AO 10 LED Conversion

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KurtM
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AO 10 LED Conversion

#1 Post by KurtM » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:43 am

I'm pretty stoked - finally got busy and converted my travel scope from 20W halogen illumination to self-contained, LED. I use an AO 10 (shorthand for American Optical Series 10) as a travel scope. Not field scope, but travel scope, that I take along to use when I visit places for weeks on end as I often do. Going cordless is going to increase convenience of use about 700% since I live in what amounts to a small sailboat cabin on wheels while on the road.

Image

One of the weakest areas in the venerable AO Series 10 line are the illuminators, whereas the best of an iffy lot was the 1031, a 20W halogen with built-in transformer, which beats the heck out of the separate transformers on the 1036 and 1036A lamps. Now, the 1036 and 1036A are the same except for one important difference: the 1036A includes field iris centering adjustment. My AO 10 Phase Star had a 1031 ... and a cord ... as seen in the photo above.

So I obtained an orphaned 1036A lamp off eBay since it has all the things I want - lenses, iris, iris centering adjustment - but not the stuff I don't want, like the transformer attached to it as with the 1031. After gutting the 1036A of its halogen lamp apparatus, cleaning it up, and replacing the 1st surface mirror inside, I was left with a clear field to install my LED rig, which I was lucky enough to have a friend gather the parts for since I do not speak electronics at all myself.

After that it was a simple matter to remove the 1031 lamp from the stand and replace it with the modified 1036A. It only remains to affix a Velcro strap to secure the battery pack in place, and dispense with the temporary green tape. Oh yeah, and receive & install the knob I had to order for the potentiometer. 8-)
Attachments
The big lever flips a neutral density filter in & out.
The big lever flips a neutral density filter in & out.
1036A converted.JPG (157.42 KiB) Viewed 5978 times
guts annoted.JPG
guts annoted.JPG (204.17 KiB) Viewed 5978 times
Look Ma, no cord!!
Look Ma, no cord!!
cordless AO 10.jpg (208.67 KiB) Viewed 5978 times
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
http://sawdustfactory.nfshost.com/microscopes/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/67904872@ ... 912223623/

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rnabholz
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#2 Post by rnabholz » Sun Feb 07, 2016 3:59 am

A battery powered AO 10.... Must be a result of the space program....

That is very cool. You have to get the details of the LED rig and post them, or convince your friend to sell a cheap kit.

Well done Kurt.

Rod
Last edited by rnabholz on Sun Feb 07, 2016 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Crater Eddie
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#3 Post by Crater Eddie » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:09 am

I like it! Nice and compact, and self contained. Love the camper too.
CE
Olympus BH-2 / BHTU with Olympus E-P1 MFT camera mounted
LOMO BIOLAM L-2-2
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75RR
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#4 Post by 75RR » Sun Feb 07, 2016 10:13 am

Good idea on the battery powered LED. What LED and controller did you use?
Zeiss Standard WL (somewhat fashion challenged) & Wild M8
Olympus E-P2 (Micro Four Thirds Camera)

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charlie
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#5 Post by charlie » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:46 pm

That is a great conversion!

I, too, would like to know the specifics of the conversion.

Charles
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#6 Post by Charles » Sun Feb 07, 2016 3:19 pm

Yes Kurt! We need details on the construction and components! :)
I like the trailer too!

billbillt
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#7 Post by billbillt » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:09 pm

I will opine what all have done.. This is a great idea, and I would like to see more!...
BillT

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KurtM
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#8 Post by KurtM » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:43 pm

Whoa Nelly, I really wasn't expecting much response, guess there's more interest than I thought! Um, let's see ... please allow me to check with my friend before spilling all I know about the components, since as far as I'm concerned it's intellectual property that belongs to him. He may want to provide kits for it just as he did with me, I don't know but will soon find out.

While we're waiting for that, how about a little preliminary performance review? Here's what I just got through writing to him:

"I put the scope through its paces to see if there was sufficient light throughput to give pleasing views in phase contrast all the way up to the 100x oil imm lens, and also using the POL apparatus to full extinction, and decided there is. Not a surplus of intensity, since I stowed the ND filter practically all the while, whereas I used it most the time under the 20W halogen regime.

Color temperature is a fairly cool white, was thinking it might be a bit warmer - but that could very well be a matter of having become accustomed to the brownish "picture" that the positive phase contrast optics gave under the yellowish cast of the 1031 (which I definitely did not care for and am glad to get away from). The color shift with this new light is just gonna take a bit of getting used to, perhaps. I assume it's always possible to switch LED's if I wish in order to match what's in my 120 since that one is perfect. But like I said, way too soon for any of that right now.

Another wild card is gonna be battery life. As it runs on 4 AA cells, I keep a foursome of AA rechargeables for my speedlight flash and am hoping they will work in the AO10 travel scope too. Haven't tried yet.

