5x Loupe

Loupe 5x

The components on PCBs only seem to get smaller and smaller. I frequently need to put the oscilloscope probe on a fine pitch QFPN pin, or on a tiny 402 resistor. My eyes aren’t what they used to be. Its handy to have a lightweight glass lens magnifier, within easy reach, lurking around your desk. I use the 5x Bausch & Lomb Watchmaker Loupe. It retails at $9 from Amazon. Its probably no better than any other loupe, I just happen to have used it.

Not bad, I have a couple of these around the lab and often throw one in my bag when I’m travelling.

They’re no substitute for a decent bench microscope, but the first time you use a loupe you’ll wonder how you ever got by without on.

Saleae Logic8

While debugging a recent USB TV Tuner, I needed to see the I2C traffic from the USB host controller (Conexant CX231xx) to the Silicon Labs DVB-T/T2/C SI2168 demodulator. I tacked down a couple of trace wires for I2C and ground then used a logic analyzer to collect and analyze the I2C messages.

A couple of years ago I picked up an inexpensive 8 channel logic analyzer from at $150. I’m always on the lookout for inexpensive tools.

I use this device pretty much weekly so its the first item I’d recommend on any kit list.

Sadly, the product is no longer made. Looking at the site today they have a couple of newer models in the $100-$200 range (Logic4 and Logic8). If I was to buy again I’d go for the Logic8… but if cash was tight and I only needed to debug I2C then the Logic 4 would likely do a good job.