Swift FM-31 field microscope

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Radazz
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Swift FM-31 field microscope

#1 Post by Radazz » Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:52 am

I don’t collect Swift microscopes, and so I hardly notice them, but lately I had been thinking about a field scope. Most of the scopes I found were hand held or pocket microscopes, and digital stuff.
Then I saw two of these pop up on the auction site and picked up the less expensive one.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in my eye, this is a beautiful little scope.
The size is perfect, and I cannot think of a better adjective for this instrument than darling, if that’s not too undignified. :oops:

Covered case is 6” x 4.5” x 2”
Image

This is a beautifully made precision instrument which performs as well as any of my vintage stands.
I didn’t get the attachment that holds a small flashlight and filters, but if you check where the sun is and turn away from it you can get good bright smooth illumination, and just tilt it slightly out of line to get an oblique effect.

Just the right size to hold in one hand and operate it with your other hand.
Image

Image


The scope is inverted, and works fine with a well slide or 35mm glass bottom cell culture dish.
The 4x and 10x objectives focus correctly through the slide, and the manual says place the slides right side up, but the 40x will only work good through a .17 mm coverslip, so on an inverted scope the slide needs to be upside down for this objective. I’ve ordered some culture dishes with the glass bottom for checking samples while collecting specimens.

I’m really happy this one turned out to be a good example of this delightful little toy.

Enjoy,
Radazz
Arnold, Missouri
Olympus IX70 HMC
Olympus BX40 Phase Contrast
Olympus SZ40 Stereoscope

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Radazz
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#2 Post by Radazz » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:31 am

Easy polarizor (the devil made me do it)

Since this is an inverted configuration, the polarizer goes above the specimen.
I cut a polarizor keyed to clip onto the slide clip posts. And cut the center out of a medicine bottle cap and glued a polarizor disk inside.
Image

The polarizer sits on top of the slide clips, and the slide goes under the clips, so the slide doesn’t scratch the filter sheet.
Image
The above analyzer sits over the eyepiece, which Is only removable if you have a microscopically small screwdriver. I only found it after seeing the exploded diagram in the manual.

My iPad is difficult to focus on the image.
Getting a good image requires bright light, but no need to lazer the old glazballs. It does get good results, however.
Better than this
Image

Radazz
Last edited by Radazz on Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Arnold, Missouri
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#3 Post by zzffnn » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:46 am

Thanks for sharing. I did not know that 40x is only for 0.17mm cover.

I vaguely remember some FM-31s have a single lens condenser, but some don't. For the 40x objective, that condenser should help quite a bit.

Maybe one can DIY a light using those pen-like flashlights.
Maglite Solitaire as an example.

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Radazz
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#4 Post by Radazz » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:58 am

Hi, Fan,

Yes, I think you are right. I’m still at the ‘stare at it until an idea pops up’ stage.

The original bracket holds the Maglite, has a condenser (it looks like):and originally had a brace of filters and stops.

They even did a phase contrast version.

I have an led gooseneck light I’ve been using indoors, that can be too bright if too close, but
works pretty well if used with a modicum of common sense.

Jim
Arnold, Missouri
Olympus IX70 HMC
Olympus BX40 Phase Contrast
Olympus SZ40 Stereoscope

MicroBob
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#5 Post by MicroBob » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:19 pm

Hi together,
I have a faible for field microscopes and even have built one based on a Lomo biolam nosepiece. I have a Swift FM-31 too. It is one of the few portable instruments that offers a 40:1 objective and a big field of view too. What I don't especially like is the flat built when in use. Holding it in hand, moving the specimen and focussing is difficult with just two hands. :roll: When using it bent down to a table I always hope to attract beautiful young women who try to rescue me from a heart attack. :lol:

There have been other objectives for it like LWD and PH, but I have no documentation of them and they must be scarce.

Among my field microscopes I have no clear favourite, they all have advantages and disadvantages. My home built "Biolamini" offers binocular viewing and full specification, but so equipped it is not really small anymore. The Zeiss Winkel and Meopta ones are nicer to use than the FM-31 but offer only up to 300x useful combined magnification. I have a Reichert one that is really small but has even lower magnification and a small field of view.
My russian filed microscope from 1939 is magnificently finished, like built by a jeweller, but it is a heavy beast.

There is a Nikon Nature Scope or so, a portable stereo microscope, but they are expensive and I don't have one.

What always increases the amount of luggage are the accessories, so the size and weight of the instrument looses importance.

