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Magnification and modeling...
Depending on the quality of your eyesight, the scale you model and the level of detail that you wish to achieve, being able to clearly see what you are working on has a major impact on the outcome. This may seem fairly obvious, but many modelers are not aware of magnification devices available in today’s market or their relative cost versus the benefit they provide.
Below we cover three types of magnifiers that we feel provide the greatest flexibility starting with the lease expensive.
Reading glasses (generic magnifiers) Available at just about any convenience store, prices range from $10.00 to $30.00 and magnification from 1.25X to 3.5X. Also available in the “Ben Franklin” style or half-glass which make then easy to view over at distant objects. This is a good general-purpose tool for most modeler’s workbench.
Optivisor® stereo magnifier
Manufactured by Donegan, this headband type magnifier is the absolute
standard in the industry, used by jewelers, watchmakers, and hobbyists
in general. It has a fully adjustable padded headband and ground-glass
stereo optics for excellent magnification clarity. It can be tilted out
of the way as needed and is available in 6 different magnification
strengths ranging from the Lens
Plate # 2 which magnifies 1.5 times at a distance of 20 inches to the
#10 which magnifies 3.5 times at a distance of 4 inches. Typical price
range of $33.00 to $37.00 and available at many hobby shops and at
hundreds of locations on the Internet. Reading glasses can easily be
worn with the Optivisor to further increase magnification. We have
5 Optivisors at our shop and use them so often we forget we're wearing
We have 5 Optivisors at our shop and use them so often we forget we're wearing them
Stereo Zoom Microscope
This is the granddaddy of
all magnifiers and a reasonably priced one can increase magnification
from about 4X to well over 40X (more than is practically useful). Most
modelers do not consider this as an option, but are surprised to learn
they are available for about the cost of 2 or 3 scale locomotives,
unless you model G scale (then it’s much less than 1 loco). If purchased
by a club, the cost per shared user is very inexpensive. Stereo optics
is essential for viewing object in 3 dimensions and it virtually
eliminates eyestrain associated with single-eye magnifiers. Zoom
capability allows total control for increase or decrease of
magnification as needed. As magnification increases, depth-of-field (the
area that appears acceptably sharp in the image) decreases. Therefore,
over-magnification can be adjusted out with the zoom feature. Typical
cost for a decent-but-not-laboratory-grade stereo zoom microscope starts
at about $250-$300. When working with very small components, the control
this level of magnification provides can pay for itself in a relatively
short timeframe. At right are two examples of stereo zoom
microscopes. The one at top has the most common type of stand. The lower
picture is of a 'boom' type of stand which allow the microscope to be
swung out of the way when not in use. This type is more versatile on a
workbench, but is also more expensive. At Ngineering we have both stand
and boom type scopes and they are in use regularly.
At right are two examples of stereo zoom microscopes. The one at top has the most common type of stand. The lower picture is of a 'boom' type of stand which allow the microscope to be swung out of the way when not in use. This type is more versatile on a workbench, but is also more expensive. At Ngineering we have both stand and boom type scopes and they are in use regularly.
As with any workbench activity using optical magnification, a good, bright, adjustable light source and comfortable chair that is height-adjustable is essential to minimize fatigue.
© 2012 Ngineering
In summary, each year we see the level of detail in modeling improve.
All of these things help drive us toward improving our techniques and elevating our modeling abilities. Being able to comfortably see what we are doing is a very necessary part of honing those skills.