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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2008 * Archive through March 30, 2008 * Microscope? < Previous Next >

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Graham Cox
Senior Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 1548
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.32.253.156
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 - 06:20 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm toying with the idea of buying a microscope to do some QA on my starters and the inevitable problem batch. I did a quick search on eBay tonight and was overwhelmed by the hundreds of listings.

I think I need something in the 400-1000x range to get a good look at the yeast and at any bacteria that might be floating around - right?

I also see these spiffy USB microscopes, some of which don't even have an ocular interface, that can be hooked up to a computer for a large display and also image capture. Any thoughts on springing for one of those? I've kind of got an affinity for "old school," but I don't see any point in buying old school when something vastly superior exists for the same money. Regarding this specific sub-subject, is the USB-type of microscope that much of a big deal in practical applications? I'm not trying to set up a microbiology lab, I'm just trying to get a very good look at some yeast cultures/beer/bugbier.

Any recommendations from you lab-types would be greatly appreciated.
 

Fredrik
Senior Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 3584
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 91.191.142.147
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 - 09:16 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hello Graham,

My microscope is rated up to x1000, the the quality of the lensing isn't good enough to maintain stability and avoid blurring at that high magnification.

Mine also came with a USB cam, but the resolution of this was a joke. A high resolution USB CAM OTOH would IMO be excellent (at minimum 1024x768), mine was I think 320x200 which is crap :-) But make sure to double check what the resolution of the camera is. If it's not a good qualit of the camera I'd say it's crap, and instead make sure it's quality lensing and mechanics. I ended up using my ordinary dig.cam holding it over the ocular, it's much better, But a _good_ USB cam would be very nice IMO.

If I ever buy a new microscope I'd definitely want to get a higher end model, with a good digital camera. But then, it gets more expensive. To really properly see bacterias and more details beyond blurry shadows, I think you'd need more of a high end quality of the lensing too + the higher magnification.

But there are still limits... to see the budscars I guess you really need an electron microscope :-)

Most "decent" hobby microscope in x400 is I think enough to count yeast cells and so on if you stay away from plastic ones. When counting cells, you really don't use the max mag anyway, since you want to count many cells, not zoom in on a single cell.

/Fredrik
 

dhacker
Senior Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 1364
Registered: 11-2002
Posted From: 72.155.201.119
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 - 10:57 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I really have nothing to add other than, we've missed you, Fredrik!
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1579
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 71.234.46.245
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 - 11:55 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's been a long time since I looked at scopes, so I'm out of touch with what's out there. But I remember being disappointed at what I could find the last time I did look.

Then again, I'm totally spoiled. You may not want to take my advice. I grew up in my dad's microbiology/physiology lab, where all we used were high-end Leitz, Zeiss, and Nikon scopes. You may not need the kind of scope that I want. (I was also a tech in an electron microscope lab for a while, and you certainly don't need one of those!)

Look for quality optics first. A refurbished Zeiss or Nikon would be your best bet for the money. It should come with a document from the servicing company listing all the work done and any flaws they found. Higher-mag objective lenses should be spring-loaded, oil-immersion types. Ocular lenses should be adjustable for your eyes.

I've always been a fan of standard-size lenses that you can mix and match. You can make a good scope better by upgrading an objective lens. This goes for the USB camera, too. The scope+camera packages I've seen have all had crappy camera optics. I'd probably buy a good scope with standard-size oculars and add a separate camera later if I thought it was necessary.

One place where the cheap ones try to skimp is in the light source. Brighter isn't always better. You'll want a reasonably bright source with a good iris, so you can stop it down. You also need oblique lighting to get a sense of the structure of things. Cheaper scopes dispense with oblique lighting entirely.

Finally, good optics and good lighting are all useless if the structure is flimsy. The thing should be solid, which probably means heavy. Be wary of anything with a 5lb shipping weight.

