The Magnification Observation

I’ve soldered for a long time, but I wasn’t always good at it. Better equipment, solder and practice has made me better of course, but good magnification is an instant level up in your soldering skills. Finding good magnification can be a challenge though. Here are the things I’ve tried:

Small desk magnifier

This thing did work, but just barely. The magnifying glass doesn’t provide enough magnification, the light is weak and the optical quality is not great. Not recommended.

Large desk magnifier

This worked better, and I still use this for some things, but not for soldering. For soldering you really want something that provides a good stereoscopic view, and looking with both eyes through a single magnifying glass tends to not work that well.

The first stereo microscope

This is a gigantic step up from the desk magnifiers above. It’s also a big step up in price unfortunately. Soldering with one of these lets you see exactly what you’re doing. The base is magnetic, so you can attach helping hands to it, and I used to velcro my brass soldering cleaning sponge to it. I highly recommend using something like this when soldering.

The second stereo microscope

After my first run of proffieboards, I decided to upgrade some of my equipment, so I bought the best stereo microscope I could find. While it is definitely better than the one above, and having a camera on it is very handy at times, it is much more expensive than the microscope above. So I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have cash to burn. The difference while actually using this and the one above is just not enough to warrant the high cost.

Things I haven’t tried

Head-mounted magnification is cheap and seems to work well for a lot of people. There are a lot of versions of this, I just linked one that looks what I have seen recommended elsewhere.

A good array of different equipment.

I was wondering about these?

Does anyone know if they are any good?

I have no real information about those, but the Amazon reviews don’t look too good.

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I have both of these, but still tend to just get really close with my naked eye and good light more comfortably.
Checking my soldering job on a D61 is about the only time I’ve needed the microscope so far thankfully.