Along with some of my mother’s tool collection, I inherited her complaint that as she got older her arms were getting too short to read things. Even if I wanted to just crank up the type size, there’s a limit to how far I can move my monitor back on my desk. And for things that are already printed tiny, like circuit-board silkscreens and etched chip labels, reading glasses and bifocals can only do so much.
For soldering I have a pair of clip-on magnifiers, but elsewhere I would have to always be carrying around a loupe or a magnifier. Except that I’m already always carrying around something that will do the trick. Sure, my phone camera sometimes has quirks focusing on dimly-lit nearby items, but it’s good enough for what I need.
For example, this afternoon I was trying to remember the pinout of a sonar sensor that’s already built into a project I’m working on. Try as I might, I couldn’t scrunch my face close enough to read the legend. So I took a picture. It’s blurred and noisy, but it’s good enough to read, even without one of those stick-on macro or microscope lenses.
I’m even wondering whether a video setup might not be better than my magnifying clip-ons. A quick phone-holder on a flexible arm gave me one chip taking up almost the entire screen, and a soldering-iron tip that looked as big as a cold chisel. Then again, fumes and heat and a nice coating of lead vapor on something I hold to my face all day — maybe not.