Digital Microscopy

Posted by: mehaul

Digital Microscopy - Thu Sep 23 2010 08:56 PM

All my life I have enjoyed microscopes (I've even run an electron scanning one) I started with a multi-mag (5x,10x,100x,) Gilbert kids scope. In one of my job requirements I needed to use a zooming stereo-optical-microscope that had a Polaroid B&W camera attached to take stills of cracked ceramic magnetron windows utilizing a dye penetrant and flurescent lighting. In my tool chest now, I have two cheap Radio Shack optical scopes (30x, 100x)

I am now in a position where I want to do low power microscopic photographs on my mineral collection and various other natural items I encounter (Bugs, shells, flower structures, etc.) Does anyone have any experience with any particular manufacturer. The Digital Companies are mostly different than the old opticals I was familiar with (AO, Gilbert) so I no nothing about the new toys on the block's reputations. I see they range in price from $20 up to hundreds for non-corporate type equipment.

Does anyone have suggestions or know of a reputable sales outlet?
Posted by: tellywellies

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Sep 24 2010 03:22 AM

I've only done macro shots. These can't match microscopic photography but I think, with some of the standard high megapixel cameras available, you can get in very close and capture some extremely fine detail.

This photo started off as a fairly distant spider but nonetheless, the 8 megapixel camera had picked up a good amount of detail. The part of the frame containing just the spider looked huge on the computer. Cropping, resizing and a little sharpening produced the result.

While that isn't enough to be called microscopic, I reckon I could have cropped out just one of the spider's legs and shown the hairs in fine detail if I'd wanted to. It depends how detailed you want photos to be.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Sep 24 2010 01:35 PM

Thank you for some input.
That's getting there. I'd like to zoom in to see the structure of the leg attachment to the body and view what musculature a spider has. I have a Nikon L-100 with macro zoom but It won't take me in deep enough, ergo the want to do microscopy again. I imagine part of my question should also have addressed the presentation side of it, the software. Enlarging, cropping and enlarging some more done by a good controller software should also be on my list. Thanks for pointing that out in a way.
And nice (wolf spider is it? Hard to tell from a bottomsjhot like that. Most spiders are identified by back markings, but I SEE THE HAIRS!) Arachnid shot. Too bad you couldn't have lit it with a whole spectrum of lighting. I bet it glows bright under ultraviolet.
Posted by: tellywellies

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Sep 24 2010 11:40 PM

I'm not sure what sort of spider it is. It's about an inch long including the legs. If I see it again, I'll see if I can get a top shot and ask if it would mind posing under a UV light. smile

PhotoShop seems to be the editing software the professionals use and to which home users aspire to owning. It has a high price tag on it though, so many (including me) use a lesser program that can still do the job very well. Some good free programs are available too.
Posted by: martin_cube

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Sep 25 2010 04:49 AM

Slightly off subject I know. I was trying to take a similar photo to your spider TW but couldn't get my camera to focus on the spider & it's web. It would only focus on the background, several feet away. Is there a technique to get the camera to focus on the subject you want it to or is this a matter of juggling with the settings to achieve the desired effect? Any advice would be appreciated.

I should say that the camera is nothing special, lens changing is not an option. There is a 'Macro' function which allows me to zoom right on to the subject, it's just the focusing issue that's bugging the heck out of me.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Sep 25 2010 12:13 PM

With my Nikon (and all the CPU chips are probably different inside the cameras but similar in some general regards) I have to turn on Macro (The zooming function still works if I don't but the focal point remains outside the macrorange of focal distance. Once Macro is on I zoom to frame the subject. Then I need to set exposure compensation and hit 'ok' a couple of times and then the camera is ready to shoot the subject.

