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Not sure what I even want...

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#1 hippo.potamus

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Posted 07 April 2018 - 10:51 PM

Okay, microscopy is not a big interest for me.  What I imagine doing is taking samples of local lakes (there are very many, and some have health hazard warnings from time to time), seeing what I see, and maybe telling someone about it.  Tap water.  Lake water.  I might play with blood samples.  Lots of reading to do, of course, but this isn’t a high priority project.  It’s something I’ll do when I’m not doing what I’m actually interested in.  Still, I don’t think plastic lenses and coarse focusers are going to keep me from throwing the whole set in the trash, so...

 

So I look around and I’m offered telescopes for geology, laboratory blood work, 3D imaging, 2500x magnification, and I’m just lost.  Hell, I don’t know how small lake water algae are, so how can I know what magnification to get?  I enjoyed the microscope part of biology class, but I couldn’t tell you jack about what we looked at or what magnification - it’s been... almost 30 years.

 

It would be cool to get the microscope I used in high school 30 years ago.  It was a monocular, had a 3-element rotating objective, a mirror to focus light up from under the slide, fine focus control, and it must have weighted 15 pounds - nothing but steel and glass.  I’ll bet they’re still using that exact microscope at my old high school today, watching little cell-critters twitch about in little cell-critter water.

 

Those of you who know microscopes know probably 20 poor assumptions I’ve already made and what I’ll probably find to be this scope’s greatest limitations.  Can you offer me advice?  By the way, sketching at the eyepiece sounds fun to me; I have no real interest in digital recording.



#2 ShaulaB

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Posted 07 April 2018 - 11:23 PM

If you want to look at pond plankton, you need what is called a dissecting scope kind of microscope. You want something that magnifies in the 10X to 40X range.

 

You might be able to contribute some useful science information with your microscope. I live in Missouri, where the Department of Natural Resources has Stream Teams to monitor how polluted water courses are getting. Ordinary citizens are trained to look for things like dragonfly larvae to assess how healthy or polluted a stream is. Maybe Oregon has such a program as well.


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#3 hippo.potamus

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 02:59 PM

If you want to look at pond plankton, you need what is called a dissecting scope kind of microscope. You want something that magnifies in the 10X to 40X range.

 

You might be able to contribute some useful science information with your microscope. I live in Missouri, where the Department of Natural Resources has Stream Teams to monitor how polluted water courses are getting. Ordinary citizens are trained to look for things like dragonfly larvae to assess how healthy or polluted a stream is. Maybe Oregon has such a program as well.

You hit my poorly-informed concept perfectly.  I have no grand plans of becoming some great microbiologist, but I figured another set of eyes on the “obvious” stuff might be helpful.  I will check with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife - if they have no ideas, they should at least be able to point me to the people who do have ideas.  I did envision, should I ever spot something people should know about, contacting them with my discovery, but if they have a system already set up for that kind of thing, I should probably comply with it from the beginning.

 

Can you direct me to a good book, considering my interests, that would give me a solid foundation to begin with?



#4 Blind as an Eagle

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 08:13 AM

This is a good start.

 

http://micro.magnet....my/anatomy.html

 

Regards, -BAAE-


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#5 DonnieBe

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 08:19 AM

You’ll want a Dob, don’t bother with anything else, forget what you asked for............ Ohhhhh sorry microscopes........ Forget the Dob lol. Donnie
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#6 Jon_Doh

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 08:40 AM

There are plenty of good, reasonably price microscopes out there.  But beware, those advertising magnification of over 1000x times, because 1000X is the practical limit.  Anything beyond that is empty magnification.  At 1000x and less you'll be able to observe pond life and look at blood cells.  Bacteria poses another level of challenge, but it can be observed with proper staining.  There are a lot of prepared slides you can buy too that will let you look at organ tissue, cross sections of plants and seeds, etc.  

 

Here's a good forum where you can get a lot of good information:  http://www.microbehu...croscopy-forum/


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#7 keithlt

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 09:26 AM

i have recently become interested in this subject.

my new read is an introduction to digital photomicrography.

also this

http://www.photomacrography.net/


Edited by keithlt, 13 April 2018 - 09:28 AM.

