9 reasons why you should get a microscope

 

Whether you’re a biology student, passionate about electronics, or a caring parent, getting a quality microscope is an excellent choice. These devices are becoming more affordable by the day, and they offer superior performance as well as flexibility when it comes to functionality. You can use a microscope for various purposes, with some of the most popular mentioned below.

Study plants and animals

Regardless if you’re a biology student or studying animal and plant life is just a hobby, getting a microscope can allow you to observe countless species as well as biologic processes in high detail. Many microscopes come with multiple optical combinations to give you the magnifying power you need.

You can either examine full-sized specimens of tiny insects, worms, or other tiny creatures, or prepare microscope slides and study plant cell walls, animal tissues, protozoa, and many more. Many models come with multiple objective lenses, and you can also swap eyepieces for a better view, depending on the desired magnification and specific needs.

 

Examine rocks, minerals, and other materials

A microscope isn’t just good for studying lifeforms, but also inorganic objects such as mineral composites, rocks, plastics, and other materials. You can use such a device to study rock composition or crystal formation, as well as observe in high resolution the structures and behaviors of many different types of materials both natural and manmade.

 

Ensure a precise dissection of specimens

If you need to perform dissections on various specimens of vertebrates and invertebrates, then you can get one of the quality low-magnification models so that you get to see the morphological features in detail while also being able to perform the operation with ease.

There are quite a few types of optical devices to choose from so you should probably check some dissecting microscope comparison articles to make sure that you get the one that’s best suited for the kind of work you need to do.

 

Get help with SMD soldering

You can also use a microscope if you’re passionate about electronics and need to solder various SMDs to circuit boards. With one of these devices, you could easily mount capacitors, microchips, resistors, and other SMDs and get the close-up view you need for precise operations so you can build or repair even complex PCBs.

While many such units can have prohibitive prices, you should be glad to learn that you could also find a new microscope for SMD soldering that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You can choose a USB microscope that connects to your computer or laptop via a USB and cable so that you can watch what you’re doing on the screen.

These models are relatively inexpensive and can provide you with an easy way to work with tiny components and ensure an accurate and clean work.

 

Help your child become interested in science

If you have children, then offering them a microscope is the perfect gift which could help spark their interest in science. With a good microscope, they’ll surely start collecting samples of plants, insects, and rocks to look at them in great detail.

That won’t just help them in school, but possibly put them on a career path they will pursue with passion, as well as stimulate their love of nature and of science in general, which can only be a good thing. Your kids could also learn to love nature and understand why it’s so important to protect it, especially with the climate change challenges lying ahead.

 

Take a closer look at specimens in the field with a pocket microscope

In case you do a lot of field work that requires collecting samples and recording data while on the field, then a portable microscope is just what you need. You can get a small and compact model that’s easy to carry and can be plugged into your iPad or other mobile device and make some on-the-spot studies without the need to go back to the lab.

With an excellent microscope for iPad, you get a pocket optical instrument that offers 20x or even more magnification, which should be more than enough to examine small insects such as parasitic Hymenoptera or check tiny features or mushrooms spores so that you can accurately use identification keys and correctly label the species along with other data.

 

Prepare yourself for a career in forensics

A microscope is also a handy tool in case you’re planning to become a forensic scientist. You can study hair samples, carpet fibers, and other tiny particles and materials that could help you understand not just how to handle them, but also how they look, which features you need to closely examine, how to prepare slides, etc.

Some forensic sciences also require you to use a microscope to look at food for possible contamination, check striations on bullets to identify patterns and match them to a weapon, and examine bones and other tissues so getting a model can help you better understand how these procedures work.

Use a microscope for medical investigations

You can also use a microscope for many medical applications, whether you’re working in a laboratory or preparing to enter medical school. With a microscope, you can study blood cells to look for abnormalities such as the sickle cell disease or search for pathogens in bodily fluids or other tissues to determine the cause of an infection.

