Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

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uglyjeep
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Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#1 Post by uglyjeep » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:12 pm

I'm positive that it is a highly desired option, and may be difficult to find, but I am looking for either the teaching viewing body or trinocular viewing body to fit a Leica BM E. I've searched a bit and found that the CM E microscopes use the same viewing bodies (and other parts), but was wondering if there are any other compatible parts that I should be watching for.

A bit of background: I am a "second career" distance student (i.e. online) studying fisheries sciences. I have no lab access as a student (as "my" campus is a few states away). I assist a researcher studying several populations of endangered desert fishes at a few remote sites in Mexico, but have started developing some research interests out of his range of expertise (and available equipment). Some of the research I've assisted with is on age and growth (through monitoring individuals and cohorts of juveniles), and now I've started to spin that off to look at early life history. I ended up picking up a lot of surplus microscopes at auction. I was primarily after the Leica stereo zoom 2000 (the only stereo microscope in the lot, and in perfect shape), but would like to set up at least one of the compound microscopes for higher magnification needs. As one of my goals for the research is to document and describe the physical characteristics of the larval fish, I'd like to have the option of attaching a camera (and still being able to look through an eyepiece). In the auction lot quite a few Swift Collegiate 400 microscopes were included. All of these have the Quodmaster 100 phase contrast, and most have "monocular" teaching heads. That said, I'd rather use one of the Leica BM E microscopes, as the optics appear to be higher quality. Portability is also an issue, as my field vehicle is a little 80's Ford Bronco II - not much space for gear. The Leicas are slightly more compact than the Swifts and the AO/Reichert Jung 160's that were also included.

Sorry for the bit of rambling - back to the topic: Does anyone know if there are other compatible heads for the Leica BM E to replace the monocular viewing body?

apochronaut
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#2 Post by apochronaut » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:59 pm

This is a hard one because that is a fairly new educational model. Binocular heads would likely stay with the bodies, so finding an orphan one might be difficult. I've never seen one of these scopes but it looks like the head is mounted using a normal kind of circular dovetail. If you could measure that, it is possible that a head from some other microscope would fit. It looks like it is a 160mm tube , so no telan lens would be required. I'm wondering whether the head from an AO series 2/4 would work. Those are fairly small and wouldn't overbalance the stand and they are very common and cheap.

you would need to measure the max. and min. width plus the depth of the dovetail....mm would be best.

uglyjeep
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#3 Post by uglyjeep » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:38 pm

apochronaut wrote:...you would need to measure the max. and min. width plus the depth of the dovetail....mm would be best.
The max dia is ~42mm (41.85mm w/chamfered edge) the min dia. is ~36mm (measured @36.11mm but calipers were not quite thin enough to fully contact the base). Height/depth of 7mm. It seems to be roughly a 67 degree dovetail.

The female portion of the stand is straight walled @42.02mm dia and 7.85mm deep. A set screw and opposing thumb screw are used to capture the dovetail and hold the head in place.

wstenberg
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#4 Post by wstenberg » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:52 am

Are you looking for a binocular for the Leica? I might have one...
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PeteM
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#5 Post by PeteM » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:56 am

Boreal, Hund, and Olympus finite scopes all have approx. 42mm dovetails. And teaching and trinocular heads are commonly available for Olympus. What I don't know is how good the corrections would be, as there might be slight differences in intermediate corrections, head tube length, and eyepiece to image distances. If given an opportunity, you might try them.

Leitz 160 tube scopes (the later off-white bodied ones) are also 42mm, but not quite a dovetail form. They might fit and the lens corrections are likely to be pretty good. Trinocular heads are pretty common.

Another option is to leave your scope as is and look for one with the features you find you'll want. Then sell your BME when you find the "perfect" scope. The $200 or so you're likely to spend trying to find a workable trinocular head -- more if you're not successful first time around -- could go to a more expandable microscope.

uglyjeep
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#6 Post by uglyjeep » Wed Dec 12, 2018 1:36 am

wstenberg wrote:Are you looking for a binocular for the Leica? I might have one...
A binocular head would be nice, but isn't an absolute necessity. I'm really after a teaching head, which takes up marginally less space and allows the simultaneous use of a camera, but honestly could just use a camera adapter on the eyepiece as is now.
PeteM wrote:Boreal, Hund, and Olympus finite scopes all have approx. 42mm dovetails. And teaching and trinocular heads are commonly available for Olympus. What I don't know is how good the corrections would be, as there might be slight differences in intermediate corrections, head tube length, and eyepiece to image distances. If given an opportunity, you might try them.

Leitz 160 tube scopes (the later off-white bodied ones) are also 42mm, but not quite a dovetail form. They might fit and the lens corrections are likely to be pretty good. Trinocular heads are pretty common.

