Cheap Stereo Microscope DIY - SMD Work

I've always tinkered with electronics and have sometimes found the need to look at things up close.

I like to repair my own things or build out circuits and stuff like that, but often my eyes aren't enough to see what I'm working on.

I do this kind of work as a hobby, so I can't really justify spending $400+ on a decent microscope.

I've tried digital ones, magnifying glasses, but it's just not the same as looking through both your eyes.

This simple tutorial will walk you through the creation of a super cheap stereo microscope for SMD work.

The idea behind this is to work on SMD components, circuits, look up close at traces, and solder.

Resulting Zoom: Between 12X~15X

(Sorry, but I didn't get images of the actual creation process as I only found it to work after completion, so I recreated most steps)

NOTE: Images from the microscope are taken with my phone through the eye-piece. In real life it looks 100 times better.

IMPORTANT: This setup will give you lots of room between the work piece and the microscope, so you can easily hold the soldering iron, view the board sideways,etc... Around 4 inch clearance.

Supplies:

Required

Two Kids Binoculars Buy on Amazon(or find them at a toy store locally)

Two 2 inch length pieces of 1.5 inch PVC pipe

5 minute Epoxy (A-B glue)

Hacksaw (we need to do a little cutting)

Optional

Some wood and wingnut screws to make the stand

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Step 1: Gathering Our Parts

First we need to take the magnifying lenses from one of the binoculars, these are glued in place, so with a knife (or metal pry tool) you should be able to pry them off by the seam. You should have a pair of lenses.

NOTE: We only need to do this on ONE pair.

Step 2: Putting It Together

Now that we have our lenses we can put them together with our other pair of binoculars using the pieces of PVC pipe. Two inch length worked for me, but you can try a bit shorter or longer.

You can glue these up, but I didn't in mine since it is a tight fit. Also, this allows you to do minor adjustments later (getting both eyes to focus the same, etc...)

So, press fit a lens inside a PVC pipe, then press fit the pipe onto the binoculars.

Note: If you cannot push them in or the fit is too tight, try heating up the PVC pipe with a hot air gun or a lighter to soften the plastic.

Step 3: The View Angle

If you've successfully done the previous steps you can see that the microscope starts to work nicely, but now we need to fix the view angle.

Regular binoculars are parallel since you're looking at stuff that is at a distance. But since we are going to see up close, we need to make our eyes see closer together.

Eye pieces need to stay at the same distance, but the outer lenses need to be touching, like in the image.

To get the barrels in that angle we need to cut up the central focus bridge. I used a band-saw to cut it, but you can use a dremmel or a hacksaw. Please be careful when cutting.

The angle on the binoculars I have is 13 degrees, but that will change depending on the ones you have. Use the triangle method I used to get your angle. (As seen in one of the images)

NOTE: The area we need to cut is symmetrical down the middle of the focus bridge area.

The highlighted "CUT THIS" area should be cut on the other side too, but mirrored.

Step 4: Final Steps

After the glue has dried, you can start using the microscope, just clean the lenses and it's ready to go.

Holder:

I created my stand out of scrap pieces of wood, but you can use a phone holder, a phone tripod or your hands... I'll leave that up to you.

Hopefully you try this microscope out as it is a simple project to make and it will help you out a ton in your electronics work.

Thank you for reading!

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    5 Discussions

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    cdevidal

    10 days ago

    Since the binoculars are sold out (popular article!) could you please link to another appropriate pair? Also I do want details on your tripod construction.

    2 replies
    0
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    makzumimakzumi

    Reply 10 days ago

    As for the stand, I don't have plans for it, I just made it as you see in the picture as I went...
    (edit)
    Well, if there's more demand for plans on the stand, i'll do a quick tutorial for it, thanks again