A Maker Loupe

Wearable magnifier for comfortably working with small parts.

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My main goal is to work with small parts, components, etc. without having to be bent over or bring the parts close to my face. Wish list of features:
* More comfortable – better ergonomics
* Inexpensive (under $100 or better yet, under $50)
* Hands free
* Wearable
* Light weight
* Magnification (at least 2x)
* Field of View (at least 3cm)
* Depth of Field (about 3cm)

One of my goals is to make it easier to work on projects. Tiny components (surface mount parts, tiny screws, small labeling, etc.) present a challenge and as a result I keep trying different methods and devices to help me view them better and hence make working with them easier.

Some of what I've tried so far:

  • Simple Magnifying Glasses – hand held and fixed
    • need to be very close to object being viewed
  • Reading glasses (various magnifications)
    • higher the magnification → closer you need to be to what you are viewing
  • Binocular Microscope
    • works quite well but still need to be bent over the scope
    • a movable stage would improve its ease of use
  • USB Microsope
    • not much experience but they can have a bit of a delay (what you see can be a fraction of a second behind what is happening at the moment).
  • Video Scope – NTSC camera, lenses and composite display
    • works reasonably well
      • may be able to improve by moving view screen lower and angling it

I'm testing and trying out other optical and video approaches to find an efficient and cost effective solution.

  • 1 × Small binoculars - salvaged (up-cycled)
  • 1 × M5 and M4 machine screws
  • 1 × Scrap Aluminum

  • Hacking another small Binocular

    Tom Meehan04/06/2017 at 05:22 0 comments

    While visiting family on the east coast, my mom gave me an old pair of partially functional binocular's that she had in a drawer. These became my next test.

    First I had to carefully take apart the binoculars to free the right and left sides:

    After removing the set screws on the eye pieces (as well as the rubber cushions) and the plastic ring that holds the objective lens in, I was able to inspect the lens assembly.

    These binoculars do not seem to use the Galilean telescope layout like the last set that I worked with. Between the objective and eye piece there is a set of prisms that flip the image seen in the eye piece (without these prisms the image is upside down).

    Playing around with the distance between the eye piece and objective lenses I found that, like before, I could get a magnified image of objects about 20-30 inches away.

    Next step was to figure a way to mount the two sides that would allow me to adjust the distance they were apart as well as allowing them to turn inward to converge the right and left images together. For now, I wanted to use original tubes from the binoculars.

    First I needed to re- thread the holes used to attach the original bridge between the two sides.

    I tapped the holes for M5 screws.

    Then I bent a shaped 2 pieces of flat aluminum stock, drilled holes to fit the M5 screws on one end and drilled at tapped (for M4 screws) holes on the other end.

    Using a piece of scrap aluminum angle I drilled two holes (really 3 but 2 were next to each other to make one hole longer to allow for adjustment).

    After replacing the lenses into the original tubes I adjusted the spacing and angles and got them to focus quiet well at about 20 inches.

    So far a very successful prototype, even though they aren't hands free yet. Next I'll need to work on a head mount and then on to some fine tuning and some practical tests. If all goes well I can then go on to work up a 3D model of a more complete design.

  • Resources, Research and Additional Information

    Tom Meehan01/24/2017 at 07:14 0 comments

    still working filling this all in

    Vocabulary - for Optics, Lenses, etc.

    • Depth of Field
    • Depth of Focus
    • Magnification
    • Focal Distance/Length
    • Field of View

    Part Suppliers:

    • Surplus Shed (so far least expensive and most reliable)
    • Edmund Scientific Optics
    • Ebay (of course - but you need to know what you are looking for)

    Optical Principles:

    Reference Articles:

  • Initial Tests and Trials

    Tom Meehan01/24/2017 at 07:05 0 comments

    Presently, I am primarily looking at a Galilean design, which involves using a double concave lens (for the eyepiece) and a plano-convex lens for the objective lens (end closer to the object we are looking at).

    This is the configuration that many of the surgical and dental loupe's use. It also seems to be the arrangement used in some types of binoculars (and "opera glasses").

    Just for something to start with, I ordered a double concave and a double convex lens from SurplusShed.

    • Double Concave (18.2mm diameter, -12mm focal length)
    • Double Convex (25mm diameter, 25mm focal length)

    Very Basic Galilean Telescope Design

    The Galilean Telescope utilizes a convex objective lens coupled with a double concave lens. This arrangement allows for a shorter length telescope with greater magnification and a image that is not inverted.

    Testing the lenses that I ordered

    I designed and 3D-printed lens holders, that could mount to aluminum T-Slot extrusion (to keep them steady and aligned). This combination of lenses did not perform as I'd hoped (focus was poor, field and depth of view were very limited).

    Along with the lenses I ordered, I decided to experiment with things I had on hand - in this case a set of pocket binoculars. They were unable to focus on objects less than about 5 feet away. While using the focus lever I noticed that when I focused on closer objects the eye piece moved back (away from the object lens - the lens facing the object).

    So, I decided to see if I could move the eye pieces even further away to focus on closer objects. To maintain alignment of the lenses I designed and 3D-printed an extension to fit the eye pieces of the binoculars.

    It worked, nearly perfectly. I was able to focus clearly on objects about 2 feet away, with magnification. The only issue is that the the right and left images do not converge, since the binocular body directs the view directly in front and almost parallel.

    I can see that I'm on the right track, thankfully. Now I just need to be able to adjust the angles of the lenses to converge at the correct distance.

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Karl Mansson wrote 06/16/2020 at 12:13 point

A little late to the party but I found this article that I think will be very helpful if you decide to move forward (if you haven't already) with the Galilean loupes. I'm thinking om making some myself.

  Are you sure? yes | no

fdufnews wrote 01/23/2017 at 09:26 point

Concerning USB microscope or video scope, if you don't have binocular view it is nearly impossible to make a good solder join or an assembly.

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Tom Meehan wrote 01/24/2017 at 06:00 point

Thanks, that explains the difficulties I experienced when using my video scope.  Your comment makes perfect sense - without a binocular view you don't have depth perception.  Now, some possible solutions I thought of I can drop and focus on more productive areas.

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Bruce Land wrote 01/22/2017 at 11:46 point

  Are you sure? yes | no

Tom Meehan wrote 01/24/2017 at 06:21 point

I have a cheapo version of the Bausch and Lomb - as you stated you need to be real close to what you are viewing.

The surgical mags you mention look nice - field of view and depth of field are really good but they don't mention the Working Distance (or I just couldn't find it) and the cost is higher than my budget.  

So far Dental Loupes look best for working distance and magnification ( ) but commercial ones range from about $300 to $750 - way beyond my budget.  There are some cheapo Dental Loupes on eBay from China (I've been tempted but they look poorly made).  

  Are you sure? yes | no

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