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LOL I lost the handle on this thread so I couldn't get back to ya'll. I contacted my bank and got my 99.00 returned, yay! So I bit the bullet and bought an Amscope one.  It looks like the one in LiitleWatchShop's picture. I also made sure that I got the 0.5X Barlow lens so that I have all the working distance that I need. You could raise it even higher then 8" if you wanted or needed to and then can zoom in and refocus. I had neck surgery right after i got it ( imagine that) so I have not had a lot of time to use it. That's like getting a bike for Christmas and there is 4 feet of snow out there. There is a learning curve with it so I don't do normal assembly or disassembly with it but I have used it for more detailed work: like hairspring, cleaning and inspecting jewels and such. The clarity is amazing, simply amazing. It really is taking things to an entire new level of workmanship. I normally use a 10x to look at the condition of pivots for example and seeing the pivots under this shows them so clearly that it makes cleaning them so much better and easier.  I did get the 144 light and the camera. I have it hooked up to a laptop but haven't done much with that as it takes a little time navigating the menus to get done what I want done. The software came with it btw. If you have the money then this really is a great addition to your capabilities. 

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I'm glad that worked out in the end. Thanks for being the guinea pig. What are the odds you feel like taking an "action shot"? I still really want to see what the working position ends up looking like with one of these. I'm about ready to pull the trigger, and I'm pretty confident that's what will push me over the edge.

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here are 2 pics and a vid. shot with Samsung phone off of computer screen. Not nearly the quality of resolution that you get while looking in the eye cups. But it might give you a little idea of what you can see. I could zoom out and see the whole what if I wanted but I couldn't get the camera focused properly. I have to work on that. 

20210511_135147[1].jpg

20210511_135158[1].jpg

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Thank you. That flavor of glamor shot is extraordinarily enticing, but I was hoping to see a photo of you working. I'm interested in tool clearances, posture, and that sort of thing. The practical aspects of it. The physicality of working on watch movements with a stereo microscope.

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trying to show that is hard spectre6000. I can see what I'm doing while looking through the lens but I can't seem to be able to capture it on the screen as well. I'll try some more for ya. 

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Maybe someone can answer this question: Would you use a stereo microscope for basic things like assembly/disassembly? Does it replace a loupe? I'm less than happy with my optics situation, and this seems like an answer, but I hate the idea of throwing money at a non-solution to a real problem. It [i]seems[/i] like I could do just about everything with a stereo microscope, but that seems too good to be true. Is that the case?

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31 minutes ago, spectre6000 said:

Would you use a stereo microscope for

While I only use mine for lathe work, I see the utility of using it for watch work.  I regularly go to the stereo to inspect something that is challenging with a loupe.  What I HAVE NOT DONE is to actually manipulate a screwdriver and tweezer under the scope.  That is where working distance comes to play.  I plan to try it because eyesight will only get worse...need a plan for the future.

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1 hour ago, spectre6000 said:

Maybe someone can answer this question: Would you use a stereo microscope for basic things like assembly/disassembly? Does it replace a loupe? I'm less than happy with my optics situation, and this seems like an answer, but I hate the idea of throwing money at a non-solution to a real problem. It [i]seems[/i] like I could do just about everything with a stereo microscope, but that seems too good to be true. Is that the case?

I've had my microscope for several years. I used it mainly in my dental lab for examining and finishing crown and bridgework. And also for working on the occasional SMD circuit boards.

As I'm planning on retiring, I brought my microscope home to do watch repair work. But so far I've only used it for examining jewels, pivots, oiling pallets and adjusting hairsprings.

Would I use it for all my repair work? I don't know. Maybe if I get a bench mounted, articulated scope arm, I might. I just can't find the correct furniture for a comfortable working posture with the scope. It either too high or too low.

Is it possible to do all routine work with a scope? Yes, I think it's possible. I've met dentists who do everything under a microscope. Before industrial automation, thousands of factory workers assembled PCBs under a microscope, 8 hours a day.

I know my answer is not much help. You'll have to get one to find out for yourself if you could adapt your working style to microscope work. 

