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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:46 pm 
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Hello everyone, this is my first post. I spent all night checking out the forums and I'm learning so much.

I'm an undergraduate biology student in 4th year and while I'm well familiar with what it is like to use a microscope with good optics, I'm by no means what I would consider experienced in knowing what a great scope looks like.

I've been browsing a lot and from what I can tell the Nikon S-series is a very good line of older scopes with amazing illumination features.

I'm looking through what few ads there are available, but I'm not sure if any of them are viable/a good deal. I'm aware of the fine focus issue, and many of the scopes for sale seem to have this problem. However, I'm wondering if this can be remedied by having a replacement metal gear in place of the nylon one, machined.

These are the ads I've seen:

Lot sale of several of what I think are mostly complete S-KT models with issues:
I have contacted the seller to see if a frankenstein can be made.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/273387538023

A trinocular model:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/283310056770

What seems to be one of the more complete models:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/273672366451#viTabs_0

A model with a dual head, unsure of the utility of this:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/161048921083

And this one seems the most promising and cheap to boot:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/nikon-s-type-m ... 0167.m2940

This seems to be all the models I can find currently for sale, if anyone else is aware of any other links I'd be greatly appreciative. Additionally any comments on the quality of any of those sales, or if anyone has a model themselves for sale would be enormously welcome.

I'm very excited at the prospect of having a quality microscope to baby and take care of as I learn more and more about photomicrography.

~Mitchell


Last edited by stitchy.mitch on Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:36 pm 
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Hi, welcome.
I am no expert with Nikons, yet I would not buy any binocular microscope, since a camera is IMHO an indispensable part of the setup, and the only convenient, ergonomic installation is on a trinocular head.

The second link on your list of eBay sellers is for a trino. Yet the scope is listed as is, without possibility of return. That is a high risk purchase. The seller has less than 98% positive feedback, and this offer seems to be the only microscope or microscope-related item that he has been selling. I would stay away from it, or alternatively, offer a very low price, taking account of additional expenses (S&H, tax etc). And, if seller accepts your offer and the scope performance is found to be below your expectation, buy yet another, additional scope of the same model (bino this time) and start Operation Frankenstein.
But I personally would refrain from this. There are many other excellent old models - Olympus BH-2 for example. Of course it depends on the budget.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:07 am 
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Thank you very much for your time and thoughtful reply. That is in fact what I ended up doing with all the sellers I thought worth making an offer to. Seeing as I can't actually determine the working condition of the scope and there is no return option, I made a significantly lower offer- $100 USD.

I'll see what the seller says.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:30 am 
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I have a Nikon S-Kt with a trinocular head, full phase contrast setup, some extra objectives (Apo etc.), and a LED illumination conversion to better show the phase contrast. It's a fine scope, in a compact package, with surprisingly good phase effects and optics for its age. As others have said, the trinocular heads are hard to come by and it will be cheaper in the long run to find a scope that has one to begin.

Depending upon what you plan to view, be aware that there is a circular glide type stage available - ideal and somewhat unique for chasing protists around.

A common problem with these scopes -- which are otherwise very robust and beautifully made -- is a broken plastic focus gear. This happens when the grease dries and someone attempts to force the focus knobs. So, especially in a scope you can't return, be sure to ask the seller about that first. On edit, it sounds like the $188 Ebay scope has this problem.

Recognize that a stripped scope you buy for $100 may end up around $500 after you find a trinocular head ($150?), a phase condenser ($100?), and a full set of higher quality objectives (3 x $50 each??). And it may never be right if the fine focus gear is broken.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:29 am 
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God I'm starting to think you're right. Do complete sets just pop up at a nice price here and there? The scope to me is just completely gorgeous and seems so robust besides the nylon gear.

I've seen on other threads AO is a good option for affordable quality optics, but the illumination is somewhat lacking for effective phase contrast.

I'll keep the trinocular head as a requirement in my mind then, because micrographs are definitely an interest of mine.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:42 pm 
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Sadly, it's becoming harder to find complete scopes at a nice price, especially on Ebay.