Sometimes I think about a new field microscope design with wide field plan optics in a tiny package, but so far I haven't started building it.

Bob

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#6 Post by zzffnn » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:38 pm

Bob,

Your Zeiss Winkel, Meopta and Reichert field scopes are single objective short tube types without condenser, right? Would that be difficult to share a photo of them?

Ergonomics wise, we may need a folding tripod scope that is almost regular size for comfortable field use. Tiyoda MKH is probably the lightest/most portable example and weights at around 3 lbs without case, as I heard.

Chinese TWX-1, Nikon H and some McArthur models are pocketable and optical very good (and supports real condenser + high magnification), but they may not be comfortable to use.

Cheers,
Fan

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Radazz
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#7 Post by Radazz » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:11 am

Sounds like an interesting collection, Bob.

This is my first field microscope (if I don’t count the 19th c ‘French’ barrel microscope)
Not so sure I want to go in that direction yet.

You are right,though, handling and operating the scope is like playing a musical instrument :D
Jim
Arnold, Missouri
Olympus IX70 HMC
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Mintaka
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#8 Post by Mintaka » Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:57 am

Nice find. 8-) Thanks for sharing the pics of your new microscope. It's the first time I've seen such a clever portable design.

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#9 Post by MicroBob » Thu Jan 17, 2019 11:57 am

Hi together,

here am FM-31 is for sale with an interesting purpose-made box:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Swift-Portab ... 100623.m-1

Such a nice box really makes a difference in field use.

Bob

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#10 Post by MicroBob » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:27 pm

zzffnn wrote:Your Zeiss Winkel, Meopta and Reichert field scopes are single objective short tube types without condenser, right? Would that be difficult to share a photo of them?
Hi Fan,
the Zeiss Winkel has an RMS mount and a set objective of 3,7:1 to 11.1:1 and a tube lenght of 120mm. There was a tube extension to gt 160mm tube lenght for use with standard objectives. There is no condenser. It is nicely made, quite comfortable to use and the stand is inclined.
The focus is precise and fine enough to use it with a 20:1 objective, but it really could do with a condenser.
A detailed description can be found here: https://www.mikroskopie-forum.de/index. ... ic=23026.0

The Meopta has a revolver of 3 objectives of 3?, 6? and 20:1 non RMS objectives of good quality. The stand can be inclined, tube length must be around 160mm, there is no condenser. It comes with a sheet metal hood with lots of unused space inside. The built is cheaper, it was intended as a quality school microscope. It is nice to use and with its 20:1 objective already more powerful than most field microscopes. It can be compared with the Olympus MIC school microscope but has a wider field.

The Reichert has a revolver of 3 objectives of 3?, 6? and 10?:1 non RMS objectives of good quality. It is built like a classic drum microscope. Nicely made but not so fine fucussing and fiddly to use. Mine lives just in a cardboard box so no bulletproof steel hood like a Hensoldt Protami. :roll: I think I took the first image here:https://www.mikroskopie-forum.de/index. ... ic=29210.0 with it and the second with a ROW Kleinmikroskop KMC. Not too bad for a quick and dirty photo.

I try to find the time to make a comparative photo of my quicker to grab field microscopes.

Bob

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#11 Post by zzffnn » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:51 pm

I have seen small single lens condensers used on educational microscopes for up to NA 0.65 (40x objective) and wonder if those lenses can be purchased alone for DIY field microscope.

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#12 Post by MicroBob » Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:05 pm

I think a short focal length asymmetrically shaped lens would be needed. The situation is similar to that of a flashlight, just the othre way round. Edmund optics sell lots of different types of lenses.
An alternative might be a round LED panel or ring light with a frosted screen above (for the inverted FM-31 below)it.

MichaelG.
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#13 Post by MichaelG. » Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:36 pm

MicroBob wrote:Hi together,

here am FM-31 is for sale with an interesting purpose-made box:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Swift-Portab ... 100623.m-1

Such a nice box really makes a difference in field use.

Bob
Thanks for that link, Bob
... Useful photos of the box and its contents.

MichaelG.
.
.
P.S. For info. ... You will doubtless have noticed the excessively long ebay hyperlink
... the ? and all that follows is superfluous to your requirements [it is tracking information for ebay's benefit] and could be deleted, thus:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Swift-Portab ... 2216718340
Too many 'projects'

apochronaut
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#14 Post by apochronaut » Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:03 pm

I've looked at most of the microscopes mentioned above in the past with the eye toward actually using one and most of them are really pocket microscopes, and while small, lack various useful features. Proper field microscopes, such as the Spencer 60, the AO Compact Folding Microscope and Columbia FM600, which were all used by the U.S. military over the years , while incorporating some of those features are all too large, requiring a small suitcase in order to carry them.