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I got a scope a few weeks ago and played around with the position and orientation for ages.  Because it looks directly down it's hard to use a screwdriver as your hand and actual screwdriver get in the way.  I tried to angle the scope a few degrees to get around this; I've had no luck with that.  My particular scope can angle but I get a bit of gimbal lock with my prefered placement which makes it impractical.  Also, for disassembly / assembly I find a loupe much easier and quicker to use because with a scope you're always adjusting the depth.

However, OMG, the scope is amazing.  Here are some of the ways I've used it...

  1. Opening / closing shock springs, great to make sure you're not putting too much pressure on them
  2. Oiling, really easy to make sure you've got the correct amount of oil on your oiler and that it goes in the correct place
  3. Inspection, obvious really, my scope does 3.5x to 20x and keeps the focus all the way down.  Nice and clear but at 20x+ consider using extra light or a light ring attachment
  4. Cleaning dials, when you want to clean up to printed text but not over it you can be sure that your swab doesn't touch delicate parts.
  5. Fitting hairspring stud pins.  WOW, using curved tweezers you can place the pin perfectly in the hole and drive it home.  A few nights ago I was 20 minutes trying this with a 15x loupe but with the scope it went in first time
  6. Placing bridges, this one surprised me but after placing a bridge (especially pallet) you can see if the pivots are in the jewels/holes.  It gives you loads of confidence that you've got everything correctly seated
  7. Screws, yes, on occasion with really tiny screws this can be useful.  I've resorted to this on a tiny thumb-nail-sized ladies movement

I've got my scope on a long boom arm which allows me to quickly move it over my normal working position, do something, then push it away again.  I think this is the key for me, a clean work space, always at hand, move the tool to the job, not the job to the tool (as my dad would say).  The base of the scope is large and heavy but I'm going to remove that and bolt it directly to my bench.

My posture when using the scope feels wrong but my wife says that it's perfect and that I have a perfectly straight back and neck.

In conclusion, I'd never go back to not having a scope.  The price of it (£350) is totally worth the amount of time it saves you.

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I must admit I would lost without the microscopes. I have one set up above my lathe and one on my bench. My eyesight is poor so I use my bench microscope for checking to see that the pallet folk pinion is seated correctly and also for jewel and pinion inspections.My lathe Microscope I use it for making staffs or removing part of the staff before removing or any small delicate items. 

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I use my microscope to take spring bars off, because why not?  I can see exactly what I'm doing and there's good light.

I have the two arm stand, which has more degrees of freedom in positioning the microscope head than in some of the other stands.  I normally have it angled forward slightly.  This way a screwdriver doesn't obscure the view of a screw.  Having to look straight down only would be very limiting.

 

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2 hours ago, xyzzy said:

I have the two arm stand, which has more degrees of freedom

Do you have a link to this stand please.  I was looking at the amscope double arm stand but it didn't look like it had any more adjustments than the 1 arm stand.

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Trying to get serious about this... An inexpensive eBay special would be nice, but here in the US, pickins are slim and of unknown quality. New is kinda the option. AmScope seems to be the sweet spot of quality and cost. I read good things about them here. My buddy uses one in his home lab/shop, and I think he said they have a few at work. Seems to be a solid bet.

Digging through their website, it's pretty clear they have a part number building system with a billion combinations of a handful of actual options. Unfortunately, they've made the site about as inefficient and confusing as possible... I did a blanket search for stereo microscopes, and scanned part numbers up to about $1K. I made a spreadsheet listing off each "series" based on the head (there are 8 of them). I noted the entry point for each series, then headed over to the accessory section to see what could be built out as needed piecemeal if necessary. Two series floated to the top. While searching for details on one, I was able to find an old WordPress site from AmScope's parent company describing the lineup. The information appears dated and incomplete, but I was able to confirm some things and learn some others. 

I'll save you the full spreadsheet, and it boils down to two series that look like good fits. SM- and ZM-. They both have 7 Barlow lens options, a ring adapter, and 6/16 eyepiece options respectively. The SM- series is less expensive, seems to have been around longer, and has a much more comprehensive representation on their site in terms of packaged permutations of head and accessories. I'm really having a hard time figuring out what the differences really are between the two heads though.

Could someone with a bit more microscope knowledge take a look at the head-only listings and tell me what the differences are between the two series?