There's a sort of entropy involved. Most sellers of microscopes have taken to disassembling them -- or at least stripping the most valuable parts -- and selling those separately for higher total prices. Something similar happens with quality ex-lab microscopes -- someone will take the best lenses etc. and leave a partial stand to be sold off. The microscope buying world tends toward disorder. Patience can be rewarded, though, especially if you're open to several models.

I do wish that more of the high quality but entry level microscopes were sold complete. Generally, it's only the lower end classroom models that get sold somewhat damaged but often intact.

The AO Series 10 with the built-in 20 watt halogen lamp provides enough light for decent phase contrast. The Reichert (aka Jung, Cambridge, Leica etc.) MicroStar 410 and Diastar 420 will also have plenty of light. While those don't have quite the mechanical build quality as the S-Kt's you're looking at, optically they will be fine and they are, for the most part, quite reliable. One of the great upgrades to a beautiful but older microscope is LED lighting. Buy something with decent optics to go with that fine mechanical build, and a brighter light can bring it up to modern photo standards. The Nikon S models are an example, especially if equipped with the older (short barrel) but still very good plan, apo, and phase objectives.

If you're interested in a guide to used microscopes, message me when you have enough posts to do that; and I can send you a PDF copy covering maybe a hundred makes and models via email.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:56 pm 
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Yes, most of the scopes I see for sale are covered in dust, missing pieces and with the seller hardly aware of what the item is or how it functions.

It's very tricky to even make a purchase for parts, as returns are not offered and the seller cannot tell you whether or not the item is in complete disrepair.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:23 pm 
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I took the risk and opted for the trinocular model

I offered $100 USD and the offer was accepted, shipping is considerable of course, but all in all the total cost works out to ab out $180 USD.

Now for the pieces I know I will have to spend time searching for:

-Phase condenser:

are Nikon phase condensers universal, or was one made specifically for the S-kt model scopes? Also, is there considerations/things I should look for when buying a phase condenser for this scope?

-Objectives: I will need some objectives to truly use the scope, if anyone is selling any or knows which ones are best to use, I appreciate advice on that.

Are the S-ke field diaphragms sold separately from time to time and do they fit the base of the S-kt model? I may look into getting one for its excellent contrast.

Example: https://www.ebay.ca/itm/NIKON-PHASE-CON ... :rk:2:pf:0

What is a fair price for such a kit?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:00 pm 
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That Ebay kit looks like it would do, though priced too high IMO.

The early Nikon phase condenser did away with the usual phase annulus adjustment knobs in favor of direct movement damped by grease. While this sounds rinky dink, it actually works quite well.

Around here, I'd expect a complete trinocular Nikon SKT with the phase condenser, good lenses, complete, and pristine condition to go for around $500-600.

The one you've bought looks like a great start, if the plastic gears are OK. Just the head, eyepieces, and photo eyepiece are worth near what you've paid, including shipping.

On edit: If you get stuck finding what you need, let me know -- I have a few extra Nikon objectives originally destined for a fix-up project.


Last edited by PeteM on Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:12 pm 
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Thanks for the info Pete,

I did some searching and found the following.

Would any of these fit/do they seem like a fair deal/quality/complete?

1. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Diaphot- ... 1#viTabs_0

2. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Phase-Co ... 0008.m2219

3. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Phase-Co ... 0008.m2219

4. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-Phase-Co ... :rk:8:pf:0

5. https://www.ebay.com/itm/NIKON-PHASE-CO ... :rk:9:pf:0

(5 seems like its missing parts to me)

6. https://www.ebay.com/itm/NIKON-PHASE-CO ... 0008.m2219

(6, seems like a different older model than the others, dont know anything about it.)


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:15 pm 
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A few too many links to look at.

In general, you can't use condensers meant for inverted scopes (your first five listings). You can't use condensers with the newer dovetail attachments. Your best bet might be to search for a Nikon S/S-Kt manual that illustrates the proper condenser and short barrel phase objectives.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:24 pm 
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Thank you, this was not information I was aware of.

