Soldering Inspection?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by scubasteve_911, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. scubasteve_911

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
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    Hello!,

    Does anyone know a cheap way to inspect solder joints? I have used stereoscopic setups before, but I know they're quite expensive. Is there a cheaper alternative? I was thinking of getting on of those single lens jewel inspector tools, but am not sure what magnification would be appropriate. I guess good lighting, maybe by a LED would be nice too.

    What do you think of these?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/40X-LED-Hand-He...ryZ34084QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    http://cgi.ebay.com/COMBO-60-100X-3...ryZ34084QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    Those darn 0.5mm pitch packages are everywhere and almost impossible to determine a good joint or a short with the naked eye. I just bought a hot air station on ebay, it's pretty cheap stuff, but I hope it works.

    http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120307297507&ssPageName=ADME:B:EOIBSA:CA:11

    Yes, I love ebay...

    Steve
     
  2. Metalfan1185

    Active Member

    Sep 12, 2008
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    oooooo....I want a hot air station! is that for de-soldering only or can you solder with it as well?
     
  3. scubasteve_911

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    1,202
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    You can do both! At work, I can replace a 48pin 0.5mm device in about 5mins. I could not dream of doing it any other way with as much speed.

    I manually solder a lot, but I have to use hot air for really small leadless devices. So, any DFN or QFN package, I just flux the pads and use hot air from above. The surface tension usually aligns the device very well, then I will finish it off with some extra solder manually.

    When you get serious about design, you'll need good PCB design skills and equipment for soldering. I have been doing pcb design with smt for about 7 years now and I can't go back!

    Steve
     
  4. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
    22,182
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    Steve, I don't think you'll be very happy with those magnifiers. Cheap optics like that are really pretty bad. They don't admit enough light for the level of magnification, so you practically have to use them outside at noon in order to get enough light to see anything.

    If you're stuck on an inexpensive solution, just get a jeweler's loupe. You won't get much magnification, but at least you'll be able to see what's being magnified.

    Good microscopes are expensive, but are worth it if you're going to stick with using tiny SMD's. Life is too short to spend time straining to see things through cheap optics.
     
  5. SIcam

    Active Member

    Aug 9, 2008
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    Extreme high magnification is very difficult to get a focus at multiple distances and is also difficult to get close enough to the solder to be in focus especially if you are working around tall components. I use a Bausch & Lomb 10X measure magnifier and it is sufficient to get a good inspection of solder and traces. They also make a resonable priced Loupe.

    http://www.hmcelectronics.com/cgi-bin/scripts/product/0840-0001/
     
  6. John Luciani

    Active Member

    Apr 3, 2007
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    I just bought a Bausch & Lomb Magna Visor Magnifying Visor 81-42-00
    With 3 Lenses 1.8x, 2.2x, 2.6x Magnification Power from Amazon
    ($40). The 2.2x works well for assembly. For a close inspection the
    2.6x or maybe a 3x or 4x would be better.

    I prefer my Luxo 17113 magnifier lamp. There are a variety of diopter
    lenses. I have not had difficulty inspecting 0.5mm lead pitch devices
    with this magnifier.

    My tool picks are at http://tinyurl.com/5foeou

    (* jcl *)
     
  7. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    Forget about anything over 30X. If you want convenience in a microscope, look for a zoom, stereo dissecting microscope. With 10X eyepieces, you will get from 3X to 30X with many of them. Here is one rather expensive variety, but none are particularly cheap.

    John
     
  8. SIcam

    Active Member

    Aug 9, 2008
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    Microscopes are nice but if your board is bigger than 4" square you will have to cut it up unless you have a boom stand.
     
  9. scubasteve_911

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
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  10. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    Steve,

    That is not a bad price for a real zoom scope, but that listing seems to be a little misleading. So far as I could tell, you have two overall magnifications available -- 10X and 20X -- which are obtained by changing the eyepieces (oculars). The objective (bottom lens section, which determines resolution) seems to be fixed. For examining a variety of things, a continuous zoom is preferred to switching objectives. B&L/AO pretty much introduced the continuous zoom. Changing eyepieces is really not acceptable.

    I would recommend a real zoom scope, such as the Bausch and Lomb, AO, etc. Try this search term in eBay:

    "stereo (Fowler, nikon, zeiss, lomb, AO) microscope"

    You may end up buying the head separately from the boom. The booms alone are fairly expensive. Bausch and Lomb/AO are standard laboratory scopes. Fowler is on the (too?) cheap end. Zeiss, Nikon, and Olympus make very nice regular microscopes, but are not particularly well know in the US for their zoom scopes...maybe it's just price. In a used scope, the focusing rack and pinion is something that goes bad, and you need to be sure it is not worn out.