I am particularly happy with how well the 1036A illuminator is working out for this conversion so far. In fact, it's field iris centering mechanism is the smoothest, most precise one I've ever had, the only possible exception being the magnificent Nikon E-600 (the Zeiss is certainly no better than AO in this respect). Of course, my 1036A was kinda rough as I received it, and got a very careful going-through to spiff it up as much as humanly possible - guess I must do pretty good work! Anyway, it's proving a perfect basis for this adaptation, I couldn't be happier with it.

I have a 3 to 4 week road trip to PFM & Fort McKavett coming up in a just a couple weeks, which should be a great practical test to see how all this *really* works."

So I recommend waiting 'til mid March to see the results of the [drama] grinding real world field test [\drama]. In the meantime, here's another LED conversion I was watching with interest:
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... c&start=75
Last edited by KurtM on Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
http://sawdustfactory.nfshost.com/microscopes/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/67904872@ ... 912223623/

billbillt
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#9 Post by billbillt » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:57 pm

The color of the LED is a personal choice... I prefer the "warm white" over the "cool white" radiance.. Warm white looks more like cozy natural sunlight to my eye vs the sterile fluorescent bulb doctor's office look of the cool white... Just MHO...

BillT

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KurtM
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#10 Post by KurtM » Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:50 pm

I agree with that 100% when it comes to indoor lighting - I can't stand cool white bulbs or fluorescent lighting, ugh! But lots of people obviously see no problem and even prefer it, just personal preference, like you say, I suppose. But when it comes to the view in compound microscope, I want to see neither blue nor yellow tones, but perfectly neutral white.
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
http://sawdustfactory.nfshost.com/microscopes/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/67904872@ ... 912223623/

apochronaut
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#11 Post by apochronaut » Sun Feb 07, 2016 7:22 pm

I'm so far not impressed with the quality of light given off by leds, Kurt but this is a great application. Portability is always good. I am playing with similar ideas.
One which is almost finished for a hobby microscope, incorporates a small solar panel about 2" X 3/4" , so it can keep a rechargeable AA or AAA up. I like the idea of using a single AAA lithium rechargeable because they run at 3.7V and it is lithium but the useful life would be lower and I just happened to have battery holders for AA's ( nickle zinc are nominally 1.6v. and 2800 mwh).

Another idea was to use a 7.00 twin battery A.C. charger ( lots on ebay), as a battery case, for a larger microscope, so A.C. could be employed when available and convenient, yet keep the batteries charged , for off grid use.

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gekko
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#12 Post by gekko » Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:42 pm

Kurt, I enjoyed seeing your portable home and microscope set up. I usually don't go for LED conversions, but in this case, I am in complete agreement with apochronaut: this is the perfect case for it.
One thing which you may want to look into, and that is whether the LED used in your converted lamp emits much blue or violet light. If so, a filter that blocks the blue light might be desirable: as far as I know, blue light is harmful to the eyes.
apohcronaut wrote:Another idea was to use a 7.00 twin battery A.C. charger ( lots on ebay), as a battery case, for a larger microscope, so A.C. could be employed when available and convenient, yet keep the batteries charged , for off grid use.
That is a super idea!

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jason
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#13 Post by jason » Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:21 am

Kurt - Did you ever post any more information on the LED conversion? I'm looking at purchasing a AO with a dual-head on it from craigslist, which would be nice for my son and I to look at simultaneously. But it comes with a missing power supply so an LED would be the way to go.

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KurtM
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#14 Post by KurtM » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:12 am

To tell you the truth, I don't remember, sorry. And I'm afraid I can't help you much since that LED system was built for me by a friend who I have not seen in quite a while. And I had him put it together for me because I don't know diddly about electronics myself. It was fun to see this thread again, though, and the battery powered AO10 is still serving perfectly as my "road scope".
cordless AO10 1024px.jpg
cordless AO10 1024px.jpg (104.37 KiB) Viewed 2426 times
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
http://sawdustfactory.nfshost.com/microscopes/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/67904872@ ... 912223623/

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jason
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#15 Post by jason » Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:21 am

Well, thanks for checking back in, anyway. I think I'm going to pass on the AO scope because I'd have to shell out for a power supply before even testing the scope to see if it was in good shape. If it was being sold for crazy cheap I might just buy it, but it's not.

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KurtM
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Re: AO 10 LED Conversion

#16 Post by KurtM » Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:39 am

Sounds wise. AO stuff does go crazy cheap too, for the patient, and is extremely worthwhile equipment in the meantime. Be advised that many of us old AO jocks have acquired several inexpensive stands, picked the best parts, to build one good stand ... because it's affordable ... if we're patient. You can end up with a heck of a decent and versatile microscope this way.
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
http://sawdustfactory.nfshost.com/microscopes/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/67904872@ ... 912223623/

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