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My hope in documenting this system is that an Honours student might be able to copy it for only about £100, if they were able to borrow and scavenge some equipment from various University groups and departments. In this page I will list the parts that will be needed, which can be borrowed, and which probably need to be bought. I will also list the sources and prices of those parts that probably need to be bought, and the places to look for those parts that can probably be found or borrowed.

Parts list

Hardware for the optics

10X Mitutoyo Plan Apo Infinity Corrected Long WD Objective - this can be borrowed and is most likely to be found in the materials science or engineering department of your University. Biologists, in general, do not have these, as they are designed for brightfield examination of the surface of a subject, rather than for looking through a subject.

DSLR body - It is likely that you can borrow one of these from someone in your department. I use a Canon, and the adapters that I list below assume that the body is a Canon.

There are many different ways to connect the Camera body to the microscope objective, but this is one of the cheaper and most effective ways:

Olympus Zuiko 200mm manual prime lens - probably has to be bought second hand, costs about £80 on ebay.

Also from ebay:

Lens Mount Adapter for Olympus OM Lens to Canon EF-Mount (about £20)
M26X0.706 Mitutoyo microscope female thread to M55mm 55X0.75 adapter micrography (£11.48 on ebay)
Two UV filters (55mm) with the glass removed as an extension to accommodate the long thread of the objective. (About £10 each)

Hardware for the focus block

The focus block, on which the camera rests, is a block from a Nikon Optiphot or Labophot microscope. This may be got free from a University department if they have old microscopes to throw away. People in the engineering department here have told me that they have lots of old microscopes and have no idea what to do with them.

The base must be heavy and solid, and I use an off-cut of worktop. This can be got free from a carpenter or kitchen fitter.

Electronics for the focus block

These will almost certainly have to be bought, unless you can borrow bits.

RS Pro Hybrid Stepper Motor 0.9°, 44 Ncm, 2.8 V, 1.68 A, 4-wire motor, which was bought from (About £28)

Plastic gears (About £5)

Big Easy Driver (About £18)

Arduino (About £18)

Jumper wires (About £1.20)

Power plug for the stepper motor. (£4)

Bit of wood and screws to be scavenged.

Stand for photographic specimen

I use an old paint pot as a stand, with a blob of blutac on top. (£1)


I use Helicon focus for focus stacking and this bottom level of subscription for a year currently costs £22.

Other things

In order for the system to work I also use a laptop attached to the Camera body and the EOS remote software, which came with the camera. This need a USB lead for the connection, but I think that also came with the camera.


The total cost of all of the bits above that need to be bought is £228.68, which is a fair bit more than the £100 I originally thought (oops), but a lot less than the £4000 that it would cost to build this setup with all- bought parts. If you are trying to copy this system then good luck with your borrowing and scavenging and please do get in touch if you would like further advice.

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