With enough magnification, you can examine bacteria, or study cytogenetics and look for alterations and other abnormalities in chromosomes. There are also many microscopes that come with various objective lenses and eyepieces so that you get the right tool for each type of job you need to perform.

 

Study environmental samples

With a quality microscope, you can also study environmental samples from soil and water. You can check out which species of algae thrive in a particular aquatic environment, look for insect larvae and study breeding patterns, or look at soil for composition and study worms, arthropods, and other small lifeforms.

In order to understand the environment, you need to understand the relationship between various organisms and inorganic components from soil and water, and a quality microscope can definitely get you started with your new passion and help you get a better grasp of this scientific discipline.

 

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How to use a microscope

 

If you are thinking of purchasing a microscope or if, better yet, you already own one, there is a possibility that you might not know how to use such a gadget. Because we know just how tricky learning how to manage a microscope can be, we have put together a short but comprehensive guide that can help you understand how this type of equipment works.

Before reading the following instructions, you should know that not all microscopes work the same. For example, if you own a great microscope for SMD soldering you probably have a simpler to operate device.  

Nonetheless, first things first, if you own a compound microscope, it is best that you start by turning the revolving turret in order to reach the lowest power on the device’s objective lens. Then, you have to lay the microscope slide on the unit’s stage and secure it in place by using the stage clips that you were provided with.

Once you’ve done this, look at the objective lens from the side and use the focus knob to move the stage upward. However, keep in mind that, when doing so, the objective should not, in any case, touch the coverslip. Furthermore, at this stage, you should look into the device’s eyepiece and move the focus knob until the image that you see is focused and clear.

Next, adjust the condenser and the light intensity so that enough light is provided to the lens. This way, once you place your sample, you won’t have difficulties seeing it with precision.

Then, you should turn the slide in the best possible position so that you can see the sample with ease. In order to do so, you should make sure that the sample is in the center of your focus. Once more, at this stage, make sure to adjust the condense again and to check to see that enough light is provided.

If you feel like the light’s intensity does not allow you to get a good grip on the image, it is recommended that you dim it until perfect focus and clarity is achieved.

Once you have a good, clear viewing of the sample (at this point you are still using the lowest power objective), you can start to change to the more powerful objective lenses. Any readjustments that need to be done should follow the already mentioned steps. When you are done with examining samples, you should place the low power lens into position and then remove the slide completely.

What is more, there are a few extra aspects that you should have in mind whenever using a microscope. For instance, it is forbidden that you touch the glass part of the lens by using your fingers. Even more so, when cleaning glass surfaces, you should only use a special lens paper that can be bought in specialized shops.

Even more so, if you are not using the microscope, specialists recommend that you keep it covered in order to avoid debris and dirt sticking to its components. Additionally, whenever you are transporting such a device from one place to another, it is best that you use both of your hands in order to avoid unintentionally dropping it.

Nevertheless, if you are using a stereomicroscope, you should simply place the sample on the given stage and then proceed to turn on the LED light. Then, similarly to the already described process, just look through the eyepiece and try to focus the image so that it becomes as clear as you need it to be.

Next, go ahead and adjust the distance between the two eyepieces of the device so that you get an all-embracing grasp of the sample.  Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out that, whenever you move the sample you will necessarily have to focus the gadget once again.

Before ending this guide, we feel like it is crucial that we point out that if you purchase a new microscope for iPad, you probably won’t have to go through all the instructions that we have discussed previously. Because these units were built to make microscopes more accessible, they are consequently almost effortless to operate.

Moreover, they are particularly liked because they allow the user to have a broader, clearer viewing of the sample that is being examined. As a plus, when making use of a gadget of this kind, one does not have to continually adjust the eyepieces as the older models require.

Even more to this point, if you are new to this line of products and you are interested in a product that is not that difficult to work with, you should seriously take the latter models into consideration. Apart from the already mentioned features and capabilities, these devices are known for being able to supply their users with 2D and even 3D images of various samples.