I got a manual online and can now reference the part numbers.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:27 pm 
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Just to add, I'd wait until you receive your scope before buying more stuff. That way, if the gears are bad, you can decide to look for an entire headless or binocular scope (keeping your trinocular) with the objectives and condenser you want.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:31 pm 
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This is sage advice Pete,

I will wait until the scope arrives to begin looking into add-ons.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:02 pm 
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Hello everyone who has been so kind to reply in this thread.

The scope has arrived in OK condition. The body is in nice condition, and the lenses and condenser that did come with it seem good.

The fine and course focus knobs work, but are a little sticky feeling. My assumption is that the grease is too old and needs to be cleaned. Fiddling with the stage, ball bearing fell from the x-y control rails, but I kept these. There is dust in the oculars and everywhere else dust can get it.

The main functional issue I can tell so far is that the lighting does not light up. I hear a low buzz at max illumination so I do believe it turns on, but the bulb is likely out.

I only have 3 objectives, of which are short-barrel nikons. One is a 4x nikon, another is a mystery but its a little longer than the 100x HI, my best guess is that it is a 10x or 40x, and is likely a nikon.

Some of the screws on the scope need some oil and de-rusting.

It also came with a blue filter in the kohler illuminator.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:06 pm 
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Congratulation. Now starts the slightly challenging part of the project, after which you not only enjoy your microscope but know a lot more about these old microscopes.

Illuminator and power supply problems are mostly solvable. For a start, AFAIK, about 95% of all electrical circuit failures are due to faulty wiring contacts. For example, I would start by suspecting the cables from the power supply to the lamp house, the banana plugs if there are any. The connections of the cable ends to the instruments.

Two more small tips:
- if using oil for lubrication (and it is usually NOT the best route), take care to keep the oil far away from any glass surface.
- if there is dust anywhere, blow it away with air or with a soft hair brush before wiping.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:29 pm 
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Of course, being new and ignorant I missed that the entire housing for the lightbulb has been seemingly screwed out and removed from the microscope. So I'll have to try and find that part. But perhaps I can get the LED illuminator conversion kit and save the trouble in the first place.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:44 am 
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Remember most parts from the **phots (Labophot, Optiphot, Diaphot, ect) from Nikon are newer ones and won't work on the older S or G series. The only exception is the heads, which are compatible.

You may be able to use long 45mm parfocal objectives on your S model, but you would lose about 12mm of stage height.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 1:47 am 
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stitchy.mitch wrote:
. . . But perhaps I can get the LED illuminator conversion kit and save the trouble in the first place.


Mitch, if this is like the S-Ke, you can find a 100+ lumen flashlight with low-med-high brightness levels that will "almost" fit where the old lamp went. Have a friend with a metal lathe turn the aluminum head down to a snug slide fit and you'll have a $30 or so+ (+ a six pack to your friend with the lathe?) LED kit that will be brighter than the original lamp and still preserve Kohler illuminaton. Mark the flashlight with something like a heat shrink tube on the outside at the precise depth where the new LED die is where the old Tungsten filament was (or get this by trial and error in setting up Kohler).

Best is a flashlight that uses a 18625 Li ion rechargeable battery. Buy a spare and a charger. These last a long time, make your scope portable, and can be recharged for years ahead. Once you're freed of a power cord, this scope is portable enough to be used in the field or on travel if you so wish.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 2:58 am 
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The flashlight idea is very clever, and I will definitely consider doing this.

As I expected, upon taking the scope apart in its entirety is that the nylon fine focus gear is hooped. Time to begin the search for a brass spur gear!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:12 am 
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http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/ind ... nikon.html

Apparently $75 for a bespoke gear. If you can find a stock equivalent maybe more like $10? Not sure how it would hold up, but these things could probably be fairly quickly modeled and 3D printed (using one of the more precise printers and more durable materials).

Good news, Mitchell, is that your scope came with a trinocular head worth near the price.