SM-

https://www.amscope.com/7x-45x-trinocular-zoom-stereo-microscope-simul-focal-head.html

ZM-

https://www.amscope.com/6-7x-45x-trinocular-stereo-zoom-microscope-head-with-focusable-eyepieces-1.html

https://www.amscope.com/6-7x-45x-ultimate-trinocular-stereo-zoom-microscope-head.html

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ZM is just a different head than the SM.  I think it's supposed to be better, but it really doesn't show up in the specs anywhere.  I think maybe the field of view is slightly larger.  There is no optical quality spec that would capture an improvement there.  It's rather more expensive and it's also bigger, so I opted for the SM head.

Note that there are several different SM heads!  Normal ones with two ports for eyepieces and also trinocular ones with a port on the top for a camera.  Those trionocular described as "simul-focal" can use the camera port and both eye ports at the same time.  The non-simul-focal have a lever you pull that moves a mirror to select between the left eyepiece and the camera port.  If you want to take lots of pictures or make a video while you work, get simul-focal.

There are two different SM heads that are simul-focal.  It's not clear, but if you look carefully at the pictures you can see it.  One model has eyetubes that are focusable while the other doesn't.  With a focus ring on the tube it's possible to use non-focusable eyepieces, which are quite a bit cheaper than eyepieces that have focus adjustment.  So if you want to get different eyepieces (there is 5x, 10x (normal), 20x, 25x) it'll save money to get the focusable eyetube model.

21 hours ago, spectre6000 said:

hey have a part number building system with a billion combinations of a handful of actual options.

Indeed, it's quite an annoying system.  You will probably discover in your spreadsheet that certain combos are rather better deals than others.  For me, it made sense to buy a ring light from amazon because the combo with the ring light, and the other stuff I wanted, was much more expensive.  But drop the barlow lens or add an extra set of eyepieces, and then the combo with the light too was a good deal again.

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On 5/14/2021 at 5:33 PM, HectorLooi said:

https://grs.com/product/acrobat-classic-microscope-stand/

This is on my wish list. It costs more than my microscope. ?

I've used a stand like that at work and I didn't like it.  It wasn't stable enough.  I was working on small circuits so more magnification and the vibration is more noticeable.  Maybe at the lower magnification of working on a movement it would be ok.  Or maybe the setup at work just wasn't good.

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3 hours ago, xyzzy said:

ZM is just a different head than the SM.  I think it's supposed to be better, but it really doesn't show up in the specs anywhere.  I think maybe the field of view is slightly larger.  There is no optical quality spec that would capture an improvement there.  It's rather more expensive and it's also bigger, so I opted for the SM head.

Note that there are several different SM heads!  Normal ones with two ports for eyepieces and also trinocular ones with a port on the top for a camera.  Those trionocular described as "simul-focal" can use the camera port and both eye ports at the same time.  The non-simul-focal have a lever you pull that moves a mirror to select between the left eyepiece and the camera port.  If you want to take lots of pictures or make a video while you work, get simul-focal.

There are two different SM heads that are simul-focal.  It's not clear, but if you look carefully at the pictures you can see it.  One model has eyetubes that are focusable while the other doesn't.  With a focus ring on the tube it's possible to use non-focusable eyepieces, which are quite a bit cheaper than eyepieces that have focus adjustment.  So if you want to get different eyepieces (there is 5x, 10x (normal), 20x, 25x) it'll save money to get the focusable eyetube model.

Indeed, it's quite an annoying system.  You will probably discover in your spreadsheet that certain combos are rather better deals than others.  For me, it made sense to buy a ring light from amazon because the combo with the ring light, and the other stuff I wanted, was much more expensive.  But drop the barlow lens or add an extra set of eyepieces, and then the combo with the light too was a good deal again.

I see that the ZM series is positioned above the SM series, but I don't see what about it is better. I think one is "super widefield" and the other is "extreme widefield", but neither of those terms mean anything outside of the marketing department as far as I can tell. The other material difference is 6.7X vs. 7X to 45X with the ZM series having the 0.3X broader range (for what that's worth). Another difference I see is that the SM series pupilary distance adjustment is obvious, while I don't see any obvious adjustment for this on the ZM series. The ZM series has more eyepiece options, and they're nearly all the "extreme" widefield flavor vs. the SM series "super" widefield flavor.

