EM1 portable microscopes

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EM1 portable microscopes

#1 Post by scuffster » Wed Jul 13, 2022 10:19 am

The Newton Microscopes seem to have disappeared. But the Archimedes Em1 seem to be the reincarnation of it. https://www.em-microscope.com Has anyone tried one of these EM1 microscopes in the field? I was wondering whether it would be good for nature hikes I do with our local scout group.

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#2 Post by apochronaut » Wed Jul 13, 2022 11:10 am

The only disturbing thing I have noticed about it is that it is married to a standard type of slide holder, such as they make in the millions in China. The X and Y conttol shafts are rather long and vulnerable. In the field, with multiple users, being passed around, they might easily be damaged.

Tightening up the controls to a button type, such as was used on many lab microscopes until the 1950's would have made sense.
They may have wanted to economize by using a cheap, off the shelf part.
Makes me wonder where else they economized.

One other thing.

They are quoting 1000X. That's easy to do with the right optics but where is the condenser?

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#3 Post by Scarodactyl » Wed Jul 13, 2022 5:48 pm

apochronaut wrote:
Wed Jul 13, 2022 11:10 am
Makes me wonder where else they economized.
The first thing I saw was a very cheap-looking 10x/18 "wf" eyepiece.

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#4 Post by PeteM » Wed Jul 13, 2022 9:12 pm

It does seem a compact design. However, it looks that equivalent optical quality to their highest priced version could be had in a $150 used monocular microscope with a cell phone holder. And that used scope (say a 1960's Japanese one with a cheap off-the-shelf LED conversion) would be more robustly built, still be somewhat compact, and conveniently do oil immersion at 1000x. Looks to me that oil immersion with the current setup would be a mess.

A.O. made a fairly compact field microscope FWIW.

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#5 Post by apochronaut » Thu Jul 14, 2022 4:04 pm

There is a deliniation between a portable microscope and a field microscope. The difference is usually the weight and a sacrifice of features.

Portables such as the various versions made for the U.S. military are compact lab microscopes. Originally monocular, with 3 objectives and condenser, like the Tiyoda folding MKQ or the Spencer folding model 60, they either fold or are small upright microscopes with a secure carrying case. The later ones are small, binocular, self illuminated, with 4 objectives and a condenser. Typically, they are 4 to 6 lbs. with case and aren't really suitable for field use due to size and weight. Most were designed for field hospital use.

Field microscopes need to be small and light. They weigh 1 to almost 4 lbs. Most are an inverted design, allowing all the optics to nestle in the body. Earlier designs such as the McArthur, Swift FM 31, Nikon H or the Chinese Army put the optical path along an XZ plane, with the operator viewing from above or at a semi vertical angle. Several of the modern designs including this one, put the optical path along the XY plane , changing to the Z at the objective.
One feature of the modern designs is the use of lighter shock absorbing materials, which have aided in keeping the weight down. The original Watson-McArthur of the 1930's weighed 3 lb. 12 oz., the most recent Kirk-McArthur weighs just over 1 lb. The Nikon H about 2 lbs. All of the top viewing microscopes are used by supporting them below the head and looking down into them. The modern XY designs, need to be held up to eyelevel or supported on a tripod or other surface in order to view them like a telescope or transit. If handheld, they need to be light. I can see a degree of awkewardness in their use, compared to the top viewing style.
All of the models above have multiple objectives and some even have phase contrast.

There were other designs of field microscopes based on the standard upright principal . The best known are the Reichert Heimdal and it's licensee, the Tiyoda MKH., both are like small upright microscopes when set up but fold into a roughly 4-5 inch length for storage. Spencer had a couple of folders, a larger No. 60 noted above and the No.75 Real Pocket Microscope , which when collapsed, fit into a 4" x 2 1/2" x 1 1/16" case, weighing 13 oz.
There were also some standard small instruments of the past and recent times that although not marketed as field microscopes, genuinely qualify as such due to high optical quality and small stature. B & L imported a helical micrometer screw fine focus microscope in the 20's made in Kassel by Schutz. Modified with a tiny 3 place nosepiece and modern 160mm optics, it makes a very good 2 1/2 lb. upright field scope.

And then there are the drum type design, epitomized by the Row Rathenow and the PZO Mipro. These take standard R.M.S. optics but lack a condenser.

All of the microscopes above use either custom made miniature objectives of standard specifications or standard R.M.S. objectives and thus can be expected to provide laboratory grade images, as long as a condenser to supply an ideal aperture of illumination is fitted.

