Raspberry Pi Cameras Stand In For Stereo Microscope

Handling tiny surface mount components and inspecting PCBs is a lot easier with a nice stereo microscope, but because of their cost and bulk, most hobbyists have to do without. At best they might have a basic digital microscope, but with only one camera, they can only show a 2D image that’s not ideal for detail work.

The team behind [Stereo Ninja] hopes to improve on the situation by developing a stereoscopic vision system that puts tiny objects up on the big screen in three dimensions. Utilizing the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, a custom carrier board that enables the use of both MIPI CSI camera interfaces, and a 3D gaming monitor, their creation combines the capabilities of a traditional stereo microscope with the flexibility of a digital solution.

With two Raspberry Pi cameras suspended over the work area, and the addition of plenty of LED light, Stereo Ninja is able to generate the 3D image required by the monitor. While the camera’s don’t have the same magnification you’d get from a microscope, they’re good enough for enlarging SMD parts, and looking at a big screen monitor certainly beats hunching over the eyepiece of a traditional microscope. Especially if you’re trying to show something to a group of people, like at a hackerspace.

Of course, not everyone has a large 3D gaming monitor on their workbench. In fact, given how poorly the tech went over with consumers the last time it was pushed on us, we’d wager more hackers have stereo microscopes than 3D displays. Which is why the team’s next step is to have the Raspberry Pi generate the signals required by the shutter glasses, allowing Stereo Ninja to show a three dimensional image on 2D monitors; bringing this valuable capability to far larger audience than has previously been possible.

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Camera Adapter For A Microscope

camera-adapter-for-stereo-microscope

[Steve] really has a nice microscope setup in his lab now that he built a video camera adapter for his stereo microscope. The image above shows the magnified view of the circuit board on the LCD screen behind it. This lets him work without needing to be in position to look through the eye pieces. The hack is a perfect complement to the custom stand he fabricated for the scope.

The camera attachment can be seen attached to the right lens of the scope. It’s an old security camera which he already had on hand. The stock lens wasn’t going to bring the picture into focus, but he had some different optics on hand and one of them fit the bill perfectly. The rest of the project involves fabricating the adapter ring on his lathe. It slips perfectly over the eyepiece and even allows him a bit of adjustment to get the focal length right. The best view of this is shown off in the video after the break.

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The Perils Of Buying A Stereo Microscope Without A Stand

scope

[Steve] has wanted a stereo microscope in his lab for years now. Since his eyesight is becoming progressively worse, he figured it was time to look around on ebay and see what he could dig up. He ended up buying a very cheap microscope without a stand, figuring he could build one rather easily. Well, the articulated stand was rather easy to put together, but it did take a whole lot of time to build.

The main goal of [Steve]’s project was to have his microscope at the end of an articulated arm. With this setup, he could easily tuck the ‘scope against the back of his workbench when not in use and easily bring it out when necessary. This meant building a custom arm, though, and in the building process [Steve] used just about every machine tool he had at his disposal.

The end result is a fully articulated arm that can be moved to just about any point on his workbench and adjusted up and down for those really weird project. [Steve] says this may be a great introduction to home powder coating, and he really should build a small LED light source, but we’re loving the project so far.

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Build A Stereo Microscope From Binoculars And A Camera Lens

Here’s an oldie but a goodie. [RunnerPack] stumbled upon an article from 2001 about building a stereo microscope¬†from a pair of binoculars and a camera lens. With a ring light attached to the end of the camera lens, we couldn’t think of a better microscope for SMD work.

To mount the binoculars to the camera lens, [Giorgio Carboni] made a very nice adapter containing four prisms. These prisms are very carefully aligned and glued down with a little bit of epoxy. By using an 8×30 pair of binoculars and a 35-100 mm camera lens, [Giorgio] was able to get a magnification factor of 10-57x. With a macro lens this factor can be increased (a 28mm lens bumps it up to 71x, but a lot more light is needed).

The pedestal is just a few ground rods and ground steel rods, something that requires a bit of machining. Since 2001, though, a lot of tinkerers have 3D printers so it could be possible to build a more easily manufactured version of the focusing apparatus.

[RunnerPack] had a pair of binoculars and a camera lens handy and tried a mono version of this build. He says he was blown away, but unfortunately didn’t provide any pictures. If you decide to build this project, be sure to snap a few pics and send it in on the tip line.