Cheap digital optical microscope

I recently picked up an AmScope SE400Z inspection scope. It’s a handy desktop microscope that sells for under $200. The large area under the objective lens leaves plenty of room to work, and the 10-20x magnification is plenty for most of my needs.

While they do supply some nice looking USB eyepiece cameras, the price is a little high considering that they need a laptop to function.

I happened to have a Raspberry Pi camera lying around, and thought that it might be handy to turn the AmScope into a digital scope.

Frankenstein is actually the name of the eyepiece, not the microscope.
Frankenstein is actually the name of the eyepiece, not the microscope.

The Raspberry Pi has a plastic case that includes a flush mount for the camera. It is mounted directly to the eyepiece with some high-tech laser cut plywood and gorilla tape.

I use it with a cheap WiFi dongle so it has connectivity wherever I happen to need it in the shop. It runs raspistill in full screen mode, with HDMI feeding to an old monitor. The USB keyboard makes taking a photo as easy as hitting enter, though I’m considering making a simple button / foot switch for that. Photos are automatically sync’d to the network with BitTorrent Sync as they’re taken.

If microscopy teaches us anything, it's that there's a whole universe down there. A filthy, nasty universe that you can't unsee.
If microscopy teaches us anything, it’s that there’s a whole universe down there. A filthy, nasty universe that needs a good scrub.

With the 5 megapixels provided by the camera, you end up with an effective zoom of about 50x.

Those lines on the right are millimeters.
Those lines on the right are millimeters.

Do a science, hit enter, publish. Handy!