Hacking a Metallurgical Microscope

[Amen] wanted to inspect ICs on the PCBs for suitability for reuse, so he bought a metallurgical microscope that illuminates from above rather than below, since it normally looks at opaque things. It has a working distance of 0.5 and 10mm, which isn’t a lot of room to solder.

The microscope didn’t come with a slide tray, so [amen] found a cheap one on eBay. Needing a connector block, he melted down some food trays into an ingot, which he then milled down into a block shape, drilled, and used to attach the slide tray to the microscope.

The thing came with a manual XY table, which the operator adjusts by turning knobs. It’s fine for most basic applications but it’s also a pain for more complicated projects, like tiling together a huge photo of a die. [amen]’s currently working on a powered XY based on a DVD drive’s stepper assemblies.

If you’re looking for more microscope projects, read up on the hacked inspection microscope and a Pi Zero ‘scope we previously published.

Fitting a CNC machine, 3D printer, and vinyl cutter in a suitcase

Maker Faire NY is awash with new and interesting computer controlled tools, but the most unusual so far appears to be Popfab, a combination router, 3D printer, and vinyl cutter able to collapse down into a suitcase.

Popfab is the brainchild of [Nadya Peek] and [Ilan Moyer] of the MIT CADLAB. With interchangeable heads for routing PCBs, 3D printing, and vinyl cutting. A conventional machine of this capabilities would have motors all over the place, but [Ilan] used a CoreXY system to make the stepper motors stationary relative to the frame of the machine.

The electronics are standard Printrboard and Pronterface fare, but it’s still a remarkable build that also fits into a suitcase.

Pictures of the machine, the XY system (good luck wrapping your head around that, but I can tell you it relies on the differential movement of the two motors) and the lovely [Nadya] holding up the plastic extrusion head. We’ll get a video up tomorrow. after the break

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