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#8 andycknight

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 11:07 AM

[snip...] You’ll want a Dob, don’t bother with anything else, forget what you asked for............ Ohhhhh sorry microscopes........ Forget the Dob lol. Donnie

 

lol.gif

 

I remember when I sold my ETX90, one of the things we tried was looking at an integrated circuit across the opposite corner of the room! At high mag the tiny IC filled the FOV and gave a real nice image...

 

Anyway back to the OP...

 

There has been some good advice here, regarding the 1000x comment. Just like Telescopes marketing has latched on to the maximum magnification of the cheaper models.

 

..and just like telescopes you need a real fancy objective (i.e. 'oil immersion' 100x) to get a nice sharp image at 1000x. But you also will need a very good focusable light source that gives a 'fast' light cone. (e.g. ~ F0.5)

 

..again like telescopes you can get different magnification eyepieces 10x, 15x and 20x are very popular. Going beyond these extremes creates problems. For example a blurry image or very narrow field of view.

 

However do note that microscope eyepieces are a slightly different barrel size to the Telescope versions. 23mm is normally considered the 'standard size', but there are other common sizes as well (e.g. 30mm)

 

My microscope is nothing special. It was marketed as 1024x magnification, but 400x is a much more realistic limit if you like a nice sharp image. It has 4x 10x and 40x objectives and came with 2 eyepieces (10x and 25x). The 25x is a bit too much mag for my taste, but the 10x is nice enough.

 

Similar models are available quite cheaply on EBay e.g. :-

 

https://www.ebay.com...nEAAOSwaZdXH4Wr

 

But do avoid the really cheap models that don't have achromatic objectives. They do work, but as is advertised, they are basically toys that give lots of colour fringing and blurry views. e.g. :-

 

https://www.ebay.com...DUAAOSw-WFat87n

 

I don't think it is worth spending much more than [say] $100 dollars, to see if its something you might like or not. You can get perfectly good views for under $100 as long as you don't expect to use magnifications over about 400-600x.

 

A variable brightness light source is worth looking for. My model did not have this so I made a brightness control, that connects between the Power supply and microscope light.

 

It also came with a basic USB camera (only 640x480 I think), but it's still rather useful for keeping a record of anything interesting you find, or want to share.

 

gallery_135796_6581_7428.jpg

 

Regards

 

Andy.


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#9 hippo.potamus

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 12:03 PM

Andy,

 

You seem very well informed; perhaps you could help me eliminate my last couple nagging questions before I make a decision:

 

1) I see “zoom” microscopes that go from around 7x to around 40x.  I realize all zoom lenses are compromises, but I’ve never used a zoom that actually compared badly to a fixed lens - they just compare less excellently, if that makes sense.

 

2) I have read that, for my intended targets (pond life, waterborne bits, bugs and bacteria), most of my observations will be at 40x and below.

 

Would one of those zoom microscopes (like this one) fit well?  Or do you think I would feel deprived by not having greater magnification?  My concern is the large gaps in discrete-objective designs (Is it common to, for instance, have 100x and 400x available and find yourself really wishing you had 250x available?) and my apparent lack of need for magnification over 40x.

 

I realize that microscope linked to does not have the numerous accessories that will be needed, but it also looks like they can be added over time.

 

I can get a more complete 3-objective non-zoom microscope for significantly less, but I don’t know if it would be as suitable.  I had a lot of fun with the microscope in high school, and it had 3 discrete objectives - I don’t remember ever wishing for more.



#10 andycknight

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 03:46 PM

There are 3 disadvantages to using a high magnification.

 

1. Not enough light

2. Field of view too narrow

3. Shallow depth of field

 

If you are looking at large bugs, leaves etc... then the minimum 40x magnification will cause issues with all 3.

 

1. With my microscope, the light comes in from underneath, so anything that is not transparent (or semi-transparent) will be black, so (for example) its no good for looking at detail on top of a bugs back.

