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Lee

Stereo Microscope

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This week I took delivery of a www.brunelmicroscopes.co.uk BM1 long arm microscope. Several of you where interested in this & how I got on so I thought I'd do a review. bear in mind its written after only a couple of uses, by someone who has a few years experience on quartz but only 6 months experience on mechanical watches.

 

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Image from brunelmicroscopes

 

Cost (including post & vat at time of writing) £219.60

 

First impressions where pretty good, for a couple of hundred pounds you get a well made, heavy & positive feeling microscope. you get a nice cover & some additional madnifications

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You can adjust the eye lenses to suit your eyes & adjust the long arm in various directions.

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I found three faults with the microscope, the first is if you swing the arm by 90 degrees the base is not weighty enough to support it & the unit tips over

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this means you have to pretty much use it directly inline with the base which gives a more limited space under which to work, especially if you adjust the eyes to suit a seated position, although once I got going I didn't notice it, it was enough.

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The second issues was the light got pretty hot & it didn't half make me jump when I touched the back of my hand on it, which being made to jump when your talking watches isn't the greatest of news is it! but I think this is only a matter of getting used to it as a set up

 

The third issue was the quality of the lenses as you can see they look quite cheap & Chinese nasty & I'd like to have perhaps had something to put them in to keep the dust out of them.

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To work with the microscope is a joy! I mean a serious joy! my hand was a lot steadier, things where more precise. changing lense is a simple case of sliding one out & sliding the next in

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I found with the angle i'd set the eye lenses to gave me about 10cm of work space, which was more than enough, I didn't foul with the microscope at all.

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the first job I did with the microscope was to change a date when on a 255.411 from the white it was supplied with to a gold one from the watch I was repairing & I have to say I have never found doing a piece of work on a watch so pleasing.

the preciseness

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So all in all, as a user you can see & feel this is an entry level stereo longarm microscope, but its still a long, long was out in front of an eyeglass/loupe and is a sound investment for an intermediate user & I would throughly recommend one at this price

 

I'd give it about 7.5 out of 10.

 

Lee

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the review Lee - most informative :)

 

In fact - the problems you pointed out all seem solvable and even forgivable given the price which is excellent.

 

Maybe the lamp will accept an LED bulb which will run cooler?

 

 

Do they have an attachment available to video through it?

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Thanks for the review Lee,  it is a lot of instrument for the money.  Velcro tape glued to the microscope base and bench should be enough to stop it tipping over and can always be removed if your not happy with it,  unlike drilling holes in the base and workbench.  As Mark said an LED bulb might solve the heat problem if you can find one to fit.

Edited by autowind

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I will tinker with it in the coming weeks to get it right for my personal preference  & I totally agree the problems all seem solvable and are forgivable its an excellent bit of kit for the price.

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Thank you for the thorough review. I have an old gem scope that I can examine things with but it isn't useable on the bench. This looks like it will do the trick. There are also a few models on the bay that have the third eye for a USB camera. I just wonder about the quality. Thanks again!

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Lee, I am anxious to hear feedback on your stereo microscope. I use a standard microscope all day for my real job. I am a clinical scientist and I think this would be an easy transition for me. I normally use magnification along the line of 400 - 1000 x's so a bit different but still much the same.

Odyseus, where do I find your blog?

Thank you,

Alec

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Lee, I am anxious to hear feedback on your stereo microscope. I use a standard microscope all day for my real job. I am a clinical scientist and I think this would be an easy transition for me. I normally use magnification along the line of 400 - 1000 x's so a bit different but still much the same.

Odyseus, where do I find your blog?

Thank you,

Alec

So sorry just now saw the review. Thank you for that! I was thinking a diving lead weight might solve the tipping issue as well. I think I might want the base out of the way.

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I have one of these trinocular stereo microscopes, the version with a double bar stand and big heavy weighted base.

Three adapters that take it upto 90x mag (which is way more than any watchmaking task would require I suspect) but it's great for just playing around and looking at interesting things.

The working distance on mine is about 20cm at a decent mag.

Mine came with a fluorescent illumination which is a pile of poo, it's that dim it's been binned and replaced with an LED one which is nice and bright.

One thing that really annoys me is the third optical port for USB cameras, DSLR cameras, etc.

Attaching either of my Nikon cameras to it (D200 or D300s) and the images are extremely washed out with terrible chromatic aberration, extremely poor DoF. Just unusable.

