because I dont microsolder a lot. right now I am using a makeshift magnifying station made from a broken SLR lens…

  19. You are getting a blurry picture on your USB microscope just because of one thing. I saw in your video that you did not removed the safety covering plastic cap !!! I got both of these cheap microscopes. The Standalone 45 US$ microscope is in my opinion very good. Even the USB microscope is very good, and it has a pretty good picture. The only problem is that there is no really high resolution. But it is more than ok. My USB microscope throws out a picture up to 480p if i am not wrong. The 45 US$ has 1080p, but let`s say it is 720p and the picture is way better than that on USB. Besides all facts, you can get much more out of the 45 US$ version if you build yourself a table microphone stand and attach to it. I saw it on Youtube how someone did a modification by using a such microphone stand. I did it, too. I am using it, and i am not planing to buy something that is high end and costs 20-30 times the price of this one. It does the job more than good.

  20. hahaha tore apart the 45$ its just as shitty inside as outside, but its waaaay fine for the price

  21. I have the LCD type like the second example you tested. I could have different firmware or image sensor 16mp but seems to work very well. Mine has a stiffer adjustable tubular base that is weighted. However there are several different companies producing these things. I may have just received one where all the components were working at their optimum performance ratings. My screensaver could be changed from 5, 30min to off. But works more like an auto shut off. Thanks for the video!

  22. al mas barato de los microscopios lo usaste con la tapa protectora de la lente puesta, por eso se veía tan horrible.

  23. I know I know…. you will say … but soldering a board a year you don't need to invest that much… My response here is like this… don't invest those 20 or 45 USD or whatever… buy some glasses… they are cheaper and you will do the same joints… simple as that

  24. Question why not just use magnified glass? That way you have no screen to look at, batteries or what not, or need for extra light outside what you are just working in.

  25. Scott, the price of the third microscope rised to $299.99. The model is older but the price is $110 more expensive… Can you suggest a different model in the sub $200 range?

  26. It looks very much like you've left the lens cover on the cheaper microscope – it's transparent and easy to miss (I did with mine), at least in the shots you've shown there is a small tab visible which would mean the cap is still in place… That has a significant detrimental effect on the video quality.

  27. Nice video, but I see one problem with first microscope you tried. You left the dust cap on the microscope it is removable and you then get much better image.

  28. Anything with Digital zoom is a total waste of time!
    Take a pic of something with your phone using digital zoom, now zoom into the results!

  29. The first one is good, but not the best.

    You did a Mistake not Removing the TRANSPARENT LID. That’s why was blurry.

  30. Am I the only one who notices the breath at the end of every clip? Anyway, thank you for all your videos, best sub this year 🙂

  31. You would get better picture quality from the $15 microscope if you take the lens cover off before using it! They haven't made it obvious since the cover is transparent so you would assume to leave it on, but there is a small tab on its edge to allow you to easily pop the cap off. I have the 500x magnification version which is still too much for SMD soldering – even at minimum zoom, a SMD resistor will pretty much fill the whole screen. I found that the biggest problem with this microscope is the stand, it's just not stable enough and when you try to use the focus ring it will move everything out of shot. A nice solution to this, if you have a 3D printer, is to make a new stand for it. I found a nice modular stand on Thingiverse ( + which I have edited to also include smooth focus control ( and I designed a mounting that fits my PCB holder and it's now a lot easier to use. The stand should also fit your $45 microscope too!
    If anyone wants to make the improved stand but don't have CAD skills, I will be uploading my improved STL files to Thingiverse once I've taken some photos of the finished item (Thingiverse Username: kevwag).

  32. I bought such a microscope with LCD screen for $45 including a metal stand. My device shows much better pictures than yours, so things have been improved in the meantime. I can confirm that the metal stand is very useful. Also applying a lot of external light improves the image quality significantly. I have now adjustable 2x20W LED lamps 50cm above my workplace which turned out to be a good idea.

  33. HI GreatCot, i am brand new to soldering and everything. I a only just getting my first soldering gun, station and heat gun next week. I will be repairing playsation boards, removing chips /packages and replacing them with new ones, i will be messing with the boards on [email protected] etc, can you recommend one of these specifically for me, as i'm a beginner with VERY little money, but don't want absolute rubbish! thank you so much, grea video, I thumbed up, subbed and shared.

  34. Seems like the Amcap software used for the $15 microscope is off the shelf software. I wonder if you could use OBS to view and capture the video instead? Would probably be a lot better.

  35. for the $15 and $45, i thought of adding another piece of magnifying lens below to increase the magnification . I wonder does it helps in increasing it's resolution sharpness ? I believe with somesort of slight modifications of it's holder and adding a piece of magnifying lens, it could probably works as great as a $189 microscopes.

  36. What is a really good microscope to allow me to see and hand solder 01005 SMDs and Rohm's VML0604 as seen here: ??!

  37. Dude, have you heard of a recent invention called FLUX? Half your solder joints are cold and there's not a single fillet in sight. Like, people are looking up to you and here you are, half-assing everything.

  38. I just received the $15 one a few days ago, haven't used it for soldering yet (I have a project on the way – my first, building a cheap $20 oscilloscope), but my son and I had fun using the microscope very close up on things. The zoom seems to have two focus ranges, one medium and one VERY zoomed in but must be almost touching the front lens area. This is the level we were playing with (you couldn't do any soldering at this zoom level), and we could see quite amazing detail of the tiny threads of clothing, the shiny ink of a tiny letter printed on paper, fascinating skin detail around the edge of my fingernail, etc. After a half-hour of just wonder and fun, I said out loud that the microscope already paid for itself!

  39. I use my phone as one to read chips, thinking of a project with an old phone or tablet in its own adjustable frame. It works great👌 used to carry a small lens off a disposable camera which was good to (in a way)

  40. I took a better version of the $40 one, with a metal stand and quite enough space between the lens and the board. it was around $45 from bg. they say it's also a revised firmware version. overall, I'm really happy with it…specially the battery uptime!

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