I've noticed that many times I thought my pic was going to be out of focus. What I found was happening is that because it was to be a close up, I put my face closer to the viewing screen (he he he as if that'd help the camera work somehow). I realized it was the camera being too close to me that was out of focus. When I held the camera in place and just backed my head away, everything became focused. It was a strange sensation. After a lifetime of having to have a peek through a viewfinder to now remove my eye from the working zone really caused woozyness. But it's like riding a bike, once you've learned how to do it you cannot forget, (I had a Minolta SLR before that had macro on it so I may have been jumping off that diving board in my experience with the digital Nikon.)

The Nikon takes a moment to identify the up close object as the one to focus on. You may just need to give the camera an extra moment to choose the near field object to center on. REM with the digitals there's no real distance focusing going on. it's just a matter of the camera deciding how to interpret the pixelation mode to operate on.
Posted by: tellywellies

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Sep 25 2010 02:08 PM

The spider photo was taken with was an Olympus SP-560UZ bridge camera. It has an 18X optical zoom on it. I have found extreme close-ups taken in normal mode (rather than using macro) with a degree of zoom can produce a better focused shot for photos like the spider. The camera ends up being a couple of feet from the subject but as long as it is in the middle of the frame, the lens will auto-focus.

The spider ended up being a fairly small part of the photo but as said, the high number of pixels had captured the detail. The shot was therefore able to tolerate the surrounding area being cropped away while the remainder still contained the spider in all its glory.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Sep 25 2010 04:03 PM

So for my microscope investment, I should be looking for the biggest bang (most pixels) for my buck? That sounds like good sorting criteria. Then a good software package to manipulate the image and a nice dedicated laptop to make it all portable.
My lighting bank needs to move also (Nine positions for nine flurescent curly-q bulbs, 135W total, of multiple wavelengths, each switchable on/off, relies on AC but I got an Inverter to use on my home emergency power system I could make travel with it to run off car batteries if no AC is around) (It'd also run the Scope and PC) Ah, it's coming together
(Photoshop is expensive? Do they have several levels of product 'cause I've seen it inexpensive, was I not looking at the 'good' package or was I just too long ago looking at it?
Posted by: flopsymopsy

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Sep 27 2010 06:17 AM

Adobe produce three main software packages for manipulating photographic images (they also produce software for other sorts of images, like vector drawings, animation, etc. but you won't need those). The three photographic packages are Lightroom, Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Lightroom is great for photographers who want to finetune RAW format images straight out of camera, e.g. by compensating for the different colour values of lenses, colour burn, straightening horizons, etc. It is best used in conjunction with Photoshop but unless you want professional print quality images you probably won't need it. Elements and Photoshop are both used for manipulating images - Elements is considerably cheaper because it is very much a cutdown version and doesn't have the multiplicity of functions that Photoshop does. If you are a registered student you can get a full Photoshop licence for a lower cost but otherwise it's fairly expensive.

However, while you're making up your mind whether to spend the money, you might want to try GIMP, which is free open source software that will do more than Elements. It's not as slick as Photoshop nor as good (I'm a dyed in the wool Photoshop user) but it will do a lot of what most people want and as it's free... start there and see if it does everything you need.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Sep 27 2010 02:39 PM

You hit the bullseye with that shaft oh great archer with big ears. Thank you.
Some of my early looks indicate the more expensive scopes (and this may be why) come prepackaged with some level of image software. I will have to add knowing whether the basic code can accept or merge with other softwares.

I wish there was a local science store to go to. I was thinking of adding a couple of those twenty dollar ones to my order to give to the local middle school (grades 7,8,9) for their science classes.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Oct 06 2010 09:07 PM

An update: by way of coercing a friend to approach her brother who is Mr. Technical library to see what help he might lend,(She said he has all the catalogues and will ask him to let me read them) I mentioned the info from here that Photoshop has become expensive. She said she has it, never uses it and will give it to me. She's pee-owe'd that she paid over $600 for it and she uses the free stuff off her linux platform. GETTING CLOSER!