It does seem that in order to incorporate fuller features, one has to build one. It would be nice to have a 3 lb. microscope that could be plunked down on a lab bench and do pretty much the same job a lab scope can do.....binocular too.

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#15 Post by charlie g » Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:16 pm

Wonderful showcase of your auction acquisition, Jim, thank you. I have a nifty: "Metopta/ Praha " field microscope, made in Czech. ( I have images of an identical Japan made field microscope...I wonder which is the 'knock off?).

For me a field microscope really means a scope to easily take on holiday trips far from my home bench. I live in the 43-44 degree north latitude so we get large temp and moisture swings in going from comfy indoors to the err 'to the fields'. My curiosity and questions Jim and all are...how do our microscopes react to being hefted outdoors in 9 degree F winter time with slight snow flurries...or when there is a break in cold to a swing above freezing and the snow is soggy and the air quite moist ( I have collected fluid samples from wetlands at both temps..in one case from under ice stomped open)?

I have a group of outdoor rocks with years of lichen and moss communities on them which I am following...a fallen 'nurse log' which I am following with microscopy. I recently speculated on taking a lesser used ( step child collected microscope..gasp!) microscope out there with slides and slips to get immediate observations of the inhabitants of the moisture films when cold broke to above 34degree F.

But I chickened out...my sense is that the 'field scope' woulf fogg up on some of it's surface glass...worse yet the internal glass surfaces would perhaps poorly endure even one cycle of such moisture droplet formations.

I suggest Jim uses his field microscope indoors and first trys a 'step child stand' for outdoor microscopy...especially when the temp/moisture difference from it's indoor storage to the field ut's carried to is extreme. Charlie guevara

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#16 Post by MicroBob » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:46 pm

apochronaut wrote:I've looked at most of the microscopes mentioned above in the past with the eye toward actually using one and most of them are really pocket microscopes, and while small, lack various useful features. Proper field microscopes, such as the Spencer 60, the AO Compact Folding Microscope and Columbia FM600, which were all used by the U.S. military over the years , while incorporating some of those features are all too large, requiring a small suitcase in order to carry them.

It does seem that in order to incorporate fuller features, one has to build one. It would be nice to have a 3 lb. microscope that could be plunked down on a lab bench and do pretty much the same job a lab scope can do.....binocular too.
This is really the trouble: There are simple and powerfull, compact and big, light and heavy, fast and slow to setup ones. For some uses there is the right field microscope but for some it is not.
For my needs this would be useful:
- Smaller than a Lomo Biolam and a bit lighter
- Robust hood
- binocular viewing
- 4-10-40 objectives and a fitting condenser
- built in LED light
- Fast to set up
- Not too expensive

The closest I have come so far is my Biolamini microscope. Pros and Cons:

+ exchangeable nosepieces with 3 to 5 places
+ to some extent compatible with Zeiss Jena LG and Lomo biolam parts
+ full resolving power available
+ light and small with mono tube
+ stable
+ good work height
+ table can be lowered a long way for big objects with incident lighting

- focussing a bit fiddly
- binocular head in separate box :roll:
- package not as small as possible
- takes a moment to set up (I would prefer to just grab and unfold it, no screws)
- slide mover a bit fiddly
- condenser height has to be set manually, not very practical
- built quality has survived motor bike transport and hours of use without a single repair, but it could be more robust in some places

After 7 years of occasional use it would deserve an upgrade to tackle some of the minus points. I used the microscope on our group meetings for years and took it to a couple of holidays.

It is very well possible to build such a stand. I had a simple lathe and mill at hand but many adjustments were just made by precise eyeballing and they were spot on for normal purposes. The focussing unit is an industrial linear adjuster bought on a flea market for 50ct. :D

Bob
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#17 Post by MicroBob » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:52 pm

charlie g wrote: I have a nifty: "Metopta/ Praha " field microscope, made in Czech. ( I have images of an identical Japan made field microscope...I wonder which is the 'knock off?).
... But I chickened out...my sense is that the 'field scope' woulf fogg up on some of it's surface glass...worse yet the internal glass surfaces would perhaps poorly endure even one cycle of such moisture droplet formations.Charlie guevara
Can you show these pictures? I have never heard of such a copy. My impression was that the Meopta was an original, but of cause this might be wrong.