What does a focusable vs. non-focusable eyetube look like?

Stand question: You mentioned above that you are able to angle your stand in order to get tools in there while working. What stand is that? Is there a type of stand that does this, or something to look for in the photos like the focusable eyepieces?

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16 hours ago, spectre6000 said:

Stand question: You mentioned above that you are able to angle your stand in order to get tools in there while working. What stand is that? Is there a type of stand that does this, or something to look for in the photos like the focusable eyepieces?

@xyzzyI just watched an AmScope video demonstrating the assembly of a single arm boom stand. It looks like there's nothing preventing the head from being positioned at an angle, as you described above. I can imagine that the head might be too heavy for it to be happy like that though. The only thing holding it at an angle against the gravity of the head would be the set screw(s). Is the double arm boom stand more firmly affixed in that regard?

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Posted (edited)

Here's a picture of my scope setup.  The scope is correctly focused on the small part on the movement pad.  There is plenty of room to get in with a screwdriver and see the screw and screwdriver without your hand blocking the view.  Without the angle, there would be space (with the 0.5x barlow as is shown) for the screwdriver, but all you would see is a blurry out of focus closeup of your hand.  With a 0.7x barlow, the scope is closer, and angling it and rotating the ring light out of the way gives just a bit more space in the that lens-stand gap.

The part after the block where the dual boom ends pivots about a horizontal axis which is inline with the boom.  One the single arm, you need to rotate the entire boom arm about this axis, which means you need to tighten the boom's knob that prevents rotation and sliding.  I can slide the boom in/out on the bearings and rotate the boom about the stand without loosing anything since the head maintains it's orientation without needing to tighten those controls. 

Then after that control, there is another pivot where the horizontal block meets the short vertical tube.  This pivots about an axis orthogonal to the first pivot described above.  It is the primary means to angle the scope head forward as is done here.  Through one needs both of these two pivots in tandem to both angle the scope forward and make both eyepieces level vertically at the same time, unless the boom is directly in line with the scope, and it's not, since off to the side of the work area is better.  The single-arm stand does not have any pivot on this axis.

The large block with the two big black knobs rotates about a mostly vertical axis.  It also can move up and down to extend the focus range without needing to adjust the boom height.  The large knob facing the camera is the focus.  The scope head itself then rotates in the holder (to point it at you), held by the tiny silver knob.  The small black knob on the head is the zoom.  Both focus and zoom are on both sides.

PXL_20210517_000417826.PORTRAIT-01.COVER.thumb.jpg.de2835dd4c1d2d8499c22009592fffb8.jpg

Edited by xyzzy
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On 5/16/2021 at 6:55 PM, spectre6000 said:

What does a focusable vs. non-focusable eyetube look like?

Take a look at amscope's "SM-4NTP".  The eyepiece focus is at the top, part of the eyepiece itself.  Then look at the "SM-4TP".  The focus ring is in the middle, part of the eyetube.  The eyepiece slides into the tube just after the focus ring.

It doesn't really matter unless you want different sets.  And I see amscope has focusable sets for about $75, vs about $30 for a non-focus set from ebay/alix, so it's not that much.  They used to cost over $100.

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7 hours ago, xyzzy said:

Here's a picture of my scope setup.  The scope is correctly focused on the small part on the movement pad.  There is plenty of room to get in with a screwdriver and see the screw and screwdriver without your hand blocking the view.  Without the angle, there would be space (with the 0.5x barlow as is shown) for the screwdriver, but all you would see is a blurry out of focus closeup of your hand.  With a 0.7x barlow, the scope is closer, and angling it and rotating the ring light out of the way gives just a bit more space in the that lens-stand gap.

The part after the block where the dual boom ends pivots about a horizontal axis which is inline with the boom.  One the single arm, you need to rotate the entire boom arm about this axis, which means you need to tighten the boom's knob that prevents rotation and sliding.  I can slide the boom in/out on the bearings and rotate the boom about the stand without loosing anything since the head maintains it's orientation without needing to tighten those controls. 

