DIY PCB inspection microscope

Despite how good microscope you have, stand is still very important part of final assembly. And while there are many commercial ones made of cast iron, they might cost more than a microscope head itself. I decided to make stand from wildly available material laying around – it’s MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). Advantages – stable over time if not exposed to water, dirt cheap, easy to process.

DIY PCB inspection microscope

Overview

In general it can be made of any material you have by hand. Here are key requirements I tried to consider:

  • Heavy. MDF used in this stand should weigh ~2.5 kilograms.
  • Sturdy enough – flexing should be minimized.
  • Adjustable height maintaining coaxial movement. Used macro slider to adjust lens distance.
  • Quick position adjustment.
  • Non exotic parts and materials.

Quick weekend sketch and stand is ready to be made.

Parts

There are few kinds of parts used in this project:

  • MDF parts – easy to cut and drill with any available tools
  • Screws, nuts, wood glue – parts from regular hardware store
  • Macro slider – key part which makes this contraption behave like real microscope. Can be obtained from eBay for under 10$.
  • Last minute changes – I replaced some wooden parts with articulating magic arm clamp. Also obtained from eBay.
  • Microscope lens and camera. You can use anything that suits your needs. I used parts from my shop (3D STEP models are available on Github):
  • Ring light. Microscope can’t collect lot’s of light from a scene, so additional light is mandatory. I borrowed ring light from stereo microscope.

Making

Building whole stand took me 15minutes or so. Depending on tools you have and selected materials it might take longer. I also omitted painting.

  • Prepare wooden parts – I used scrap material. Cutting with circular saw is quick and efficient task. Also helps maintaining perpendicular edges and cutting 45 miter angles. Highly recommended.

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