A couple of years ago, my parents gave me a Celestron Handheld Digital Microscope as a stocking-stuffer; I assumed they'd happened across it on sale somewhere.
I took it home, plugged it into a computer, and noted that it worked fine with Linux, then put it back in its box and pretty much forgot about it.
Than, a few days ago, I got an e-mail ad from a test-equipment vendor, offering a spiffy USB microscope doodad for around $200. Hmmm. Hey, wait....
So, today I found where I'd squirreled away the Celestron thingy, dug it out, and had a look at one of my fiddly little hand-assembled SMT boards:
Expect my hand-builds to improve around the end of the year, as I start using custom-carved slobber stencils (and work on my hot-air technique). Having an actual inspection tool on hand will help, too.
Afterthought: looking at that close-up, I'm thinking once again that I should maybe get a Waterpik, or perchance an ultrasonerator. Board looked decently clean under a magnifying glass, but not in this view.
Let's see now... ah, here's an ultrasonerator that's downright affordable. Too bad the specs on display don't include actual dimensions. The number of .223 cases I clean in the average session these days is right around zero, but I would like to know what size PCB, machined part, or other thing-in-need-of-cleaning I can fit in there.
(And, on further reflection, if I buy an ultrasonerator, I should probably look for a heated model, 'cause there are things I may be doing next year that call for warm agitated water.)
Update: guvcview is a handy utility for using this gadget, though sparsely documented. Seems I need to dig into the source code to determine whether there's a way to capture snapshots to a succession of files, and, if not, see about adding that capability.
Update 2: waaah! One of the illuminatory LEDs had gone all flickery-wickery, so I decided to have a go at opening the critter up and seeing if there was a bad solder joint or something. Only visible fasteners are itty-bitty nuts among the LEDs, at the ends of what turn out to be guide rails but perhaps double as hold-it-together bolts. Find itty-bitty hex nut driver; turn one nut; the rail turns with it. Oh, well. Plug the thing back in: now no LEDs at all. Also, the computer doesn't see it. Looks like I somehow b0rked it. If I can figger out how to get the thing apart, I can probably fix it... or, being as how much of my time right now is going to gainful employment, it probably makes more sense just to buy a replacement. ($40 at Amazon? Just before the old one died, I used it in support of a revenue project? Guaranteed delivery Tuesday with Prime? Done. If I happen to revive the old one IMCFT, I can put it to use in the consulting company's lab.)
Update 3: OK, got a random bit of otherwise-useless time. Rear cap can be pried off without too much trouble. Clear front spacer thingy comes loose. To undo the bolts on the rails, it's necessary to grab the rails with long-nosed pliers. Um: the rails also carry power to the LED board. They're soldered into the camera board... and not well soldered. Turning the nut on that first rail, without restraining the rail, had caused the rail to turn, breaking it loose of the solder and perhaps causing the utter failure observed above. This construction maybe explains the negative reviews (of the form "it done broke!") on Amazon.