Can you help with advice for hobbyists with limited vision and unsteady hands?

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,248
Hello, AAC. I know there are those among you who have the challenge of limited vision and/or shaky hands. Our fellow member @LewisH has been discouraged from a project because of these things interfering with soldering and assembly.

Does anyone have tools, tips, tricks, workarounds, or any advice that might help make the hobby possible anyway? It's a shame that Lewis has to give up on his plans because of it.

The only advice I have is about magnifiers. I use both head-mounted and table mounted magnifiers to deal with my normal but limiting presbyopia. I have a couple of these, mounted on my bench and desk, and kept loos enough to swing in and out of the way as needed. The extra light makes a huge difference too. The lights come with weighted bases which might work for some cases but just aren't flexible enough for me, so I bought one of these for each lamp, which I can highly recommend as a replacement for any cheap table edge clamp you might get with a lamp. Very solid.

As far as head-mounted magnifiers go, I have a couple that I use. The first is the classic Donegan OptiVisor. This is the original that you will see on jewelers, machinists, watchmakers—pretty much any old school professional working with small, precision things. Its not cheap, and getting a copy might be necessary for your budget but there are good ones to be had. The other is the more modern Donegean OptiSight, which is a skeletonized version of the OptiVisor. Again, similar things are available cheaper, one I can recommend as a good value is the Mag Eyes.

So I hope there are folks with more experience than me who can offer some hope and help to Lewis so he can pursue his project and this hobby.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,061
Not only do I need magnification but every possible trick for steadiness. The object must be held in the best possible orientation for access which means using a "helping Hand" positioning device of some sort or several as needed. Typically, I use ones that are on a heavy base and have flexible arms with an alligator clip and sometimes using multiple arms to get it in just the exact position to allow me good access. I will also grab whatever is close on my bench to prop work up as needed. Sort of an impromptu grab and use what is in reach. I have a small parts drawer full of soldering aids. Various clips to hold parts in place while soldering. Long Hair Clips, copper flat and alligator clips, all of various sizes collected over the years, etc. Various tweezers and (thanks to @Audioguru again for this idea) some short straight pieces of piano wire. I have not resorted to gluing parts in place before soldering as yet. As to my shaky hands I often use my left hand to "support" my right hand holding the iron. Not to hold the iron but to steady the hand holding the iron and reduce the shakes. Use proper soldering technique with flux as necessary. Basically, you do what you must to get the job done. And the results are not always ideal or "the best I ever did" and I have to be satisfied with the results (if they work) albeit not the best that I used to be able to do. The biggest thing is practice! Don't be afraid to just jump right in and do it. It may not be the best you ever did and you may have to do it again. But just do it! Also, if you think you have it bad, just remember there are guys out there who are blind doing soldering!
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,767
Here is an illuminated head set with the benefit of
- light can be tilted to look where your eyes are looking (instead of trying to tilt your head to get the light where you want it
- flip-up lens so you can flip it up to use only your regular glasses
- multiple click-in lenses with various Diptera
- replaceable lens set ($20j
- Adjustable headband

It is $40 on Amazon but someone is selling the same thing on Digikey Marketplace for a much higher price. Replaceable lenses are $20 on Amazon

Table Mount with addional diopter multiplier
Make sure that any magnifier is large enough to see the target with both eyes. Usually takes about a 7" diameter lens or more. Also, a 2x magnification is not very helpful. Look for something in the 3+ magnification range.
I like my table mount with a spring-loaded pantograph-like arm to


Tremors and twitching (I don't know what issue you have)
Medication -
Ask your doctor about Propranolol - an age-old beta-blocker, blood pressure lowering medication. And cheap.
Other medications exist for other issues. Tell your doctor about your goal to solder and do detail work. They may have riskier medications with more side effects than propranolol that are more suitable for your particular issue. Discuss the side effects vs good effects with your doctor. Some docs just write prescriptions and don't discuss side effects. Make sure you know the "cost" of the side effect for the benefit of soldering

Physical -
My dad did calligraphy - he would hang a compression sock (or two) filled with sand across his forearm. I think my mom made some elastic bands to hold the sock in place. The weight slowed the tremors and amplitude of the tremor but was fatiguing. This doesn't work for everyone.
 

hexreader

Joined Apr 16, 2011
581
I have same age related and shaky hands problems
The following I find helpful, especially when soldering ....

1, 2, 3) USB Microscope - a real must after the fact, to check where I went wrong ( i.e. spot solder bridges or cold joints)

4) Helping hands - preferably the "octopus" sort, but only 6 arms, not 8
Two croc-clips are not enough and the magnifying glass that comes with the two-croc type is useless

5) The other stuff mentioned above

6) Arrange all aids as above as low as possible above solid bench/table top. So that I can steady my hand on the table top for minimum shaking whilst soldering.
 
Last edited:

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
2,825
Hello, AAC. I know there are those among you who have the challenge of limited vision and/or shaky hands. Our fellow member @LewisH has been discouraged from a project because of these things interfering with soldering and assembly.