In the area of South Florida where I live, there has been a lot of investing in attracting big name Bio-Tech trusts, Research groups and paving the way for small start up businesses. (Since we've already got the Anthrax all over the place here, why not go for the brass ring?) There should be ample opportunities for a microscopy service to help those little start-ups who don't want to invest in having a Microscopic photographer/engineer on board or to spend the funds to keep up to date technologically and technique-wise. Since the 5 local Universities don't offer digital Microscopy programs, I might get my foot in the door on this one (to quote Ralph Kramden).
Posted by: flopsymopsy

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Oct 07 2010 07:03 AM

Just be grateful that you don't live in the UK, Mehaul. Traditionally, software companies have ripped us off bigtime because they simply converted software prices pound for dollar. So in the past if you paid $699 for Photoshop (the current cost), we'd get charged £699 - a straightforward currency conversion would produce a cost in Sterling of £375. They've changed that a bit now... the current cost of Photoshop here is only £663. Wow, what a massive discount! wink That's the price for the download - which is £20 more expensive than having them ship me the boxed software and manual; how weird is that?
Posted by: Jakeroo

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 09 2010 03:17 PM

mehaul: I'd LOVE to have the chance to do microscopic photography. Or, for that matter, telescopic. A friend of mine managed to build a "rig" where one of his cameras is attached to a telescope. Fabulous pictures. I think he should patent the "hook-up".

Sometimes it's not all about the pixels, but rather the lens. Not all point and shoot digital cameras come with the same size/type lens. This picture was taken on a camera with "only" 4 megs max. Not in macro mode, but rather standing about 3 feet away (I'm highly allergic to bee venom so I don't want to get TOOO close lol) and zooming a wee bit.

TellyW: Your (VERY relaxed) spider is an Orb Weaver of some sort. There are hundreds of members in that family, so without seeing her "topside", it's hard to determine exactly which one she is. I say "she", because of the pedipalps (those things that look like short legs near the head). Male spiders have bulbous endings on them (which look rather like boxing gloves). Females do not. Based on general body shape and length of the palps, my best guess would be Araneus diadematus or Araneus gemmoides

Martin: re spider webs. Try to take a shot when the sun is not directly shining on the web (unless there are dewdrops for the camera to focus on, or the background is very dark). Don't bother on a windy day. Macro setting is best. Tripods are wonderful things if you have shaky hands like me lol. I think the biggest mistake people make when using the macro setting is that they ALSO use the zoom feature. Since macromode is a built-in, preset function, the camera tends to get confused when you monkey with it. If the camera doesn't seem to want to focus, physically move it/yourself either closer or farther away from the subject a couple of inches and try again. Press the shutter button only halfway at first to see if the things you want to capture will be in focus once the picture is "snapped". If it looks good at that point, press the shutter button all the way.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 09 2010 05:45 PM

My learning on digital microscopes (low power ones) so far is that the lens is not really involved in any of the shot (High power do have functioning lenses for magnification). The software determines how the exposure on the CCDs is presented with each pixel being decided as acquiring the smallest amount of data acquisition and zooming back from that point by mathematical/statistical presentation of the data at that depth of field. If you want to get a closer shot at maximum res, you move the camera closer to the subject. The lens is to protect the CCDs and to do minor focusing onto the CCD array.
And with my macro-camera, the zoom is functional even in macro, you just need to let the camera figure out what happened then shoot. The Nikon Coolpix L100 has 15X optical Zoom and then 4X digital magnification (like the Microscope) allowing for a total magnification of sixty times! I'd drop a pix here but I'd need to change the resolution downwards to get a transferable image. I know I can do that but I just haven'[t played with those controls yet. I can display them now through the nikon software but transferring files has been a barrier, the files are too large. Here's one from my $50 Polaroid Digital which I have de-rezzed for file transferring of my papier clay jack-o-lantern:

Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 09 2010 06:07 PM

The Polaroid is a 5 megapixel model a530. It has 4X digital Zoom (magnification). Here is an origami crane I folded that is four inches long but I stood back and zoomed to about 3X for the shot (the blur is I moved, dang it) It is actually a yellow paper taken under a red light and a grey background. If it were on the pumpkin head it would look like a butterfly (size-wise).

Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Oct 15 2010 06:01 PM

Scientific American Magazine announced today the winners of their annual Photomicrosopy contest. The top twenty images are shown, They run the gamut from immature bivalves to wasp compound eye to a mineral crystal formation that looks more alive than a dandelion flower. I've got the link I hope to the #20 image here, so if you go, you can navigate up to first place. (Next year for me.)
Posted by: Jakeroo

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 16 2010 08:36 AM

Verrrry cool photographs. Thanks for the link mehaul!

If anyone wants to see all 120 entries (they're worth the trip), try the nikon website below. I think you'll find that the pages load a LOT faster and they don't fight with your computer security settings lol
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 16 2010 05:37 PM

Thank you Jakeroo. That link has a link to Nikon's Microscopy U (niversity?) where all kinds of information about digital Microscopy and state of the art are available. If I'm not back by next week, I've enrolled in the U.

Without having to go link to link to link to... Here's the link to Microscopy U:::
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Oct 18 2010 03:18 AM

I started to explore the Nikon site associated with Microscopy U and there are a lot of expensive pieces of hardware being showcased. I might go back and look through their 'not in current manufacture' list to identify a model I might like. But right now I'm just starting so...
I went to the Orion Telescopes site (I used to get their catalogs) because I remembered they carry a few microscopes. I found a beauty and if any of you have experience with it, please let me know. It's a Celestron LCD Deluxe Digital Microscope, 3 mega pixel camera internal to the unit; a port for download to a flash memory card; 4x/10x/20x/40x magnification (it is somewhat old fashioned and has selectable object lenses); 4.5x digital zoom; all run through a 5 inch LCD touch screen control panel. Internal lighting top and bottom; battery/field operable. Sounds like just the ticket for a foot in the door starter system at under $300 US! If you had shown me these specs so many years ago when I was a youngster, I guess this scope would have sold for millions because of the camera. Drawback: the specimen table may not be removable for me to load in my larger crystal specimens.
That's where I am now in my Digital Microscopy quest: Do I go starter model and get used to the realm and terms and techniques or go for the bigger, more powerful systems? Like I said, anyone with familiarity with the Celestron, let me know.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Oct 19 2010 08:04 PM

I looked at a couple of more models and they were either real starter 'scopes or big business investment, track depreciation value each year type investments. One came close, another celestron but the camera was only 2MP and the objective lenses were x100X/200X/400X which is really more of a high power scope. I just want low power right now for Crystals and bugs and flowers to start out. I had to put my foot in the door so I opted to begin my journey through the world of digital Microscopy by getting the Celestron LCD Deluxe Digital Microscope detailed above. For less than $300 including shipping, a carry/storage case and some starter slide and other minor paraphenalia, how could I go wrong? I even think I saved enough money going 'beginner' that I can afford to get several of the freestanding camera scopes for the Middle School. Just have to remember the site Isaw them at about three months ago when my search began. I'll have the scope by this weekend, I hope and look forward to posting the first pic here. Another aspect of this scope I liked was that (I am legally blind and for the life of me can't focus through a regular lens) this displays the magnified image on that 5x5 inch LCD screen making it easy for me to see (well easier anyway)!

YAY! Thanks all for your help and maybe one of these Photography threads could get dedicated to just Microscopic and/or Telescopic imaging?
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Oct 19 2010 10:46 PM

Oh, a picture of it:::

Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Oct 31 2010 03:24 PM

Where Orion listed magnification as 4x/10x/20x/40x, that was just for the object lens, the eyepiece in front of the camera is 10x so my minimum magnification is forty times (40x), a bit large for my desire for close-ups of minerals and plant and insect images (which should be 4x-40x). So other equipment is in the research stage. The BigC people were nice enough to send me a catalog of their hand held low mag cameras.
Anyway I promised a Photomicrograph and here's one of the first. I had to get an SD card to store the image and batteries to run the thing while I hooked it to the computer to download the image. It is the statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial of Washington, DC as depicted on the reverse of a US one cent (penny) piece, circulated 2005 edition. Now I just need to find 30,000 more of these babies to pay for the scope.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Oct 31 2010 03:36 PM

Can I copy a bigger image from Photobucket?

