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First microscope - Amscope B330A, first light - a few questions

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#1 NEOhio

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 08:31 PM

Got a new toy this week, an Amscope B330A binocular compound microscope. Gave it a first tryout today on a sample of water taken from a sidewalk puddle. Did not expect too much, but surprisingly saw quite a lot of critters. Definitely identified a rotifer, had two back-end suckers that it used to keep anchored and the “rotifer” mouth at the front end, very active. Also saw various of what I would guess were single-cell protists, one fairly large (maybe a third the size of the rotifer) that looked to have cilia at both ends and could go in either direction or spin around. Looking online it might have been a “Stylonychia”, but that is just a guess. The other interesting one was a long, perfectly straight green rod, several times longer than the rotifer, with dark crossbars all along it. Initially assumed it was some sort of algae, but realized it was moving. The whole rod moved along the line of the rod, very slowly, and the “forward” end would move slowly back and forth. Looking online seems like it might have been a diatom? All the foregoing were at 100x.

 

This is my first microscope (not counting a true toy scope back when I was a kid), and looks promising so far. The mechanical stage and fine focus are vast improvements over what I recall using before. I do have a few questions, if anyone can provide information on these would be greatly appreciated.  

 

Is there any sort of a “field guide to microscopic pond life” out there, either as a book or online? I was surprised not to get much looking on Amazon, maybe using the wrong search terms?

 

My understanding is the objectives are supposed to be roughly parfocal, and the guidance I have gotten online is to start with the 4x objective, focus using the coarse focus (it is short enough it cannot run into the slide), then go to the 10x and use only the fine focus, and then to the 40x same deal. All works, except that the 40x looked like it would hit the slide when I rotated it close to being in position. Do I need to use a special thin slide with the 40x objective? (I did not even install the 100x immersion objective; if the 40x does not work I’m fine with that, 10x objective seems to be the sweet spot for seeing pond life at least from my initial effort).

 

The eyepieces: ok, but I guess I’m spoiled by telescope eyepieces. Was surprised they do not have eyecups or any sort of spacer. Are they standard fittings, so that I could buy replacement eyepieces? I understand the objectives on the B330 are DIN standard so I could replace those or get some different magnifications.

 

Specimens: besides pond samples etc, any suggestions for other observing subjects? I did look at a piece of grass earlier today, looked interesting and could see the longitudinal channels and individual cells. Ditto for a leaf, though it was too thick to see anything except at the edges where the cut thinned it nicely.

 

USB video camera: I assume I could stick one in one of the binocular eyepiece slots, and view with the other and thereby get some video? Any recommendations for a camera?

 

Apologies for the long post, and thank you in advance if anyone can provide input on anything above.



#2 msl615

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 09:35 PM

From Amazon, several options. 

 

A World in a Drop of Water: Exploring with a Microscope

 

Pond Water Zoo: An Introduction to Microscopic Life

 

In Rivers, Lakes, and Ponds (Under the Microscope)

 

 

The general field is Limnology (science of lakes and ponds). If you search on microscopic and limnology, you can find many links in science and science outreach articles.

 

Have a great time with your new mircoscope

 

Mike (University of Alaska Fairbanks)



#3 NEOhio

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 10:07 PM

Thanks, definitely would never have searched under "limnology" :-)

 

I ordered the first two, third one is a bit pricey on Amazon.

 

Also found https://archive.org/...cfresh029632mbp under limnology, which is also expensive on Amazon but out of copyright and so free on Archive.

 

Thanks again,



#4 mich_al

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 11:14 PM

I bought a similar microscope about a year ago, I've been happy with it.  Here's a good forum  :  http://www.microbehu...-by-categories/

 

Try some different leaves, many will show lots.  With Spring coming there will be more interesting stuff, try the stinging bulbs from nettles.  Eyepieces and objectives are all standard fittings (stick with DIN) but go easy upgrading, you'll likely find what you have is excellent.  I upgraded to a Zeiss objective and really can't tell the difference but spent a lot of money finding that out.  Interesting you are gravitating toward low power, soon after I got the compound scope I wanted a stereo scope for the even lower power.  Took me years with telescopes to discover low power.

 

No need for thinner slides with the 40x, it will focus above the slide anyway, just start with the objective and slide at their closest and focus the other direction to prevent crashing into the slide.


Edited by mich_al, 25 February 2017 - 11:18 PM.


#5 NEOhio

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 01:08 PM

mich_al, thanks for the information, and the advice not to go down the rabbit hole here :-)  I really don't plan on upgrading anything right now, but nice to know that if an objective or eyepiece gets damaged I could replace it easily. I was also wondering if microscopes are like telescopes where the eyepieces are often a focus of cost-cutting in budget models. The only thing I want to add right now is a dark field stop to try dark field observing, but seems that can be a DIY piece just take a clear acrylic disk and block out the center. Camera might come later, but only if I find I'm using it a lot. Actually tried sketching at my session yesterday, worked much better than my experience doing that with astronomy -- helps being in a lit room when drawing something. 



#6 Jon_Doh

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 09:48 AM

There are plenty of nice videos on YouTube on pond life.  But then, if you watch them you're going to want to add a camera to your setup :)




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