Comparing Microstars IV

This is the place where collectors can discuss their passion.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Plasmid
Posts: 317
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2020 5:34 am
Location: United States
Contact:

Comparing Microstars IV

#1 Post by Plasmid » Wed Jan 06, 2021 3:01 am

I can't help but notice some differences, mostly exterior on this two Microstar IV. The two that jump out the most is the light bulb Socket and the power switch. I've taken both apart and internally they seem identical; down to even the piece of mastic tape used to damper the diaphragm swing arm when it hits the base. I've also seen a variation online with different colors, particularly a blue top and so I was wondering what other differences can be found throughout the years on this model.
Attachments
IMG_20210105_215026.jpg
IMG_20210105_215026.jpg (61.88 KiB) Viewed 943 times
IMG_20210105_214707.jpg
IMG_20210105_214707.jpg (68.04 KiB) Viewed 943 times
IMG_20210105_215942.jpg
IMG_20210105_215942.jpg (60.4 KiB) Viewed 943 times

apochronaut
Posts: 3835
Joined: Fri May 15, 2015 12:15 am

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#2 Post by apochronaut » Wed Jan 06, 2021 3:49 am

It is hard to know , unless one had 15 examples over the years. I am familiar with the door versus plug type of illuminator but those systems seem to be pretty similar. Where the departures come is in the optics of the objectives and condensers.
The planachro and Neoplan objectives are well served by the standard dry and oil condensers but the Planfluors require the achromat aplanet condenser. Getting all the parts together can be a bit daunting.
No doubt there were many rational changes over the years but some of them now, might not seem so rational.

PeteM
Posts: 1424
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am
Location: N. California

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#3 Post by PeteM » Wed Jan 06, 2021 4:24 am

Some of these were also branded Leica. The four I have of those all have a black-painted top plate. There's a mix of black and blue-painted tops of the Reicherts. Might even be some "Cambridge" or "Jung" units out there? I've also seen Reichert printed on the scope and Leica on the shiny stick-on label with electrical info.

Given the dizzying number of changing corporate owners - many of them looking to reduce costs - the Microstar IV units had several cost-reductions compared to earlier generations (AO Series 10/20 and 100/110/120). Generally, though, without sacrificing performance and reliability. The main exception seems to have been the use of that plastic focus cam to replace metal. Even Nikon and others got caught up in plastic as the wonder material. Danaher, the now longer-term owner of the B&L, Reichert, Leica etc. brands, has brought back stability to the company; though (like the rest of the big four) not much interest in supporting older models and hobbyists.

In any case, the door-type bulb cover was more expensive to make and was replaced by the twist-and-turn type. In a twist of fate, it turns out this later type is especially easy to convert to LED should you want a portable scope. The 20 watt halogen bulb that's standard does a fine job though.

apochronaut
Posts: 3835
Joined: Fri May 15, 2015 12:15 am

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#4 Post by apochronaut » Wed Jan 06, 2021 3:38 pm

The focus cam isn't really plastic, it's a kind of composite and somewhat stronger than plastic. It is perfectly serviceable and long lastIng if used as intended and shipped as intended, with the objectives in cannisters and the focus column locked down. Maybe the engineers should have realized that 30 years later, 60 % of their microscopes would still be happily in service and that some people would make assumptions of the durability of their design based on broken ex school examples or others sold for peanuts or donated because they had had been abused or shipped by idiots.
It wouldn't have mattered one bit if the cam had been made of brass or any other metal. Having the more than a lb. focus column and arm bang up and down , during some shipper's joyride , metal on metal , would be more damaging than a broken focus cam. Which would you rather replace ? One unit of composite fibre cam or the entire focus mechanism and maybe a few objectives to boot?

