WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

Have a problem finding shops that sell specific materials? Ask here. Are you looking for microscope parts? Do you have anything to offer for sale? Note: this is not a section for external companies to advertise their products.
Post Reply
Message
Author
jjcook
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:23 am
Location: Portland, OR, USA

WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#1 Post by jjcook » Wed Aug 05, 2020 5:39 am

Hi,

I'm looking for a ready-to-use used binocular microscope in the $150 to $400 range from a forum member known to refurbish and qualify general performance. I'm located in the Portland, OR, USA area.

My son is near to entering middle school and I would like to expand his general interest in science and engineering with exposure to biology with a good quality microscope that we can use together to view live protists and other samples. After researching microscopes over the past few weeks I've gravitated towards the AO 110 or AO / Reichert 410 in part from past comments by apochronaut -- but I haven't really attempted to understand the Nikon/Zeiss/Leica/Olympus options in my price range. Given the budget I'd like to stick to brightfield and darkfield (via filters if necessary) viewing with objectives of 10x, 20x, and 40x. Focus stops like the AO "autofocus" or other to help avoid mishaps by my son is a plus. Trinocular for photography would be nice but is not a need-to-have. A field iris for Kohler illumination is a bonus. Lastly, those teaching attachments with two sets of binocular heads seem nice but I probably don't have room for that unless it is quick to assemble.

After getting this initial microscope I may be open to piecing together a more complete platform from eBay or similar as a second, more capable unit -- but as I have enough projects already I'd like to start with something basically ready to use.

Suggestions and offers?

Thanks,
Jeff
- Jeff

Zuul
Posts: 212
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 9:01 pm
Location: California

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#2 Post by Zuul » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:55 pm

Don’t rule out the AO series 10. They are wonderfully robust, use the same optics as the 110, and can be had at bargain prices. I have a 10 and a 410, and there are many things that I actually prefer about the 10.

DrPhoxinus
Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:17 pm
Location: Rochester Hills, MI

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#3 Post by DrPhoxinus » Wed Aug 05, 2020 3:32 pm

Zuul,

I agree with you. I have 2 series 10, one brightfield and one phase, and a 410 with series 10 trinocular head, and the series 10 is a great scope. I also have a AO 150 which is good for a quick look.

I find the 410 a little finicky.

Series 10 scopes vary widely in condition. I am amazed as to how well a 50 year scope works.

Gerard

apochronaut
Posts: 3942
Joined: Fri May 15, 2015 12:15 am

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#4 Post by apochronaut » Wed Aug 05, 2020 3:42 pm

I sent you a p.m., Jeff.

Element 56
Posts: 322
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:48 pm
Location: Lancaster County, PA

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#5 Post by Element 56 » Wed Aug 05, 2020 8:00 pm

Zuul wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:55 pm
Don’t rule out the AO series 10. They are wonderfully robust, use the same optics as the 110, and can be had at bargain prices. I have a 10 and a 410, and there are many things that I actually prefer about the 10.
I second the AO series 10. I've been working on mine ( with generous help from our friend apochronaut) and I really like it a lot. I also have an Orthoplan which is great but for the cost, availability of accessories, interchangeability, size, and performance both mechanically and optically, the series can't be beaten! I think I've fallen in love with mine. :mrgreen:

All the best,

Kirby

jjcook
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:23 am
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#6 Post by jjcook » Wed Aug 05, 2020 8:40 pm

Thanks for the PMs that have come in.

What do you find finicky about the 410 as compared to the 10/110? I am concerned (per my ebay searches) about the relative lack of second hand parts and diversity of objectives/phase/df add ons available.

And why choose the 10 over the 110? From what I gather after some reading, the 10 is a bit more durable and less likely to fail, has more parts availability but lesser selection of advanced add ons, and the illuminator choice/ability to change.

Also are the "advance planachro" for the 10/110 notably improved over the planachro? What premium should I consider for the performance for this price range?
- Jeff

DrPhoxinus
Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:17 pm
Location: Rochester Hills, MI

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#7 Post by DrPhoxinus » Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:00 pm

First, AO made a lot of 10s, so parts are easy to get.
My 410 seems harder to adjust, I don’t seem to have as much illumination control as the 10, and focusing isn’t as smooth. Mine was used at a university so it maybe wear and tear. The optics are fine. It just isn’t my first or second choice, but then again I have gone nuts over the years and my wife reminded me today that I have 13 microscopes.

Zuul
Posts: 212
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 9:01 pm
Location: California

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#8 Post by Zuul » Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:37 pm

All I can say is, think classic Mercedes vs 80's Toyota. The Mercedes doesn't have as many features and the tech is older, but it still feels crafted with care in a way the Toyota won't. It's not better. It's not worse. It is very different.