Like I said, I'm totally spoiled, which explains why I never did buy myself a scope. Everything I wanted was too expensive. A high-end student scope might be just fine. Just beware of cheap optics and illuminators.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 5383
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 216.23.55.202
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 - 02:19 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I would like to second dhacker. Fredrik, you have been missed!
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 165
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 71.33.29.202
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2008 - 04:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It is good to see you back on this forum Fredrik!
 

Fredrik
Senior Member
Username: Fredrik

Post Number: 3585
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 91.191.142.147
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2008 - 09:59 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks everyone, it feels good to check in at least once in a while and to see the old names. Even though I miss the regularity.

I'm stil focusing on the conceptual problems of the scientific method in physics, and it consumes alot of attention. Interestingly, it makes me feel like a yeast cell doing the wort random walk.

Human wonders stuff like what the size of the universe is, and one wonder - how can that _question_ be defined, and how do we measure it? Are there different choices of measures here? Yes it seems so.

I figure a cell must wonder stuff like, how big the volume of the batch really is, and more importantly, how can this tiny little cell find out? Or can it at all? and what's the physical basis of such a reflection - if you are a yeast cell?

I think we're all in the same boat :-) We're just marginally bigger.

/Fredrik
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1580
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 71.234.46.245
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2008 - 01:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

> I think we're all in the same boat We're just marginally bigger.

I just hope I don't have budding scars on my forehead!
 

Keith M Williams
Member
Username: Grok

Post Number: 214
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 192.250.34.161
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2008 - 09:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fredrik, not only are we in the same boat, but I'm afraid the same fait waits; to die a slow death in our own waste.

This topic is timely. My daughter (who is 13) has been hinting at a microscope. Problem is, I have no idea what is a good one and what is just a toy. She’s really into math science and I want to keep encouraging her to move forward.
 

Steve Funk
Intermediate Member
Username: Tundra45

Post Number: 447
Registered: 06-2004
Posted From: 209.216.182.64
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2008 - 10:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Graham, there is some solid advise above. I'll plus one for Paul's first reply. I have used many different scopes and it really comes down to one thing. What do you want to do with the scope? If you just want to look at general outlines of individual yeast cells, a lower end scope can do you fine but get 400x minimum. If you want to see more detail in the cell wall, staining and or counting then consider a better quality scope. I would consider something with good glass first, then consider the light source and finally operator functions and controls (stage, diaphragm, condenser, filters, camera, etc.) Indeed, Zeiss, Nikon, Olympus, Bausch & Lomb, Leica, and even some American Optics make/made good scopes. Try to find a quality brand with maybe a 10x, 40x and 100x oil lens. Phase contrast is nice to see budding on yeast. I would expect to drop $400-500 on a decent used scope. Check with University surplus, LabX.com, ebay, or scientific supply houses in your area.

(Message edited by tundra45 on March 05, 2008)
 

Graham Cox
Senior Member
Username: T2driver

Post Number: 1550
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 97.66.34.82
Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2008 - 02:17 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Ouch!

It sounds like I may be in the same boat as Paul - everything I'd really want would be more than I want to spend. There are certainly other items higher on the wishlist, and things that might do more to improve my brewing.

Thanks for the good advice, guys, and welcome back, Fredrik!
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 166
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.130.30
Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2008 - 06:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Although I know very little about microscopes I bought a very old AO Spencer microscope on Ebay. It is a model 15 which is binocular and has 10x, 40x, and 100x oil imersion lenses, and 10x wide field objective lenses. I am sure that buying acessories or repair parts will be a challenge but hope it will teach me "microscope basics" at a reasonable cost. (around $100 including shipping) It is built like a small tank and is of quality equal to most binoculars of its time and was the best model that AO Spencer offered.
 

Cory K.
Member
Username: Galaxy51

Post Number: 171
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 168.103.130.30
Posted on Saturday, March 08, 2008 - 05:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here is a link to a site that I just found. Lots of info here for the first time microscope buyer.
http://www.couger.com/microscope/links/gcnewbuy.html