All in the Detail – Shekar Android USB Microscope

What do you get someone who loves to collect records and/or restore vintage stereo gear?

Today for my birthday my wife Carol Ann presented me with a box of birthday treats and a couple of nice presents. Among these was a Shekar Android USB Microscope, which I’d looked at a while back and saved to my “Wish List” in Amazon. I’d quite forgotten that it was there, so it was a genuine surprise to receive it as a gift.

USB microscope
USB Microscope on stand

Installation is extremely straightforward, whether using the device with a smartphone, PC or Mac, all of which are provided for with the adapter plugs packed with the microscope.

The USB plug is unusual in that it works both with standard PC/Mac USB sockets and also, by a neat foldaway section (pictured below), with a smaller mini-plug that was a good fit for my Samsung phone.

USB and mini USB plug
USB and mini USB plug with foldaway adapter

The microscope is supplied with a mini installation disc, but there is also an app, which is what you need to operate the device, either to take still images or videos. The app is available to download through the usual play store under Teslong Camera. It installed quickly and without difficulty and so far, after several hours of use, has only crashed once. The download option will obviously appeal to smartphone and tablet/air users who don’t have access to a CD ROM drive.

Putting it to the Test

After installing the software, I put the microscope on its stand and set it up to check the condition of my JICO SAS Shure V15-III stylus. What you see here is a very dirty stylus! I was surprised, because I keep my records well cleaned.

dirty stylus - before
Magnified stylus before cleaning

 

Here is the stylus after cleaning it with my stylus cleaner.

Magnified Stylus after cleaning

 

The microscope comes with adjustable illumination levels. It’s really easy to dial the light levels up, down or off completely. I found that this is important when inspecting a stylus, because too high a light level washes out detail. The software asks for access to different areas of your smartphone, such as storage (for its images) and microphone (optional, for its video recording).

Ways to Use the Shekar Android USB Microscope

I can think of many ways I’ll be using this microscope. Not only will it provide an easy check on my styli, but will also make it easy to photograph or enlarge matrix numbers on vinyl records.

It will be useful for inspecting damaged portions of records to determine if they can be repaired. There are some excellent videos on YouTube of how to repair vinyl that skips, but all of them require you to be able to discover where the damage is located with considerable accuracy.

magnified grooves run-in
Magnified grooves run-in

Restoring Vintage Audio Gear

If you repair vintage audio gear, the microscope will be useful for inspecting circuit boards for cracks or dry joints. It will also help you to read identifying marks on small components such as capacitors and transistors.

magnified pinch roller photo
Magnified pinch roller on a TEAC C1 tape deck

The microscope also works as a more conventional camera, so that it is handy for inspecting inside cabinets and for making hard to reach areas visible. This is when its lighting system becomes extremely useful. You can probably think of other ways for using the device. Please note the manufacturers warn against using this as a medical device!

magnified tape head
Magnified tape head on TEAC C1 cassette deck

I can image this being handy for people who hook up car stereos or need to see behind dashboards or into dark areas of an engine bay. There really are a lot of uses beyond those I have mentioned already.

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Featured Items

Amazon US

Zerodust Stylus Cleaner

Shekar Android USB Microscope for Smartphone PC and Tablet in HD

JICO SAS Shure V15-III stylus

Amazon UK

Zerodust Stylus Cleaner

Shekar Android USB Microscope for Smartphone PC and Tablet in HD

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All in the Detail: USB Microscope
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