I guess not. Any tips on copying the photos directly here or in a larger size?
It has some interesting presentations of the copper alloy used to make the coin which can be seen with the photo enlarged.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Oct 31 2010 03:50 PM

Aha! Now you can see some of the green patina of copper crystals that weren't alloyed to the Zinc in the coin (the grey crystals are the zinc ones I believe)

Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Sep 18 2013 03:40 PM

It took 3 years of saving but I've finally gotten my handheld microscope. It has magnification of x5-x50. I got two stands to use with it: a portable mini and a benchtop lab type. I've chosen to stay with the Abe Memorial on the US penny reverse as a first image. This is at x5 and was taken with all light sources off except for a single blue LED! It isn't the same penny. I spent the last one. The blue has an eerie realism to the scene, almost as if it were taken at the real memorial.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Sep 20 2013 12:17 AM

This gets me up to x15 magnification! It is a 1.7 inch tall by 1 inch wide rough crystal of Aquamarine. The crystal is standing on the far end. The view is off center from straight above because I wanted to capture the profile of the black schorl needles (looks like just a shadow from this angle it is so thin). Again I used only the blue LED light (entering from the image bottom). The natural blue of the Aquamarine sure loves to glow in a light of the blue LED for illumination! The schorl is a black form of Tourmaline. The larger golden lump above the needle is also schorl but it is reflecting the light coming out of the Aquamarine. The background of textured black and blue is the black cloth the crystal iss standing on.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Sep 22 2013 12:07 AM

Same crystal but laid on its side to look down on the schorl needles. The lighting is changed to overhead fluorescents and the scope's built-in LEDs. The inclusions in the Aquamarine crystal structure show up as streaks of white and brown (it's not a very gemmy specimen). At the right side you can see the remains of the quartz crystal the Aquamarine grew from.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Sep 27 2013 04:16 PM

This is green Brochantite acicular needle crystals growing on a quartz substructure. Each needle is about 1mm in length. The magnification is x35 and the lighting is fluorescent overheads and the scope's LED array. If you care to see an image of the whole specimen, it is BRO-21 in the Amethyst Galleries catalog. I enjoy two aspects to this image: the almost forest growth look to the way the needles formed; and, the clarity of the image shows the crystal shape of the tiny drusy quartz elements of the rock quite vividly. What a pretty green color! It most likely is due to the Copper in the crystal's chemical make-up of CuSO4·3Cu(OH)2.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Sep 28 2013 05:11 AM

This x35 is from another location on the Brochantite specimen. In the Northeast quadrant the narrowness and fragility of these needle types can be seen. They aren't 'broken' pieces of other needles but the start of new clusters beginning on the bare quartz.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Oct 04 2013 09:10 PM

Another Brochantite specimen, BRO-20 this time, reveals how lush these needles can grow. Here they remind me more of a well cared for lawn. Fluorescents and scope LEDs used to shine light on this x25 magnification. The fan pattern (acicular) of their growth can easily be seen in several spots
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Oct 06 2013 02:18 AM

This is a specimen of Mimetite (MIM-22). The crystal is the size of a large pea in this x35 mag. In other lighting there seems to be about 8 segments merged into the single sphere. a few of the high points of those substructures can be discerned around the periphery of the button. I thought the orange hue of this one is a nice change from all the teal of the previous pix.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Oct 09 2013 01:25 AM

