USB microscope is a game-changer.

Discussion in 'Hones/Honing' started by J.Cedarstrom, Jun 27, 2019.

    Absolutely. A good quality optic is a joy to use. Once you have done so, using anything less is grating.

    And re: magnification required to attain edge perfection - no such thing. The edge will never be perfect. Satisfy yourself with excellent. The magnification required to get there is different for everyone. For some of us it's none. For some of us it's as much as we can get. For the rest, somewhere in the middle. Although I enjoy using magnification and find it a very useful tool, I don't need it. The shave is always the final arbiter. Speaking for myself, however, of course I will absolutely use it if it's available.
  1. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor Ambassador

    I've been using this one in recent weeks.

    It's 20X (supposedly). I like it, but I don't trust what I see with it, since I'm seeing things at 10X with the USB scope which I can't see (even knowing they're there) with this one.


    I've ordered but not received this Belomo, and only know what I've read about it.

    I have several of the hand held USB scopes and find none of them worth 10 cents. They're a pain in the neck to use for one thing.


    This very tiny scope (loupe) from eBay (look for a very low price, like $5) is less easy to use than the top one pictured, but it works well enough (I don't know how it compares in what it reveals to the USB as I've not done that head to head). It's better for me than any of the hand head USB scopes.

    I have several other straight optical devices including a photographer's loupe of low power (about 4X or 5X) and sometimes find them useful.

    Sometimes you get what you pay for.

    Sometimes you don't.

    By far the best views I'm getting are with my modified (see my posts earlier) Plugable with the aftermarket stand (total price for both $55). But, how good a view do we need?

    I'm really not sure exactly how to answer that question.

    In an earlier post, linked, I put up a video where the gentleman's using a set up (USB, stand) which cost over $1000. Does that magnification add anything or detract? Depends how you look at things.

    Scopes are a huge rabbit hole. There's a ton to learn, too. Is it worthwhile? Are they really helpful? Well, they certainly are sometimes, but...

    Well, I have questions about the whole shebang.

    Happy shaves,

  2. Cal

    Cal Contributor

    Some of you guys (like me, less knowledgeable about loupes) may find this Quicktest page interesting:

    I asked Quicktest about the BelOMO 10X compared to their Quicktest 10X. This was their reply:
    I have some samples of he original BELOMO I sold in the 1980s.

    As an expert, I would say:
    - our 10X20 definitely has wider field of view and brighter image which, in my view, gives it a definite edge over the BELOMO
    - as regards the clarity of the image, there is very little to choose between them; the BELOMO has very slight distortion on the very edge compared with ours, but you probably wouldn’t notice the difference
    My samples are the original version of BELOMO.

    I stopped selling them when they downgraded the quality of the lens, and I don’t know if those at belomostore are the original lens or the downgraded lens.


    At that point I was thinking I'd go for the BelOMO, simply because I preferred the look of it (the cost is similar to the Quicktest). I mentioned that to Quicktest and got this message back:

    ... I have several (BelOMO 10X) that were returned to us because the screws keep coming loose. If you want, you can have one of these for £15.00.

    If you order a Belomo, please let me know how much it ends up costing you (this has to do with HM Customs and Excise) and also how long it took to arrive (I’m curious); if you order one of ours this morning, you will have it tomorrow.


    * Red text in parentheses is mine (for clarification).

    So I went for the Quicktest 10X and am pleased with my purchase.

    The above may well be "too much information" but I thought it would be helpful for those (like myself) who are kinda new to all this stuff.
  3. Interesting. Thanks @Cal
  4. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor Ambassador

    My Belomo has arrived. It is smaller than I thought, but very good at what it's supposed to do by the little tests I've tried so far. Very clear. I go the one with the nice leather case and am glad of it.
  5. Shipping to. US would be cost prohibitive
  6. SliceOfLife

    SliceOfLife Contributor

    Scopes are great, but can become a forests for the trees situation until you develop a sense of what you're looking at. Immediately though, they are hugely valuable just for inspecting bevel condition (specifically pitting and chips). I've found in the low-mid single digits of microns, chips start to cause weepers. Get into the high single digits and bigger, and they stop causing weepers and start causing irritation.

    Looking @ a 4micron diameter chip next to a 20 micron diameter chip next to an 80 micron diameter chip next to an ~20micron diameter spot of pitting:

    400x: All four clearly visible.
    100x: Two largest chips clearly visible, small chip and pitting would be seen if looking carefully.
    40x: Largest chip still visible. Medium chip visible scanning slowly. Must focus directly on the smallest chip for a couple seconds to notice it, could easily pass off as the shape of the edge. Pitting completely obscured.
  7. Dcaddo

    Dcaddo Moderator Emeritus

    I’ve used that loupe for years and absolutely love it. It’s all I use for honing these days.
  8. Cal

    Cal Contributor

    I did a dummy run and shipping to the US is £11 (~$13.70) which is similar to USPS 1st Class to the UK ($14.25). So yes, a bit expensive for a small item.
  9. I have found that if I can't see the chip with a good 10x, my face can't feel it. If there are even tiny chips visible at 10x, there will be weepers so I keep working on it.
  10. Thanks for doing the research @Cal and posting the links.
    Just ordered the Quicktest 10X.
  11. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor Ambassador

    I wish you had included 200X but I can extrapolate some (that is, guess).

    Thanks, gentlemen. This is the kind of stuff I was hoping to get.

    My only really good choices are 10X and 200X (my modified Plugable, and all Plugables, magnify only at 10X and 200X). I will also begin using the Belomo loupe. I've demonstrated to my satisfaction that my LED lighted 20X loupe doesn't find (or allow me to see) what the USB shows at what it says is 10X.

