Cool Tools: Dino-Lite AM4113T USB Digital Microscope

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The Dino-Lite Pro AM4113T 1.3MP Handheld Digital Microscope is a surprisingly handy tool for inspecting all sorts of fine details at home and on the road. The small size and light weight are ideal for travel. I keep this microscope along with several other tools in my “go box” of electronics supplies for overseas travel.

Dino-Lite offers a wide variety of digital microscopes with a similar basic design to the AM4113T but varying resolution and other features.  This particular model is not cheap ($399), but the extra resolution and features of the “Premier” series scopes are handy.  If you don’t need these features, there are several lower cost options available, including the lower resolution AM311S (which I have not used myself but gets generally positive reviews).

Here’s a sample image from the AM4113T (converted to jpg but otherwise unmodified):

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The included Dino Capture software is surprisingly usable and allows you to take instant snapshots and videos and make a number of measurements and annotations directly within the tool (only supported on the more expensive Premier series).  This is super handy for field work.  For example, here’s a measurement of the angle of a USB connector relative to a PCB edge.

Capture

 

The USB 2.0 interface is fast and responsive which makes the critically important live preview (there is no viewfinder) a pleasure to use. There is a handy touch-activated sensor on the side of the scope for quick snapshots. (Pro-tip: mark which direction is “up” with a sharpie or you’ll get dizzy trying to orient the cylindrical scope every time you use it.)

Compared to more inexpensive USB microscopes, like the Andonstar OT-V1, the Dino-Lite offers significantly better image quality, one touch snapshots, a better focus mechanism, and better, more uniform illumination.

One disappointment is the very obvious rolling shutter, which is particularly annoying when the microscope is being used to make measurements without a stand. At this price point, I would have expected a sensor with a global shutter. Despite this limitation, the Dino-Lite AM4113T is still a very useful tool and has already helped me make some critical measurements in the field.

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