Thanks to this advantage, the digital microscopes are a great addition to any medical student’s kit of gadgets. By settling for such a unit, one can rest assured knowing that he/she will be able to carefully examine samples without worrying about all the additional settings and adjustments that traditional models require you to know.

Yet, if you are fond of precision and old-school technology, older devices are known for their reliability and sturdiness. So, don’t waste any more time, pick up your microscope and start examining life under all its forms and particularities!

 

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How to use a camera with your microscope

 

If you’ve reached this article, chances are that you’ve heard about the possibility of using your camera with your microscope. The process of attaching a camera to an awesome microscope for coins is often used by those that want to take pictures of the details on a coin. However, the process is regularly used by the scientists and researchers that want to easily take photographic pieces of evidence of the samples that they are examining. Nowadays, the process of capturing images by using a microscope goes by the name of photomicrography.

The first unit that allowed the combination of a microscope with a camera was the Olympus OM 35 mm SLR system that was developed in 1972 by a well-known designer named Yoshihisa Maitani. Although the Olympus OM system is now outdated, it is still seen as the first step in the development of the adaptor-based technology that we use today.

At the current time, in order to attach a camera to a microscope, one needs a lens adapter, a camera body, a camera adapter, a photo and a finder eyepiece as well as a trinocular head. According to the specialists, the finder eyepiece is optional.

The camera body

To be able to take photos of a sample by using a camera, one must connect the body of the camera through the lens adapter to the camera adapter. Moreover, due to the fact that the photo eyepiece is constructed in such a manner that it projects a given image in a sensor, one should not place an additional lens on the camera.

According to previous users of this system, the vibration caused by the mirror of the camera and the shutter can sometimes pose a problem when shooting photos. In order to avoid this, it might be best that one uses long exposure times, an electronic flash or a stand that places the camera above the microscope so that it doesn’t make direct contact with it.

Moreover, if you own an EOS camera, it most certainly comes with software that enables you to control it by using a USB connection. Therefore, in this case, you’ll be able to verify the image’s composition and/or focus on your PC or laptop. Consequently, the resulting images will be of great quality.

 

The lens adapters and camera adapters

These adapters are used for joining the body of the camera to the adapter of the camera. By doing so, one can make sure that the digital sensor and the film in the camera are both placed in the same spot. For cameras with EOS bodies, there are three different adapters that one can use AF confirm, no chip and EMF chip adapters.

Each of the before mentioned models comes with separate features that you should have in mind before ordering them.

However, each type of camera has to be connected to a different adapter. In order to find out what is the right adapter for your camera, we suggest that you go online and do some research on this subject. Also, if you want a 100% correct answer, you can always ask the unit’s manufacturer about this type of technical details.

Similarly to the situation of lens adapters, camera adapters also differ from one unit to another. So, our advice to you is that you go online and you order an adapter that fits your camera. In case you have difficulties finding one, you can always ask other cameras and microscopes enthusiasts for help. As a plus, the sellers of optical devices might also be of great help.

 

Photo eyepieces and the finder eyepiece

The photo eyepiece is utilized as a way of propelling the image created by the objective onto the sensor that the body of the camera includes. However, this process is possible thanks to additional photo eyepieces that are placed in the trinocular head’s circular dovetail. Once again, not all cameras can be used with the same eyepiece. So, do the research before you order one.

As we’ve mentioned before, the finder eyepieces are not considered a must when mounting a camera on the microscope. However, these eyepieces are particularly handy as they allow you to see what the camera’s view is, without having to look through the camera or at the screen of the computer.

Trinocular heads

Last but not least, we have to tackle the subject of trinocular heads. According to the specialists, these heads have both a pair of binocular viewing tubes as well as a vertical one for your camera. This last viewing tube cannot be adjusted, but it does have a slot where you can install a finder eyepiece.  

