Cheap USB microscope on test

When electronics gets smaller and smaller, you first need a magnifier and sometimes a microscope. There are cheap small microscopes like one I used in my DIY fiber optic microscope article. The downside of traditional microscopes and those cheap small pocket microscopes is that you have to stay curved over the target sample to use them. And microscopes are also a quite annoying when you use glasses normally. In some cases using macro photography on digital camera can be used to look at the small details, but it has also has limitations.

A microscope that displays the image on a computer screen makes is a big plus over traditional optical microscopes. This kind of microscopes used to be expensive years ago, but nowadays they much cheaper. So cheap that I tried on less than 25 USD product S02 25~500X USB Digital Photography Microscope Magnifier w/ 8-LED White Light – Black to see if it were of any use in electronics hacking.
microscope2

This microscope was a very easy to use tool stating from installation. This USB microscope looks to computer as generic USB 2.0 webcam that is already supported on most operating systems without any extra drivers (the device comes with driver and software CD but you don’t need necessarily install them). Worked well without drivers on Windows Vista and Windows 7 PCs. According to product review this should be Linux compatible with UVC webcam driver (I have not verified this). When I plugged in the microscope, I was ready to view the results with any existing software that can show pictures/videos from webcam.

This microscope has very handy light and focus adjustments, making it really quick to view anything. The microscope an easily focused to different distances. If could even be focused to objects around one meter a way, which means could work as sort of webcam. I could say that this USB microscope is basically just the same hardware as used in cheap webcams, just a little bit different optics and illumination LEDs added. The microscope comes with a stand, and can be used with the stand or without it. The plastic stand feels a little “unsturdy”, but it does its job acceptably in most of the time, but sometimes I would hope it to be more stable.

microscope1

Ok photo quality considering the resolution is only 300KP (640 x 480), which is not very much. The unit comes with a plastic ruler for calibrating the size of the viewed objects and the software for windows which comes with it allows you to measure the ruler and set a scale for pixes x mm, so you are able to measure the real size of the viewed objects at a given focus. I tested the microscope with the Cooling Tech software that comes on the product CD and it works well. Another good software that works with this microscope is Micam. Both software allow viewing and measuring.

coolingtech

Here are some example pictures that are close-ups of electronics. the first picture shows a small SMD LED in details:

2013-10-23_0001_1X

The seconds one shows what is inside a power transistor:

2014-02-02_0002_1X

Besides looking at the electronics in details, this microscope can also be used as a cheap fiber optic microscope to look at fiber optic connectors.

I would recommend this product if you’re looking for one that is as cheap as possible. It provides good value for money. If you are prepared to spend a little bit more money, it would also be a good idea to also look better resolution microscope alternatives (it seems that yo would get much higher resolution if you are prepared to pay double the price).

16 Comments

  1. cat5e plenum says:

    I agree with you electronics really are getting smaller and smaller day by day!

    Reply
  2. matollik says:

    I had to uninstall CoolTech’s own software that came on a minicd disc. Then with the software disc in the cd player Windows found the necessary drivers when I plugged the microscope to an usb port.
    Yawcam serves well for presenting whatever you want to visualize and the quality of pictures is quite good in comparison with the prize. Hopefully the manufacturer pays more attention to the quality of
    the software. Obviously there was also some conflict with Windows 7 OS environment. So far I’m pleased with my purchase.

    Reply
    • Tomi Engdahl says:

      Why did you have to install the CoolTech’s own software?
      I have used the microscope with it and with Micam.

      The Yawcam software you mentioned looked interesting as well..

      Reply
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  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The microscope also werked well on Windows 8.1 system with MICAM software.

    Reply
  5. David says:

    I’ve just got this gadget and have discovered a problem. It does the job very well taking lots of pictures, however there does not seem to be any way of deleting the pictures. How do I do this?

    Reply
    • Tomi Engdahl says:

      If I remember correctly the taken pictures are saved to some directory (I don’t remeber where it is located), and you should be able to get rid of them by deleting the image files from that directory.

      Reply
  6. Frank says:

    I could not get it to display properly with the CoolingTech software supplied. The picture is broken up with lots of lines across it. It works fine with Micam. Any suggestions for setting up the CoolingTec software? I can send a screenshot if that would help show the problem that I have? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Tomi Engdahl says:

      I don’t have the specific tips for setting up that software.
      It worked for me when I first tested, but later on I have mostly used Micam on different PCs.

      Reply
    • Lionel says:

      I found the same, but it will display correctly when you press the pause button, but only as a static image. Odd really. In windows XP, 8 and 7 starter.

      Reply
  7. CamiloA says:

    Hi, I have the S01 CoolingTech Microscope but unfortunately lost the installation CD. I need it on my MacBook. Is there a link or a way to find the driver and software?? Thanks

    Reply
  8. Saffron says:

    “Web is already too full of auto-generated crappy articles… does not look as tool that interests me.”

    You, Sir, deserve a medal! Your comment assures me that your site is worth bookmarking as a resource, which isn’t something I often do, thanks to all the clickbait nonsense out there that poses as useful info.

    Def going to give Micam a shot with my microscope, many thanks for the tip :)

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The remarkable evolution of modern fiber-optic connector inspection probes

    http://www.cablinginstall.com/articles/print/volume-25/issue-7/features/installation/the-remarkable-evolution-of-modern-fiber-optic-connector-inspection-probes.html?cmpid=enl_cim_cimdatacenternewsletter_2017-07-20&email_address=tomi.engdahl@netcontrol.com&eid=293591077&bid=1816974

    It’s mid-2017 and nearly everyone is aware that the information technology world encircling us is simultaneously getting both faster and denser. Bits of data are flying through optical network links at rates of 100 billion bits per second and higher, and the feature sizes in the network processor chips at the ends of these network links continue to shrink, as roughly and famously predicted by Gordon Moore. Multifiber connectors such as MPO, MT, and MXC are putting more and more less-than-human-hair diameter glass fibers into tighter spaces. With single MPO connectors increasingly using 16 fibers at 25 Gbits/sec per fiber, the asset value of these 400-Gbit/sec short-reach Ethernet links is exceedingly high, making data center infrastructure equipment failures due to connector contamination completely unacceptable to savvy management teams. Microscopic connector endface dirt and debris cause light reflections and attenuation – the enemies of optimal optical signal transmission.

    Thankfully there now exist excellent quality and easy-to-use tools for inspecting and cleaning fiber endfaces. In particular, the brief history and evolution of fiber microscopes shows a compelling level of innovation, in terms of optics, electronics and software.

    Reply

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