Recently bought a 2mp USB eyepiece camera from a Ebay vendor in China for about $25. Paid an extra 32 cents over the free shipping option to reduce delivery time from about a month and a half to about three weeks. It did arrive in about three weeks.
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It's being used with an old Pentium 4 computer running Windows XP and not connected to the internet. I've already successfully installed an older version of GIMP for image processing that runs fine. Also successfully installed CompineZP for image stacking.
I believe the author of CombineZP has not worked on this program for several years, and the currently available version is several years old, and runs fine on Windows XP. These programs were downloaded from the internet using this computer, a bit newer but still pretty old, and transferred to the old Pentium 4 computer with a thumbdrive.
Before trying to install the software included with the camera, connected the camera to the computer to see if it would be recognized. Windows XP has built in some generic drivers for webcams, and I suspect this eyepiece camera is a cheap 2mp webcam installed in a custom eyepiece shaped housing. Windows did see a USB camera device installed, and clicking on the icon brought up a program window with the camera image and a few buttons, one for taking individual pictures. Adjusting the focus on the microscope was tracked by the streaming image in the Windows camera program, and clicking the picture taking button captured a still image, displayed in the lower margin of the program window. So far, so good.
Trying to install the software was more problematic. The old computer was unable to read the miniature disk, even though the drive is designed for CD and DVD disks and has a receptacle for the miniature disks in the tray. My internet computer was unable to read the disk, either. A newer internet and gaming computer was able to read the disk fine, and the files were transferred to a thumbdrive. The files were transferred to the old computer's hard drive and run, but the install failed with a cryptic "certificate chain validation error".
I suspect the installation program was looking for files specifically on the program disk, or wanted to connect to the internet to validate certificates. Was able to locate an internet source for the S-EYE program in China, downloaded the install file and transferred it to the old Pentium 4 computer with a thumbdrive. Installation failed the exact same way. The program was able to start, but was unable to see the camera. I suspect the installation program wants to connect to the internet to validate certificates.
There are some other possible options, but not pursuing those at the moment because the generic Windows drivers can see the camera and take still pictures. The camera is capable of movies, but can only do 30 fps at 640 X 480 resolution. Still pictures are fine for the time being. The eyepiece camera installed on the 'scope.
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Below is a sample still image from a prepared slide of onion root tip section showing mitosis, quadruple stained, that I bought from Ward's Natural Science company several years ago. The image was sharpened up a bit in GIMP, and contrast and brightness were adjusted a bit also.
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The sensor chip is tiny and can only see a small fraction of the field of view in a normal 10X eyepiece. To show that, an image was taken of the same area on the slide using the digital camera and a 10X compensating eyepiece for a relay lens. The lens was not zoomed so the whole field in the eyepiece is visible.
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These images were taken with a 43X achromat, before my recent purchase of the three apochromats.
I recently bought a 0.3X relay lens, but it won't arrive until the end of the year. It's designed to fit a C-mount camera, so I'll need to cobble together some kind of adapter to use it with the eyepiece camera. If the eyepiece camera sensor sits too deep below the filter mount, it might not work at all. I may eventually buy a 2mp C-mount camera for about the same price as this one, and try it out.
I might also mention that early on, there were some dark spots and strange shadows in the same positions on each image taken with the camera. It turned out the UV/IR blocking filter needed to be carefully unscrewed from the bottom of the camera and carefully cleaned on both sides. I used Q-tips and denatured alcohol, which worked well and didn't damage the filter.
Also successfully processed a seven image stack of a different cell in mitosis with CombineZP. It will be shown in a subsequent post.