Some of biology’s most visually striking images come from fluorescence microscopes. Their brilliant colors on black look like a neon sign from an empty highway. A brand new fluorescence microscope is beyond a hacker’s budget and even beyond some labs’, but there are ways to upgrade an entry-level scope for the cost of a few cups of coffee. [Justin Atkin] of The Thought Emporium published a scope hacking video which can also be seen below. He is becoming a reputed scope modder.
This video assumes a couple of things for the $10 price tag. The first premise is that you already have a scope, a camera adapter, and a camera capable of shooting long exposures. The second premise is that you are willing to break the seals and open the scope to make some reversible mods. Since you are reading Hackaday, maybe that is a given.
The premise is simple compared to the build, which is not rocket surgery, the light source from below illuminates the subject like a raver, and the filter removes any light that isn’t spectacular before it gets to the camera.
The material list is short but exotic. In the video, the dichroic mirror is referred to as “black magic,” and is not something we see in the wild too often. Laser pointers abound but 405 nm, aka purple, is less common than its red 650 nm brethren. While you are shopping, pick up a fluorescent orange piece of plastic to shield your eyes from errant light rays. If you have been following [Justin]’s lab equipment hacks, you may already have a laser pointer from his spectrometer project which has been reused due to the narrow band of light since ordinary purple LEDs result in a lot of light bleeding.
We are not crudely bombarding the subject with lots of white light so we come back to the camera which must be able to perform long exposures to collect enough photons. You can overdrive the laser for shorter exposures, but you will be replacing the diode before long, and it will get hot. When done with care, your entry-level scope will show you some gorgeous imagery.