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quick/easy focus of any USB microscope w repeatable results

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 Posted 01/29/2012  06:16 am Show Profile Check mdpmedia's eBay Listings Bookmark this topic Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Message

Hello,



Well after giving the above issue from another thread some extensive thought,

http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/...PIC_ID=88598

I finally came to the realization that a traditional microscope stand would not really provide me with enough flexibility to attain the ultimate goals I had in mind: ‘quickly' and ‘accurately' focusing on large and small coins with desirable and repeatable results.

The following steps can be applied to any brand or model of USB microscope.

This homemade adjustable camera tripod stand below ‘fills the bill' for me because of several reasons:

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 Posted 01/29/2012  06:17 am  Show Profile Check mdpmedia's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

This homemade adjustable stand for USB microscopes allows one to manage 80% of the fine tuning by incrementally turning the tripod's crankshaft handle which is easily accessible at the top of the tripod:



Because the USB microscope is so light it is not even necessary to make an additional time-consuming step of turning the lock-in knob on the left in the photo above to freeze the shaft in preparation for the photo; the position of the shaft stays right where it is placed without problems.

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 Posted 01/29/2012  06:19 am  Show Profile Check mdpmedia's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
One of the issues that previously bothered me tremendously when focusing in on any object without this homemade tripod stand was having any USB microscope inadvertently shake or become out of focus every time I made an adjustment using the focus wheel located on the scope itself.

By using the homemade tripod stand one can initially set the 640 x 480 frame size of the picture, for example, then initially focus in on the coin by adjusting the ‘focus wheel'. But then the final and more time consuming focusing adjustments can be completed more quickly by moving the microscope lens up and down.

Virtually any brand of focus wheel can periodically and unexpectedly get stuck and become difficult to rotate precisely and consequently result in eating up precious minutes when one is attempting to photograph multiple coins or any objects etc.


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 Posted 01/29/2012  06:20 am  Show Profile Check mdpmedia's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The movable tripod idea provides a quick and extremely stable method of efficiently locking in on any object that needs to be photographed.

With my particular USB microscope it is necessary to position the lens at least eight inches (8") above silver Morgans, for example, to be able to shrink the picture sufficiently enough to fit in the chosen field of vision.

To make this idea work for a greater range of product sizes and different camera angle shots it is necessary to cut a longitudinal hole extending about eight inches (8") on the external cover of the tripod shaft. This allows the internal tripod shaft to move up and down with the spiral tubing/USB microscope connected.



Then it is necessary to cut out an eight inch (8") piece of flexible/semi rigid spiral steel tubing to serve as the movable (in the x, y, and z directions) link between the USB microscope and the tripod's internal movable shaft.



One end of the spiral tubing has a metal threaded screw with the opposite end entering into a slightly smaller diameter drilled hole on the tripod's internal shaft.

The other end of this spiral tubing contains a ball joint joined with machine screw threads originally produced to connect onto the center of a no-longer used circular metal base stand for the USB microscope.
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 Posted 01/29/2012  06:22 am  Show Profile Check mdpmedia's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What's also nice about this homemade device is that:

1) The two tripod legs adjacent to the USB microscope can serve as rigid beams to mount multiple angled lighting sources,

2) The extended semi-rigid spiral tubing allows for 'steadily' positioning the USB microscope at 'any' desired angle while being sufficiently extended, if required, from the center of the tripod.

This configuration is useful for extra large non-coin type objects, for example, that may need more space or for an oddly positioned area needing to be photographed etc.



3) The entire tripod device then folds up nicely for compact storage when not in use.



In summary, the focus wheel itself on the USB microscope may still be needed from time to time on the initial attempt to focus on any object. The typically more time-consuming final adjustments, however, can be more quickly performed my moving the lens up and down using the tripod shaft's crank shaft.

I bought this used camera tripod at a Goodwill store for $5.

I hope this little project will assist my fellow CC members to make their lives a little easier when photographing their coins using 'any' USB microscope.

This project can take about 2 - 3 hours in total when accounting for car trips to find materials but in the long run it is very well worth one's time to improve the ROI (return on investment) when taking multiple photographs of coins etc....

good luck,

mdpmedia
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 Posted 01/29/2012  07:05 am  Show Profile Check oih82w8's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add oih82w8 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I have a similar USB Microscope set-up that I can attach to my copy-stand using a microphone goose-neck with mic clip in lieu of a tripod.

Experimentation is key here...and patience! Nice job!
oih82w8 = "Oh I Hate To Wait"

"I tell her coins keep me off the streets and out of the bars." Moe145

"WOO-SAA...WOo-SAa...Woo-Saa" (calm down)
Edited by oih82w8
01/29/2012 11:58 am
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 Posted 01/29/2012  07:10 am  Show Profile Check trout1105's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add trout1105 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I will have to try that or something similar because these are a real pain otherwise
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 Posted 01/29/2012  11:19 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ContraJame to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Do you ever have problems with the degrees of freedom on your steel spiral tubing? Otherwise this mutant you've created is pretty cool. And anything with an increased ROI is for the good of the company, right? :D
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 Posted 01/29/2012  11:55 am  Show Profile Check 52Raymo's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 52Raymo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Lighthouse makes a digital microscope stand that's pretty dang nice. I might try that. You do have a pretty ingenious set-up though. Well done.
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 Posted 01/29/2012  1:01 pm  Show Profile Check Earle42's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Earle42 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great job mdpmedia....



Even he looks amazed at this!
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 Posted 01/29/2012  4:24 pm  Show Profile Check mdpmedia's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply




This question can be taken two ways:

a) Does the rigidity of spiral tubing impede one's ability to easily focus anywhere in a 3D range of motion?

or

b) Does the intrinsic flexibility of the spiral tubing cause problems or movements when attempting to focus precisely?

