Visor or Bench Magnifier?

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by GregH, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. GregH

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    I'm a hobbyist getting back into building a couple of electronics kits (the XTB-IIR - - for one) and will need some magnification. My question is:
    "Should I buy a visor or bench magnifier?"

    Also, for general soldering and parts inspection is a 2x enough (I have 20/20 eyesight) or should I consider a higher [magnification] power?

    Brand and model recommendations are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for the help,


    P.S. When I mentioned the Bausch & Lomb 814200 to my wife she just rolled her eyes and left the room...
  2. KL7AJ

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008

    I have a bench of those fancy articulated things with the halo fluorescent lamp...that I really like. I picked it up at a garage sale for a couple of bucks.

    I don't know if you plan on doing surface mount work....if you do, it seems no magnification is too much!

  3. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    You can also go to the pharmacy section of a Wal-Mart and try several pairs of magnifying glasses. Then all you need is a good light source.
  4. jpanhalt


    Jan 18, 2008
    I use a head visor (OptiVisor) that flips down. 2X is probably enough, if you are young. My visor is stamped #4, but I am not sure that means 4X. The lenses are glass set in plastic. I like that, as they are not scratched like my reading glasses are. I wear it over my regular reading glasses that are +2.00. For a loop, I use 2 or 2.5X, which is plenty.

    I also have one of those large magnifying lenses with a fluorescent lamp, which I never use. It tends to bounce more, the field and focus don't move with my head, and the fluorescent lamp interferes with my o'scope. They work fine on a production line, but my hobby bench is far from that.

  5. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    I have a bench-mounted (clamp-on) lighted magnifier. It has a donut-shaped flourescent tube that surrounds the magnifying lens, which is around 6" in diameter; the lens/lamp assembly is mounted on a swing arm and the head pivots easily. I purchased mine for next to nothing at an electronics salvage place; don't know the brand.

    I've tried the visor magnifiers, but don't like them; I was constantly flipping it up, then flipping it back down.

    You need a lot of light to use a magnifier; as the magnification goes up, the need for lighting increases dramatically. Incandescent/halogen lamps get very hot, very quickly. Flourescent lamps stay relatively cool.
  6. floomdoggle

    Senior Member

    Sep 1, 2008
    Hey Greg,
    If you have 20/20 vision, you do not need any eyesight amplification. You need light. Maybe some of those cheek thingys ballplayers use to reduce glare.
  7. John Luciani

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 3, 2007
    I have a Luxo 17113 that I got at a clearance sale. I believe it has the standard
    lense which is x1.75.

    I also bought a Bausch & Lomb Magna Visor Magnifying Visor 81-42-00 With 3 Lenses
    from It is around $40 new. This is useful when a stationary lamp is
    not practical.

    For a workbench I would get a magnifier with a lamp. The task lighting makes a
    major difference.

    (* jcl *)
  8. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
    Depends entirely one one's eyes. I used to be able to work with no magnification whatsoever. That was decades ago. Now I use a range of different magnifiers for different tasks.

    My visor magnifiers have a second flip-down lens set, and tertiary lenses to swing into position for extra extra magnification. I have a couple small bench magnifiers (map reader types) and a couple hand magnifiers. I also use a swing-arm magnifier. I also have a couple jewelers loops for inspection.

    For field work, I have a pocket magnifier which slides into a protective case. It rides in my tool belt in a pocket designed for a notepad.

    As has been noted, good lighting is your friend.
  9. GregH

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Thanks for all of the help, y'all. I may split the difference and buy a visor along with a bright bench light. I could use the light all of the time and the visor/magnification for when I'm doing close-up work such as reading the numbers off of a small part (I'm in my 40's and that 20/20 is getting harder and harder to maintain :) ). Also, with the visor I get the "geek value" which absolutely drives my wife nuts!
  10. Søren

    Senior Member

    Sep 2, 2006

    I have both one of the really expensive bench mounted types (and several less so) and a visor with 3 different magnifications.

    My advice... For starters check out a cheap pair of reading glasses (i.e. +0.5 to +4). They stay on your head, is much lighter to wear than a visor and much cheaper.
    Only if you really need to exclude the surrounding light the visor is good, but it is heavy and annoying for most work.

    If you need to work on the tiniest SMD's, you really need a stereo microscope, but they are pretty expensive compared to a pair of dime store reading glasses.

    However, with 20/20 vision, no magnification should be needed for straight work - when I was a teenager, I could read the text on all through hole parts (nowadays I use +1.5 for normal reading :().
  11. floomdoggle

    Senior Member

    Sep 1, 2008
    If it turns on your wife, go for it!
  12. GregH

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    It doesn't exactly turn her on, she would simply roll her eyes and walk out of the room shaking her head... :)
  13. GregH

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    I purchased a pair of 3X reading glasses (Foster Grants - and they look good on me! :cool:). Featherweight, hands-free, moves with my head, CHEAP.

    I'll begin haunting garage sales and eBay auctions for a decent bench magnifying light. The inexpensive ones I could find were cheaply made and bounced a lot. In the meantime, I'll put a shop light above the workbench for extra illumination.

    Thanks to everyone here for the help and good advice. My new Hakko 936 arrived yesterday so I'm ready to get to work.