Soldering is best done under magnification. Parts become ever smaller and eyes get weaker, so even if you don’t need magnification now, you will. [Makzumi] didn’t want to shell out $400 or more for a good microscope so he hacked one from some cheap binoculars from the toy section on Amazon.
A lot of magnifiers aren’t really good for soldering because the distance between the work and the lens isn’t very large. The hacked ‘scope has about 4 inches of working distance, which is plenty of room to stick some solder and a hot iron under there. The resulting magnification is about 12 or 15X and he claims that the cell phone pictures he’s included aren’t as good as really looking through the eyepieces yourself.
The project requires two toy binoculars. The ones linked are 26mm 2.5X foldable ones that cost under $5 each. One of them will get ripped apart for lenses. The other will form the main eyepieces of the scope. You’ll also need a little PVC pipe, some epoxy, and some wood to make a stand.
Since the modified binoculars will be looking at things very close, you have to cut into them to make them look almost cross-eyed. It appears the whole thing might cost $20 and it appears to work well. We’ve looked at other solutions like the Dino-Lite. There are also many cheap USB microscopes around.