Inexpensive Microsoft Lifecam Studio Electronics Microscope

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About: Maker, Engineer, Geek Girl.

So, I'm a geek girl who lies to tinker with electronics, but I'm also a cheapskate, and my vision isn't the best. Add the fact that SMT soldering is a really hard without magnification, and I decided to buy one of those crappy 14$ USB microscopes on ebay, and it was kinda disappointing. The lens mechanism and focal distance was pretty nice, but the sensor is only 640 by 480 and has really poor light characteristics.

I also however have an old lifecam studio that picked up on sale a while back, and I never use it. I looked around online to see if the lifecam had been converted to a microscope, and it has! There is a kit out there you can buy, but the lens cost $50!!! And its only fixed focal distance! Jeez, what a rip off. After taking apart the crappy microscope, I noticed that it would be possible to Frankenstein the two together and create the exact thing that is being sold, a fixed focal distance microscope that gives you plenty of room to get soldering tools under, and has a full HD picture with excellent response time!

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Step 1: Making It Work

I first disassembled the crappy usb microscope, and removed the lens. The lens is held in a brass tube that is mounted in a plastic base. I removed the plastic base from the brass, and 3d modeled and printed a new base for it that would adapt it to fit in the body of the lifecam with the original lens removed. You can get the 3d models on thingiverse here or download the files below.

Step 2: Adapting the Lifecam

After the new lens was installed with its adapter, I wanted to mount the camera to the original base. I 3d modeled an adapter that would hold the camera body.

Step 3: Other Mods

You could also install the original light ring inside the lifecam, it fits perfectly! I however have external light sources that I use.

Step 4: Before and After

The first image is a spider from the 14$ USB microscope, but the subsequent images and video is from the lifecam. The lifecam has excellent color reproduction with nice defined edges and a fast update rate.

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    2 Discussions

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    ChandraH9

    Question 5 months ago on Introduction

    what is the distance between webcam lens and the brass lens (after the original lens taken off)? and what is your original lens look like? because after i 3d printed your base it wouldnt fit properly in the lifecam (the blue led light from the lifecam interfere the view)

    FullSizeRender.jpg
    1 answer
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    SpecturaLabsChandraH9

    Answer 5 months ago

    i just pressed the brass insert so it sat flush with the side of the print that would face the sensor, my original lifecam lens looked the same as yours, also the light is on the top of the camera right? i didnt have any issues with that.