Proper field microscopes have fallen in to the collectible category and are thus expensive. Most are no longer made, thus there is a new generation of them coming along made lighter but possibly not as robust. They are stsggeringly expensive too, reflecting the interest in them and the low production volume

Some more modern hobby scopes made in Japan, with high grade achromat objectives are quite good candidates for economical field microscopes.Some have a built in .70 or .85 condenser in the stage and one design even has an integrated iris diaphragm. They are usually, 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. or a little more, with a precise coarse rack and pinion focus suitable for the 400X they can deliver. These are similar in stature but of better precision and quality than the cast toy/hobby microscopes of the 50's to early 70's. , many are familiar with. One, marked Tasco 300X Student is an excellent 3 objective achromat microscope weighing less than 2 lbs. Only about 8" tall. It's performance well exceeds it's look and the reputation of the brand. There are others, distinguished by the achromat colour coded objectives of slightly longer length than those chrome objectives on the dept. store versions.
One other option would be to refit the fairly common Tasco( other badges too) 1200X body with better objectives. In it's natural state it carried 3 non achromat and one low N.A. achromat with a 16mm mount. That microscope can be had for under 50.00, is all metal and sports a good coarse AND fine focus, in stage condenser and disc diaphragm and can take one of those miniature 20.00 mechanical slide carriers( mounts with 1 thumbscrew). Most hobby microscopes can be adapted to one of those, identical to the carrier on the EM1. However, on a hobby microscope conversion the carrier can be removed and mounted in 20 seconds. On the EM1 , I think it to be fixed and vulnerable.
Two AA batteries power a penlight bulb, which can be replaced with an led alternative for 2.00 on the Tasco. The disc diaphragm needs to have N.D. filters glued over the ports with an led, otherwise those penlight leds are blinding. The 16mm to 11mm objective adapters for the original low N.A. objectives could be used to take achromat 11mm objectives, similar to those used on the Tasco Student above. Edmund and others have sold such objectives in mag. of 5, 10, 20, 30 and 40X. With a 40X .65 and a 15X eyepiece a respectable 600X could be realized but with the original 8X W.F. an excellent 320X and maybe 480X could be.
I could even see the possibility of adapting the nosepiece to take short R.M.S. objectives, sacrificing a bit of magnification for the potential to go whole hog on the N.A. up to about ,80 or so.
One advantage of the cast bodies on those older Japanese hobby microscopes is that they are fairly light and they all had a threaded hole in the bottom of the horseshoe casting, so they could be secured in their wooden cabinet with a screw. Any I have seen are 12-24 or 1/4-20, since Japan was encouraged during the American occupation to foresake their metric leanings and go over to inch threads. Many of those older cast bodies will fit right on to a camera tripod as a field support or can easily be adapted to one by upping the thread to 1/4-20 or 3/8-16, whichever one needs.. Kind of handy. They all weigh less than 4 lbs., with most of the likely candidates in the 2 lb. range. The Tasco 1200X with fine focus, modified as above is just under 4 lbs. : 4 objectives, mechanical stage, lower N.A. condenser, disc diaphragm, built in illuminator, coarse and fine focus. They are all under 10" in height, so very compact.
The one drawback of any of them is the eyepieces. Most eyepieces fitted to them are quite narrow field Huygens types. In a few cases wider field designs were used, likely Kellners. To complicate matters, there are several different eyepiece tube diameters. Fortunately, the better body candidates : The Tasco Student and the 1200X with fine focus came with W.F. eyepieces, so they are pretty good but others could receive a wider field eyepiece . Under no circumstances think of trying to use a zoom version of any of them unless the field of view diesn't matter. Zoom superceded the 3 separate eyepieces on that 1200X body in later years. The zoom mechanism restricts the field and the lens system easily images dust and debris.
One of those could be made into a good light 300 to possibly 600X field microscope for no more than 100.00 .

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#6 Post by zzffnn » Fri Jul 15, 2022 12:42 am

Thank you very much, apochronaut, for your detailed summary post. I took photos of it for my furture reference.

I opened another thread to ask / discuss how to improve the Tasco 1200x mini scope viewtopic.php?f=5&t=15851, which seems to be an easily obtainable portable scope in US market.

Thanks to you, I have now modified a Schutz scope that has a 3-hole RMS turret and a NA 1.2 condenser with DIY filter tray, along with A Tasco 1200x mini (smaller than RMS) scope. Both weight around 48-50 ounce without case. The Schutz works well up to around 60x NA 0.85 and can do darkfield and oblique. The Tasco works up to 40x (NA 0.55?) with a replaced objective and single lens condenser.

I have not used folded light path scopes such as EM1, Swift FM-31, TWX-1, Nikon H or McArthur. I suspect they are too compact for comfortable use for extended time (my neck may hurt after 15 minutes or so,while looking through them). They are more compact than for example a Tasco 1200x scope, however as you expertly pointed out, most of them still weight 2-3 lbs, so weight saving over a Tasco 1200x is not significant.

I thought about buying a TWX-1 (the Chinese army field micrscope), but have paused on that thought: it would cost me over $300 USD, doesn't use RMS optics (cannot do water immersion), weights at 2.5 lbs, and may not be ergonomically comfortable for extended use. In that regard, for field use, I would rather use a bigger backpack and carry my Schutz or Tasco scope.