Using a camera in order to take pictures of the samples that you are studying under the microscope makes use of a type of technology that many invest in today thanks to its utility. For instance, some of the new microscopes for electronics repair models are built using this technology.

So, our advice to you is that you don’t waste any more time. Take your microscope and your camera and by the additional pieces to put them together and start enjoying observing life and nature in detail.

Even more so, you can use this combination and explore your photographic skills and then, later on, share the results of your hobby with your friends and loved ones.

 

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How to understand the functional parts of a microscope

 

Because we know just how trick understanding how microscopes work can be, we have composed an easy to read guide that helps one understand what the parts of a microscope are.

Before anything, you should know that the classic compound microscope has two distinct lenses that ensure that its user is supplied with enough magnification. Therefore, each owner of a device of this type should know that the unit that he/she uses has an ocular lens (the eyepiece one) and an objective lens that is situated close to the sample that is being examined.

This is true for all types of compound microscopes. So, whether you own a microscope for veterinary use or one for coins, these specifications still apply to your unit.

 

Let’s get familiar with the basics

First things first, it might be useful that you know that the piece that you look through when analyzing a sample is called an eyepiece lens. Most models come provided with two lenses, one for the right eye and one for the left.  These lenses usually have a magnification ratio between 10x and 15x. Moreover, the unit’s eyepiece lenses are connected to its objective lenses via a tube.

Additionally, all microscopes come provided with an arm that supplies the needed support for the before mentioned tube. As a plus, this arm has the task of connecting this tube to the base of the device. What is more, each model includes an illuminator also known as a light source. However, older models include a mirror that reflects the light provided by an external source.

The stage is another important part of a device of this type that you should get familiarized with. The stage is the name of the platform where you lay your slides that contain the samples that you want to examine. A microscope’s stage has to be flat, and it usually comes equipped with some clips that you can use to set the slides in the required position.

It is important that you know that newer, more developed units have electrical stages. These advanced models are often designed with two knobs that the user uses to move the stage to the right or the left as well as up and down.

The turret or the moving nosepiece is another part of your microscope that you should know. This part was designed so that it keeps the objective lenses secure. Furthermore, the turret is quite practical because it can be moved in order to modify the power of the lenses.

No matter if you own an outstanding trinocular microscope or a traditional unit, all the devices from this line of products have objective lenses. Depending on the model, a microscope can have between 3 and four lenses that have four different ranges of power that go from 4x, to 10x, 40x and even 100x.

Another important adjustment that is said to decide just how small is the distance between the slide and the objective lens is the rack stop. This part is usually pre-installed by the manufacturer, and it is highly appreciated due to the fact that it can keep one from breaking the unit’s objective lenses by bringing them too close to the slide.

The condenser lens is responsible for focusing the light for you to get a clear, bright view of your sample. When settling for a condenser light, it is best that you purchase the unit with the highest power, usually more than 400x. The main advantage of these lenses is the fact that they supply the buyer with sharp images that units that don’t have them are incapable of delivering.

Last but not least, we believe that it is essential that we mention the importance of a microscope’s iris. Also known as a diaphragm, the iris is the disk that rotates under the stage of the unit. Its purpose is to modify the intensity of the light delivered to the slide. By doing so, the iris can provide you with just the needed light intensity so that you can thoroughly examine your samples without feeling hindered by the lack of illumination.

 

What are the must-have features in a new microscope?

Settling for a feature-packed unit is a task that many science enthusiasts find rather exhausting. However, if you want to end up with a unit that can offer you crisp and bright images, it is best that you only purchase a model that is made from metal and that has all optical elements made out of glass. This way you can rest assured knowing that the unit will do its job in the long run.

Moreover, whenever you are in the market for such a product, it is recommendable that you only purchase a model from a source that you know that you can trust. Therefore, it might be best to avoid sketchy stores where they do offer no warranty agreements.

Additionally, stay away from second-hand units. If you aren’t an expert when it comes to microscopes, chances are that you won’t be able to assess a model’s condition prior to buying it correctly.