Does anyone have tools, tips, tricks, workarounds, or any advice that might help make the hobby possible anyway? It's a shame that Lewis has to give up on his plans because of it.
i hope @LewisH states the location so someone living nearby may offer quick assistance. plus it could be fun to exchange experience or see some rare or ancient piece of technology. just glanced the board it looks like 0.1" pitch which should be easily handled by someone younger even if they have much less experience.

i can still work without aid on some SMT but it is not easy. so i rely on microscope for fine work and any inspection.

about trembling hands, not sure what to offer there. i am curious about the details on the vibration cuffs.
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,785
Diagnosed with essential tremor, in the beginning I tried, as described somewhere above, using a small gauntlet stuffed with lead air rifle ammunition of the smallest size. While this managed to stabilize my hand couldn't do so with the soldering tip itself (imagine a wiping blade), but with lot of patience, doing through-hole was still possible.

Nowadays, almost one year later, the tremor has become more intense thus my current project was put in abeyance.
 

Irving

Joined Jan 30, 2016
4,005
about trembling hands, not sure what to offer there. i am curious about the details on the vibration cuffs.
I'm not offering it as a cure, but in their research into spinal injury related spasticity (muscle tension/stiffness) it was seen that vibration motor cuffs had a calming effect and when combined with repetitive rehab activity could permanently release that tension (neuroplasticity). It was also seen that there were significant improvements in the ability to hold and drink from a glass of water and handle and use a pen resulting in, for example, signatures that became recognisable.. As I understand it, and I'm no expert, the vibration is thought to 'overload' the feedback loop where the brain is trying to overcome an incorrectly perceived 'overshoot' or 'undershoot' and steadies the tremor.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,767
I'm not offering it as a cure, but in their research into spinal injury related spasticity (muscle tension/stiffness) it was seen that vibration motor cuffs had a calming effect and when combined with repetitive rehab activity could permanently release that tension (neuroplasticity). It was also seen that there were significant improvements in the ability to hold and drink from a glass of water and handle and use a pen resulting in, for example, signatures that became recognisable.. As I understand it, and I'm no expert, the vibration is thought to 'overload' the feedback loop where the brain is trying to overcome an incorrectly perceived 'overshoot' or 'undershoot' and steadies the tremor.
A doc explained the vibration system the same way to my pop many years ago when the idea was first explored. Not surprisingly, the vibration was looked at in the 60's then in the 1980s. I think only now is it being used.
There are also electronic nerve control systems (like a pacemaker) that can get implanted to play a similar role. Deep brain stimulation - https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditio...uently-asked-questions-deep-brain-stimulation. However, I'd definitely consider a vibration cuff long before deep brain surgery.
 

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
2,237
Took the effort to affix post requests at a couple of universities billboards asking for skilled-in-soldering-prototypes students for paid put-together 6 projects I have pending due to lack of dexterity, and the result was zero people willing or with knowledge to do anything.

Nobody is into electronics any more. Every kid is into playing the fo***ng nintendos. They cannot even fix a bicycle or solder shiiiit. But experts in texting cr*p.

Do not get old ! It is the shiiiits !
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
17,017
Took the effort to affix post requests at a couple of universities billboards asking for skilled-in-soldering-prototypes students for paid put-together 6 projects I have pending due to lack of dexterity, and the result was zero people willing or with knowledge to do anything.
Maybe there are some AAC members in your area who would help you out.

If the scope of the projects doesn't require significant information exchange, members in other areas might be willing to help out if the work can be done remotely.
 

Irving

Joined Jan 30, 2016
4,005
Took the effort to affix post requests at a couple of universities billboards asking for skilled-in-soldering-prototypes students for paid put-together 6 projects I have pending due to lack of dexterity, and the result was zero people willing or with knowledge to do anything.

Nobody is into electronics any more. Every kid is into playing the fo***ng nintendos. They cannot even fix a bicycle or solder shiiiit. But experts in texting cr*p.

Do not get old ! It is the shiiiits !
Strangely I've found no problem finding E-eng students willing to do this - or to populate PCB and run them through their department's reflow oven. Where I've struggled is finding mech eng students who can use a lathe or mill; 3D printing isn't an issue but I can do that myself.
 

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
2,825
i am using microscope with LCD screen and while it works pretty good, i am thinking about switching to camera+monitor. that way camera can be way out of way (few feet) and zoomed into part of work area. and large monitor will be nice too.

btw. there are places like meetup.com that help find interest groups in the area but your Zip code seem to be devoid of any interest groups. maybe check with local university if they have an IEEE or Maker Pro club or enthusiasts or - increase search radius.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,248
btw, just got this and I like it. very handy, compact, easy to use, range of lenses, good and snug fit, low cost and does not get in a way to whatever one is handling.
I bought the original before Amazon hijacked it for Basics. I agree it's very nice. Unfortunately it didn't work out for me because I couldn't make it comfortable, and I do sometimes want to wear my glasses.

But, the lenses are good quality, the light has nice even illumination and can be usefully aimed, and the construction is quite good for the low price.
 
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