When you put your warm microscope in a plastic bag without much air and let it cool down outside, you can take it out without much condensation.
I would only use second class optics though, because the temperature change could lead to delamination in rare cases.

For a really special object I would stand out in the cold. Otherwise the object would have to come into the warm house or observe itself! :lol:

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#18 Post by zzffnn » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:31 am

Beautiful DIY work, Bob!

How do you mount the condenser (which seems to be a DIY)?

And is the neck part a DIY as well? By "neck part", I meant the part that connects head and objective turret to the black vertical rail/bar.

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#19 Post by MicroBob » Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:49 am

Hi Fan,
the Biolamini is far from a showcase piece, I wanted to create something and I wanted to finish it in working condition, so there are details that are a bit rough and design choices that are questionalble. The condenser (Lomo Abbe) sits in a turned sleeve. I originally intended to hold it with a clamping screw, but it turned out that the condenser fits just so that it can be moved but doesn't need additional support. In practical use I rarely had to change the condenser position, it works very well with the independent battery powered LED light with its matte screen.

The original Lomo nosepiece is connected to the black aluminium extrusion with another piece of aluminium extrusion, U-shaped and fitted to the contour of the nosepiece. A bolt hold the parts together and I probably did something to prevent the extrusions from turning around this bolt.

Yuval Goren from Israel designed a very interesting field microscope: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... W6rXK7ZeSE

It is one of the very few newer field microscope designs. I'm not sure how much he cared for proper tube length, but the design with the inclined stand and straight bino is for sure a good compromise. I think I have seen prices and remember them to be not too bad. It must be very difficult to arrange a dependable supply of the components for such a small series production.

There is also the Newton microscope, a descendant of the Lensman microscope. But all together it is not mich smaller or lighter than a vertical design and less comfortable to use.

My idea for a Biolamini II would be to use Zeiss Jena CF250 infinity wide field plan optics arranged like in Gorens microscope to get superior optical quality in a halfway small frame.

Bob

apochronaut
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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#20 Post by apochronaut » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:43 pm

MicroBob wrote:
apochronaut wrote:I've looked at most of the microscopes mentioned above in the past with the eye toward actually using one and most of them are really pocket microscopes, and while small, lack various useful features. Proper field microscopes, such as the Spencer 60, the AO Compact Folding Microscope and Columbia FM600, which were all used by the U.S. military over the years , while incorporating some of those features are all too large, requiring a small suitcase in order to carry them.

It does seem that in order to incorporate fuller features, one has to build one. It would be nice to have a 3 lb. microscope that could be plunked down on a lab bench and do pretty much the same job a lab scope can do.....binocular too.
This is really the trouble: There are simple and powerfull, compact and big, light and heavy, fast and slow to setup ones. For some uses there is the right field microscope but for some it is not.
For my needs this would be useful:
- Smaller than a Lomo Biolam and a bit lighter
- Robust hood
- binocular viewing
- 4-10-40 objectives and a fitting condenser
- built in LED light
- Fast to set up
- Not too expensive

The closest I have come so far is my Biolamini microscope. Pros and Cons:

+ exchangeable nosepieces with 3 to 5 places
+ to some extent compatible with Zeiss Jena LG and Lomo biolam parts
+ full resolving power available
+ light and small with mono tube
+ stable
+ good work height
+ table can be lowered a long way for big objects with incident lighting

- focussing a bit fiddly
- binocular head in separate box :roll:
- package not as small as possible
- takes a moment to set up (I would prefer to just grab and unfold it, no screws)
- slide mover a bit fiddly
- condenser height has to be set manually, not very practical
- built quality has survived motor bike transport and hours of use without a single repair, but it could be more robust in some places

After 7 years of occasional use it would deserve an upgrade to tackle some of the minus points. I used the microscope on our group meetings for years and took it to a couple of holidays.

It is very well possible to build such a stand. I had a simple lathe and mill at hand but many adjustments were just made by precise eyeballing and they were spot on for normal purposes. The focussing unit is an industrial linear adjuster bought on a flea market for 50ct. :D

Bob
That is a very nice design, Bob. Seems to be there in many ways but as you say, there is room for improvement. Personally, although I have spent many years over a monocular microscope, I really would like a bino head. I'm working on a bino version of an AO/Spencer 78. Right now I am stalled at the condenser and built in battery pack for the illuminator. I will post a thread sometime. It's about 1/2 finished.
I guess the consensus is that there really are no off the shelf truly convertible designs?

