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10 Steps To Using Digital Microscopes For Students

Are you having a hard time figuring out how to use a microscope? Or are you an instructor seeking easy ways to take your students through the use of a microscope? Here you go! Using digital microscopes is an essential skill every student should learn. 

Regardless if you are in the research or science field, you will find this guide helpful. It offers easy steps to help students get started with using a microscope. You will also learn about some safety precautions while operating the device. So, stay active to learn all these!

Key Points About A Microscope 

A microscope is a device that helps to view images that are not visible to the naked eyes. This device helps to magnify these objects when you examine them through the eyepiece. It usually presents an image 10-1000x the original size in a clear picture. 

Digital microscopes take it a step further by using a digital camera. This microscope type allows you to take 3D images and prints of your observations. Also, you can share your results on screens and make videos.

Parts of a Microscope

Microscopes have various parts that work together to ensure their functionality. Students need to identify these parts and know their usage before attempting to use this device. 

Below is a highlight of the essential parts of a microscope and their usage: 

  1. Arm and Base: Provides support for the microscope and makes it easy to carry.
  2. Ocular lens: Helps with fixed magnification. 
  3. Revolving nosepieces: For holding the objective lenses.
  4. Iris Diaphragm: Helps to improve resolution and contrast by regulating illumination and light intensity.
  5. Stage and Stage Clips: Helps to keep the specimen firmly in place during the examination.
  6. Stage Adjustment Knobs: Allows easy movement and adjustment of the stage for a better view. 
  7. Fine Adjustment Knob: It makes it easy to bring your object to the clearest view. 
  8. Coarse Adjustment Knob: It helps with focusing when the objective scanning lens is in use.
  9. Light Source: Supplies the specimen or object with needed light for the best view. 
  10. Objective Lenses: It works alongside eyepieces for magnification.
  11. Rack Stop: Helps to regulate how close your slide can get with the objective lens.

What Are The 10 Steps in Using A Microscope? 

Using a microscope can be easier than most people imagine. But it requires some basic techniques for safe use and to obtain clear images. The steps below will guide you through the entire process of using a microscope from start to finish:

STEP 1: Set the Microscope 

Setting the microscope should be the first step before attempting to use it. Start by placing it on a table at a comfortable height. It is best to locate it near a power source. 

Next, connect the microscope to a suitable energy source but don’t turn it on until it is ready for use. However, you might skip this step if your microscope uses a mirror in place of an illuminator. Then, all you need to do is find an area where you can access natural light.

STEP 2: Set the Eyepiece and Nosepiece 

Start to adjust the nosepiece of your microscope. Revolve it gently until it reaches the perfect position of its lowest objective lens. The lowest objective lens is usually 4x position for most microscopes. 

Rotate the left eyepiece gently until the diopter ring marks align with the line on the tube. You can note this when the eyepiece makes a click sound. But not all types of microscopes give a click a signal.

STEP 3: Mount Your Specimen 

Your specimen is what you intend to observe under the microscope. Mounting it means placing it on the stage where you will view it. Ensure that your slide is clean to avoid interference and contamination of your specimen. 

Be sure that other accessories like the ocular lens and glass for the lamp housing should be clean. Further, protect your specimen by gently placing the coverslip on it. Also, ensure that the coverslip is clean as well. 

Step 4: Set the Stage 

After mounting the specimen, ensure that the stage is appropriately set. Position the sample at the center of the stage. Use the metal clips on the microscope to hold the stage in place. Don’t forget it should be under the lowest objective lens. 

STEP 5: Adjust the Condenser 

The condenser helps you to regulate the amount of light. Set the adjustment knob to allow the maximum amount of light. You might not need a high illumination if you are using a low objective. 

So, all you need to do is make suitable adjustments using the diaphragm under the stage. Note that varying the condenser diaphragm will help you to adjust the depth of field and contrast. 

STEP 6: Adjust the Fine and Coarse Adjustment Knob

This step will help you to control the depth and contrast of the field. Look through the eyepiece to set the coarse adjustment knob. Rotate the knob to help you bring the specimen. 

Ensure that the lens and the slide do not come in contact during the adjustment. It is best to use the coarse knob to focus at 10x objective. For the fine adjustment knob, it helps you to bring the image to a fine focus. The fine focus knob will help you get the finest detail of the specimen.

You shouldn’t need to touch the coarse adjustment knob. Instead, position the 40x objective lens before adjusting the fine knob to bring the image to focus. 

STEP 7: Set Your Eyepiece 

It is time to find a perfect position for your eyes to make the observation easy. Start by closing your left eye and use the right eye for image focus. Next, use the fine adjustment knob to bring the image to a perfect focus. 

Then, close the right eye and focus the image on your left eye. You only need the diopter ring to adjust focus on the left eye. Do not alter the coarse and fine adjustment knob. 