The illuminator is 24 watts. I don't think I have seen a single version of either the Microstar IV or the Diastar with fried electrics.
The microscope was made for almost 20 years. It is durable if not abused, it is ergonomic and most important of all: it is the least expensive fine laboratory /research stand you can buy with almost state of the art optics. Although there will always be exceptions , outfitting any other similar microscope system to the same performance level that you can bring a 400.00 Microstar to, would cost considerably more.
If the example chosen has not been abused, it is probably the best used microscope buy in North America. Maybe the AO 10 rivals it or a couple of Nikons.

dtsh
Posts: 121
Joined: Wed May 01, 2019 6:06 pm

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#5 Post by dtsh » Wed Jan 06, 2021 7:41 pm

I've read some things about the Microstar IV suggesting it's a terrible design and others that it's an under appreciated instrument.

For those of you who have them, what's your opinion of them?

User avatar
Plasmid
Posts: 317
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2020 5:34 am
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#6 Post by Plasmid » Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:39 am

dtsh wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 7:41 pm

For those of you who have them, what's your opinion of them?
I think Apochronaut's post sums it up; as far my opinion I think its a wonderful design. I often find myself wishing my "newest" microscope ( Microlux IV ) had some of the features found on the Microstar, specially the non moving stage ( stability), the swing in filters and how clear and corrected the #181eyepieces are, the Neoplan's are as good as full plan objectives too. The one thing I see as a possible flaw on the design is, the lack of a handle, the arm is a bit too wide for most hands and sometimes I find myself accidentally coming in contact with the turret, which if pushed up can damage the composite focus cam. Like Apochronaut said "If the example chosen has not been abused, it is probably the best used microscope buy in North America" You can find lots of them under $200 now days, my question is...how much were this units being sold for in their heyday?

eward1897
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:49 am

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#7 Post by eward1897 » Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:02 am

Plasmid asked- You can find lots of them under $200 now days, my question is...how much were this units being sold for in their heyday?


I found a 1987 Microstar IV price list from "Reichert-Jung a Cambridge Instruments Company" (after AO and before Leica corporate merger days).
A brightfield model 410 ranged from $2250 to $3100 for 3 to 4 neoplan or plan objectives and binocular or trinocular head; the 1970 condenser was standard across the line up.
A phase contrast model 410 ranged from $2861 to $4835 for binocular models with 3 or 4 objectives and either 1, 3 or 4 objectives being neoplan or plan phase, with either a single 40X annulus on a slider and a centering eyepiece, or 3 (for neoplan 10-40-100X objectives) or 4 (for plan 10-20-40-100X objectives) annuli on a turret condenser with a Bertrand viewer. A trinocular head cost extra for the phase contrast models.

Per inflationtool website every 1987 dollar would be worth $2.3273 today, so the 1987 Microstar IV neoplan brightfield to plan phase standard models would have sold for $5236.43 to $11,252.50 in today's dollars. They were professional grade, expensive microscopes back then.

Ed in Minnesota

User avatar
Plasmid
Posts: 317
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2020 5:34 am
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#8 Post by Plasmid » Tue Jan 12, 2021 5:51 am

Thank you Ed, the fact that we can pick one up for for so little now days is unbelievable, specially when compared to Nikons and others from the same time period, my guess is numbers and or brand recognition.

hans
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu May 28, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#9 Post by hans » Fri Jan 15, 2021 4:31 am

Possible reason for the two different lamp mount styles: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11652

Stomias
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2021 7:25 pm

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#10 Post by Stomias » Thu Jan 21, 2021 5:15 pm

Pretty new to all this but I have to say I think my Microstar was a great value. I bought mine on ebay for $175.00. It has the blue top and square light door. Came with 5 objectives. Was looking for a slide holder because mine came without. Ended up buying a whole new stage (with said slide holder) for 40 bucks. Was just going to use the holder but changed the whole stage because the original one was kind of ratty and had some beat up white laminate stuff on the top of the stage. The new stage is like new and was very easy to change out. With another $50 or so spent on accessories I've already had a great time with it. Reading all I can about microscopy. Can't wait for my spring/summer/fall at the lake compound in the north woods. LOTS of stuff to look at! A great adjunct for the rainy days and cloudy nights when I can't observe.