 

2. You could not see the entire bug (if its large), only small 'silhouette' sections around its edges.

 

3. It would be impossible for the entire bug to be in-focus. You could focus [say] on its head or its legs, but not both at the same time.

 

A high power microscope is really for examining thin transparent sections of things. For example a drop of pond water will show many little critters that are far too small to be seen at [say] 10 to 40x. But they will drift in and out of focus as they swim about. To solve this you use a 'cover slip' (a very thin piece of glass on top of the water drop) to keep it flat and in focus. These little 'critters' are so small that the bottom light source easily shines through them. For this I use about 100 to 400x.

 

A lower power microscope (like the one in your link) is ideal for the larger stuff. However I don't see any light source on the one you linked. They normally require some form of 'gooseneck' or 'ring' light that clamps around the bottom objective lens, that provides the overhead illumination. At 7x bright room lighting might be sufficient, but as you increase the magnification the view will get much dimmer (over 40x darker at maximum magnification).

 

My answer to the "which one" question would therefore be "both". However you will find that either one can see 'enough' (be it the large or small stuff) to keep you busy for many years!

 

The low power zoom microscopes I have used at work typically magnify by about the same zoom range. They are very good makes (e.g. leica / zeiss etc...) and are very sharp at all magnifications. We do have a few of the much cheaper models and the downsides are :-

 

1. The eyepiece field of view is either narrower or slightly fuzzier at the edges.

 

2. The overhead light source is not as wide or bright and tends to be the 'goose neck' design, with the issue of not staying where you leave it (a bit like a cheap telescope mount - you aim it a something and when you let go it shifts slightly).

 

3. The zoom eyepiece does not keep the object in focus when you zoom. With the better models you zoom in, focus and then it stays in focus at any magnification.

 

4. The image quality gets a little softer at the higher magnification settings, but considering the low cost are still acceptable with regards to reasonable image quality.

 

Note: For magnifications below about 10x a simple magnifying glass will suffice. The main issues with simple magnifiers are the short working distance (as you increase the magnification) and poor image quality at the edge of the FOV.

 

You can also get a low power 2x microscope objective for the 40-1000x models (but you would need to check the microscope has the standard RMS thread on the turret).

 

With regards to the gaps in the magnification question... Its not been a problem for me... My microscope also comes with a zoom mechanism. It works by raising the eyepiece in a simple tube arrangement and gives about a 2x zoom range (obviously you need to re-focus if you adjust it). However I never use it! - But (as they say) YMMV.

 

One other thing you could do is get [say] 15x eyepiece to use with the 10x, this would narrow the gaps in magnification (or accept the small drop in sharpness and use the included 25x).

 

I have not used the microscope that much looking at pond life plants and bugs, so I must defer to the book? you have been reading. If that covers the specimens you are interested in and suggests a 7-45x stereo microscope, then that is the direction you should probably take.

 

However I am finding higher power (40-1000x) microscopes for as little as $50, so I guess there is not much to loose in getting both types.

 

Regards

 

Andy.


Edited by andycknight, 13 April 2018 - 04:04 PM.

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#11 hippo.potamus

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 11:31 PM

Andy,

 

Your answers, and those of the others in this thread, have been helpful.  Thank you for the time you took to answer so thoroughly.

 

The more I consider this project, the more it gets under my skin, especially with ShaulaB’s input about actually doing something useful with it and contributing to local/regional water source awareness.  Without experience, I’m flying a little bit blind here, so I will be checking in with the local community college to see if they can make me more useful.

 

Regarding the 7-40x zoom stereoscope versus compound, I’m not sure why I didn’t realize they serve two different purposes.  Getting both makes sense, eventually.  In the meantime, I went with a compound, 40-1000x basic model.  I made sure it had LED lighting, fine-focus control, glass lenses and metal frame - when I know I need something better, I’ll know what better is.  If I feel deprived of the zoom, I can remedy that when I can explain why.

 

It never occurred to me to use a handheld glass to study water sources, but it makes sense.

 

Anyway, since this forum seems quiet, I’ll continue posting here as equipment arrives and discoveries are made.

 

Thanks again for your assistance.