    I hope we don't end up bidding against each other ;)

    John

    Edit: You want wide-field (WF) oculars. Most scopes today have them.
     
  11. scubasteve_911

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
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    John,

    Thanks for the information. I know that this particular microscope doesn't have variable zoom, you can just place different lenses on it and focus in with the adjustment knob. I am just doing basic soldering work and do not need like 11.65X zoom or something, eventhough it is nice to have.

    At my work, they have a variable zoom scope with two knobs. One for the zoom and the other for focusing. This supplier actually carrys this type of scope, but they're quite expensive in comparison with the other one mentioned.

    http://www.microscopenet.com/product_info.php?cPath=24_33&products_id=210

    I admit, I really like the one I use at work, but for the amount of time I will use it at home, I don't mind the limitations. I just really want to be able to solder and be able to tell if I have a good connection / short.

    Thanks!,

    Steve
     
  12. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    My reaction was one of suspicion. If it is advertised as "zoom" and really isn't, what else is misrepresented? To be honest, it looks like a cheap, import from Asia. The big deal about using LED lighting further turned me off. Is that all it has to offer?

    Magnification and resolution are different. By analogy, if you put a 100X ocular on a cheap telescope, you won't see any more stars.

    For about that price, and since it sounds like it is for personal use, I would go with a used one. It may take a few weeks, but they are definitely out there. Just my 2 cents.

    BTW, oculars are relatively cheap, so don't be too put off by a good unit that is being sold without them. If you have a large clinical lab nearby, it may even give you two. Don't know why, but our lab always seemed to have lots of extras.

    Regards, John
     
  13. chrissyp

    Active Member

    Aug 25, 2008
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    Hi
    Try looking at microscopes from vision engineering , they are expensive new but there are used ones on ebay. they make the ones you are looking at look like childrens toys .they are superb to use with little fatigue from prolonged use.
     
  14. SIcam

    Active Member

    Aug 9, 2008
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    I recommend gettting a 7X or 10X Loupe as SgtWookie mentioned. The cost under $20 bucks and if it works great, your done. (You'll find that a loupe can be carried in your pocket or small tool bag and has many other uses. If you feel you need something more like Stereo Zoom and Magnification then spend the big bucks and get a good one. Investing a fortune into something you can't trial is too risky.
     
  15. scubasteve_911

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    1,202
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    John,

    You're definitely right about the quality issues and misrepresentation. I have had pretty good success with buying from overseas in the past. I have a chinese 8X12" lathe which cost me about 650$ that runs excellent. Most people would doubt the construction quality and precision that you can achieve. I was hoping that this would give me a similar experience.

    I am going to see what I can afford, then go from there. At the very least, I will buy a loupe. Or, I will try to find a better asian product or a used North American scope if I have more money to spend.

    Thanks everyone

    Steve
     
  16. chrissyp

    Active Member

    Aug 25, 2008
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    Hi Steve
    Just consider a microscope like anything else in life . You buy things for your own comfort.you dont buy a cheap car or house , because it's cheap, you buy one because it is right for your needs . a good scope will be better in the long run than a cheap poorly designed , uncomfortable to use unit.Trust an old man your eyes are precious,dont abuse them.
     
  17. scubasteve_911

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    1,202
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    Thanks Chrissy, I'll keep your advice in mind.

    Great, now everyone thinks I am a cheapskate :p

    Steve
     
  18. chrissyp

    Active Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    82
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    Hi Steve
    Not my intention to make you look like a cheapskate. Just giving a different point of view.I am older (not necessarily wiser ) but probably earning a lot more than a young man and can afford to have the view I voiced.
     
  19. scubasteve_911

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    1,202
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    Chrissy,

    I am always open for donations! I am technically still a student, but am re-starting with a company that I worked for during the summer, so I am actually still poor :p

    Steve
     
  20. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    Hey, we are all students for life...that's a good way to live.

    This Bausch&Lomb just sold for $185. That is probably a fair price. $150 would have been a very good price, assuming it is truly in excellent shape. It includes the boom mount and a O.5X additional lens. Never underestimate the value of having something that is just 2 or 3X total with a long focal length.

    John
     
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