Last but not least, the specialists advise against buying a model that has priory been used in a school or learning institution. The main reason for this has to do with the fact that these units are usually poorly maintained, overused and abused.

 

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How to turn your cellphone into a microscope

 

If you are fond of examining life in all its details but you lack the money to invest in an all-capable new microscope, chances are that you’ve heard of the possibility of turning your personal phone into a device of this type.

Because we are well aware of how many science enthusiasts find themselves in this situation, we have decided to lend you a helping hand by walking you step by step through the process of turning your mobile device into a new cheap microscope.

 

DIY version

Before anything, you will need a mobile phone that comes provided with a camera. Although older models are also suitable, it is best that you use a unit that has the touchscreen focusing options or any type of focusing. Those gadgets that allow for manually adjusting the focus option are the best models that you can use.

Then, look for a thin rubber-like material that is dark colored and make a small incision in the middle of it. You should end up with a small hole that has approximately one millimeter in diameter. When carving the hole, it is recommended that you use a needle or a small pin.

Next, go online and procure one millimeter in diameter ball or a half-ball lens. Usually, these items are not particularly expensive. However, make sure that you purchase them from manufacturers that sell optical instruments and/or components. If you want a smaller magnification ratio, you can order items that have a larger diameter.

Furthermore, go ahead and place the rubber on the phone’s camera and then place the ball on the iris of the camera. Still, be sure that you don’t cover the lens’s entire surface.

The next thing that you have to do requires you to take four small pieces of black electrical tape and use them to attach the iris to the camera and to secure it in place. Moreover, be sure that the iris is positioned in the right place so that you have a good field of view.

Before examining any samples make sure that you have plenty of light so that the image is clear and in detail.

 

Purchase an already made microscope adaptor

If you are not necessarily a handy person that enjoys DIY activities but you still want to transform your phone into a device that is similar to a quality digital microscope, our recommendation to you is that you settle for a lens created by specialists.

In order to do so, go online and search for the BLIPS micro and macro lenses kits. These units were created by scientists from a prestigious Genovese institute and are known to be the thinnest lenses available at the current time.

What is more, these lenses were specially engineered and designed to be used with mobile devices. However, the main advantage of these kits is the fact that they are particularly inexpensive. Thus, purchasing them won’t mean spending a considerable amount of money.  

The people that constructed the lenses claim that these units can magnify a given image up to 100 times. Yet, this may depend on the smartphone’s particularities. The lenses were constructed to be used by both hobbyist and scientific researchers.

 

Advantages and disadvantages of turning your phone into a microscope

While settling for these cheap alternatives might be a great idea, it is worth mentioning that, if you are a student that needs to constantly use a microscope, purchasing an actual device is best. Although the mobile microscope can be something that you use when you lack the ability to carry an actual microscope, like, for instance, when you are out in nature, a full-size device is better for a number of reasons, the quality of the image being the most important.

However, the ability to turn your smartphone into a digital microscope is an option that can be very handy for scientists that are on the go. Moreover, all those that enjoy taking experimental photographs and that are looking for new ways in which they can make shooting photographs a more interesting activity should necessarily invest in such a kit.

Moreover, by using such a device you will be able to take pictures of the samples that you are examining and then share them online with your friends. This way, you will be prepared to enjoy discovering the world together.

According to the specialists in this line of products, portable microscopes stand out thanks to their ability to be effortlessly used by students whenever studying a subject such as biology. As teachers point out, by being able to experiment and see different molecules and constituents, students are prone to develop an interest in science-related fields of knowledge.

Additionally, by employing this kind of approach to learning, students are said to improve their ability to remember more details.

As a plus, digital microscopes are known for being easy to handle and effortless to set up. Yet, when compared to the traditional microscopes it becomes clear that they do have a drawback. What we mean by this is the fact that digital units have to run on batteries and/or a power source while optical units do not.

