Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Microscope’ Category

Hello fellow microscope hobbyists, I am starting my new post at blogger.com.  See the pictures of my latest field trip mineral collection from Chucky Gal Mountain, North Carolina here.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

dissolve mineral and crystalized the minerals is another way to prepare the specimen for polarized light microscope examination.  Yesterday, I dissolve several common ingredients for food seasonings and put a few drops on the slides to allow them to dry: table salt (Sodium Chloride), Sugar and Alum hydrated potassium aluminium sulfate.  I also drop a few drops of methylene blue.  Today they are all pretty much dried out – The sugar is still somewhat sticky but I can clearly see the sugar crystals in snow flake shape.

White Sugar Crystal under Polarized Light Microscope

White Sugar Crystal under Polarized Light Microscope

White Sugar Crystal under Polarized Light

White Sugar Crystal under Polarized Light (This is the first photo with some post processing by adjusting the gamma to 0.6 from 1.0)

 The color of the sugar crystal shows richer color when I adjust the gamma correction.  The loss of color must have been caused by the manual shooting mode. 

White sugar crystal under polarized light microscope

White sugar crystal under polarized light microscope

White sugar crystal under polarized light microscope

White sugar crystal under polarized light microscope

Alum crystal under polarized light microscope

Alum crystal under polarized light microscope

Table salt under polarized light microscope

Table salt under polarized light microscope

Methylene blue under polarized light microscope

Methylene blue under polarized light microscope

The photos are taken with Canon EOS T1i with Manual mode (ISO 400, exposure 4 sec, auto white balance).  Nexcope CM701 converted polarized light microscope was used for observation.

Read Full Post »

It’s summer.  You can hear cricket chirping when you sit in your backyard listen to the surronding quietly.  The kids are in the summer break.  It’s perfect time to take kids to go on the fields to collect some insects and bring home for observation.

What we brought with us:

Inect collection net and collection container

Megan was carrying an insect collection net and container

If you plan to preserve the specimen, a killing jar is better than the collection container that Megan took with her.  She like to oberve them moving around so a collection container working just fine.  The contain has a small opening allow you to put insects but more difficult for insects to get out.

Small tubes or Vials

Small tubes or Vials allows you to put small insects, such as leaf hopper, ants or flies.

Triangle Envelope

Triangle Envelope made by semi-transparent paper. You can put butterfly in the envelope to prevent it damage the wing while trying to escape.

Of course, it is hot and humid during the summer.  Don’t forget to bring sun cream, hat and plenty of water.

Insect collection net is the essential tool for collecting insect. The perfect method is the draw a number eight horizontally with the net’s opening pointing to the direction of moving direction. Let the net move through the area that you want to collect. Megan was on the first insect collection field trip. She is getting better use of the net. She has an excellent close-out move that close up the net to prevent the insect from escaping.

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

a Grasshopper

a Grasshopper (It was molted right after we brought it home)

After we brought them home, we wanted to seem them in details.  A stereo microscope (or so-called low power microscope) is perfect for this purpose.

Stereo Microscope

Stereo Microscope is perfect microscope for observing insects.

In the picture is an Ample Scientific SM Plus Stereo Microscope. It equiped both top and bottom light. The observation surface is made of semi-reflectory mirrow which allows some top light to reflect from the bottom)

Butterfly Preservation

Butterfly Specimen Preparation

I made a simplified spreading board with styrophone with a central groove to allow the fat body to sit in.  I pinned the  butterfly through the middle of the thorax at the thickest part, slightly behind the base of the forewing then insert the pin into the center groove in the spreading board until the wings are level with the sides of the spreading board.  With the aid of an insect pin, adjust the front wing by gently pulling it forward, until the rear margin is at a right angle to the body of the butterfly. Pull the hind wing forward until the front margin is hidden beneath the front wing, and temporarily anchor it in the same manner as the front wing. Once the wings are in position, I placed strips of paper over the wings; anchor them firmly to the board.  Hopefully, the specimen will be ready in a week for display.

Read Full Post »

Copepods are a group of small crustacean, ranges from 1 to 2 mm.  They were commonly found in fresh water ponds.  The shape of copepods are like rain drops.  They are characterized by a single simple eye in the middle of the head.  The female copepods sometime carry the some eggs in clusters of egg sacs that are attached to the base of the abdomen.

Copepods female

Copepods female

Copepod egg sacs

Copepod egg sacs

Copepod

Copepod and eggs scattered around it

water mite (in question)

copepod nauplius

Read Full Post »

Most microscope cameras use computer software to capture images from microscopes.  The image acquisition software plays an important role in the quality of the images taken by the camera.  Through the image acquisition software, the microscopist can adjust various settings, such as color, contrast, exposure, to affect the quality of the images.  Ideally, you want the software to be “what you see is what you get” but in reality the microscope camera software is far from perfect.  The colors can off tune and sometimes over-expose while other times under exposed.

I have been using TSView (comes with Tucsen microscope camera) for taking pictures since acquired the camera.  Lately, I have fiddled with MICAM.  The results are surprisingly good.  In this post, I am comparing the quality of images taken by Tucsen microscope camera with TSView (6.2.2.3) and MICAM (1.4).  Both image acquisition software are capable of using manual adjustment to tweak the settings to obtain optimal image quality but most users use autoamtic setting and  there is learning curve to become an expert in manual settings.   This post, I am comparing the photo quality aquired by both software with their automatic settings (i.e. auto-exposure and auto-white balance).     

