Build Your Own SMD Microscope

HumanoidoHumanoido Posts: 5,770
edited February 2011 in Robotics Vote Up0Vote Down
Build a Simple DIY SMD Microscope
Now Upgraded with BASIC Stamps
and servo motors!

This concept uses any camera with a magnifier mode
for closeup work with Parallax boards and components.

Typical color image captured with the author's
home-made SMD microscope showing a modification
to the Parallax Propeller Proto Board. Without the
home-made SMD Microscope, the mod would be
next to impossible.

Take one camera which has a magnifying mode
(for example, a SONY Cyber-Shot) and one six-inch
tripod and some recycled food containers - put it
all together and you have a working SMD microscope
viewer for assembly and mod of SMD boards.

Operations Key
The key is in the operation. Use the view screen,
which can operate in real time as the imager is scanned
across the tiny images of traces, chips, resistors, etc.
Wear reading glasses if you need them, and
engage the magnifier mode.

The Cyber-shot has a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessor Optical
3X lens which can be additionally zoomed to increase
magnification. Another key to success is using VGA
mode because it allows the creation of a larger
microscopic image which equals more magnification.

Image Processing
Import the image into Google's PICASA 3 and enhance.
Enhancements should include zooming, sharpening,
contrast, color with light and dark adjustments.

Sometimes you cannot see the markings on SMD
components. This setup shows everything you need to
see. It works in hands free mode and in real time
imaging. It will also capture images at the press of a
button. It works well for identification of traces and
components, determining board and connection

Work in Real Time
It also allows you to work in real time, as in soldering
tiny components and wires or adjusting traces and
inspecting work. To do this, adjust the imager on the
tripod for no hands operation.

Since the imager is hands free, the board can be connected
or merely set on the recycled kitchen container. Adjust the
6-inch tripod so the imager can scan laterally across the board
in the X-axis or adjust in the Y-direction. This will make centering
objects you cannot see with the human eye more easy.

This setup image was captured with a computer
cam, showing an active microscope screen.

Note the tripod positioning and the adjustments
that are easily made manually in the XY-axes.
313 x 236 - 16K
315 x 236 - 14K


  • 6 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • HumanoidoHumanoido Posts: 5,770
    edited February 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I saw something like this at the parts store and it was thousands of dollars and basically did the same. One thing I would like to do in the future is add rotating servos to a platform or the imager to step around the field of view by pushing a button. I think a BASIC Stamp 1 would be good for this.
  • HumanoidoHumanoido Posts: 5,770
    edited February 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Add BASIC Stamps & Servos to Your SMD Microscope
    Combine two projects for more functions

    Add servos and BASIC Stamps (BS1s) from the 3DSC project to drive your SMD Microscope. The SMD Microscope project now incorporates the 3DSC project. The 3DSC has two movable servo driven platforms. In this application, only the top platform is needed for the specimen. The platform can move alone a short arc in one plane to position and reposition viewing for no-hands operations. More on the 3DSC is found here.

    This idea merges two projects into one new.
    By combining the 3DSC Morphing Computer
    with the SMD Microscope, a more useful servo
    driven project emerges.

    The 3DSC Morphing Computer can accomplish several new
    functions when combined with the SMD microscope.
    • automatic specimen positioning by programmable servo
    • a top specimen platform
    • hands-free operations for image stability
    • various drive rates for varying magnifications
    • fast slew rate for rough positioning
    • slower motions for fine tuning framing
  • HumanoidoHumanoido Posts: 5,770
    edited February 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Reserved for Microscopy Image Samples
    Posing some sample images

    Looking inside the Prop Plug holes to see what's in there!
  • HumanoidoHumanoido Posts: 5,770
    edited February 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Getting the Maximum Out of Your DIY SMD Imager

    You can squeeze more information out of your DIY
    SMD Imager by following a few good tips.

    • Keep the imager in magnifier mode
    • Shoot in VGA mode because it allows more zoom which results in a larger image scale
    • Make good use of digital zoom after the optical zoom is maxed out
    • Use fast Google PICASA 3 to process the image
    • Increase scale and position using software
    • Set the imager for capture in artificial light to obtain correct color balance
    • Crop and position the final image
    • Use sharpen, contrast, light & dark, and attention focus
    • Supplement with a good screen capture program
    • Keep in mind lens position when lining up target specimens
  • HumanoidoHumanoido Posts: 5,770
    edited February 2011 Vote Up0Vote Down
    SMD Microscope Application
    Work those Penguin Boards!

    One application for the SMD Microscope is in regard to the Penguin Offer.
    The repair involves the soldering of SMD components on the
    black CPU Penguin mother-board which is already very small.!
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