Operator using a digital microscope for electronics repair

INSIGHTS

What's the best microscope for electronics repair?

Tired of searching for the best microscope for electronics repair? Don't worry, this microscopy guide for electronics repair will be your final stop.

Regardless of whether you’ll be soldering or finding failed electronic components, a microscope is a must when soldering or inspecting PCBs. But a quick Google reveals that there’s an almost abundance of microscopes to choose from. So which one should you choose?

Don’t worry, that’s what we’ll help you figure out in this blogpost.

What microscopes are used for electronics repair?

Besides desk magnifiers, the most common microscopes used for electronics repair are stereo and digital microscopes.

The biggest difference between the two is that stereo microscopes use an eyepiece while digital microscopes use a monitor. Which one you use may be a matter of personal preference.

But with the increased need for documenting your completed work and knowing the ergonomic benefits of using a digital microscope, this blogpost will focus on different kinds of digital microscopes and how they can be used for electronics repair.

Man using a digital microscope for electronics repair

Different types of digital microscopes for electronics repair

A digital microscope is characterized by its lack of an eyepiece. Instead, you use a monitor which can be more comfortable to use, make it easier to document your work and open doors for using apps and software as part of electronics repair.

A digital microscope, however, isn’t just a digital microscope. It comes in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. Let’s have a look at some of them.

USB microscopes

A USB microscope is a lightweight and often handheld microscope. This makes it very portable and easy to push aside when it’s not in use.

The USB microscope typically needs to be connected to a computer to use its screen. This, however, is often via USB 2.0 outputs which will compress what the microscope initially recorded, resulting in a significant loss of details for your inspections and lag between what you’re doing underneath the microscope and what you’ll see on the monitor.

USB microscopes are also widely available on online marketplaces like Amazon and E-bay at a significantly lower point than other kinds of microscopes. While being more affordable than other microscope options, the USB microscope however is compromised in terms of optical quality, lighting and working distance – and quality wise, it’s not ideal for electronics repair.

Digital microscopes with built-in screen

As the name suggests, a digital microscope with a built-in screen doesn’t require a separate computer or monitor as you’re doing electronics repair. The built-in screen is often placed on top of the microscope which creates a comfortable setup as you don’t have to bend your neck as you’re working.

The built-in screen, however, is typically between 8.5’’ and 15’’. Some may find that this is enough to see everything clearly, while others may prefer using a separate monitor.

Digital microscope with separate monitor

The last digital microscope option to consider for electronics repair is a microscope with a separate monitor. That is, you need to connect the microscope to a separate monitor of whatever size you prefer and this can be installed anywhere you like for maximum flexibility.

It’s important to keep in mind that although this kind of digital microscope can often be connected to a monitor using USB 3.0 ports, USB 3.0 is a non-compressed display format that will not reduce the amount of detail before displaying it on a computer. This makes the image quality significantly better than the USB microscopes mentioned above and a great option for electronics repair.

Man using a digital microscope for electronics repair

What to look out for when choosing a digital microscope for electronics repair

To help you find the right digital microscope for electronics repair, there’s certain features and technical specifications that the microscope needs to have.

Let’s have a look at some must have features:

Magnification range

When doing electronics repair, you don’t need more than 50x magnification. Some digital microscopes offer magnification way beyond that, but there’s no need to go overboard. You might benefit from going slightly above the 50x if you want to look at a very small SMT component or inside of an opened IC circuit, but it’s not practical to do actual electronics repair at these magnification levels.

Frame rate

Make sure that the microscope shows 60 frames per second. This will ensure a smooth live image without lag between what you’re doing under the microscope and what you’re seeing on the monitor.

A steady image

Along the same lines as the frame rate, it’s important that the microscope produces a steady image. That is, the microscope doesn’t shake as soon as you touch the table or someone walks by. A shaky image will lead to frustration and mistakes very quickly.

Auto focus

We’re not quite done talking about image quality because let’s face it, if you can’t see what you’re doing, it’s going to be difficult to do anything properly under the microscope. With that in mind, it’s important that the microscope also has auto focus. As the name suggests, the auto focus will make sure that the microscope keeps whatever is underneath the microscope in focus, even as you’re moving your hands or the board around.

It’s an added bonus if the microscope also has manual focus so you can control the focus if needed but choosing a microscope with only manual focus is not ideal.