The Spencer No. 75 microscope seems to be a nice compromise for my preference, if only I can find one at resonable price. I read that the tiny 13 oz scope has a condenser and can work up to NA 0.66! I wonder how narrow is its eyepiece's view field, though its eyepiece photos indicate a reasonable view field: https://www.microscope-antiques.com/spencer75.html Is the eyepiece RMS threaded? Objectives seem to be specially designed.

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#7 Post by Hobbyst46 » Fri Jul 15, 2022 2:06 pm

If buying a new field microscope, for about 1000 USD (a few years ago), the Goren Microscope seems to be a very good option IMO. It is a compact compound microscope, multi-objective, binocular, and most importantly - has been designed by a career scientist who has routinely used microscope on archeological sites.
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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#8 Post by achromat27 » Wed Sep 14, 2022 10:35 pm

The Newton microscope was in production from 2015 to 2019 and I understand it will be re-introduced in an improved form soon. The Em1 microscope is apparently an unauthorised copy of the Newton and the subject of a legal action for 'passing off'. It also has a reputation for faulty performance with contrast issues and the use unauthorise optics of unknown origin and quality.

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#9 Post by blekenbleu » Tue Oct 18, 2022 10:07 pm

The CIlika 45 Biological Digital Microscope seems interesting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_SvE3dAlyE
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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#10 Post by twinklingshare » Mon Oct 31, 2022 11:04 am

blekenbleu wrote:
Tue Oct 18, 2022 10:07 pm
The CIlika 45 Biological Digital Microscope seems interesting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_SvE3dAlyE
I had this microscope in the college laboratory, it's a great one if talk about price and quality. Maybe it's not enough for something more special and complicated than some student research, but still a good one. Honestly, this part of education was my fav, because usually, biology is so boring. But there are a lot of sources such as https://quizzes.studymoose.com/flashcards/biology/ on the web with interesting ways of study I used for self-education. And also a big pro of this microscope is digitalizing.

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#11 Post by achromat27 » Fri Feb 03, 2023 8:58 pm

Posts on social media appear to confirm that the Em1 microscope is indeed an unauthorised 'knock-off' of the excellent Newton microscope. Appropriate action is apparently being taken to shut down this scam.

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#12 Post by MicroBob » Sat Feb 04, 2023 9:33 pm

The EM-1 is advertised over a Kickstarter crowd funding scheme - not very convincing when it is already developed and in production.
At least one of the application photos was reused from the Newton homepage with just a little editing of the photo.

I always found the Newton nm-1 interesting but it's concept didn't really convince me. In its case it was comparatively big and when mounted on a tripod to raise it to an acceptable height it was big even without the case. Maybe there are uses in field diagnostics where a short look is all that is needed but I usually have to observe for longer than I would like to hold the microscope in my hand.

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#13 Post by charlie g » Mon Feb 06, 2023 12:01 am

Fantastic link to : EM-1...portable microscope...but the concept is today ( early 2023, IMHO) silly.

In the EM-1 firms excellent video...you see need for tables on which to place urine samples, fecal samples...all these require a centrifuge for proper work up. All these require proper setting for: blood, urine, fecal collection...the wonderful software/ apps to telemedicine broadcast ...this software pkg should be applied to sturdy/ regular microscopes. Used microscopes are low cost..available. Please do not tell me that we need an oil-100X scope that we can have rangers using as they repell down a mountain cliff. The wonderful professor in the park declined to show the needed clean up equipment..are we really letting children near, or standing in waters to handel $1K devices?! And as you muck about a field wetland/ impoundment of waters...duhh..what is needed to clean of the prior wetmount slide...before a new wetmount slide? This device is a 'cult luxury device'..in 2023...equivellant to a :"Rolex Watch"...vrs satellite time available on simple 'flip-phones'.

In 1979 I pleased my spouse with gift of then 'break through' : "Sony Walk Man" high fidelity music player...guess what.. over time firms pitched 'add ons' to this wonderful device...a base to link it to more powerful speackers/ etc....etc..with the add-ons.. the wonderful "Sony Walkman"..grew to size of the regular: 'boom boxes' youth enjoyed all around, at that time.

Excellent device, this EM1...but financially it is like a "Rolex Watch"...for practicle field microscopy..my two cents, charlie g.

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Re: EM1 portable microscopes

#14 Post by achromat27 » Sun Feb 12, 2023 2:16 pm

I can attest to the excellence of the original Newton microscope because I have been using one for around eight years for the diagnosis of honey bee diseases like Varroa and Nosema Apis. It is a beautifully designed instrument with integrated lighting and an invaluable and accurate XY indexing stage. Magnifications of up to 1000x are possible with oil for the purists, but an effective 600x dry objective is available as an excellent substitute. A veterinary colleague also uses one with success in the field for animal husbandry including AI where he uses it for an instant check of sperm motility immediately prior to insemination. I paid £300 for my Newton, but the Em1 is an inferior and over-priced imposter at a price of over £1000 - the sample I saw had focussing issues and the optics were clearly inferior to my Newton. The Em1 is a scam.

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