Low Cost Microscope Camera

Low Cost Microscope Camera

Postby BaboonScience » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:32 pm

Well, I promised this one a long time ago. Finally, I have found a good solution.
This is a build for a Very Very low cost computer interfaced microscope camera.
Web Cams have developed to the point where fairly high resolution images camn be had with a fairly inexpensive unit.
This project uses a low cost Web cam with a CCD (Fast) sensor with a greater than 4000 by 4000 pixel array! It also captures at a rate of up to 160 frames per second. This makes it a good candidate for microscope work but I am sure that most other web cams will function fairly.
This one comes with software for high resolution capture on a Windows machine. A Mac will recognize it and capture at fairly high resolutions as well.
And the best part is that the advertised features are real.

So, How did I do this?
Easy, it turns out.
First, get a cheap web cam that you will not feel bad about wrecking.
This is what mine looks like.
WebCam01.jpg

Next, Remove the support attachments. This makes it less cumbersome when mounting onto the scope.
WebCam02.jpg

Now, the camera is ready to gut. The lense on the front needs to be removed because the sensor needs to see the raw image coming up from the microcope tube. Also, this lens is coated with an IR filter material which will give distortion to the image (ghost images). In order to do this you need to remove the screws (2 or 4) that hold the front of the case to the back. These may be covered by some sort of label.
The camera is usually attached to the back casing like this:
WebCam04.jpg

In some cases, the circuit board is attached to the front casing. In this case, you will need to remove the 2 screws that hold it to the front in order to get to the lens.
Now, Unscrew the lens and it looks like this.
WebCam05.jpg

Note: The sensor is that dark thing under the lens. It picks up every imperfection. Do Not Touch it, unless you want to spend hours with a Q-Tip and alcohol trying to get finger grease off of the sensor. Also, from this point on, be careful to keep the sensor away from any dust.
Reverse the dis-assembly procedure and the camera should look clean and like this:
WebCam06.jpg

Now, to mount onto the scope.
Remove the eye piece from your scope and center the Web Cam over the opening. Plug the USB port into your computer and fire up the software. Light up your scope and center the image. Electrical tape can be used to hold the centered camera in place.
WebCam08.jpg

In the case of this Web Cam, the outer lens ring, on the front casing, is exactly the size of the ocular tube so no centering was necessary. Perfect fit!

I have built a tube for my trinocular scope and placed my web cam on that.
WebCam07.jpg


Now, these pictures were taken with my digital camera of the computer screen. The focus and resolution are much better. The Photo Booth application overlays the running QuickTime application, both receiving and displaying the microscope/Web Cam image.
At 100x (approximately)
WebCam09.jpg


And at 430x (approximately)
WebCam10.jpg


So there you have it. I will be posting some pics.
If you give this a try, please document your work here. I am hoping to see some improvements on this work.
AND Please feel free to ask questions.
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Re: Low Cost Microscope Camera

Postby jolson » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:26 am

This is a terrific DIY project, Thanks for the very detailed information
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Re: Low Cost Microscope Camera

Postby BaboonScience » Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:50 pm

Some quick pics from the Microscope web cam project.
First, a picture of a copepod (unknown Calanoid, (not harpacticoid my mistake :oops: Thanks Andy), using a blue filter over the light source.
Magnification is about 100x.
Photo on 2011-04-17 at 15.34.jpg


This picture is of the same copepod, using a green filter over the light source.
Photo on 2011-04-17 at 15.38 #3.jpg


This is a nauplii of the same species (green filter)
Copepod Naupli Green Filter 1.jpg


I had to reduce resolution to 640 x 480 but otherwise, they are raw and unadjusted.
John
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Last edited by BaboonScience on Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: edited to correct harp to calanoid, see above and below.
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Re: Low Cost Microscope Camera

Postby spawner » Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:45 pm

cyclopoid copepod
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Re: Low Cost Microscope Camera

Postby BaboonScience » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:00 pm

Corrected and noted
Thanks Andy!
John
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Re: Low Cost Microscope Camera

Postby aomont » Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:09 am

Nice John ! See how patient I am !? :lol:

What about the PVC part, is it just a PVC section with nylon screws to hold it in place ?
How do you get the proper length, by trial and error ?
Anderson

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Re: Low Cost Microscope Camera

Postby BaboonScience » Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:17 pm

Anderson
That is a home brew stack on the camera mount. There are two PVC pipes cut to the focal length particular to that scope. All scopes are slightly different. One pipe is smaller and slips into the outer pipe.
I have tapped holes at 120 degree intervals around the base and top of the outer pipe. The thread size depends on what hardware you have laying around. That allows me to center and adjust the tube length.
One thing that I have now done is paint the tube black. It is surprising how much light makes it through those white plastic tubes!
The smaller tube has an inside diameter that allows a tight fit for an occular or the outer ring of the web cam.
Hope that this helps.
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