Doesn't matter what I put on there, you would think the image or video was taken with a £10 webcam hand held down an eyepiece.

I had intended to hook up the DSLR camera and a Hi8 camcorder to video the disassembly, mainly so I could put it back together again, but also to show people what needs to be done if I ever get to the point if an start offering my services.

Has anyone had any luck with a camera kit for these heads? The one I got is all metal construction with the DSLR adapter for Nikon series cameras. I've tried all sorts of combinations of the adapter in the black metal port of the third head, removing the black metal port and fitting it (loosely) into the beige throat of the third port - this is obviously lose to wobble side to side but can give me an ok image, I suspect it's just made with very poor tolerances.

The image through the eyepieces is very good (a little chromatic aberration at high magnification but nothing too bad)

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Oh, one thing I found out is that after building my workbench with the height set for comfortable height for me, using the scope I need to be up about another foot and a half! The 20cm working distance + the same again height of the scope head! Solved by lots of cushions on the chair :)

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Almost the same as the one I have, which is this one:-

http://www.ebay.com/itm/191173262207

 

I would recomment getting this one if you can as the dual horizontal bars give better support and the base is a lot heavier.

 

It does have two problems, first the fluorescent light is pathetic, nowhere near bright enough so search for another identical one that comes with an LED light which is far brighter. Second if you try to take pictures through it using the DSLR camera adapter, the pictures on mine come out really poor.

 

As I bought mine primarily to work through, and taking lovely pictures of random things and bugs really close up was a secondary consideration, I'm still happy with mine.

 

I have heard that if you buy the right (dedicated) camera you can get excellent pictures, but the cameras ain't cheap!

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Thanks for the response fraggle. I saw that one as well but wondered if it would be overkill or too big for my bench. Are you happy with the scope you purchased other than the two flaws you pointed out? Is it easy to use?

What type of light did you end up using. I see goose neck fiber optic lights also being offered but those seem very expensive.

Also, did you try the USB cameras they sell? Was wondering about their quality. Thanks again for the help.

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Yes I'm very happy with it.

 

There are a few things you need to take into account with the one I have and the one you linked too.

 

If you want to use them when they are fully extended horizontally you'll need to figure out some way of bolting the base to the desk - it's just not heavy enough to support the scope properly.

 

I've got mine extended about half way and that's great.

 

They do take up a lot of room, and if you have it extended half way horizontally like mine it needs room behind it too so you can swing it around.

 

So you'll need to think of accounting for enough room on the table for the base, and enough room behind and infront to allow the arm with the scope on the end of the arm to swing over your work area and swing back out of the way.

 

Saying that, the scope head is obviously suspended above the workbench so having space that it can swing in (in front of the base) isn't a problem, and once I'd assembled it on my workbench it doesn't take up very much bench real estate at all.

 

My model has a large amount of "working room" between the bottom of the scope and whatever you are looking at, that is great as it gives me plenty of room to work on whatever I'm fixing, but the downside it that the eyepieces are high up and I have to put about 3 cushions on the chair to sit on so I can comfortably use it.

 

So, yeah, a couple of things to bear in mind when you're deciding how to lay out your bench, grab a few cushions or get a chair with adjustable height that goes very high and you'll love it :)

 

I haven't tried any of the cameras that they sell for it no. I bought the adapter kit for DSLR cameras (as I've got those already). The DSLR kit seems very well made, all metal, but I think the tolerances on it aren't that great and it allows the camera to move a little, which is enough to make the image look bad.

 

I haven't heard of anyone using the cameras that are made for it, so I don't know if they're worthwhile buying.

 

The lamp I got looks very similar to the one in the auction I linked too, but it uses LEDs rather than a fluorescent tube and is a lot brighter. I got it from EBay, search for "144-LED Adjustable MICROSCOPE Ring Light illuminator Lamp".

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Thanks again for the comprehensive reply Fraggle.  I do appreciate it.  I would maybe have to clear some room on my bench when it is in use but I don't see that as a problem.  I also have an adjustable chair that I can use as long as my legs still fit under the bench :)  I am going to pull the trigger and add the led light.  Thanks again for the help!!!

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My pleasure.

 

I don't know where you live? That seller uses EBay shipping which (for me in the UK) automatically charges the customs import duty and VAT which added a bit to the price.

 

Still a lot cheaper than the equivalent from well known brands so that wasn't a problem for me - the full price was advertised in the EBay auction, nothing extra to pay.

 

If you go for one of the USB cameras do let us know how you get on with it.

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