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Stereo Microscope


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Well... Good for me that I wasn't missing any opportunities with 4" WD microscopes. I thought the 8" was about ideal, if a touch on the long side. Sorry for the bad news, maybe it's not too late to change the order pre-emptively? Still, let us know when and what shows up regardless. That's a killer deal.

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I called my friend, who is a biology researcher, to get her take on this. She answered a lot of my questions. It looks like various lenses can be swapped around to make a 3.5-40X (as an example) into a 3.5-180X (again, semi-random numbers). This seems to be limited to particular systems, which may or may not be manufacturer or even product specific. I haven't dug in yet, but I think AmScope will likely be a safe catalog for being able to buy a decent microscope, and then swap out parts if/as needed down the road (within a reasonable amount of time).

Meanwhile, I dug into the site mentioned above. I was able to find some fairly high end microscopes for under a dollar... A lot are listed for $99 and a few a little less, and I found a few under a dollar, but for similar values ($0.99 for instance). Probably a typo. Probably wouldn't be honored, but I'd absolutely add one to the cart just to see if they deliver. The site itself looks a little... sketchy. Nothing too terribly overtly sketchy, but also too good to be true. Chingrish in a few prominent places, "About Us" doesn't say anything at all, "Contact Us" just has an email address from a different domain. I dug into the domain a little, and it was only registered 2 months ago. The domain in the contact email was registered a year ago. I forget who the main registrar was (anything specific to the actual owner is shrouded), but the registrar for the contact domain is GoDaddy. Same obfuscation. This isn't a bad thing, I do the same with my domains, but it's not helpful. Traffic to the site is minimal, it doesn't show up anywhere but the site itself, and the email domain has 0 traffic.

So... I'm thinking it's worth a swing. I'm going to check up on my credit card's fraud dispute policy and see what happens unless @martygene reports back first.

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The biology researcher's husband was out when I talked to her earlier. His work is a bit more homologous to watchmaking. He does ultra-high frequency, ultra-high precision electronics at a lab associated with CU and NIST in Boulder. He made the resonator (equivalent to the escapement) for the next generation atomic clock that will boost its accuracy by 10KX (that's horological, right?). I'm sure the microscopes at his lab are much higher end, but he personally has a double boom AmScope with 4" working distance in his home shop. We chatted a bit about what I'm needing, my down the road desires/ambitions (hunting tardigrades in the yard with my currently 1 year old daughter), and the limitations of that approach. This is definitely the way to go, assuming the site checks out. I told him the domain from memory over the phone (it's gibberish, and I may have misremembered it). He said the SSL was no good, but looking at it on my machine (without having to recall the domain from memory), and the SSL checks out. That may mean I told him the wrong domain and he didn't go beyond the warning page, or it could mean my filter's standards for acceptable SSLs are looser than his. His take was that it was too sketchy for his $99, but if I wanted to buy two, he'd pay for both in exchange for one of them once they arrived... I will be waiting as patiently as possible to see how it works out for you.

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@spectre6000, sounds like he has the same kind of AmScope stand I have.  It's more expensive than the single boom and non-boom stands, but I think it's worth it.  @Tudor, I do exactly as you describe, and move the scope out of the way when I don't want to use it.  The boom rotates freely, unless you lock it with a knob.  There is another locking ring under the boom on the vertical shaft that controls height.  The boom slides back and forth on a linear bearing too.  The head has multiple degrees of freedom, for tilt, rotation, additional height, etc.

Changing the objective lenses is something that is done for compound microscopes.  These are the kind used for looking at slides a millimeter from the lense, with one eye, at 1000X+ power.  Totally wrong kind of microscope.

For a stereo microscope the objective isn't swappable.  It's either fixed or has some zoom range, like 0.7x to 4.5x.

Multiply the base magnification of the objective by the eyepieces to get the total.  This is how a 0.7-4.5 zoom (like the AmScope models) becomes a 7x to 45x when combined with 10x eyepieces.

Eyepieces are semi-interchangeable.  There are different sizes and types, some more standard than others.

For a stereo microscope you want widefield eyepieces.  They will say often say "WF".  Non-widefield are for compound microscopes.  Totally wrong.

Then you have the size, or diameter where it fits into the eyepiece tubes in the scope body.  The AmScope uses 30mm eyepieces, which seems to be the most common size.

Eyepieces can also be high eyepoint or low eyepoint.  This is how far your eye should be from the eyepiece to get the correct focus.  High eyepoint lets you wear glasses (which you should do if you wear glasses).  They will often have an eyeglass icon on them.  Everything seems to be high eyepoint for stereo microscopes.

Then you've got a choice of magnification and there is 5x to 30x is available.  10x is standard.  Since the microscope objective doesn't get bigger, using higher magnification eyepieces is like camera digital zoom: it makes the picture bigger but doesn't add new pixels.  They also need more light and just seem to be more fiddly.  Less of sweet spot to get your eyes and more fiddly with focus.

Given that, there are a thousand compatible eyepieces for sale on amazon, ebay, aliexpress, amscope's site, etc.

Now, for working distance.  All of AmScope's zoom stereo microscopes have the same working basic distance!  And the Zeiss, Fuji, etc. are nearly the same too.  It's not an arbitrary value to designer can choose at will, but is based on the objective magnification.  So you've got no choice really.

But wait you say, "AmScope's different models clearly have different working distances in the specs!  That's got to be wrong!"  What's going on here is a Barlow lens.  This is large lens that screws onto the front of the objective.  The AmScopes use a 48mm thread and you can buy them from many places.  These change the magnification, choices are 0.5x, 0.7x (i.e., less magnification), 1.5x, and 2x.  The lenses that decrease the magnification also increase the working distance.  A 0.5x lens will cut the magnification in half while doubling the working distance, while the 2x does the opposite.

