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Specialized Imaging Techniques

We have developed a number of modifications and specialized techniques to improve the performance of the Intel QX3 computer microscope. These improvements should allow for better digital imaging of specimens through alternative illumination modes and some simple modifications to the microscope.

The microscope configuration illustrated in Figure 1 provides enhanced illumination for reflected brightfield microscopy using a popular style flashlight with a flexible base. Auxiliary illumination greatly improves the quality of digital images produced by the Intel QX3 microscope. Please use the links below to navigate to specific techniques and recommendations.

  • Enhanced Brightfield Microscopy - Auxiliary transmitted and reflected light illumination greatly improves imaging of specimens using brightfield microscopy with the Intel QX3 computer microscope.

  • Darkfield Microscopy - A very simple modification to the stage of the Intel QX3 microscope will allow the instrument to be used in a simulated darkfield illumination mode.

  • Polarized Light Microscopy - Specimens that are birefringent (or double refracting) can display spectacular color patterns when viewed through crossed polarizers. This section describes modification of the Intel QX3 computer microscope for polarized light illumination.

  • Specimen Preparation for Polarized Light Microscopy - A variety of chemicals, hairs, fibers, rock and bone thin sections and other specimens display beautiful patterns and colors under crossed polarized illumination. We describe how to prepare crystals from household and laboratory chemicals and where to buy pre-prepared specimens on the Web.

  • Rheinberg Illumination - Using colored filter gels with both reflected and transmitted light, the QX3 microscope can be adapted for Rheinberg illumination or optical staining to enhance specimen contrast. This technique can be used to capture beautiful digital images of living specimens.

  • Oblique Transmitted Illumination - The QX3 microscope can be modified to capture images of specimens using transmitted oblique illumination in a manner similar to the Hoffman modulation contrast technique used in research-grade microscopes. Objects viewed with oblique illumination have a pseudo-three dimensional appearance and dramatically enhanced contrast.

  • Advanced Condenser Systems - Performance of the QX3 microscope can be dramatically enhanced by the addition of a substage condenser to the optical pathway. This section discusses initial experiments with advanced condenser systems containing aftermarket Abbe-style and achromatic condensers coupled to the QX3 microscope body. Digital images show a dramatic improvement in sharpness, color saturation, and resolution with the addition of an advanced condenser.

  • QX3 Advanced Digital Image Galleries - Our investigations with the Intel Play QX3 computer microscope have resulted in the collection of a large number of digital images of a variety of specimens. This gallery was constructed to highlight the best images that we have recorded using advanced condenser systems with this incredible toy microscope.

Performance enhancement of the QX3 microscope with advanced imaging techniques is truly amazing. The quality of the optics in the microscope is sufficient to provide high resolution digital images when adequate illumination is coupled to the use of a substage condenser. Although the microscope is still limited in many aspects, we have found the performance surprising, especially considering that the microscope is intended to function as a toy.


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