Like a lot of people that dabble with electronics, there comes a time when you need to work on small components. With my ageing eyes I decided it was time for an upgrade from using a hand magnifying tool when working on small intricate things. I see a lot of instructables that use webcams for such a task, however that would require having my laptop out while working, something which is not always convenient and takes up valuable space. I am one for saving old stuff and realised that I have most of the tools required to build a video camera based microscope, which I would love to call a videoscope, but it seems that term is used heavily for portable inspection cameras.
Step 1: Parts List
You will need;
- Video camera
- Connecting cables
- Mounting arm/frame or tripod.
1. Video camera.
The main requirement is that it should have some form of video out. Most of them will do, for example my camera is from the 90's and records to tape, and still has video out despite its age. It is also handy if the camera has zoom capability and can be powered from the mains. Alternatively some digital photographic cameras also have video out, one of these would work just as well.
Any kind of tv will do so long as it has the correct connection that is required by the video camera. Most of them will have either a SCART or composite input, or maybe an S-Video. My TV has them all, but you can also use a converter say from composite to SCART depending on what you have.
3. Connecting cables
My video camera already came with a composite cable and the TV has composite input so I didn't need anything else. Some video cameras require a special adaptor cable so if you need to buy an old video camera make sure you know the connections otherwise it might be a headache later sourcing a cable.
It is not essential but if you don't want to balance the video camera on boxes or books, then you will need something that will hold the video camera in the desired position. This was my only purchase for the project which I sourced online. It was a cheap microphone boom arm, less than £6 that clamps to a desk. I changed the microphone clip for a camera mounting bracket that I 3D printed.
Step 2: Putting It All Together.
My only assembly on this project was fitting the video camera to the microphone boom arm. For me this was simply swapping out the microphone bracket for a video camera mounting bracket. I made myself a bracket using OnShape and then exported the STL to 3D print it. Here is my bracket in OnShape. I have attached the STL file so you can have a basis to make or convert your own bracket. It is also quite possible to make a bracket from metal angle brackets that you can find in DIY stores.
Connection itself is relatively simple, the video out connection from your video camera will go into your TV input. Mine was a composite connection which most TVs will have.
Just make sure your TV is set on the right input channel, and your video camera is switched on and away you go.
Step 3: Final Thoughts.
This was a simple instructable with the intent to show what can be done with old equipment that might otherwise have been thrown away. My only build was to modify the microphone boom bracket to take a video camera.
For me this video microscope allows me to work better on my electronics projects. I hope you have similar benefits from re purposing your old equipment.