CNC Plus Microscope Plus Game Controller Equals Awesome

What do you get if you strap a microscope onto a CNC and throw in a gaming controller? The answer, according to Reddit user [AskewedBox] is something kind of awesome: you get a microscope that can be controlled with the game controller for easier tracking of tiny creepy-crawlies.

[ASkewedBox] set up this interesting combination of devices, attaching their Adonostar AD246S microscope to the stage of a no-brand 1610 CNC bought off Amazon, then connected the CNC to a computer running Universal G-Code Sender. This great open source program takes the input from an Xbox game controller and uses it to jog the CNC.

With a bit of tweaking, the game controller can now move the microscope, so it can be used to track microbes and other small creatures as they wander around on the slide mounted below the microscope eating each other. The movement of this is surprisingly smooth: the small CNC and a well-mounted microscope means that there seems to be very little wobble or backlash as the microscope moves.

[Askewedbox] hasn’t finished yet, though: in the latest update, he adds a polarizing lens to the setup and mentions that he wants to add focus control to the system, which is controlled by a remote that comes with the microscope.

There are plenty of other things that could be added beyond that, though, such as auto pan and stitch for larger photos, auto focus stacking and perhaps even auto tracking using OpenCV to track the hideous tiny creatures that live in the microscopic realm. What would you do to make this even cooler?

4 thoughts on “CNC Plus Microscope Plus Game Controller Equals Awesome

  1. Interesting and not hard at all to do. Anyone interested in building one of these, keep an eye open on facebook market place. I see the 3018 CNC machines selling second hand for $100-$200. They make crappy CNC machines but for this purpose, they are fairly good. So, a lot of people buy them, get disappointed and sell them after only a few hours of use.

    1. ASkewedBox here. The CNC I bought is a ‘1610’ model, which cost around $120 on Amazon. This was cheaper for me than buying a used one. I assume they are not as good as a router, but it is rigid enough for my setup since all I need it to do is not vibrate too much and for the vibrations to dampen out quickly. I also chose the smallest frame I could find to help with this. Most used ones are larger, which may or may not be an issue.

  2. Awesome! I didn’t expect to see my post on Hackaday!
    Quick correction: Focus is actually super easy to do with this setup because I can control the z-height very accurately but it is a manual process currently.

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