Microscope Inspection

Author Gravatar Image LADY ADA
When your parts get small, it can get really tough to see whats going on with them. Especially if your vision is only so-so, having some assistance with inspection is an easily solved problem. When we were at school, the lab had a really sweet stereo-microscope. You could really see quite nicely and solder while looking thru the microscope. It was wonderful but unfortunately a bit too expensive for the common user.

Thankfully, Adafruit now carries a much more affordable alternative.

USB Microscope

As electronics get smaller and smaller, you'll need a hand examining PCBs and this little USB microscope is the perfect tool. Its smaller and lighter than a large optical microscope but packs quite a bit of power in its little body. There's a 5.0 megapixel sensor inside and an optical magnifier that can adjust from 20x (for basic PCB inspection) to 220x (for detailed inspection). Eight white LEDs are angled right onto whatever you're examining so you get enough lighting to see, and are smoothly adjustable via a dial on the side. 

New! We've upgraded this microscope to 5.0 Megapixel (from 2.0M) and this one comes with two removable plastic caps to get close ups for a wider focusing range. 

If you plug this into any computer, it just shows up as a standard USB camera (we used this for our weekly Ask an Engineer show) and the Windows/Mac software lets you take snapshots using the button on the side of the microscope or direct from the software (so you don't move the camera). 

We tried a bunch of different USB microscopes and found this one to be the best combination of optical clarity, usability, and price. It's perfect for electronics hacking, rework, SMT (de)soldering, inspection, and soon you'll find yourself pulling it out to look and photograph all sort of cool small stuff around your lab and home.

Pick up our USB Microscope here.

We took some snaps of this 'scope while looking at a tiny 0201-populated GPS board at 20x magnification:
and then at a raw die at 200x:
Last updated on 2014-04-22 at 06.33.54 PM Published on 2012-07-29 at 03.58.38 PM