And, you can likely still enjoy the scope for now, up to 200x or so, maybe even 400x, with just the coarse focus.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:40 pm 
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Thank you for the link Pete, this seems like the most reliable option, but I'll look around a little bit first.

I see it pays to be the only guy in town for the gears. (I'm guessing it's actually quite time-consuming to manufacture these properly).


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:10 pm 
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I'd like to thank everybody above who has helped me in understanding these scopes, finding one and providing me with materials to build a functional S-kt. In particular I'd like to mention Pete M who has been an enormous resource, and continues to be.

I have so far found nearly a complete set of short barrel Nikon plan objectives, DLL objectives and even a very nice 2x plan and 100x DLL Apo. Additionally a gliding stage, and a phase contrast condenser.

It may have been wise for me to wait until a more complete scope was put up for sale but at the end of the day, I am very happy with my results, have been offered very fair deals and when all is said and done: I believe I will have a very nice old scope with 11 objectives, a phase condenser and a gliding stage at a price of around $650 USD all the while spending countless hours reading and learning about microscopy and all the different setups possible (which has been a wonderful experience).

As time goes on I will continue to look for ways to add more and more to this scope to make it the dream rig I will keep for life. So I will be searching for an S-ke or L-ke base for my scope, polarizing setup, and if I'm lucky a set of CFN Apos's at some point in my life. The search continues indefinitely, but I would like to thank everyone so much for their help and kindness and I hope I can return the same to this community as I become a more capable microscopist and biologist.

~Mitch


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 3:41 am 
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Mitch,

For simple polarization you could buy a couple of camera polarizers. On my S-Ke, a 46mm polarizer, thread size down, fits the field perfectly. You could measure your S to see what size would be needed.

There's just barely enough room in the cavity under the head for another polarizer, unscrewed from its camera mount. Forget the diameter on this, maybe around 30mm. You'll need a spanner with thin blades to unscrew the retaining ring and pop out the glass polarizer. Could be you could unscrew it from one side of the ring with a jeweler's screwdriver, but would need a steady hand and a willing thread.

Both are circular polarizers, mounted in glass, and need to be flipped to have the linear portion facing the right way. On Ebay, shipped from China, maybe $12 for the pair.

Much better optically than cut film -- and it's easy to rotate the field polarizer in its mount. The "extinction" when crossed isn't absolute black as you might get from something like a $400 new Nikon or Olympus set -- but so close I think you'd find it perfect for the sort of great chemical crystal shots Robert Berdan and others have recently posted. A surprising number of biological subjects are also birefringent.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:36 pm 
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Thank you, Mitch & Pete, fo this lovely dialogue. I liked to read you go through this process that I now know so well for I went through it a short while ago, with the next generation Nikons. It seems I am the last one to learn the term 'Operation Frankenstein' that so well applies to my Obbophot/Laptiphot :)

Quote:
A common problem with these scopes -- which are otherwise very robust and beautifully made -- is a broken plastic focus gear. This happens when the grease dries and someone attempts to force the focus knobs.


What are the (early) signs that such a problem is hiding within the stands? Can you feel or hear it? Is it hard to open up the mechanism to see it?

thanks,

Wim


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:21 pm 
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I'm not sure about early signs. If the controls begin to stiffen over time, it could be possible that the fine focus spur gear could be serviced with something that renews the plasticisers. In my case, it was obvious to tell the gear was ruined. The fine focus would catch and run smoothly for most of a turn, then suddenly it was rough until I got over that part and was smooth again: indicating a crack in the spur gear, which there was.

I disassembled my fine focus, it wasn't the easiest thing in the world, but I didn't have the right tools for the job.

http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artmar16/trc-nikon.html

Once I got the fine focus knobs off, I had to use a strange method of bending one of my old mathematics compass needles 90 degrees, and leave the other one straight to fit into two small holes in a screw out cover to access the spur gear. It worked, but I wouldn't recommend it because I think the material is aluminum and is easily damaged.


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