You want a 0.7x and/or a 0.5x for watch work if you want to do more than look at things or maybe use an oiler.

The AmScope kits with the larger working distance just include a 0.5 or 0.7 Barlow lens.  You can buy the same lens separately.  In fact, AmScope really has just one normal stereo binocular microscope.  Then there are 300 different kit combinations of that scope with different stands, eyepiece(s), barlow lens(es), lights, cameras, and so on.  BTW, the kit prices are strange.  Some are a much better deal than others.

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I started to ask when Chinese New Year was, because it bit me in the butt last year on a business deal. It combined with China shutting down for coronavirus, then we got shut down. Never did find a gap before the opportunity was gone...

I had some time last night, so I went through the entire ocasde site and looked at everything "microscope". They also have another brand that google tells me is a very similar level, but maybe slightly less versatile (less accessory choices). I forget the name, but it might have started with an O. I also went through AmScope's site and looked the other way. I didn't find anything new, but figured out more or less what you're saying about only really having a few models, and just blowing out a catalog with accessory combinations. I haven't completely figured out how the lineup works in terms of where the core is, and how the part numbers work such that I could "build" a microscope how I wanted in those terms though.

If the $99 scope turns out to be real (all of my fingers and toes are crossed), I'll probably buy a couple (maybe more than a couple). I'll get one for me, and one for the higher magnification stuff. At that price, it's a bit silly not to. It may also make sense to buy a few in the event they turn out to be factory seconds or something similar; swap parts around between them to get a good one, sell off the double second. 

Edited by spectre6000
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  • 2 weeks later...
55 minutes ago, spectre6000 said:

Paging @martygene. Any updates?

It is better to use PM to ask members about something. That at least triggers an email if preferences are set so.

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here is what I got today from the company:

 

Dear Buyer :

 

your order has send

 

Because of the effects of the new coronavirus, item will delivery delay

 

Remark: Because of the effects of the new coronavirus, our European and American warehouses had to close , so send item from China .

 

Delivery time : 15-25 working days 

 

if you any problem, please keep in touch !

zahqn24078

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I think shipping from China was expected (at least for my part). Resultant long shipping time also expected. I don't see any changes on the site, so they're not backtracking on anything. Am I correct in my assumption that there was no tracking information (or even a start date for the 15-20 business days) that came with that response?

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LOL  that would be my kind of luck. There are no free lunches I guess.  I'll give it a little more time and then I guess I'll bite the bullet and buy one from Amscope. Two recent watch guys that I've gotten to know both use the Amscope at 8 inch height. I'm getting neck surgery soon so I'll be out of watch fixing shape for a while anyway so once I heal enough to start back fixin' I'll get one. 

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Hopefully your credit card has good fraud protection, and you're able to get your money back. That really sucks. I was ready to pull the trigger on a half dozen of them for me and a few others who were looking for similar equipment.

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I'm not abandoning the ship just yet but for the 99 I spent I should be able to use it even if and when I but one from Amscope. I would get one from Amscope now if it weren't for the upcoming surgery. But if this one doesn't come by the time I am ready for one I'll get the one from Amscope. 

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  • 3 months later...

Good evening,

Before i hit the purchase button i wanted to run this by those with more experience with watch repair than me.  My only concern about this purchase is whether the "working distance" of 4 inches is sufficient to do what needs to be done to a watch under the scope.  I did read several pages of the string of posts where Lee gave his review of the scope that sits on a boom and has much greater working distance (perhaps as great as 20 cm, i think).  I like the zoom function on this one, the mag power range, and the fact that i could take pictures down the road if i wanted. is the working distance sufficient to do watch repair?  thanks for your thoughts.  141453620_trinocularscope.thumb.PNG.0d519e40b95ef126945bb3f63cc0fe89.PNG

 

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From my notes, 4" is a bit short. That's about how long some of the longer screwdrivers are, and then also need to get the movement in a holder under there AND have some space to move around. 8" seems to be the working distance of choice.

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The specs for this microscope are pretty standard. Most of us gain more working distance by sacrificing some magnification. This is done by adding a Barlow lens to the objective lens. A 0.5X Barlow lens would halve your magnification but double your working distance. I use a similar spec basic microscope with a 0.7X Barlow lens.

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I have an amscope and it is set up for minimal magnification.  I do not work on watches with it, but rather have it over my watchmaker's lathe.  I have begun to ponder the idea of using it for working on watches themselves.  But, for now, I am doing ok with a loupe.

I have had this scope for a long time...long before returning to watches.  It does not maintain focus as you zoom, but that is fine.  Zoom in...refocus.

2021-05-08 19_07_10-Photos.png

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Posted (edited)

There are two things that keep me from watchmaking on a daily basis. One is that my desk is completely covered in electronics junk and papers for work (hopefully the former is finally debugged and installed soon... this is getting old). The other is I'm having a hard time with my optics. I have a clip-on loupe that is functional, but gets in the way and is both limited and cumbersome. I've been trying to find other, increasingly expensive options, and every time it's like I'm throwing money down the Crevasse of Futility. I think I'm about to finally pull the trigger on an AmScope, and need a nudge to put me over the edge.

I was wondering if someone so equipped could take a short video, or even just photos, from the [i]outside[/i] (what I would see if I were sitting/standing next to you) of a stereo microscope in use in the most general of use cases; i.e. movement in holder, screwdriver in hand, doing something ultra-typical like assembly/disassembly. Greatly appreciated.

Edited by spectre6000
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