I hate to inject reality into the conversation, but most of us here are hobbyists with a somewhat above average understanding of microscopy. (No offense to the truly talented and knowledgeable among us, and there are more than a couple!) Is it realistic to think things like the difference between a modified Kohler illumination system and "true" Kohler is going to matter or even be noticeable? I hope saying this out loud doesn't get me kicked out of the club! ;)

The only reason I don't put the 110/120 higher on the list is that you can typically buy a 410 for the same money and have more modern objectives. There are many other considerations, and they may be more important to you.

apochronaut
Posts: 3942
Joined: Fri May 15, 2015 12:15 am

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#9 Post by apochronaut » Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:57 am

It all comes down to the individual microscope. Used microscopes can get ab-used. i have had the privelege of having had well over 100 microscopes go through my hands and I have used over 50 microscopes enough to get to know the their quirks. Sometimes those quirks can colour ones opinion of a stand but all microscope stands when in perfect working order have the capacity to become second nature in use.

From an ergonomic standpoint, especially where children might be heavily using the instrument, I would side with the 10. The standard 10 optics were excellent for their time but the improvements in optical design in the 80's put the 110 ahead on that level. A 10 can always be retrofitted with some of those later 34mm parfocal objectives. The 110 begins to be a bigger microscope but still has a modest footprint. It isn't sufficiently smaller than a 410 to justify it's somewhat lower grade optical stsndard unless it is fitted with planapos.

The 410 benefitted greatly from the new generation of infinity corrected D.I.N. objectives but the stand itself might be a little large for some children.. The optics however are still close to being state of the art. By far the best value in used microscope optics out there. No contest.

jjcook
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:23 am
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#10 Post by jjcook » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:37 am

I don't yet have enough posts to be able to respond to the PMs that I've received, hopefully its only 5 or so posts...

Edit: now I can respond via PM
Last edited by jjcook on Thu Aug 06, 2020 5:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
- Jeff

jjcook
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:23 am
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#11 Post by jjcook » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:38 am

I've been having a hard time finding the footprint dimensions of the AO 10, 110, and 410 for comparison. Any rough dimensions available with standard heads?
- Jeff

jjcook
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:23 am
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#12 Post by jjcook » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:51 am

With all your comments it sounds like going for the AO 10 might be the right choice for my son to use when unattended.

Does the dual view adapter which allows for two binocular heads have a switch similar to some of the trinocular heads so that when not in use the light is not wasted? Or is the dual view easy for an adult to drop in when desired?
- Jeff

PeteM
Posts: 1518
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am
Location: N. California

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#13 Post by PeteM » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:58 am

For practical purposes they're very close - requiring a small desk space. The 10 series is smallest and well built, but requires an external power supply and so uses up a bit of desk space that way. The 110 has a slightly smaller footprint than the 410, but has enough other issues (older optics, fragile cement of the prisms in the head, more likely to have bad power supplies) that (to me) the 410 seems the better deal unless you find a 110 in great shape at an incredible price.

Generally speaking, I think an Olympus BH2 or Nikon Labophot model is a slightly better scope for a hobbyist who may want to upgrade to advanced features and optics at some point. However, a comparable Microstar 410 will typically be $100 or so cheaper. Mechanically, it is slighly cost-reduced but still very competent and generally reliable. The standard Plan Achro objectives are better than many from that era.

The A.O. dual view adapter is a 50-50 split. The second port can also be used for a camera.

Your son might be of an age where a good used stereo microscope might prove of greater and more enduring interest. He can just grab something of interest, rather than carefullly prepare a slide. And there are hundreds of amazing things to see in the 7x to 40x or so magnification range. If that's of interest, perhaps a year or two later look for a compound scope??

jjcook
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:23 am
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#14 Post by jjcook » Thu Aug 06, 2020 5:05 am

I am able to PM now.

@PeteM Thanks for the suggestion -- I just recently picked up a 7-45x stereo microscope with ring light (no stage light) to complement the compound microscope.
- Jeff

hans
Posts: 715
Joined: Thu May 28, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#15 Post by hans » Thu Aug 06, 2020 5:53 am

DrPhoxinus wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:00 pm
My 410 seems harder to adjust, I don’t seem to have as much illumination control as the 10, and focusing isn’t as smooth. Mine was used at a university so it maybe wear and tear.
All the well-used ones I bought had a slightly gritty feeling to the focus. On the two stands I cleaned up so far it was caused by the surface of the plastic cam breaking down, leaving a slightly rough finish, exacerbated by the plastic dust/residue sticking to the follower bearing and getting into the race. Cleaning the follower bearing and lightly sanding then polishing the cam face with solvent fixed it both times.

apochronaut
Posts: 3942
Joined: Fri May 15, 2015 12:15 am

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#16 Post by apochronaut » Thu Aug 06, 2020 11:37 am

The poster said READY TO USE. Not a 100.00 surplus item. Sometimes those can be o.k. but sometimes they have gone surplus because they have been used to death. You often get what you pay for.