Edited by hippo.potamus, 14 April 2018 - 08:54 AM.

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#12 Jon_Doh

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 07:41 AM

See the thread here for a discussion of an inexpensive pocket microscope.  I have one and although it's small it works remarkably well and if you're interested in looking at bugs, leaves, threads, hair, etc it will work nicely.  Get one and then spend your money on a nice compound microscope for looking at pond life, bacteria, plant cross sections, etc.  I have an Omax I bought from Amazon for less than $200 and it is excellent.  Amscope is another popular inexpensive brand.  You can add a digital camera and shoot video or stills or link the images to your computer too.  


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#13 hippo.potamus

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 10:32 PM

To be clear, I have ordered a compound microscope from Amscope.  It’s near the bottom end of what they offer, but I made sure I could get replacement/upgraded objectives, eyepieces, condenser bulbs, etc. for it.  It offers 40x, 100x, 250x, 400x and 1000x, of which I expect to spend most of my time at the lower end.  On a mad impulse, I also ordered a 10x loupe/magnifier and a staining/petri dish kit.  Time to take a step back and breathe.  Microscopy is not what I’m interested in :p. As soon as I get a 5x eyepiece for it, I’m done spending.  Oh, and a mechanical stage with micrometer adjustments, but that’s all.  I’ll be good with those and a darkfield mask for the condenser, but I can make that.  So with those and the darkfield mask and...



#14 andycknight

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 09:47 AM

[snip...] As soon as I get a 5x eyepiece for it, I’m done spending.

 

I'm not sure a 5x Eyepiece for the microscope is a good idea. It will offer a lower minimum magnification of 20x, but due to the limited size of the eyepiece barrel (I'm guessing it's only 23mm OD), it will not offer a wider field of view than the 10x Eyepiece.

 

It may be better to get a 2x objective for a lower magnification, but you will need to check the objective threads first on the microscope to ensure they are the standard 20.2mm RMS thread.

 

Note: Amscope should be able to advise you on the objective thread size if they sell objectives for it.

 

Regards

 

Andy.


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#15 Jon_Doh

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 08:29 AM

I upgraded my objectives to plan, which are necessary for videoing since they flatten the field.  For visual use high contrast objectives really help, but before you spend money upgrading try out what you have and you may fine you have all you need.


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#16 hippo.potamus

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Posted 19 April 2018 - 07:26 PM

Not starting a new thread for this - just an update.

 

1) Last Friday, I ordered different items from three different online vendors.  The microscope from AmScope was one of them.  All 3 gave order confirmation and tracking numbers on Friday.  By Tuesday, I had received the products from the other two, but the order from AmScope still had not been received by UPS.  I sent them an email to inquire and received no response, but UPS marked the package as received about an hour after my email was sent.  I am not highly impressed with this company - not so much for forgetting to ship my order, but for not responding to my email.

 

2) One of the items I got was a Belomo 10x triplet loupe, and WOW is this thing FUN!  Rocks, plants, water, fingerprints, electronics - if you get close enough to pretty much anything at all, it’s interesting to look at through the loupe.  I may have delayed the microscope purchase altogether if I had had this first, and now, the fact that the microscope is coming is almost a hindrance.  I have invested money in it, so I kinda have to use it when it arrives, right?

 

3) I had cause to stop at the local Fish & Wildlife office, so, while I was there, I asked the person I was there to see about volunteer water monitoring efforts in the area.  It became a very long and burdensome conversation and it left me with the very distinct impression that this particular agency did not like the idea of “civilians” mucking about with scientific stuff and maybe breaking the planet in the process.  Apparently, between federal, state, county, city and hybrid governmental agencies, there are some Byzantine hierarchical structures, where one is in charge of the top 5 feet of water, and another is in charge of what is deeper, and another is in charge of shoreline grasses, and another... and they all have permits and rules and...

   I left there entirely cured of my interest in scientific study of lake/stream water.  I’ll do it anyway, because I have this microscope coming and I kinda have to use it for something, right?

 

4) Botany sounds fun.