Last but not least, it is a well-known fact that the quality of the image depicted by a camera phone turned into a microscope has a lot to do with the device’s capabilities.

 

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How to teach basic microscope to your kids

 

If you are a microscope enthusiast, you are most likely interested in finding a way to make your kids pick up this hobby as well. Let’s be honest, we all remember the thrill of purchasing a new microscope for plants or the beauty of placing the first sample on the stage an observing it with carefulness and a sense of wonder.

Because we get how you probably feel, we have decided to lend you a helping hand. This following guide was designed with the purpose of giving suggestions and recommendations about ways in which you can help your kid become curious about the microscopic world.

 

Understand how kids think

As you probably already know, children usually have a short attention span and are inclined to lose interest in a topic that does not stimulate their attention constantly. Therefore, if you want your kid to enjoy microscopy it might be best to use this information to your advantage.

For instance, you can work together and show him/her how various object look under the magnification of a microscope. To make this exploration experiment even more interesting, we recommend that you use the unit to examine something that looks totally different to the naked eye than under the magnification of the device.

By doing so, he/she will start to grasp the fact that all objects have a different side to them that is not visible to everybody. Among the most interesting samples that you can inspect together are volcanic rocks, the various patterns on an insect’s wing, slices of onions.

Even more so, it might be time to invest in a new awesome microscope for beginners that he/she can use in his/her spare time.

 

 

Fun experiments that you should try

 

The spider web

One of the most fun science experiments that are effortless to conduct but that are also very thought-provoking is the spider web examination. In order to carry it out, one needs a piece of spider web,  a glass slide that comes provided with a coverslip, clean nail polish and a USB digital microscope.

If you want this experiment to be a success, it is best that you find fresh spider web as it looks better and more curious under the microscope.  Then, put a layer of clear nail polish on the slide. Next, by using asset of tweezers, carefully place the web on the slide.

Furthermore, make sure that you press the coverslip on top of the web so that the sample is protected. Last but not least, put the slide under the microscope and observe its details.

 

The cheek swab sample experiment

If your kid is fond of medical science, it might be a great idea to play around with a cheek swab and sees how it looks when magnified. To carry out this experiment, you will need a toothpick, methylene blue, a glass slide that has a coverslip and, of course, a microscope.

The first thing that you have to do is to find take a sample of one’s cheek by gently scraping the toothpick on one’s side of the cheek.

Then, take the toothpick and rub it on the middle section of the slide. If the sample that you’ve created is wet, let it dry for a few minutes and then add a drop of methylene blue. During this process, it is advisable that you wear protective gloves.

Put the coverslip on the sample and then study it under the microscope. In order to make the process even more intriguing, it might be a good idea to start with a low magnification ratio and hen to work your way up to more powerful objectives.

 

Having fun with onions

Another experiment that might make your kid interested in science and in microscopy is that that involves that observation of the membrane of an onion.  The materials that you are going to need are an onion, a glass slide, methylene blue, a pipette, tweezers, and a knife.

This experiment is a bit more complicated than the previous ones due to the fact that it involves the use of a wet mount slide. In other words, this time, the sample being observed will be placed in a drop of liquid. So, the first thing that you have to do is to place drops of water on the selected glass slide.

Then, after peeling the onion, cut it with the knife. Find the membrane that is placed between the onion’s layers and take part of it by making use of the tweezers. Furthermore, place the membrane on the slide and put a drop of methylene blue on it (this latter step is optional).

Next, take the coverslip and lay it on the sample. When doing so, try to avoid creating bubbles as this will hinder your view of the sample. Lastly, place the sample under the microscope and start analyzing it.

 

Final tips and tricks

The few experiments that we’ve mentioned are just the beginning of an adventure that you and your kid can start together. If you want to find more gripping activities that you can enjoy together, we suggest that you go online.

There are countless forums and sites that are filled with many experiments that you are prone to find equally delightful. So, don’t waste any more time; go online and let the fun begin!

 

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