A hybrid answer to both rephrased questions:

The primary reason for attaching a semi-rigid spiral tubing is to allow for larger (up to 3 inches) but more likely very small and incremental manual adjustments when required.

These inevitable last minute microscopic modifications, performed by simply tapping the tubing in any desired x, y, or z direction, for example, can actually be performed much quicker compared to raising and lowering the tripod arm.

Mounting the USB microscope 'directly' and 'rigidly' to the shaft of the tripod, on the other hand, severely restricts or even eliminates the possibility of implementing this jury rigged procedure consisting of only a quick finger tap.

One could conversely argue against the addition of this seven (7") tubing since the already-included ball joint connected to a mounting stand does allow for these small movements.

However, not including this seven (7") tubing extension prevents the user from making longer (up to approx. 3") manual adjustments which may come in handy some day if the measurement location needs to be located further away from the center of gravity of the tripod stand.

I personally would rather be prepared for any unanticipated measurement situation by designing a device that is more accommodating...

By the time one has reached this optional and final tapping stage the need to utilize the focus wheel or crank shaft should be extremely diminished assuming the same object is being photographed in the same area.

Also w/r/t the flexibility of spiral tubing causing problems such as unwanted movement when focusing, the degree of rigidity of the spiral tubing is great enough to prevent further movements once it has been set to a certain position.

I personally feel that designing the length of the tubing to be no more than seven (7) inches is paramount to avoid an inevitable 'drooping of the tubing' situation. The perceived innuendos of this phrase need not be elaborated upon.

A longer section of tubing inevitably results in an overall greater tubing weight and an increased moment arm producing more torque which naturally facilitates easier bending of the tubing from the natural and ever-present effects of gravity:

http://moon.ouhsc.edu/dthompso/namics/torque.htm

In layman's terms it is much easier to open a shut cellar door, for example, if one pushes upwards on the side farthest away from the door's hinges.

But just imagine being on a ladder looking upwards and trying to open this same cellar door by pushing upwards on this door at a point located just a few inches from the hinges: a daunting and almost impossible feat since the moment arm at this location is less.

I am sure these answers may have deviated to an extent from the original nature of the question but hopefully they have added some needed clarification to better understand the method to my madness.
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 Posted 01/29/2012  5:53 pm  Show Profile Check Earle42's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Earle42 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Where did you get the flexible tubing? How does the screw attach into the tubing?
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 Posted 01/29/2012  6:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ContraJame to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I couldn't have asked for a better answer. It actually brought a smile to my face.
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 Posted 01/29/2012  10:27 pm  Show Profile Check mdpmedia's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply


Well, believe it or not, the tubing was part of a longer 4ft. long piece that was attached to an 8 inch diameter compact-type mirror: kind of an odd configuration possibly for wrapping it around fixtures in order to secure the mirror etc.

I saw this contraption at an auction one day and bid $ 1 on it thinking that I could possibly find some use for it down the road.

Possible sources for this tubing could be manufacturers of flexible arm/swivel-type desktop lights, for example. Otherwise, I'd call one of the customer service reps. for these types of companies and indicate that you would be happy to pay for a foot long piece of their discarded scrap flexible tubing.

10 to 1 odds say that they would probably send it to you for free including freight.

Inserting the sheet metal screw into the flexible tubing can be easily accomplished but in a roundabout way.

I WILL BREAK MY RESPONSE UP INTO SECTIONS FOR EASIER READING
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 Posted 01/29/2012  10:28 pm  Show Profile Check mdpmedia's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
These following steps should be followed to ensure that the flexible arm does not collapse:

1) First stick a drill bit (separated from the drill) into the end of the opened spiral tubing with the intention to find the largest diameter drill bit that will snugly fit into this opening down to a depth of at least one (1") inch.

In this step let's assume you have chosen a 1/4" diameter bit.

2) Then use this specifically selected 1/4" diameter bit to penetrate into the closest aluminum side of the tripod's internal movable shaft. Going forward in this discussion let's refer to this side as the ‘near' side for simplicity.

a. On this step with the 1/4" diameter bit make sure to completely penetrate the first aluminum wall and just ‘barely' drill into the opposing internal ‘far' side of the other aluminum wall located 180 degrees away.

You just want to create a slight depression in the metal on the internal ‘far' side to only serve as an internal (inside the tubing) marker that you can later feel with a manually inserted smaller diameter drill bit.
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 Posted 01/29/2012  10:28 pm  Show Profile Check mdpmedia's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add mdpmedia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
3) Then first verify that the depression's position on the ‘far' side will produce a perpendicular positioned sheet metal screw using a hand-inserted 1/8" diameter drill bit, for example.

The smaller hole on the ‘far' side acts to deter the sheet metal screw from entering in too far.

4) Then connect a 1/8" diameter drill bit to the drill, insert it through the freshly cut 1/4" hole, and ‘carefully' drill an EXTREMELY SHALLOW hole that only barely penetrates the ‘far' aluminum side of the tripod's movable shaft.

The primary purpose of this small 1/8" diameter hole on the ‘far' side is to serve as an anchor for just the tip of the sheet metal screw that you have chosen to screw into the freshly drilled 1/4" diameter hole on the ‘near' side.

If this step is not performed correctly as described above, you may end up with the infamous 'drooping of the tubing' condition previously referred to earlier in this thread.

5) Estimate that you will have no less than approximately 1" -- 1 1/4" (after sawing off the head of the sheet metal screw) sticking out of the ‘near' end of the hollow metal tube.
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