Lighting

Another important aspect of being able to see what you’re working with is having sufficient lighting. Some digital microscopes come with built-in lighting, others don’t.

We always recommend choosing a microscope that not only has built-in lighting but is also compatible with ring lights for additional lighting. Ambiant lighting may suffice in some instances, but being able to control the intensity and angle of the light with a ring light offers more flexibility while also reducing the risk of distracting shadows from harsh overhead lights.

A selection of the best digital microscopes from TAGARNO

Best digital microscopes for electronics repair

Even with the features mentioned above in mind, there’s many digital microscopes to choose from for electronics repair, including several TAGARNO microscopes.

TAGARNO is a Danish company known for producing innovative and high-performance microscopes for a variety of industries, but especially the Electronics industry. Let’s have a look at the best digital microscopes for electronics repair that we offer at TAGARNO.

TAGARNO ZIP

With 60 frames per second, 1080p image quality and auto focus, TAGARNO ZIP produces an extremely smooth live image that’s a prerequisite for doing electronics repair.

The microscope also offers 1.7x to 53x magnification which is perfect for electronics repair. The microscope also has built-in lighting and is compatible with various ring lights for additional lighting if needed.

With a footprint of only 38.6 cm by 15.5 cm (15.2’’ by 6.10’’) and weighing only 2.0 kg (4.4 lbs), the ZIP is also extremely lightweight and can be moved from station to station as needed. It can also be controlled with a footswitch, allowing you to use your hands to solder or move the PCB around as needed while adjusting the magnification level or focus area with your feet.

To capture photos of your work using the ZIP, connect it to a computer and use the built-in Windows OS Camera app. It really is that easy.

With ZIP, what you see is what you get. It’s a simple but user-friendly and high quality microscope that does everything you want from a digital microscope for electronics repair at a great price and with no unnecessary features.

Pros

  • Minimal adjustment needed, reduces risk of user error
  • Easy to get started
  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • A great low-entry product

Cons

  • • Requires a separate computer to capture photos

Download free brochure on TAGARNO ZIP

Could ZIP be the right microscope for you?


Download this free product brochure and learn more about this low-entry microscope with all the basic features that you need for electronics repair.


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Preview of TAGARNO ZIP product brochure
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TAGARNO TREND

With its 330x magnification capabilities, TAGARNO TREND can magnify way more than you actually need for electronics repair. But hang in there, there’s a reason why we highlight it as one of the best microscope for electronics repair.

Just like TAGARNO ZIP, it produces an excellent live image thanks to its 60 frames per second, 1080p image quality and auto focus. But what sets the TREND apart is its height adjustable and rotating arm that is also very long and thus creates a large working area. This makes it possible to inspect boards of all sizes while also moving it out of the way when it’s not in use.

With TAGARNO TREND, you can also use apps as part of your work. A great option is the DXF overlay app. With this app, you can locate specific components in seconds. All you need to do is type the name of a component into the search bar and let the app find it for you. This is much faster than having to find it manually and can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend at rework stations prepping for rework.

Lastly, it’s incredibly easy to document any faulty components or your completed work when using TAGARNO TREND. Simply press a button on the control box and the image is saved. The photo can then be stored for documentation purposes or forwarded to business partners to discuss how to proceed if needed.

Pros

  • Adjustable height
  • Can be turned away when not in use
  • Large working area makes it great for bigger samples
  • Access to apps, including DXF overlay

Cons

  • Long arm requires a sturdy table to reduce vibrations at high magnifications

Download free brochure on TAGARNO TREND

Are you considering TREND for your electronics repair?


With this free product brochure, you'll learn everything you need to know about this microscope, including a walk-through the features that make the TREND unique.


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Preview of "Is TREND the right microscope for me" brochure
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So… Which digital microscope is the best for electronics repair?

In short, the best digital microscope for electronics repair needs to:

  • Provide up to 50x magnification
  • Produce excellent images with 60 frames per second and auto focus
  • Be mechanically sturdy so it doesn’t produce a shaky image
  • Have built-in lighting or be compatible with light accessories

Based on these criteria, we recommend the TAGARNO ZIP or TAGARNO TREND for doing electronics repair. They each have their own benefits and which one you prefer will depend on your specific needs.

If you want to get into nerd mode and compare the technical specifications of the two microscopes, here’s your chance.

There’s more to read

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this blogpost, here’s a few other blogposts that you might find interesting.

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