This mineral specimen brought me a nice surprise. In the literature that described it, there was just mention of the orange Spessartine growing on some smoky quartz. "Fine, some complicated growth that looks like barnacles growing on an ancient ship bottom," I thought. I set up and captured this shot at x25 under fluorescents and LEDs. After this shot I examined the rest of the specimen and found a surprise I will post an image of over the next few days.
The orange Spessartine is hard to get a fine image of because it IS like barnacles with its isometric hexoctahedral growth pattern. It can be faceted against the grain and is often found produced in that manner and referred to as orange Garnet. Here in the small crystal stage of growth, it appears as some ornate gold encrustation adorning the almost black smoky quartz.
Posted by: martin_cube

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Oct 09 2013 06:27 PM

I just rediscovered this thread. The photos taken with the microscope are simply amazing.
When I can get my butt in gear, I'll try to marry my new Canon camera with my *new* (and under used) telescope to see if I can get some decent results. Don't hold you collective breaths though... smile
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Oct 10 2013 12:54 AM

You'll have one happy viewer at the least!

As I turned SPS-11 under the scope LEDs, I expected to find more of the black bar with an orange encrustation. Then a shot of red hit me. I wasn't offended by that errant color but intrigued. Was it a tiny Ruby? I checked the Amethyst Galleries literature on the specimen for its source location, Eastern China - not a known Ruby area. What then? Possibly a rare bit of Pyrope? looked like it and the encyclopedias say it grows from and with the same mineral solution as Spessartine. But it doesn't seem dark enough. So, there is a red variety of Spessartine and that is probably what it is, just a much darker red/orange growth. But why did these (I found two other gems) grow so much larger than the golden orange ones? Ah, the mysteries of Nature.
I like this image at (zoomed from x25 to) x35 because I was able to discern the face growth plate edges on both the red thing and the small orange crystals. It was filmed (my hand held microscope is actually a video micro-camera that allows me to capture single frames of image) using some extra LED illumination from a hand held light source (fancy way of saying flashlight/torch) to highlight the angles of the gem faces. This area of the specimen doesn't have the smoky quartz as a bedrock. There is a chalky limestone-ish material that gave rise as a host surface for both the Quartz and the Spessartine.
To come: the other two red crystals on SPS-11.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Oct 11 2013 12:07 AM

I find an aspect of the image on this second of SPS-11's three red crystals serendipitous and that is that the angle captured is in line with the top face of the structure at its left side, allowing us to see how broad and flat it is. The photo is again at x35 with fluorescents and LEDs. This growth arises from the smaller of the two major Smoky Quartz crystals. Some of the white rock shows in the background. If you zoom the image, you can see some Spessartine crystals starting to grow on the black quartz (could there be a better backdrop?) that must be at the hundred molecule size (a guess).
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 12 2013 02:26 AM

This is the third source of red flash I found on SPS-11. Its location is the opposite end and side of the smaller Smoky Quartz from the second red crystal shown here yesterday. In this shot you can see from the three reflecting faces (one is almost edge on) that the facet surfaces aren't in any easily discernible relationship to each other... and that hints more toward them being Spessatine with its isometric hexoctahedral growth manner. Again this is at x35 under fluorescents and LEDs. Also, there are some new crystals to be seen starting their growth on the quartz face to the left of the red thing. A little above them in the Spessartine fields is one growth that, sure looks like, a face glancing off to the right!

The next image coming soon is at the maximum magnification of the scope. The setting says x40 but the scope's supposed to get to x50. I need to calibrate the setting scale. The specimen is from the Rogerley Mine in Northeast England from along the Wear River near Frosterley.
Posted by: Tekka

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 12 2013 10:24 AM

I find all of these pictures fascinating - thanks for sharing.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 12 2013 12:12 PM

You're welcome.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Oct 13 2013 03:23 AM