One has to also to be carefull interpreting stories and lore.
Here is as close to the truth on the 110 in base illuminator warranty retrofits.
For about 30 years the transformer section of in base illuminators was remote. That is no big problem, since they were well built and durable. Some were even compact like the AO ones. In an effort to simplify things and reduce the footprint of the microscope, companies jumped on board to build stands with in base electronics. The first generation AO 110 units produced a little too much heat, primarily due to the bulb socket making poor contact and building heat and excessive current draw. The problem was determined and the affected instruments were retrofitted under warranty. That all happened quite early on in the history of the instrument, before the first year of production and the stand continued in production for a further 5 years or so with no problems outside of expected ones.
Most of the affected early instruments were retrofitted for sure. If an instrument escaped being repaired under warranty, it is unlikely that it has made it this far as a ready to use microscope. Junk. to be picked up for parts or as a donation but keep to the purpose of the post, please.

jjcook
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:23 am
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#17 Post by jjcook » Mon Aug 10, 2020 7:10 pm

As my son and I (and soon my daughter too) will be on this adventure together I just realized that we might need to adjust the interpupillary distance whenever we switch users. It appears that the original AO 10 head is the non-Siedentopf kind and I presume that it changes focus as the IPD is adjusted? I see in the 1985 Reichert Series 10 brochure that the head changed to the Microstar head but it still appears to not be Siedentopf like the 410? And do all the Microstar heads have the failure modes that have been discussed about the 110 or just the models that shipped with the 100 series?
- Jeff

PeteM
Posts: 1518
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:22 am
Location: N. California

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#18 Post by PeteM » Mon Aug 10, 2020 8:56 pm

My experience (more than a dozen examples each) is that both the Series 10 and Series 410 heads are reliable. I've had two Series 110 heads (out of maybe four examples) show up with detached prisms.

hans
Posts: 715
Joined: Thu May 28, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#19 Post by hans » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:03 pm

jjcook wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 5:39 am
Lastly, those teaching attachments with two sets of binocular heads seem nice but I probably don't have room for that unless it is quick to assemble.
jjcook wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 7:10 pm
As my son and I (and soon my daughter too) will be on this adventure together I just realized that we might need to adjust the interpupillary distance whenever we switch users.
The teaching attachment for the 400 series is pretty neat and also nicely solves the IPD problem. I have the one where both heads mount level about 10 inches apart with a tube that relays the image across, not sure if any other styles were made for the 400 series. I recently got a power supply and three replacement bulbs for the pointer, $13 total from Digi-Key, and started using mine. Installation/removal takes less than a minute.

The pointer is much more carefully engineered than I would have guessed. There is a little arrow-shaped etched mask with lens to project at infinity and the filament is well behind the mask out of focus so you see a little uniformly-lit arrow with nice, crisp edges. The color can be switched between a yellow/orange or a green filter to contrast with the specimen.
PeteM wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 8:56 pm
My experience (more than a dozen examples each) is that both the Series 10 and Series 410 heads are reliable.
I got one 400 series head with a cloudy splitter out of five but that is dredging the bottom of the barrel ~$80-120 (shipping included) surplus 410s on eBay. I don't know what exactly the common 110 head problem looks like but it sounds worse. My head with cloudy splitter is still sort of usable with noticeable but not severe loss of contrast.

hans
Posts: 715
Joined: Thu May 28, 2020 11:10 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#20 Post by hans » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:23 pm

jjcook wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 5:39 am
...but I probably don't have room for that unless it is quick to assemble.
One more thing, since the connections between the microscope, teaching attachment, and heads are all circular dovetails there is a lot of flexibility in how you rotate/arrange stuff, which may help if you are short on space. For example, with the main head oriented as usual the teaching attachment can point back and second head face away, such that two people could use it while sitting across from each other at a small table.

wabutter
Posts: 62
Joined: Thu May 09, 2019 12:27 am

Re: WTB ready-to-use ~$400 used microscope from forum member

#21 Post by wabutter » Mon Aug 17, 2020 12:16 am

The IPD adjustment on the Series 10/ 110 and 400 activates the movable telelens, so there is no change in the tube length associated with the change in the IPD setting. Previous comments on the difference in the Series have been knowledgeable and mostly spot on. Here are a few other things to consider.
The Series 10 was offered with Halogen light source that used the same bulb as the Series 110 and 400 series. As apochronaut explained, there were issued in both the series 10 and 100 with heat that caused the lamp socket to corrode can then not provide a good contact. Much of that was covered under warranty. extended way beyond the typical one year that was offered in the 70's and 80's. This was essentially a none issue on the 410.
The base of the Series 10 is 8 inches deep and 6 inches wide at the widest point. The Microstar IV ( series 410) is 11 inches deep and 8 inches wide on the base. I don't have one to measure, but the dimensions were in between the Series 10 and Microstar IV.
I have something you might find interesting. I"ll PM you.

Wayne

Post Reply