Need to take a microscope outside? We tried and liked this USB scope from Adafruit, but needed an inverted microscope for a portable project so we laser cut an acrylic table for it. Here are the plans in pdf format. The back and sides are 5 inches across, cut from 1/4 inch thick clear acrylic, the top is 1/16″ (thin so you can still focus 200x on your items) and the nuts and bolts are 6-32 nylon. We had some Mcmaster nylon parts already: 94812A113 (nuts) and 94609A153 (bolts, were a bit long but easy to cut to length)
USB Microscope – 2.0 Megapixel / 200x magnification / 8 LEDs. As electronics get smaller and smaller, you’ll need a hand examining PCBs and this little USB microscope is the perfect tool. Its smaller and lighter than a large optical microscope but packs quite a bit of power in its little body. There’s a 2.0 megapixel sensor inside and an optical magnifier that can adjust from 20x (for basic PCB inspection) to 200x (for detailed inspection). Eight white LEDs are angled right onto whatever you’re examining so you get enough lighting to see, and are smoothly adjustable via a dial on the side.
If you plug this into any computer, it just shows up as a standard USB camera (we used this for our weekly Ask an Engineer show) and the Windows/Mac software lets you take snapshots using the button on the side of the microscope or direct from the software (so you don’t move the camera).
We tried a bunch of different USB microscopes and found this one to be the best combination of optical clarity, usability, and price. It’s perfect for electronics hacking, rework, SMT (de)soldering, inspection, and soon you’ll find yourself pulling it out to look and photograph all sort of cool small stuff around your lab and home.
We took some snaps of this ‘scope while looking at a tiny 0201-populated GPS board at 20x magnification and then at a raw die at 200x .
Package comes with a USB microscope with 4.5ft/140cm long cord, an adjustable metal stand, and CDROM with drivers/software.
- Image Sensor: 2.0 megapixel w/high-speed DSP
- 20x/200x axis micro-lens
- Adjustable focal length, from 5mm-500mm
- Snapshots via software or pressing the button
- Image capture: 2560×2048 (5M Pixel), 2304×1738 (4M Pixel), 1600×1200 (2MPixel), 1280×1024 (1.3MPixel), 1280×960, 1024×768, 800×600, 640×480, 352×288, 320×240, 160×120.
- Video rate of 30f/s at a brightness of 600 lux
- Flicker control for 50Hz/60Hz
- Video format: AVI
- Photo format: JPG or BMP
- 8 white LED light, 40000mLux
- 20x/200x magnification
- USB port powered
- TWAIN compatible
- Software available for Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP/Vista/Win7 & Mac OSX
- Size: 112mm long x 33mm diameter
Comes with driver/software on CDROM. Color may vary. Ladyada personally tested these (and uses these) – so you know it’s good!
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