Then after that control, there is another pivot where the horizontal block meets the short vertical tube.  This pivots about an axis orthogonal to the first pivot described above.  It is the primary means to angle the scope head forward as is done here.  Through one needs both of these two pivots in tandem to both angle the scope forward and make both eyepieces level vertically at the same time, unless the boom is directly in line with the scope, and it's not, since off to the side of the work area is better.  The single-arm stand does not have any pivot on this axis.

The large block with the two big black knobs rotates about a mostly vertical axis.  It also can move up and down to extend the focus range without needing to adjust the boom height.  The large knob facing the camera is the focus.  The scope head itself then rotates in the holder (to point it at you), held by the tiny silver knob.  The small black knob on the head is the zoom.  Both focus and zoom are on both sides.

PXL_20210517_000417826.PORTRAIT-01.COVER.thumb.jpg.de2835dd4c1d2d8499c22009592fffb8.jpg

Ah! Now I see! Is the depth of field sufficient? That's not much of an angle, but it wouldn't take much. Good point about the fore and aft movement without affecting the angle. I wonder, if the same utility could be achieved by swinging the head around rather than sliding it in and out? ... The double boom is $240 vs. $214... Actually, on the scale we're talking here, that's not worth quibbling over. $15, and while that utility may or may not come in handy, the cast lever knobs vs. plastic is probably worth that alone; plus the weight and extra rigidity from that second boom arm... That's worth the delta.

Pulled the two referenced up side by side re: eyepieces. I see what you're talking about now. Cheaper eyepieces is for sure a worthwhile box to check. If I had to guess which was which without being told, I'd have probably guessed the other way around from the photos. Zoomed in, I see the printed scale on the adjustable ones.

You've got an SM head. Would you upgrade to the ZM for the "extreme" widefield?

You don't have a trinocular port at all. The ZM can be had with a switched trinocular port, while the SM has that AND a simufocal option. I don't have much interest in making videos; I'm pretty sure no one wants to see me fumbling around making stupid mistakes, and there's always the risk someone might think I know what I'm doing and take away the wrong lesson. BUT I have a 16 month old daughter who is going to need some serious sciencing. Without going into too much detail, I'd like to be able to throw the image up on a screen for her to see (not of watches necessarily, but all manner of other things). What are your thoughts on switchable trinocular vs. simufocal?

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13 hours ago, spectre6000 said:

Ah! Now I see! Is the depth of field sufficient? That's not much of an angle, but it wouldn't take much.

Indeed the focus plane is no longer horizontal and runs at an angle.   But I don't find it a problem and get acceptable focus over the full field.

13 hours ago, spectre6000 said:

You've got an SM head. Would you upgrade to the ZM for the "extreme" widefield?

The field of view seems pretty good.  I don't recall using a scope at work that seemed markedly better, but maybe none of them were extreme?  I think the ZM is taller and I wouldn't want to the scope body to take more vertical space.

13 hours ago, spectre6000 said:

What are your thoughts on switchable trinocular vs. simufocal?

I wish I had gotten a simul-focal.  I don't think I realized that was an option when I got mine.  The scopes at work with cameras were all switched, and it's a PITA, and so I didn't think I'd want to bother with a camera port.

Using the scope with one eye blocked is surprisingly annoying.  And you have to re-focus.  I've not used one that wasn't switched, but it sounds great.  I've found I'm taking a lot more pictures than I thought I would.  Watch parts are more photogenic than circuit boards and I don't need to remember how to reassemble a board afterward.

I've got an adapter that lets me replace one eyepiece with my cellphone.  But it's a pain to switch it in and out.  Pictures are ok.  I think they could be better, but the adapter is not tight enough in the eyetube to keep the camera's sensor parallel to the intermediate image plane.

PXL_20210115_015601897.jpg

PXL_20210322_030551421.jpg

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14 hours ago, xyzzy said:

I wish I had gotten a simul-focal.

That's only available on the SM- head, and combined with not knowing you're missing anything with the "extreme" widefield makes me think maybe that's the way to go. Which is nice, because those are much cheaper. Less nice is that now I have to parse the >1K permutations they offer to figure out how to most cost effectively construct the combo I want. First world problems I guess...

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