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#17 DonnieBe

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 05:43 AM

Sooooo..........  Fish and Wildlife was unreceptive to a new Sherrif in town!!!!  Maybe it’s time to make them understand!!!banned.gif rofl2.gif   Be careful with pond water, remember fish pee in it!!!  Anyway, have fun with the new scope when it arrives, it’ll be fun on cloudy days to break out and see what’s what lol!!!!


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#18 andycknight

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 11:39 AM

[snip...] it’s interesting to look at through the loupe.  I may have delayed the microscope purchase altogether if I had had this first

 

I wouldn't worry. The difference between a loop and microscope is huge! There is plenty to see that will be totally invisible in a 10x loop.

 

[snip...] It became a very long and burdensome conversation and it left me with the very distinct impression that this particular agency did not like the idea of “civilians” mucking about with scientific stuff and maybe breaking the planet in the process

 

Very sad really.

 

[snip...] Be careful with pond water, remember fish pee in it

 

Yep one tiny mistake and the earth could be blown to pieces. lol.gif

 

Regards

 

Andy.



#19 hippo.potamus

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 10:55 PM

Gonna make this my microblog until somebody stops me.

 

1) The microscope arrived today.  I came with the ordered slides, cover slips, sterile swabs, etc. that I ordered with it.  It arrived solidly packaged, clean, impressive.  I immediately took the sterile swabs to my bathroom toilet and took a sample, spread it on a slide, popped on a cover slip, and stuck it under the microscope.

     Under 40x, 100x, and 250x, it was pretty boring.  Just nice views of the imperfections of the slide and cover slip, with some not-very-interesting bubbles tossed about here and there.  Under 400x, I saw shadows of rapidly moving swarms of somethings moving one way then the other.  Under 1000x, I saw what can only be described as ZERO depth of field, with occasional shots of blindingly quick movement across the field - a little scary.

     With some practice, I was able to see vast swarms of something occasionally spanning the field, with some very energetic contra-swimmers shooting in random other directions, too tiny and fast moving to focus more than to see that they were long, worm-like, and moving at unreasonable speed.  I need to clean my bathroom, or nuke it.`

 

2) I sketched a twig of Sage brush as seen naked eye and via 10x loupe in my notebook.  I have been told 100 times the bush I took the sample from was Sage brush, but it doesn’t look an awful lot like any of the images I can find of “Sage Brush” online.  It is 20 April, 2018, and it still freezes at night here, so I am attributing the differences to my views being of a shrub just waking from Winter, with the reference pictures being of a shrub in the height of Summer.

     I enjoyied sketching it.  I enjoyed studying the “hairs” on the budding leaves.  I took out my watercolors to try and replicate the delicate shades and hues.  I now have two pages filled in my observation book.  I will have to return to the site of sample in the future to compare against Summer-seasonal images.

 

3) I won’t be posting here all the time, but, unless a Moderator stops me, I think I’ll keep posting my “discoveries” here - maybe they will help another.  Astronomy is my main hobby, but this has caught my interest.  If anybody feels I am sucking the oxygen out of the astronomy room, say so, and I’ll move on.

 

4) I think I should have gotten the low power stereo microscope first; although, there’s no way anybody could have advised me more strongly of that with myself not knowing what I wanted.  But I’m not retiring the compound scope to the storage shed - I haven’t tried lake water yet, and that was the whole point of this.

 

5) The compound scope’s light source is sketchy, at best.  It takes some fiddling to make the light stay constant.  To be honest, it takes a LOT of fiddling, so much so that I wonder if the adjuster is defective.  I thought the scope might have been shipped with screwy batteries, but new batteries don’t help.  Not sure the source of the problem; I’ll report when I have figured a way to fix it.


Edited by hippo.potamus, 21 April 2018 - 02:23 PM.

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#20 Mike E.

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 03:18 AM

Congrats on getting your new microscope.  

 

I've recently become interested in microscopy also, as the weather in my neck of the woods has been uncooperative for observing for much too long, so an indoor optical hobby seemed to be the obvious choice to fill in the gap as an interesting pastime. After some research, I decided to look for a stereo model to start with and just purchased an older one off of ebay; it should arrive next week. Not sure I want to know what's swimming in our toilet, but we have some green stuff growing on our travel trailer that might be interesting to examine; anyway, I look forward to reading about your discoveries.


