With the lighting situation fixed, I turned to improving the current setup. The optics worked just fine, but I wanted to be able to take pictures of what I was seeing, and while I’m doing that, why not just turn it into a digital microscope and not even bother straining your eyes looking through the eyepiece. I had a high quality webcam lying around and liked that it has some of the best light-correction I have seen on a webcam. But as anyone who has ever tried to line up a camera with a lens before can tell you, even the slightest misalignment produces blurred, unusable pictures. So I designed and and printed an adapter to solve this issue.
Step 1: Items I Used
-partially functioning microscope
-old coin cell battery holder from electric candle
-3.3 V coin cell battery
-3.3V White 5mm LED
-SPST Push-on Push-off button
-3D printed camera to eyepiece adapter
-Microsoft 1080p lifecam
-6 M3 15mm screws
-6 M3 washers
-6 small springs
Step 2: Removing the Offending Lighting Structures
Step 3: Finding a Light
I bent the LED leads at 90 degrees so that the LED would point directly up through towards the slide holder and into the objective. As you can see I left the rest of the housing intact as it contained a reflector behind the LED and would fit nicely into the light bulb spot without any other modifications.
Step 4: Installing an ON/OFF Button
Step 5: 3D Printing Time!
You can find the settings for slicing, the .stl and .skp files here.
Obviously the internal sizes of the adapter will depend on the microscope and camera you use, but hopefully the design is simple enough that if you cannot edit the .skp to meet your needs, than re-drawing it won't be too cumbersome. It only took me a few tries to come up with this one, and I was going for simplicity.
After it is printed out, just drop the M3 nuts into the nut-traps and thread the springs and washers. Then Screw! I made the internal portion that fits over the eye piece tapered so it would fit snugly on when pressed in. The design works well with this microscope because the eyepiece has a rubber coating on the outside which the adapter grips well.
I started by placing the camera flat on the desk facing upward. Removing the eyepiece from the microscope means I will be able to center the viewable area before I do the initial tightening of the screws. Then just tighten them one by one until the fit is snug and the picture looks like the one in the picture where the "circle" of light is more or less centered and the edges of it are relatively crisp. If the edges are blurry then its not correctly aligned and won't be able to get the whole field of view in focus. Also, there is no way that I have found to get rid of the black edges around the circle. The viewable part of a microscope is round, and thus will always be round when you take a picture of it. It just looks funny because we are used to viewing things on a screen that is rectangular, but square optics are hard to make... If it bothers you, you can decrease the amount of space the black edges take up by using the digital zoom on the camera, or find a round screen.
Step 7: And Now We Have a Functioning Digital Microscope
Step 8: Fixing Light Artifact
Step 9: Fruit Fly
With these larger samples on a light microscope like this, I have to light them from the top as well as the bottom. Also, the plane of focus on this microscope is narrow enough that you'll notice that these bugs are not entirely within focus; just "slices" of them can be in focus at any one time.
Step 10: Ant
Step 11: Surprise... Maggots!
However, the super-satisfying electric snap that kills the fly, did nothing, as I was soon to find out, to it's belly full of progeny who were ready and waiting to be deposited on a nice piece of poo somewhere.
When I positioned the fly on the microscope, I noticed that it had begun to move, but not in a way that the fly, as an organism, would normally move. Rather something was moving it from the inside. What ensued for the next few minutes was the microscopic equivalent of the Aliens movie. Around 20 brand new larvae emerged from the fly's dead body. It was amazing, it was grotesque, it was biology in action. Since the fly's body had ceased to function, the stress placed on the larvae inside caused them to force their way out of their mother into the surrounding environment in search of food and a nice place to grow before morphing into an obnoxious, winged annoyance. Unfortunately for them, when they made it out of mom, all they found was the glass of my microscope slide.
Step 12: Now for Some Cell Biology
The 100X objective is technically an oil immersion objective, but lacking any immersion oil, I used water instead, which has a decent index of refraction, but just doesn't work as well as the oil. So the "1000X" label in the pictures is only ~1000X.
Step 13: Where to Take It From Here...
Some of these things are:
-Different colored lights or filters.
-UV light, assuming I have something labeled that will fluoresce when hit with UV.
-Software that will allow me to take full 1080p pictures and video. The stock software that microsoft ships with this camera will not support the full potential of the sensor (only 720p), but they also won't tell you what software does... much to my irritation.
-proper oil immersion
-of course, my slide preparations leave a lot to be desired, but a home lab with basically no reagents does not give me many options.
When I am able to make upgrades or get some particularly interesting images I will update this instructable. As always I welcome your comments and criticisms, as well as any corrections you might find. I entered this instructable in the "Build my Lab" contest. If you like what you see, please vote! Thanks for reading!