User avatar
Plasmid
Posts: 317
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2020 5:34 am
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#11 Post by Plasmid » Thu Jan 21, 2021 8:23 pm

Thanks to Hans I was able to retrofit the round style for a swing in style light assembly. Immediately I've noticed a lot more light coming from the light source. Turns out having the bulb filament exposed sideways exposes more of the light source when compared to the GE778 round end bulb. Additionally the GE is 370ish lumen compared to the phillips 420ish.
Thank you Hans
Adrian.

User avatar
Plasmid
Posts: 317
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2020 5:34 am
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#12 Post by Plasmid » Thu Jan 21, 2021 9:53 pm

Stomias wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 5:15 pm
Pretty new to all this but I have to say I think my Microstar was a great value. I bought mine on ebay for $175.00. It has the blue top and square light door. Came with 5 objectives. Was looking for a slide holder because mine came without. Ended up buying a whole new stage (with said slide holder) for 40 bucks. Was just going to use the holder but changed the whole stage because the original one was kind of ratty and had some beat up white laminate stuff on the top of the stage. The new stage is like new and was very easy to change out. With another $50 or so spent on accessories I've already had a great time with it. Reading all I can about microscopy. Can't wait for my spring/summer/fall at the lake compound in the north woods. LOTS of stuff to look at! A great adjunct for the rainy days and cloudy nights when I can't observe.
They are truly great platforms,this was my first microscope. My recommendation is to add a swing in filter holder to the condenser for DF and Rheinberg, Oblique etc...and for Pol I normally place the analyzer below the head just above the turret. For as "old" as they are the image quality rivals that of my "newer" Microscopes

Stomias
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2021 7:25 pm

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#13 Post by Stomias » Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:39 pm

There is a lens below the condenser that swings out. Can this be used to house filters? I've tried some of the hacks I've read about for DF but been unsuccessful so far. Also, with my old stage I was able to center the condenser under the objectives (with much fussing) but with the new stage I can't seem to center it as accurately. No matter how much I mess with it I still can't get it centered exactly.

User avatar
Plasmid
Posts: 317
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2020 5:34 am
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#14 Post by Plasmid » Fri Jan 22, 2021 12:13 am

Is your condenser an AO1087, 1084 or 1971 abbe?

From my experience using AO 1087, the swing in condenser sits a bit lower than the slot type found in some 1971s type condensers ,so the patch filter inner diameter will have to be a bit wider in circumference. Its a trial and error thing usually ...15mm dark patch will work.

I had the same problem with alignment in one of mine Microstars, it looks like the leaf type spring that sits inside the dovetail mount can sometimes get gunked up or dried up. Try loosing the screws all the way, close the iris as if you were setting up Köhler and manually center the condenser, once in place, set the centering screws back in to hold it in position.
*Visually inspect the dovetail underneath, as there is a posterior small screw that inserts into a small opening when the inner dovetail spring is pushed back all the way.

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=10730&p=90352#p90352
Attachments
Screenshot_20210122-160122.png
Screenshot_20210122-160122.png (219.93 KiB) Viewed 126 times
Last edited by Plasmid on Fri Jan 22, 2021 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

hans
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu May 28, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: Comparing Microstars IV

#15 Post by hans » Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:14 am

Glad to hear the swap went smoothly, Adrian.

As far as opinions of Microstar IV, agree. Mechanically solid where it matters but as Pete mentioned there are minor cost-saving measures that give it a somewhat cheaper feel: thin hollow-feeling plastic focus knobs and covers on the binocular part, screen printing on the objectives that seems to dissolve into and smear around with the accumulated finger grease, stick-on adhesive cosmetic covers that make disassembly annoying, etc.

Post Reply