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#21 andycknight

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 01:59 PM

[snip...] I need to clean my bathroom, or nuke it.

 

grin.gif grin.gif

 

[snip...] I haven’t tried lake water yet, and that was the whole point of this.

 

When you get a sample, get a bit with a little blanket weed (fine green stringy stuff) There will be more tiny critters to look at there.

 

[snip...] The compound scope’s light source is sketchy, at best.  It takes some fiddling to make the light stay consttant.  To be honest, it takes a LOT of fiddling, so much so that I wonder if the adjuster is defective.  I thought the scope might have been shipped with screwy batteries, but new batteries don’t help.

 

This does not sound right at all. Maybe something has come loose during shipping. If not easily fixed, I would get it replaced.

 

Regards

 

Andy.


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#22 mich_al

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 07:21 PM

My AmScope arrived with the stage broken away from the body. I fixed it via longer screws but because I expect new things to arrive in perfect condition I griped (sans fix info) and got a new complete stage delivered. They didn't want the broken one returned. Give them a call or many calls if needed. New stuff should work properly, especially if you are the one who does the final QC. I'd buy from them again, it's a great scope for the price, better than I expected.

#23 Mike E.

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 02:05 AM

My AmScope arrived with the stage broken away from the body. I fixed it via longer screws but because I expect new things to arrive in perfect condition I griped (sans fix info) and got a new complete stage delivered. They didn't want the broken one returned. Give them a call or many calls if needed. New stuff should work properly, especially if you are the one who does the final QC. I'd buy from them again, it's a great scope for the price, better than I expected.

If I read this correctly, shipping wasn't the cause of the damage ?



#24 mich_al

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 08:19 PM

If I read this correctly, shipping wasn't the cause of the damage ?


Four screws that mount the stage only penetrate about 3 threads in. All had pulled the threads out of the aluminum stage on arrival. Problem solved (at least for now) with longer screws because there where good threads deeper into the stage. Longer screws to start with or better packaging or better handling would have avoided issues I'd bet.

Make sense now or am I missing your point ?

Edited by mich_al, 22 April 2018 - 08:22 PM.


#25 hippo.potamus

hippo.potamus

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 02:04 AM

Just an update.

 

I decided to take the scope apart and see what was wrong with the light source.  The initial issues with shipping make me hesitant to send this back for repair, and I’m handy with electronics - I expect it’s just a weakly connecting contact, easy enough to repair with needle-nose pliers.  I would be more hesitant to void the warranty if I had been more impressed with the scope to begin with (my expectations’ fault - not theirs).  I haven’t done it yet.  Other priorities took attention.

 

I did not bother to sketch, but did enjoy looking at some newly-sprouting plants alongside what I believe are some hay-fields through the 10x loupe.  I passed several bacteria-laden irrigation ditches and wondered about fecal coliform bacteria, but hadn’t the interest to make me stop and take a sample.

 

I am paralyzed by my unwillingness to take a sample of water for inspection under the scope.  I think it’s a combination of how much I like using the 10x loupe and my disappointment with the scope’s light source - but, regardless, it’s a mental thing.  I come up with excuses about how I don’t have sample vials to hold lake water in.  I come up with excuses about how the local governmental jurisdictions don’t want me messing with their stuff.  I come up with... excuses.  It’s easier to do nothing.  Maybe I’ll take up knitting.  $200 worth of supplies and I’ll be set to knit until the end of time, right?  Unless somebody has patented the pattern I am making...

 

Tomorrow, I’m driving down to California.  I’m bringing a pressure-cooker-sterilized glass bottle to collect an irrigation-ditch sample, and I’ll let ‘em arrest me if they really want to (I don’t expect they will want to).  My microscope came with a camera, so I’ll try to post a picture of SOMETHING interesting when I get home.  It would be cool to capture a Tardigrade, but I’m open to pretty much anything.




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