Friday, March 27, 2009

Plug-and-play microscopy

Here are some pictures taken with my new toy, a borrowed Dinolite USB microscope. It plugs into the USB port on a laptop and has a ring of LEDs around the lens to illuminate the subject, plus a knurled focussing wheel – and that’s it. You take a picture by clicking F11 on the keyboard or by gently tapping a sensitive point on the instrument. It will take a bit of practice to become proficient but so far I’m quite pleased with what it’s delivering. This would be a useful instrument for a naturalist and would be ideal for showing your kids the miracles of the microscopic world, especially if the laptop is coupled to a digital projector, so that the images are projected onto a large screen. Next step is to borrow a netbook and see if I can run it off that, in which case it might make low-power microscopy in the field a feasible proposition. The (not very exciting) pictures are of a very young woodlouse (length about 3mm.), and groundsel flowers. On the case of the flowers, you can easily count the pollen grains at the highest magnification. The woodlouse in the picture is the common pigmy woodlouse Trichoniscus pusillus, that normally lives in woodlands but thrives in the pine bark mulch I've used in my garden.


  1. They are really clear pictures and such an easy way to get close up photographs of minibeasts, etc. into a computer. I wish there had been such affordable 'toys' around when I was teaching in Primary Schools.

  2. What is the cost of such a wonderful toy? I teach 5th grade, and we have a science unit on microscopes and the microscopic world. This would be a wonderful teaching tool!

  3. Hi Cindy,
    There are quite a few different models available - if you type Dinolite into Google it should give you several companies that sell them..


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