The test was done on Tucsen 3.0MP CMOS camera was attached to the eyepiece socket of Nexcope CM701 microscope with the Tucsen 0.5x reduce lens.  Three slides are used:  A prepared slide of Paramecium which has stained red, yellow and green, a prepared slide of from epidermis for high contrast comparison and a home-made slide of onion epidermis slide stained with Methylene Blue.  Before I take the photos, I move the mechanical stage to blank space, perform a white balance then snap a photo with TSView.  The same procedure was done with MICAM.     

Low Light Condition     

Paramecium at 400X taken with Tucsen Microscope Camera at Low Light

Paramecium at 400X taken with Tucsen Microscope Camera at Low Light

Paramecium at 400X taken with Tucsen Microscope Camera using MICAM at Low Light

Paramecium at 400X taken with Tucsen Microscope Camera using MICAM at Low Light

To perform this test, I turned the illumination of the microscope all the way down.  The TSView software seems to lose the color balance (Top) when the light turned dim.  MICAM seems to be able to adjust the color even at low light condition (Bottom).  The picture acquired by TSView also are appreared to be too dark.

Normal Light Condition     

Paramecium taken with Tucsen Microscope Camera with TSView

Paramecium taken with Tucsen Microscope Camera with TSView at Normal Light Condition

     

Paramecium Taken with Tucsen Microscope using MICAM

Paramecium Taken with Tucsen Microscope using MICAM at Normal Light Condition

 The images acquired by both software are very close to what I actually see through the eyepiece.  TSView seems to produce a little bit brighter image.    

Blue Color    

Onion Epidemis stained with methlyene blue at 400X

Onion Epidemis stained with methlyene blue at 400X - photo taken with Tucsen microscope camera using TSView software

Onion Epidemis stained with methlyene blue at 400X

Onion Epidemis stained with methlyene blue at 400X - photo taken with Tucsen microscope camera using MICAM software

Since the paramecium slide does not have any stained with blue, I am using the methylene blue stained onion epidermis.  Both images seems to be able to product very real blue color like I observed through microscope.  TSView seems to have a little bit more contrast, however, some cytoplasm seems to be over-exposed.  However, due to its high contrast, its seems to show a little bit more 3D feel.  While the images acquired by MICAM are little bit better with the setting the correct exposure.     

Hight contrast  Hight contrast seems to be the trouble condition which we might face.  It’s very challenge for microscopists to take photos with good quality because the difficulty of setting right exposure and contrast.  I am picking this frog epidermis slide because the tissues are semi-transparent while some what space are completely transparent.  This creates the hight contrast between different areas.    

TSView - High Contrast

TSView - High Contrast

MICAM Hight Contrast

MICAM Hight Contrast

The images acquired by TSView (Top) is brighter and has higher contrast.  The white area seems to be over exposed.  While MICAM produce very pleasant image by softening up the contrast.  The images are a little bit darker than the what I see through the eyepiece.    

Overall, both software product quality images under normal light condition.  MICAM produces better pictures when dealing with trouble light conditions, such as low light and high contrast.  

Note

TSView Version 7 is currently in beta-testing phase.  It should be interesting to compare Version 7 with MICAM.

Read Full Post »

My previous impression with Tucsen TCC-3.3ICE-N was mixed.  I am very positive about the picture quality of TCC-3.3ICE-N but I am not too thrill about the software.  Today, I was hoping to use MICAM to take fluorescent photos.  I have done several shot with Tucsen CMOS model with MICAM.   MICAM seems to do a better job in adjusting  auto exposure and white balance. Unfortunately, TCC-3.3ICE-N does not come with a DirectShow driver like the CMOS model so I ended up still using TSView 6.2.2.3.
Tucsen TCC-3.3ICE-N microscope was mounted to the side of Zeiss Axiovert M200 inverted microscope.  The green fluorescent protein (GFP) is excited under blud ligh and fluoresce green. 

Zeiss Axiovert M200 Fluorescent Microscope with Tucsen TCC-3.3ICE-N (mounted at the side) and Zeiss MRc5 (Mounted at the top) Microscope Camera

Just for fun. I took a snapshot from the eyepiece.

My second encounter with TCC-3.3ICE-N was much better than my first.  It is partially due to GFP’s higher light intensity.  I was able to take my first shot in 1o minutes after setup.   There are five different settings for focus mode at higher gain and shorter exposure.  2.5 or 5 fps seems to be more acceptable for setting up focus.  After I obtained satisfactory preview image in focus mode I switched to fine mode at lower gain (12db) and longer exposure time (approx 5 sec) to get cleaner picture.

Image is focus with QuickFluo (The gain ranged from 24 to 30 db and frame rate from 2.5 to 5 fps)

GFP Expression in K562 Cell at 400X - 3.5 second exposure time at 12db gain

GFP Expression in K562 Cell at 400X - 5.8 second exposure time at 12db gain

Another GFP in K562 Cell at 400x is switching to fine mode

Another GFP in K562 Cell at 400x in fine mode

Read Full Post »

Summary: Nikon, Zeiss, Lieca and Nikon are regarded by many as the Big Four microscope manufactures in the world.  Their microscopes are commonly perceived as high quality microscopes.  In contrast, the Chinese microscopes are perceived as low quality products.  Many of you may not know that many microscopes from the Big Four are manufactured in China.  The Quality of Chinese microscopes have drastically improved during the past decade.  On the other hand, there are also many no-brand Chinese Microscopes on the markets.  They were sold on the internet as fraction of the cost of Big Four’s microscopes.  The quality of those microscopes are not consistent.  The purpose of this short note is to present some facts about the Big Four’s microscopes OEM manufacturing in China.   These OEM manufacturers have demonstrated their ability to product quality microscopes.  This will serve you are guide when purchasing a Chinese microscopes.  Do ask your microscopes who are their original microscope manufacturer.   Clikc on link below to see the full text and illustration of this article.

Full Text and Illustration

Read Full Post »