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Super Magnifier for Blind Engineer

$595 of $575 goal

Raised by 8 people in 4 months
My status is "legally blind" - which means I have poor vision.  It is very difficult for me to work on electronics projects, which I love to do.  What I need is a high-technology magnification system that allows a hands-free work space for installing components in a prototyping board, or soldering a printed circuit board.  Today, this is extremely difficult, and I have stopped doing electronics development, even though I am teaching others, and working on several projects with local groups.

I spent many hours searching the web for a solution.  I looked at digital cameras, lenses, microscopes, C-mount cameras, camera heads, stands, monitors, power supplies, lights, and probably about 30 different configurations to try to meet my goal.

My original goal was a camera mounted at 30 cm (about a foot) above my work area, and an iPad-sized monitor on a floor stand that did not get in my way (not a stand on the workbench).  My first shot after a week of studying was very expensive - my original goal was $3200!

MASSIVE UPDATE!

I got an email from a Chinese reseller that included an ad for a microscope which claimed many things - many of which were bogus.  I found them on Amazon, with similar bogus claims.  How did I know the claims were bogus?  By asking them questions...  Funny how specs changed after I asked...  Most of them were claiming optical zoom, when in fact is was "positional" zoom, i.e., zooming by moving closer.  Most worked from 4 cm to 15 cm.  Close, but no banana.  In addition, they came with small stands so there was not a lot of work area.

One claimed it worked from 5 cm to 500 cm - that would have been perfect.  Funny how it looked EXACTLY THE SAME as the 4 cm to 15 cm units...  And it was.  The same, that is.

I also looked at C-Mount cameras from Panasonic.  They were very interesting, but finding the right lens was a big issue.  Not to mention finding a reasonably priced HDMI monitor.  I finally did find a 12" unit that was fairly low priced.

FInally, I discovered the "almost perfect unit"  - large stand, works to 20 cm (about 8 inches), and has an 8x - 100x magnification.  The stand is actually high enough to operate easily at 20 cm!

So, this means a DRASTIC REDUCTION of the amount of cash needed!  Add in the small HDMI display and the stand, and it can all be had for about $573!  That is an 82% drop in cost!

Wow!  I can't tell you how pleased I am to have FINALLY found a reasonable solution!  I had many questions for various retailers, which exposed the false information in their ads, and forced me to keep looking.  And junk mail - even from Chinese resellers - can sometimes be very useful!

Thank all of you that have already provided $300.  I now only need an additional $273 to complete the magnifier!

You can see more photos of how I have to work now, and a simulation of how this magnifier would change how I work by reading my blog and looking at the photos in it::

http://2live4.com/blog/2017/12/23/now-you-can-see-why-i-have-a-gofundme-campaign/
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Wow! Thank you, everyone for making this a reality for me! I will post an update on my blog showing you the full installation in s week or so! Go to www.2libe4.com and click on “Through My Lens” to get to my blog! And Merry Christmas and Happy New Yeay to all!
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I blogged on this so you could see photos of how I have to work now, and a simulation of how this magnifier would change my working situation.

http://2live4.com/blog/2017/12/23/now-you-can-see-why-i-have-a-gofundme-campaign/
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As the picture shows, I have discovered a solution that is much more inexpensive than my original proposal (82% less expensive!!). Read my revised Story. This solution will enable me to build electronics at my workbench, such as Arduino projects, PCB's (both assembly of and repair of).
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Here is a question I received on Facebook:

What if you adapted a VR headset to do all that via app? I’ve been thinking of the benefits of an LCD windshield. (No blinding headlights, enhanced night vision, no blinding sun)

Here is my answer:

Don Frame, excellent question. I considered that approach very carefully. At high magnification, keeping my head still enough would be a problem. Like trying to take a photo with a long lens without a tripod. And, no peripheral vision at all (even though I don’t have much of that, I can still see some around me). Finally, having a camera of sufficient zoom with near field focus on an already heavy VR headset (it has my iPhone 6 Plus in it!), it’s a lot of weight to deal with.

Imagine yourself trying to solder, for example. You zoom out to wide angle (with a foot pedal - so you have hands free). You grab your soldering iron and solder, begin to zoom in as you position the iron over the area you are working, zooming in farther until you are close enough to see what you are doing. NOTE: this is MUCH CLOSER than you have to be, for me. Now, this could work except for the weight and stability issue, if I could find the camera I could “hack” to do the zoom function. Nope. Not without creating a full app for the iPhone, and becoming a Sony developer for their Q series lenses... Way too hard. Just learning Swift and IOS 11 would take many months.

The solution I came up with allows me to use an Arduino to interface between a foot pedal and a servo motor that mechanically operates the zoom function on a lens.

I could only find 1 lens (by Sigma, a 28-300 zoom macro) that will focus close enough at the tele end. I wanted to use one of the “super zoom” cameras but at the tele zoom, they all focus at 12-15 feet. The Sony Q series (QX10 I think) may focus at 16” if I recall, and it does display on the iPhone or iPad, but controlling the zoom (which IS motorized) requires a lot of heavy duty software development.

If I were to turn this into a product, I might very well use that approach, by hiring a software development company to do the software part for me...
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Read a Previous Update

$595 of $575 goal

Raised by 8 people in 4 months
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RS
$20
Russ Spriggs
3 months ago
KA
$55
Kathy Anderson
3 months ago
DR
$200
David and Jane Rice
3 months ago
DO
$20
David OKeefe
3 months ago
DJ
$180
Douglas Jackson
4 months ago
FK
$50
Frederick Knudsen
4 months ago
JV
$50
James Venable
4 months ago
RS
$20
Roz Kevin Schubert
4 months ago
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