    So, yes, much depends on having a great or at least good view of things.

    I found that anything I can see as a huge looking chip on the 200X view also is visible on the 10X view with the Plugable if I look very carefully. I think maybe producing a "perfectly straight edge" on the 200X view might be a bit counter productive in that it might not give me anything I need and it might remove too much metal. However, I not entirely sure of that point of view yet.

    At any rate, I think I've got the Plugable scope sorted out.
    • Sandpapering off the bottom half of the cowling made it possible to get a good 200X view (in both magnification and focus) without hitting the blade or the edge with the scope.
    • The addition of the more solid $20 stand made the whole business much more satisfactorily stable and secure.
    I have no doubt there are better USB scopes for a price. I'd love to have one of those stands Dr. Matt demonstrates in the video I embedded earlier. I'm not going to spend a thousand bucks to upgrade. In the first place a thousand bucks is a lot of money. I have a set up which is useful enough. I'd not get a huge amount more for a huge amount more money as far as I can tell.


    Telling my wife I "need" a thousand dollar USB microscope is not a conversation I want to sign up for. I may have sharp razors but she has kitchen knives and scissors.

    Actually, I am not sure I'd want the degree of magnification Dr. Matt is getting. He says it's 900X and he spent the kind of money to get that level of magnification.

    If anyone else has this sort of data (and I know some of it is scope related and some face related) I'd love to look at it.

    Happy shaves,

  12. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor Ambassador

    Today's adventures in honing with scopes were interesting.


    Today's victim was my newest Tanifuji, from eBay of course. Part of my project today was comparing the various scopes and such.

    Examining the Tanifuji with magnification (the Plugable USB scope) I found several obvious chips. Frankly they were a bear to remove, but I got them (at least I got them well enough). In the process I discovered several things as I looked at the edge with different tools.

    What tools?
    • The Plugable USB scope (modified).
    • The Belomo 10X loupe.
    • My (previously mentioned in this thread) El Cheapo LED lighted 20X loupe.
    • My (previously mentioned in this thread) El Muy Cheapo 60X lighted scope or loupe.

    Belomo.480.jpg My.loupe.lighted (1).jpg Little microscope.Small Louple.480.Tiny.JPG

    By far the most useful of the devices for really seeing what's going on is the Plugable USB. Even at 10X it's easier to use and gives a better view of the issue. It was quite instructive to compare what I could see with it with what I could see with the other tools.

    All of them are quite dependent on whatever light happens to hit the right or wrong spot on the edge and the bevel. No surprise there. But, assuming one gets the light right and the focus right all are at least somewhat useful.

    None are useless. However, the USB really shines in terms of allowing me to be sure of what I'm seeing. Even at 10X it gives me more information than the other devices.

    That's not to say the others aren't useful. However, their information requires more processing and guesswork and interpretation. With the USB Plugable what you see is right there in your face (on your screen, steady, and worth a thousand words); if you're not 100% on what it is, focusing in and out on it will clear the matter up. You know!

    At least that's my impression so far, but I will be continuing to use these devices. The Plugable (modified) is really helping my honing.

    Today's shave (following a ton of work on the stones) was great.

    Happy shaves,

  13. SliceOfLife

    SliceOfLife Contributor

    So the Olympic I bought arrived. Not a triscope. There’s some part of the scope internals blocking the top tube. Also no clue what the fourth tube is. It has a ton of adjustments, but doesn’t let light through... and the adjustments don’t seem to do anything. Two more adjustments on the body that seem to do nothing.

    As I suspected, even with good quality glass, 800x is pushing it.

    Each cube is ~5x5 microns.

    On my 27" monitor... with the image maximized... it's 6400x. Lol

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
  14. SliceOfLife

    SliceOfLife Contributor

    So I disassembled it, and I think there’s a mirror missing the prevents the top eyepiece from working. The tube with all the adjustments and an eyepiece 90° to the objective lens I suspect is intended as a light source, but one of the adjustments to open and close a shutter is broken closed. Still have no idea what the one adjustment that surrounds the body is meant to do.

    So what’s left is the binocular microscope, that accepts 4 objective lenses with 6x 10x and 40x in place, and 20x14 eyepieces. It’s rigged to be free of a base, so I am working on getting a mount for razors that lets me get useful angles on them. In a few quick experiments I got a look straight down at 200x that could be interesting if I got it stable enough to get a clean image... but I suspect a 65-80 degree angle to the center plane of the razor will give me the best view.
  15. Chan Eil Whiskers

    Chan Eil Whiskers Contributor Ambassador

    Wow. Quite the project.
  16. SliceOfLife

    SliceOfLife Contributor

    Yeah, it'll be getting done a little here and a little there. I wonder how much it'd cost to restore the top tube (I think it just needs a mirror replaced)... as I doubt I'd ever need the upper light source, and most of the problems seem to be with that. The optics are all in great shape, though they could use a good cleaning.
  17. SliceOfLife

    SliceOfLife Contributor

    Here's a slightly clearer shot at 800x optical with the razor at ~30 degrees off parallel to the scope. I need a more stable table for the scope at these mags... as the slightest wiggle is massive.

    Attached Files:

  18. Depth of field is a big problem at that mag level. Especially if you want to incline the blade to get a better look at the apex. I can see it is extremely shallow in your image already.
  19. SliceOfLife

    SliceOfLife Contributor

    Yeah, with the incline, it's minimal. It's not terrible with the blade perpendicular to the scope... so it'll be best if I can work out a platform where the incline can be adjusted on the fly, but stability will take precedence.

    That said, I'll probably be picking up a 25x objective, as everything will be much easier at a little lower mag (it's pretty easy to work with at 200x)... then once I have things sorted out, maybe try testing the limitations at 800x again.

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