STEP 8: Examine the Specimen 

If you get the steps above correctly, move on to examine your specimen. Look through the eyepiece to observe your sample. You should get a clear image if your adjustments are suitable. You can also get a clearer picture by regulating the fine adjustment knob. 

STEP 9: Keep Switching Power 

Once you get your image at the lower objective, you can switch to higher options. From the lowest power, you can increase it to medium power. The change of power will help you to get more details. 

Use the fine adjustment to readjust the focus. Then, when you get your focus, you can readjust the power to the highest option. 

STEP 10: Keep Observing Your Specimen 

For the rest of your session, all you need to adjust is the fine focus knob. You will get used to these steps with regular practices. You can also change the specimen by unmounting the existing one and placing a new one. 

How Do You Use A Digital Microscope? 

Using a digital microscope is slightly different from regular microscopes. But basic knowledge about using a traditional microscope will ease the process here. Do you want to learn how to use this device as well? Find out below! 

STEP 1: Load The Digital Software 

If you use the microscope with a computer, you have to start by loading the software. This step will help you with the control of the microscope on the PC. But you might not need to go through this step if you are using a TV or projector screen. 

STEP 2: Plug in Your Devices 

It would be best if you plugged in your devices to power them. It is best to set up close to a power source to ensure easy access. Avoid dragging the plugin wire over a long distance to avoid possible disconnections and accidents. 

Next, plug the microscope into the available USB port on the television or computer. You will have an instant display on the screen. If you don’t, recheck your connection and software.  

STEP 3: Mount Your Specimen

Spot the stage of your microscope and mount your specimen. Don’t forget to clean the stage and hold it in place with the coverslip. Next, adjust the lens and move it closer to the sample but avoid direct contact. 

Dry specimens can go closer to the lens compared to wet samples. 

STEP 4: Focus the Image 

By this time, the image should be clear on the monitor of the PC or TV screen. Then, depending on the type of microscope, you can either adjust the focus on the PC or the microscope. After that, locate the focus setting on the software on the PC and make suitable adjustments. 

On the microscope, turn the focus wheel until you get a clear image. You don’t have to look through the eyepiece. Instead, you can make your observation on the screen you connected to the device. 

Focusing might include adjustments on colors, contrast, and magnification. Some digital microscopes have an autofocus feature that makes it easy. But you can always ignore this feature if the autofocus image isn’t satisfactory. 

STEP 5: Observe Your Specimen

You can begin to observe your image on the screen. Looking through the eyepieces will give you a similar view. You can grab images and make videos if you wish. 

Click on the capture icon on your screen or microscope to get an image shot. The record icon will help you make a video of your observations. Some products will allow you to make records and capture them at intervals. 

How Do You Open A Digital Microscope? 

Opening a digital microscope starts by rightly unboxing it. Before you proceed with anything on your PC, take your time to go through the manufacturer’s instructions. The user guide or manual will help you on how to set the microscope safely. 

There are different manufacturers and specifications of this microscope type. So, how to open might vary greatly depending on individual spec. However, there are still certain things they have in common. Below are key points to keep in mind:

  • To open the microscope on your PC, you have to install the software on your system. Follow the manufacturer and on-screen instructions.
  • Once you install the software, you should use a USB port to connect with your PC or TV screen.
  • You can further utilize your microscope by connecting it with other software. For example, some apps will allow you to connect your phone to the microscope. The record icon will help you make a video, and the capture will help you with photos. 

How to Clean and Maintain Your Microscope 

Like every other mechanical device, cleaning and maintaining your microscope is crucial. Proper maintenance will help you keep your microscope at optimum performance for a longer time. 

Here are some helpful tips for cleaning and maintaining your microscope:

  • Only hold and carry the microscope by the arm. Never handle it by its piece.
  • Always ensure that your microscope is upright to prevent the eyepiece from falling off.
  • Never leave the illuminator on after use. 
  • Be careful while holding the knobs and nosepiece to prevent them from breaking off.
  • Only clean the lens with non-solvent solutions to avoid damages.
  • Cover the microscope with dust jackets or other dustproof bags.
  • Only use soft microfiber cloths to wipe off the dirt from the microscope’s surface.
  • Consider buying a microscope cleaning kit for safe handling and maintenance.

    Conclusion 

    The microscope is one of the essential devices for students, particularly those in the field of science. Therefore, its usefulness cannot be overemphasized. With this guide, you can be sure to achieve outstanding results while using this device. And with consistent usage, you can become an expert user in no time. 

    While learning how to use digital microscopes, it is crucial to learn about the parts and their functions. You should ensure you get only a high-quality option when acquiring a digital microscope. Feel free to enjoy the learning process!