It’s not always easy to read the part number on IC you find on boards, and some time ago, I watched a video where Lady Ada used a USB microscope to demonstrate how to solder some components, and probably using that 5.0 MP model sold on Adafruit for about $80. But I found a similar looking USB microscope with a 2.0MP sensor and 1000X magnification on Ebay for $16.59 shipped, so I bought it, received it today, and I’ve given it a try.
Such microscopes can be used to inspect skin and hair, PCB, textile, bank notes, jewelery, and so on.
There are apparently other models based on the one I purchased with useful features like auto-focus, wireless support, different levels of magnification, and different colors. Supported operating systems include Windows and Linux, Android, and Windows 8 according to the package.
The microscope comes with a stand, a CDROM with Windows drivers and tools, and a “Microscope micrometer calibration ruler”. The latter is used in Measurement program in Windows and allows you to make measurements.
Two buttons can be used to respectively adjust the zoom digitally (ZOOM), and take a snapshot (SNAP), and you use the grey know to adjust the focus manually. There’s no way to adjust magnification, apart from moving the microscope up and down.
As soon as you connect the microscope to the USB port of your computer the LED will turn on, and you can adjust its brightness or turn it off with the potentiometer on the USB cable.
We can see that the microscope is a standard USB UVC camera:
[29274.688548] usb 1-1.4: new high-speed USB device number 4 using xhci_hcd
[29274.801190] usb 1-1.4: New USB device found, idVendor=05e3, idProduct=0510
[29274.801199] usb 1-1.4: New USB device strings: Mfr=2, Product=3, SerialNumber=0
[29274.801204] usb 1-1.4: Product: USB2.0 UVC PC Camera
[29274.801208] usb 1-1.4: Manufacturer: GenesysLogic Technology Co., Ltd.
[29274.885323] media: Linux media interface: v0.10
[29274.890782] Linux video capture interface: v2.00
[29274.901122] uvcvideo: Found UVC 1.00 device USB2.0 UVC PC Camera (05e3:0510)
[29274.945311] input: USB2.0 UVC PC Camera as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:04.0/0000:02:00.0/usb1/1-1/1-1.4/1-1.4:1.0/input/input18
[29274.945406] usbcore: registered new interface driver uvcvideo
[29274.945408] USB Video Class driver (1.1.1)
So that means it should work with any operating systems, and you can simply use your favorite USB webcam software if you don’t like the Windows tools provided with the device.
I’ve started with Raspberry Pi Zero board by adjusting the focus on the through holes, a little blurry but usable.Then I’ve taken a picture of the one and only chip on the board. We can see it’s an ELPIDA chip but the part number “B4432DDPA”? is not that easy to read, and I had to move the USB microscope stand on the package in order not to be too close…
It’s now Orange Pi 2 mini turn. The USB hub chip is still blurry but perfectly readable.
The model sold Adafruit appears to provide much better results, or maybe I’ll have to try day time instead…
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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