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xonenine

An Entry Level Usb Microscope

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xonenine

I thought I'd share my recent scope purchases' good and bad and ugly with you as I learn how to use it.Having no budget whatsoever, but lured by the parade of new USB scopes w promise of new features and resolutions for about 30 dollars, I took the plunge.

All the units I looked at had basically the same specs, same case, same exact function buttons, just different packaging.

Product Features:

  • Image sensor: 2 Mega Pixels
  • Video Capture Resolution: 160x120, 320x240,640x480,1280x1024
  • Still Image Capture Resolution: 160x120, 320x240,640x480,1280x1024
  • Exposure: Auto
  • Photo format: JPEG
  • Light source: 8 LED
  • PC interface: Mini USB1.1&2.0
  • Power source: 5V DC from USB port
  • Gray scale: Level 8
  • Sleep current:?1 mA
  • Work current:?180 mA
  • Save temperature: -20°C to +60°C
  • Work temperature: 10°C to +40°C
  • Magnification Ratio: 20x to 200x
  • Operation system: Windows XP/Vista/Win7(32-bit system)

My unit arrived quickly, the manual was most minimal, and not well translated.The software installed quickly enough, Windows 7 for me, 64 bit, and although 64 bit wasnt mentioned in compatability list, it installed and functioned properly.

What I quickly realized was that the software is a restricted version, and tho video capture features were good, still capture literally reqiured a manual shutter release, which wouldnt serve me at all.

A little internet search showed that this is a very common problem - One could pull a script from a Microsft SDK and write some better controls for the program, Amcap, which is what many of these units are bundled with.

Not for me, I found a full version of the software at the home page of the creator, and forked over another 35 dollars for the full software, more than the unit.No doubt one can quite legally obtain the components to do this free, it is well documented, I just wasn't willing to part with the time and energy entailed.

Now armed with the right software, the next step is to fix/supplement the stand a little.The microscope out of the box is very unwieldy in that it is always on an angle to the shot.Micro mount adhesive or a slight reworking of the stand is now in order, as I am getting a blur from the angle.

for a total of 70 dollars, I'm rather happy w the results, Im sure I can mount it better, and aside from hearing a few horror stories of these units burning out immediately, will enjoy this entry level scope till I decide if I want the real thing. :)

Pictures: The scope and features, the shot of three teeth with no software still capture, the single tooth is with still cpture, but that annoying blur from the angle, and the five dollar bill accentuated the blur. I will try to post a few good ones a little later today...the tooth shot in triple is most probably a Proscyllium btw

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Govinn

Awesome report! thanks for the information. I have a little money to burn... what would be a great usb microscope to get that is above the entry level one, BUT not cost more than let's say $150? I think the ability to remotely take pictures once it is focused is a must! I have tons of micro teeth and would love some really good pics of them.

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xonenine

Thanks Govinn I will leave that to others hopefully with more experience to answer... I didnt research much beyond my 30 dollar budget, the software issue was a big surprise.

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Jeff Hayward
I found a full version of the software at the home page of the creator, and forked over another 35 dollars for the full software

Could you share the website or tell us the creator's name please? I have one of these usb microscopes as well and amcap is so limited. Thanks.

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xonenine

certainly, heres a link to his home page...http://noeld.com/pro...s.asp?cat=video :)

Edited by xonenine

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Jeff Hayward

Thanks for the link!

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xonenine

also, several users of various cameras report being able to use "Mailincams" software as a generic driver, I did not find this to be the case for myself...the software couldn't find my cam w any of their versions

Edited by xonenine

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Auspex

Being able to turn off the LEDs makes this one better than mine for some uses. I did finally buy a stand that has a bit of fine-focus capability built in; big improvement!

Try "F11" as the shutter release.

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xonenine

Being able to turn off the LEDs makes this one better than mine for some uses. I did finally buy a stand that has a bit of fine-focus capability built in; big improvement!

Try "F11" as the shutter release.

good point on the hotkeys, another, the one I ended up paying for, is ctrl + L.

I should add this unit has two LED settings, and a lens cover, added things I liked that weren't mentioned. :)

I hope to use a generic hobby tool holder base, with the same swiveling armatures, as a sturdier wider base with more swing to boot...

oh, and yes, lots of USB things can and will burn out immediately, or become unreadable, if pulled while functioning...

Edited by xonenine

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xonenine

I did promise ugly too, a first try at a polished meteorite slice photograph, some "plain NWAxxx" unclassified...

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Edited by xonenine

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bdevey

I did promise ugly too, a first try at a polished meteorite slice photograph, some "plain NWAxxx" unclassified...

I recognize that alien, its Khaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnn..........drule!

That scope looks like it would work fine, for closeups of petwood for id.

Thanks for posting

Bob

ps. If your thinking, 'wait he's not an alien'. Than your a Trekie. Lol

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xonenine

thanks Bob, I'm thinking I can work with it, as for being a Trekkie...

Edited by xonenine

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xonenine

heres a modification for the endoscope, using the Intel Qx3 stand, which are still pretty available cheaply.The stands for these endoscopes were very tiny, not too useful.

When I'm happy w the access to controls, ease of switching units, etc., I will make the adaptor plate sturdier... :)

I have a great plan for the actual Intel unit too - just wipe my sisters Windows XP when shes not looking, install Windows ME, switch the wallpapers, only we will ever know...

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Edited by xonenine

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pleecan

That is great Carm! Glad you are having fun with the USB scope.... the images looks great! I also bought a cheap USB microscope from about $70 still sitting in the box but if I have time will post a review... have fun Carm ! : )

PL

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xonenine

Thanks Peter, maybe this will be the year I can get a good scope! :)

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Bullsnake

Great thread Xonenine.

This inspired me to try a different setup with mine. I wasn't sure what you meant earlier when you mentioned hobby stand, so I threw this together with my 'helping hand' soldering stand. Needs a bit more modification though, as some of the joints don't quite fit right. But I can pretty much move it into any position or angle I need.

The main drawback is there isn't a focus wheel like the one on your stand, which would be really nice because I'm sure you know, the focus on the microscope itself is very touchy; as soon as you get focused, the camera moves just enough to go back out again.

The other thing about mine, I didn't realize until I got it that my OS wasn't right for it, so I'm not able to use it to it's full potential, but I can at least take pics, which is good enough for me right now. I'm not tech savvy enough to worry about much else right now.

Thanks,

Steve

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xonenine

Great thread Xonenine.

This inspired me to try a different setup with mine. I wasn't sure what you meant earlier when you mentioned hobby stand, so I threw this together with my 'helping hand' soldering stand. Needs a bit more modification though, as some of the joints don't quite fit right. But I can pretty much move it into any position or angle I need.

The main drawback is there isn't a focus wheel like the one on your stand, which would be really nice because I'm sure you know, the focus on the microscope itself is very touchy; as soon as you get focused, the camera moves just enough to go back out again.

The other thing about mine, I didn't realize until I got it that my OS wasn't right for it, so I'm not able to use it to it's full potential, but I can at least take pics, which is good enough for me right now. I'm not tech savvy enough to worry about much else right now.

Thanks,

Steve

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hiyas Steve, nice job, that stand is very similar to what I envisioned.I am sure it will be more helpful - though as you say the biggest issue w these scopes for me is that the lighting and focus both change as soon as you let go of the unit...

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