microscopy in the home shop
Microscopy in the Home Shop
Let There Be Light: Scoping with Fibre Optics
One of the best light sources currently available,
at a reasonable used price (although new systems are falling rapidly in
price), is the (Schott) Fostec ACE Light Source. These come up several
times a month on eBay (look for the body style shown in the picture below
as these units are sold under various brand names - such a "Kramer"
- Figure 5). A crafty bidder can generally “win” one, with a cable, for
less then $150 USD. SF continues to offer a range of fibre cables for
this style illuminator (also common items on eBay). The Schott-Fostec
site has all the gory details - complete with dimensional drawings. In
addition to the selection of bundle types this light source features a
bulb carrier that is very easy to remove from the case (shown in an earlier
picture), making bulb replacements a snap (the standard carrier can be
replaced with an iris version if needed). There is also a remote control
ACE, which allows you to place the illuminator in an out-of-the-way spot
(all of these units have cooling fan which some may find a tad noisy –
I have no problem with it). Finally, picking up a second or third unit
is easy, inexpensive and greatly increases both convenience and flexibility
(e.g., epi and trans illumination at the same time). On the flip side
you can use one light source for several scopes by inserting the appropriate
cable feed in to the light source. The final picture (Figure 6) shows
the PM2 with the remote control fibre optic system ready for use.
click image to enlarge (87K)
click image to enlarge (70K)
click image to enlarge (55K)
Converting to fibre optics is easy and relatively inexpensive.
These illuminators and cables provide a degree of flexibility, light intensity
and heat filtering not attainable by any other means. Replacement bulbs
are readily available and cost very little. In my experience microscopists
often overlook the illumination system on their scopes, being satisfied
with whatever comes out the light port. Pity, as in many cases this is
far from ideal. In my opinion, fibre optic illumination is the most efficient
and effective way to make your optics hum!
See also, part 2 of this article: Let
There Be Light - The Sequel. Good Bye Lamp House!