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.
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.