Printed Upgrades Improve Cheap Digital Microscope

Digital microscopes used to be something that only labs or universities might have, but as image sensor technology has progressed, the prices have fallen to the point that any classroom or hobbyist can easily obtain a usable device. The only problem is that a lot of features and quality have been lost to make some of these digital microscopes more affordable. In an effort to add some of these creature comforts back into more inexpensive devices, [Marb’s lab] has created a special carriage for one of these microscopes.

The first addition to the microscope is improved lighting. To accomplish this, three LEDs were built into custom housings and wired to a purpose-built LED driver board coupled with a voltage regulator. Two of the LED housings were attached to the end of adjustable arms, allowing them to be pointed in whichever direction is needed. The third is situated directly below the microscope underneath the stage. These are all mounted to a large, sturdy PVC base which also holds an adjustable carriage for the microscope itself. This allows much more fine-tuning of the distance between the sample and the microscope than it otherwise would have had.

For just a few dollars and a little bit of effort, the usability of a device like this is greatly improved. If you want to take the opposite approach and really go all-out for your microscope, though, take a look at these microscopes used for PCB circuit construction and troubleshooting or even this electron microscope for viewing things at a much higher magnification than any optical system would allow.

7 thoughts on “Printed Upgrades Improve Cheap Digital Microscope

  1. It is a well done build but would be a lot more interesting if it had links to where he got all the pieces used. Also, a schematic for his LED controller would be nice. As is, it’s just a show-n-tell thing.

    And, FWIW, didn’t see a lot 3DP parts. (Not that it’s bad, just an odd title for the project.)

  2. This looks like a big step up and a great way to make these little things more usable!

    If you want to go further optics-wise while still being DIY, and you already have a camera, then the critical part of a real microscope is the objective lens. The best ones are pricey, but even the cheapest possible ones can be surprisingly decent. And by using infinity-corrected objectives, you can put various things in the light path just like the real ones do.

    You can very cheaply adapt those objectives to mount in front of various cheap lenses on cameras. 10x or so gives you enough magnification that your camera pixels may be a similar size to the theoretical best resolution possible with said objectives. Allan Walls is a photographer who’s got very detailed information about this; I’ve done a very low budget version though as an example. I’m not certain by any stretch what my resolving power is with the $13 objective. However, if the thinnest line I can see in the image calculates out as a few micrometers across, then that’s probably not a terrible reference point.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.