Another option is to leave your scope as is and look for one with the features you find you'll want. Then sell your BME when you find the "perfect" scope. The $200 or so you're likely to spend trying to find a workable trinocular head -- more if you're not successful first time around -- could go to a more expandable microscope.
I'll keep an eye open, but don't really have the funds for too much experimenting (which, truthfully, is how I ended up with these). I now have a "few" extra microscopes, and after looking things over I'm leaning toward selling all the student scopes (including the Leicas in question) and picking up a vintage research scope (I had been looking at AO, B&L, and Olympus). My nets can ride on the roof and I'll just have to deal with the extra bulk/weight. I already have an old Olympus trinocular head on a model N metalurgical scope. I've been thinking about picking up an EH to use it with - I do love the elegant look of the old scopes.

PeteM
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#7 Post by PeteM » Wed Dec 12, 2018 2:05 am

FWIW, I once had a Swift microscope with phase contrast -- and it was pretty decent optical quality.

If you find phase useful (and I think you would for marine biology), you might want to keep one of those scopes. At least clean it up and give it a try.

apochronaut
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#8 Post by apochronaut » Wed Dec 12, 2018 1:29 pm

Here is a new trinocular one that the seller doesn't know anything about, so it is a super bargain. The dovetail is not the right size but it is too small, so adapting it would be pretty easy. It is 25.00 and will likely stay that way. The dovetail is 30mm but the telan lens is a decent normal size, so it won't have a field restriction based on having a reduced size dovetail. Most of them are all flange anyway. That piece of glass looks like a lens, not a window so it will have some optical effect but is installed with a setting ring, so will be easily removed. Removing it will give you a straight through for your 160mm tube objectives.

If you find or make a 5-6mm walled ring and then drill and tap it to take the existing thumbscrew or more likely a longer replacement, then you have a 30mm dovetail on your body. The price is right. I actually have bought from that seller, many years ago and he was good to deal with.

As Pete pointed out, there may be some difference in tube length but it will most likely be small and possibly a slight alteration, certainly longer but also maybe shorter could be effected. Might be worth a try for 25.00 + shipping.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/TRINOCULAR-MIC ... SwDPNcBZ8L

uglyjeep
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#9 Post by uglyjeep » Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:08 pm

apochronaut - I put in a bid. At that price, I figure it is worth trying to play with, the seller happens to be local as well. Thanks for spotting that one!

PeteM - There's nothing wrong with the optics on the Swifts - they produce a clear image and are fairly crisp. They just come off as a bit more "dull" than the Leica. Maybe I need to play with the light source, but I have enough of these scopes that I'll be keeping one or two to play with.

apochronaut
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#10 Post by apochronaut » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:04 pm

Well, I can't see why that should not work for you. Glad to help. If you see or talk to Tony( I think that is his name), could you ask if he still has any infinity corrected D.I.N. Reichert objectives with an R.M.S. thread? There was some question a while back but he isn't the best at answering emails.

uglyjeep
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#11 Post by uglyjeep » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:24 pm

I put in a low bid and ended up missing out on it. I figure it won't hurt me to hang on to one of the Leicas and wait to see what I can find. In the meantime I can use one of the swifts (or continue looking for another scope).

What features/characteristics should I be looking for in a trinocular/teaching head that would allow swapping (other than dovetail size)?

PeteM
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Re: Head compatibility/availability for Leica BM E

#12 Post by PeteM » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:42 pm

Best if you stay with OEM trinocular (or teaching) heads matched to the microscope you're buying.

If buying off Ebay, for some reason Nikon finite tube teaching and trinocular heads seem to be abundant and affordable. The infinity Nikon, however, very hard and then $$$ to find.

Olympus BH and BH2 trinocular and teaching heads are also available, but generally a little harder to find and more expensive than their Nikon counterparts. Their infinity heads (BX series) are easier to find than Nikon Eclipse, though somewhat pricey.

Leitz trinocular heads are also available, but it's a little trickier IMO for a beginner to make sure they're getting matching Leitz components. Reichert/Leica trinocular heads somewhat available from the MicroStar IV era and expensive and rarer from the DMxx era. You'll see Zeiss Standard trinocular heads, but there will be competition for them and they tend to not have (in the older ones) wide fields of view.

Bottom line is that if you look for something like a Nikon Labophot or an Olympus BH2 series as your ultimate scope -- or maybe a Reichert MicroStar IV -- you'll be able to easily and somewhat affordably equip it with a teaching or trinocular head if it doesn't already have one. Best and cheapest if you buy a complete scope to begin with.

It's often possible to switch finite heads from one brand to another, by machining the dovetail or making a tapered bushing -- but you have to watch for corrections in the head and perhaps switch eyepieces as well.

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