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How to use a microscope for electronics repair

Last Updated: 29.11.21

Microscopes are optical instruments used in a variety of domains. They are currently employed in medical sciences, lab work, veterinary medicine, as well as a plethora of other activities and fields. Some people use them for crafting handmade jewelry while others utilize such devices for looking at coins.

No microscope is identical with the next, and that’s why not all can be used for repairing electronics or PCB inspection. There are many articles out there that might showcase good microscopes for electronics repair, but the fact of the matter is that your needs should come first when scouring the market for such a model.

Why’s that? The problem with such microscopes is that few of them do a good job in settings that involve something other than vertical inspection. So, if you are looking at components from above, you can definitely use any type of such microscopes. However, if you want to look at any components at an angle, you might find it difficult to track the right model.

In fact, from the research that we have undertaken, it looks like most repair technicians are dissatisfied with the models they’ve tried in the past.


Don’t underestimate the power of USB microscopes and borescopes

One of the first mentions that we do have to make is that, as you might have figured out from the headline, not all microscopes are the same. Besides, your specific requirements need to be taken into account. What if we told you that you could do the same with a quality borescope as you would with a quality microscope?

Obviously, there are certain limitations you need to consider if you want to try out your borescope or, as some people call it, endoscope game. There are many models outfitted with multiple types of cameras, and so the magnification power differs largely from one unit to the next. But some of these gadgets are really good at what they’re supposed to do. And some higher end ones even come with their own display.

While a USB microscope cannot be compared to a stereo one when it comes to the quality of the optical components, for instance, it can still be a handy helper in some situations. Moreover, you ought to consider the fact that most USB microscopes actually have higher magnification powers compared to dissecting microscopes. Let’s face it; under some circumstances, you just want to know what’s that you’re seeing. You don’t need the quality of the image to be extremely high.

How to use a stereo microscope to repair an electronic board or any other electronic component

Most standard stereo microscopes are equipped with a boom arm that’s linked to a boom stand. With some models, you have the opportunity to use a knob to customize the position of the arm depending on your application. You can either move the arm from left to right or lower or raise it. This freedom of movement is particularly handy and believe it or not, you’re going to use it many times.

Adjusting the focus on a dissecting microscope is very easy, and that’s because you can move the arm lower or higher to make sure that you get it in the right position. Some models come with extra lens eyepieces with variable magnification powers.

While they do tend to cost a pretty penny when compared to their USB counterparts, dissecting microscopes are far better for electronics repair. Trinocular models will enable you to connect a high-quality camera so that you can see everything on the display of your computer or laptop. For this kind of unit, you don’t even have to focus on a feature like customizable interpupillary distance.

It stands to reason that the camera software can differ largely from one model to the next. With some products, you have the freedom to freeze the image, take a shot, and then move on to other components of the electronic board so as to check for other damages that you have to repair. This particular feature comes in handy when you have to prepare a scientific paper or when you film videos or tutorials for your students.

One of the things that most people fail to understand when it comes to stereo microscopes is why they have such a limited magnification power. The fact of the matter is that electronic boards or other electronic components aren’t as small as bacteria, cells, or tissue samples.

In most cases, you’ll find that the optical components boasted by a quality dissecting microscope are actually better compared to those with which a compound unit has been equipped. Furthermore, such a product will enable repair technicians to do their job properly by allowing them to move the arm in accordance with their momentary needs. Needless to say, this feature doesn’t show up in most compound alternatives.

Understanding the difference between a dissecting and a stereo microscope

On most websites and other online resources, you’ll find that both a dissecting microscope and a stereo microscopes are treated like the same optical instrument. The fact is that they do tend to differ. There isn’t an exact distinction between these two, as even a dissecting alternative enables the user to benefit from certain freedom of movement.

However, when it comes to the design, a dissecting unit will likely resemble a compound one, which basically means that you won’t have a boom arm whose position you can modify. In addition to that, a dissecting microscope usually comes with too much magnification, which renders it useless for some electronics repair situations.

The point that we are trying to make is that it is a better idea to get a stereo microscope if repairing electronics is the purpose you want to use it for. A magnification of 0.5 to 3x is perfect, but just make sure that the unit is fitted with a ring light with variable controls. This article might give you some suggestions as to what models you ought to consider.



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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