Gentlemen of this distingushed group, How do you read labels on small ICs such as the ThinSOT or DFN packs that are 2mm x 3mm? Ok, I have old eyes, soldering these pups is do able but finding pin#1 is impossible for me even using 7X eye loupe. I know JL will say it is no problem with his $3K Mantis and others are so rich that they hire a tech but I am not in that group. There's got to be an easier way, say
Us (we?) myopic folks just take off our glasses and get really, really close. ;-)
I wonder if it's mostly the lighting that is causing problems- the laser marking they are using these days is pretty hard to see even under ideal conditions. Maybe a surplus fiber optic illuminator and light it from the side? More light is good for old eyes.
Eg. (they are probably not the best supplier, but it's a photo of what I'm talking aboot):
I thought everyone who works in today's electronics had garnered for himself at least one zoom stereo microscope. They usually go for about $200 at flea markets here in Silicon Valley (San Jose, CA). On Ebay they might be a little bit more. The new Celestron 44202 at $280 is in our price range, but lacking the zoom feature is a terrible handicap. IMHO 20X and 40X power levels are much too high for most electronics work - - I find myself using
7X most of the time. Over the years, I've encountered enough industrial salvage to populate every work bench I own with at least one Bausch & Lomb Stereozoom 4, and more recently I had the good fortune to spot an Olympus ZS4045 with a pair of Olympus GSWH10X/22 eyepieces and a ringlight for $160. The view through that thing is breathtaking! Looking through these instruments, if something is written, you'll be able to read it. They open up whole new worlds of possibility in electronic and almost any other area you can imagine. I find one almost indispensable for removing a sliver! I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know when I say, "If you can see it, you can do it".
I just looked at Ebay - - don't buy one with 15X eyepieces - - 10X eyepieces are what you want. It should be complete with a stand - - there's a very nice 0.7X - 3X with 10X eyepieces on Ebay with a glass platform on a high-base stand that provides bottom illumination, but you probably won't use the bottom light much - - the stand will accommodate a Kohler illuminator for top lighting or a ringlight and they don't cost a whole lot. Don't buy a Stereozoom 6 - - in my experience field illumination is poor so they are not worth the extra cost.
4.0 diopter contacts, 2.5 diopter glasses, Optiviser, with a magnifying loop attached. If I can get close enough! Always wanted a pair of binocular glassses like my dentist uses but didn't want to part with the dollars. Hey, just did a search and found this, but I doubt it adjusts far enough for an 18" view.
That's what I use. Works great, can also take nice shots of a circuit board for emailing. The object distance can be adjusted far enough that soldering under screen guidance is possible. That is how I solder really fine pitch SMT but it's tricky because you lose the 3D perception.
Dang, I paid 100 bucks ... but that was a long time ago and it has already paid for itself.
Lighting direction is the trick. On the Veho I usually keep the built-in LEDs off and point my halogen task light at the chip from the side.
Doesn't work for me. I can see much better at about a foot with my glasses than sticking the object in my eye. ;-) Evidently I've developed a nasty astigmatism (didn't know the lens shape changed) and even drug store "cheaters" are useless.
I am still using dead trees. Never warmed up to the PDAs and all that. Actually, I am right now punching holes into next year's refill from OfficeMax because the Danish system I use has the six rings in other locations than any US daytimer :-(
Can't rival that. But some of my stuff will now go into space :-)