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#21 Post by MichaelG. » Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:49 pm

This won't be to everyone's taste, but I wonder ... Would the optimum [rather than the best] field microscope be one that dispensed entirely with the visual eyepiece[s] ??

Consider the possibility of a field device with an integrated camera, connected wirelessly to a phone or tablet ... The mechanical envelope of the optical part could be much more compact, and the screen could be worn like a VR headset, or hooded, according to preference and screen size.

MichaelG.
Too many 'projects'

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#22 Post by apochronaut » Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:26 pm

nope, it isn't.

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#23 Post by zzffnn » Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:43 pm

Adding "an integrated camera" may make the portable scope heavier, even though it may shrink its length? HERO4 or 5 Session may work that way?

I would personally prefer to have a traditional visual eyepiece + adapter for camera, as I don't usually photograph anything from field microscope.
Last edited by zzffnn on Fri Jan 18, 2019 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#24 Post by MicroBob » Fri Jan 18, 2019 6:05 pm

MichaelG. wrote:I wonder ... Would the optimum [rather than the best] field microscope be one that dispensed entirely with the visual eyepiece[s] ?? MichaelG.
Hi Michael,
this is for sure a way that has to evaluated. Times are changing and microphotography is more the norm than the exception. A smartphone is considered a necessity and they have good cameras today. So it might be necessary to make one step more to come to a modern solution.
When the smartphone is considered as given the objective magnification can be lower because it is possible to zoom in. A typical 4:1 objective has an n.a. of 0,12 and would support up to 120x magnification. An automatic scanner that moves the slide in rows and colums to scan the slide with a high power objective would also be possible and would eliminate the need for more than one objective. Quite a few possibilities...

Most field microscopes were developed in the time of the big expeditions beginning in mid 18reds and then again in Germany after the lost WW 1 where it was prohibited to produse several optical goods. Today there is little market for a really portable microscope. The institutions that would spend real money don't go exploring on foot and the amateur doesn't want to pay much. It wouls be interesting to hear how many Goren and Newton microscopes actually were sold.

Bob

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#25 Post by MichaelG. » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:02 pm

apochronaut wrote:nope, it isn't.
That is as anticipated
I trust that I have caused you no lasting distress.

MichaelG.
Too many 'projects'

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#26 Post by MichaelG. » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:05 pm

MicroBob wrote:
MichaelG. wrote:I wonder ... Would the optimum [rather than the best] field microscope be one that dispensed entirely with the visual eyepiece[s] ?? MichaelG.
Hi Michael,
this is for sure a way that has to evaluated. Times are changing ...
Thanks for your thoughts, Bob

MichaelG.
Too many 'projects'

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#27 Post by Hobbyst46 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:42 am

MicroBob wrote:Yuval Goren from Israel designed a very interesting field microscope: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... W6rXK7ZeSE
Bob
The Goren Microscope is manufactured in Israel and is marketed by M.R.C. in Israel. It is a polarizing microscope.
Its main designated use is petrography and micromorphology in the field.
Its high performance in research is demonstrated for example in the following recent article:

"Field microscopy applied to the understanding of the technology and conservation of wall paintings"

Florence Heri-Tech – The Future of Heritage Science and Technologies IOP Publishing
Authors: E Geddes da Filicaia, G Verri and Y Goren
IOP Conf. Series: Materials Science and Engineering 364 (2018) 012062 doi:10.1088/1757-899X/364/1/012062
Zeiss Standard GFL+Canon EOS-M10, Olympus VMZ stereo

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#28 Post by billbillt » Sun Jan 20, 2019 4:19 pm

Thanks for reminding members of this Israeli microscope.. I recall when you first posted about it.. Looks to be a great design and I am sure it is a great performer..

BillT

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#29 Post by MichaelG. » Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:58 pm

Hobbyst46 wrote: "Field microscopy applied to the understanding of the technology and conservation of wall paintings"
Thanks for that reference ... I have downloaded the paper from:
https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... _paintings

MichaelG.
Too many 'projects'

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Re: Swift FM-31 field microscope

#30 Post by Radazz » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:47 pm

Here’s my solution
Image
Arnold, Missouri
Olympus IX70 HMC
Olympus BX40 Phase Contrast
Olympus SZ40 Stereoscope

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