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Why every tinkerer needs this digital microscope for repairs

Electronics are getting smaller, but our vision isn't getting any better. This helps even the odds!
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Andonstar AD407 Pro making tiny things look huge!
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Everything is getting smaller, including the components that are inside the gadgets and gizmos that we're trying to diagnose and repair. For years now I've been getting along with a head-mounted magnifier, but even that's not enough when dealing with components that are little more than specks of dust.

Also: Shrink wrap tubing: Why you should be using this versatile repair material

I needed a digital microscope. I needed the Andonstar AD407 Pro digital microscope

View at Amazon

Tech specs

  • 4-megapixel HD sensor
  • 7-inch IPS display
  • 2880 x 2160 24fps max video resolution
  • 4032 x 3024 (12-megapixel) photo resolution
  • MicroSD card storage
  • HDMI output
  • UV filter fitted to protect the lens from damage
  • Two variable-intensity LED lights

OK, enough with the specs, how well does the Andonstar AD407 Pro make things look bigger? Let's start with this circuit board.

Holding a small circuit board

Here's how it looks from my smartphone camera.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

On this small circuit board are some tiny components. Some are barely visible to the naked eye.

Let's take a closer look using the AD407 Pro. Here is a minute capacitor held by my ceramic tweezers. (I highly recommend ceramic tweezers for precision work.)

A minute capacitor on the tiny circuit board looks enormous -- here it's in the grip of my ceramic tweezers

A minute capacitor on the tiny circuit board looks enormous.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The large 7-inch display makes repairing parts as small as the minute capacitor much easier. Just make sure you're careful when moving loose parts around.

Also: This powerful, pocket-sized gadget is perfect for all your USB troubleshooting needs

There's a remote control hanging off the side of the microscope that you can use to turn on LED lights for better viewing.

LEDs controlled using the remote control
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

There is also a row of convenient buttons along the bottom of the display that controls things like magnification strength and turning the microscope on and off.

Convenient controls
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

With the power of the microscope, I was able to use my USB soldering iron to remove the tiny capacitor. To give you a better idea of just how small that component is, here it is on the tip of my finger!

It's crazy tiny!

That capacitor is no bigger than a speck of dirt!

That capacitor is no bigger than a speck of dirt.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

At $240, the Andonstar AD407 Pro is justifiable if you're a professional or enthusiast who wants a handy digital microscope. If you're an amateur or a beginner looking for something more affordable, I suggest the AD206 which, for $130, is a great alternative. Its screen resolution and sensors are a downgrade from the AD407 Pro, but the AD206 is still a great tool that will save you from squinting your eyes at the smallest objects!

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