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Magnifier for tools with small dial

Gard

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 18, 2016
The old lathes and shaper have compound or cross feed dials between 1 and 1.5 inch diameter. These old eyes struggle with the fine marks. I know it is possible to retrofit larger dials in some cases. I have used dial indicators sometimes. Attaching DROs would be great but kind of expensive. Are there any kind of magnifiers that would be especially well suited? I have seen some old surveying and drafting equipment that has a built in magnifier. Not sure if there is anything like that which would work on the curved surface. I think a 2X or 3X magnifier would make my 1.5" dial look like a 3 or 4.5" dial. I am looking for something that would be hands free and nice if its lighted. I see some 2x4" magnifiers on line, I could come up with a mount over the dial. Any other suggestions of what has worked well?
 
I find progressive (no line) bifocal glasses with +3 strength to be convenient and useful for all normal purposes, including machine dial reading. I only resort to the microscope to read numbers on small taps and drill bits. I have my glasses made with safety frames and lenses, a prudent thing for people running machine tools. The upper portion of my lenses have zero and very slight (-.5) correction, meaning I do not need glasses except for near things like reading books and dials, a typical issue that goes with advanced age.

I have many choices of magnifiers and microscopes here and my glasses work so well that I very seldom need anything stronger. I have worn safety glasses most of my waking life, so I do not mind them.

Larry
 
I have happily used the Optivisor brand magnifier for years. There was another thread that recommended the Grobet magnifier, which came with a set of lenses and built in illumination, but I usually just grab the Optivisor. I just toss it on, do a quick bit of work and take it off. I think the Grobet might be better if you are planning to work under it for a long time, as it comes with a two way headband and a number of magnifier plates.
 
One thought,the Mitutoyos 187 - 906 bevel protractors 1708811888469.jpeg have a included magnifying lens for reading the vernier scale. It should be available as a separate part that could be easily added above your dials. No idea about price, but it would be another option.
 
I have about three of these as well as another visor that is somewhat better quality. All of them allow three different magnifications:

The main lenses
Flip down lenses (inside where it's not visible in the photo)
The extra lens that rotates over your right eye.

On top of that, I have a variety of magnifiers in various places. I have four in my pants pocket: three Hastings triplets (king of the magnifiers) and a plastic combo flashlight and magnifier.

In the shop I keep magnifiers at each work location. I have purchased inexpensive, but good quality ones from Surplus Shed. Their stock varies so you can look more than once.


I mentioned the Hastings triplet. It is a classic design that consists of three glass elements cemented together. It is highly corrected so you don't have color fringes or bent lines or most other optical defects AND it is symmetrical so there is no difference if you look through either end. They come in a wide variety of powers from 3X up to 15X or perhaps even 20X. Mine are 7X, 10X, and 15X.

What to look out for?

Power! But don't just get the highest power. Power vs distance to the object AND power vs field of view are BOTH classic, INVERSE relationships. The stronger the power, the closer you must be to the object and the smaller the field of view. So, for most tasks, you want only enough power to see what you are looking for and not much more. A good starting point may be around 3X to 6X. There are many 5X magnifiers available.

The other factor that can be an advantage is extended distance to the object being viewed. I said above that this is a trade-off with power, but there are more advanced optical designs where they can increase that distance while keeping the power they want. I have a couple of magnifiers like that. I am not sure, but I think this is an example of such a magnifier:



these cheap chinese headband magnifiers have very good plastic optics with a long focal length
View attachment 430307
 
I mostly use the 1.5x, I just flip it down over my glasses when needed. Never even put batteries in the light, but that could be handy.
 
I have these at the shop currently, because they have different magnifications, and a strap instead of arms so I can wear large ear pro.
magnifiers
 
Ever think of cataract surgery? Awesome results for half blind old farts. Hate driving at night? Scared and will not drive at night in the rain? Yeah, time to do it.
Right eye in November, Left eye Jan 3. Depth perception has returned!
 
Ever think of cataract surgery? Awesome results for half blind old farts. Hate driving at night? Scared and will not drive at night in the rain? Yeah, time to do it.
Right eye in November, Left eye Jan 3. Depth perception has returned!
Haha, my old ass night driving in the rain, yeah bad news.
I did a little LSD back in my youth, now if I night drive in snow storms I get good ole flash backs.
ie. I get the ability to change perspective, So instead of going down the freeway at 75mph and driving through the snow.
my brain swaps the perspective, and it seems I am holding still, and the snow is coming at me at 75mph. NO BUENO!:eek:
 
Lots of good ideas, My Doctor said I was not a good candidate for surgery, The triplex handheld magnifiers are great and I do use it for this sometimes. The headband one I have is higher power and I cannot use it unless I am close and then I cannot see what I am cutting on the lathe. I already have varalux lense just to see normally, I guess I could see about getting a different prescriptions. I like the idea of the bevel spare part. My cell phone does not have a magnifier and 2 apps that I downloaded suck.
So still looking
 
Lots of good ideas, My Doctor said I was not a good candidate for surgery, The triplex handheld magnifiers are great and I do use it for this sometimes. The headband one I have is higher power and I cannot use it unless I am close and then I cannot see what I am cutting on the lathe. I already have varalux lense just to see normally, I guess I could see about getting a different prescriptions. I like the idea of the bevel spare part. My cell phone does not have a magnifier and 2 apps that I downloaded suck.
So still looking
for higher mag and longer working distance go with a surgical type. This type is 3.5x with 420mm working distance s-l1600.jpg
 
you do have to learn to move your hands slower whey using magnification close to operating machinery
 
These showed up in my feed a couple weeks back , I can't say anything bout the, either way . Given any thought to making some larger dials for yer machines ? Something that ya can slip over the existing ones & tighten with a set screw .
animal
 
The mangnifiers with a ring light used in pcb work on a arm so you can move it around when needed.
 
The magnifier with a ring light seems like a good idea, the one I have with a long adjustable arm is kind of a pain to get it to stay exactly where it is needed, perhaps I should mount it to a Noga style indicator holder.

I am not as sure about something I wear on my head. I wear glasses so I think the surgical style one would need a prescription (like my dentist has), very pricy. I agree it seems a little sketchy wearing something on my head that limits my vision when working around rotating parts, perhaps if it had a longer focal distance it would feel safer. My optivisor is 12" focal length, I may pick up something about 24".

Yes I have thought about making a slip over larger dial and even bought a "milling machine dial". There are lots out there for a reasonable price with 100 or 200 graduations, unfortunately my south bend 14 1/2 lathe has 125 graduations so less choices. I have also thought about DRO.
I have ordered a replacement lense, KBC Tools - 8-570-255 - Magnifier For Universal Bevel Protractor. I will see how it works on the curved dial. I am a little skeptical if I will be able to see enough of the dial in focus. It was only $7 but $25 minimum order and $20 shipping.
 
I have happily used the Optivisor brand magnifier for years. There was another thread that recommended the Grobet magnifier, which came with a set of lenses and built in illumination, but I usually just grab the Optivisor. I just toss it on, do a quick bit of work and take it off. I think the Grobet might be better if you are planning to work under it for a long time, as it comes with a two way headband and a number of magnifier plates.
I have and often use the Optivisor. But I just looked the Grobet headband magnifier, and it's only $35 new.

Grobet Headband Magnifier
 








 
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