This is some Fluorite (FLU-167 in the Amethyst Galleries Catalog) from the Rogerley Mine of NE England. That is a mine now run commercially for just extracting mineral specimens for sale to collectors and institutions.
My scope is set for the max magnification (x40-50). The illumination is overhead fluorescents and the scope LEDs with an LED flashlight held to highlight the crystal faces.
I inspect the specimens under lower mag until something catches my eye. In this one it was from an underlying crystal set behind some larger cubic ones (which means its older?). I noticed what looked like a letter L or a corner of a frame. Zoomed in you can see it is an older crystal (reflecting my Flashlight) that has a smaller, perfectly positioned flake of a new crystal growing on its face. The newer, smaller crystal isn't reflecting the flashlight which means it is at a different angle than the one it's growing on. Okay, so something interfered with the angle when it began laying down plates. I can see two plate edges on it toward its lower half that do reflect the light indicating the edge of each. So, that's three plates at a molecule or two each in thickness starting the structure of the smaller crystal. Incredible! I was thrilled to see the thinness of the new crystal being apparent and that it is esthetically pleasing in its positioning. Would Picasso have enjoyed the cubist aspect of this piece of nature, I wonder?
Some of the larger crystals show the light metallic green of this Fluorite variety. It was originally mined to act as a flux in the steel making process early in England's Industrial Revolution. It would draw off the impurities of the Iron ore when it was smelted. In that world, all the minerals were ground into a powder then melted in the blast furnace. What intricacies were lost to view forever in that process? Sigh...
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Oct 14 2013 12:12 AM

A specimen of Turquoise (TUR-51) got the micro-scrutiny next. Most if not all Turquoise is found with Iron Pyrite (Fool's Gold) inclusions. It is found to inhabit voids in the turquoise matrix and conforms to the space available. It is rare to find it peeking out of its vein and exhibiting its own cubic growth form. I found such an example of that rarity in this sample. Here it climbs out in its lower left corner without showing its cube corner, which must have been under the vein pressure. But above there it goes square. In another image capture from the side it can be seen to rise a silly micrometer above the turquoise. This was imaged at x16 under fluorescents and LEDs.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Oct 15 2013 02:40 AM

Ah, Opal! A rainbow caught in a rock. Is the Leprichaun's pot of gold buried in the reverse side? The mechanism of generating the colored light in the rock is the same as in the sky, just not all inclusive of the colors from one spot. There is water trapped in nanometer thick gaps in the clear crystal. depending on the angle and the spectrum of the incident light, different colors emerge from seemingly inside the rock. I find it curious that the shorter wavelengths at the blue end of the spectrum aren't more abundant and that we are usually treated to so much red gleaming.
This specimen, OPA-52, is from the Lightning Ridge mother-lode in Australia. Sorry I haven't cited the sources of all the other minerals above. I vow to try to do that. Many of FT's members are located in areas where these specimens come from.
Anyway this was taken under Fluorescents and LEDs at x17 magnification. The 'C' ring of white in the lower left is a reflection of the 'scope's LEDs. The square-ish light block in he center top is the ceiling above my set-up. The stone is set on my black cloth background and the view in the upper right corner is of some polyethylene wrap I used to prop the stone at an angle to catch the best light return out of the Opal.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Oct 17 2013 03:00 AM

Everyone's least known mineral: Hemimorphite! They are the white crystal rods in the background here. I was investigating the odd piece of this specimen (HMI-17). From this broken, open end it goes almost an inch to be the central point from which the rods radiate. Seeing that the interior of this beige pillar piece looked like some spotted dick pudding, I later applied my other colored light sources on it. One proved very interesting (tomorrow's posting). In this light though there is some aspects of the bit to garner. Lack of perspective in photos doesn't allow you to see that the brown segment goes almost an inch into the image before the crystals begin their radiating. At x50 magnification we can see that the pudding is encased in a two layer wrap. The middle layer looks like it is dried-out, dehydrated pudding. The outer casing looks shiny as if it was coated in a clear glaze (Isn't spotted dick supposed to have a sweet glaze on it?). That coating may be the solution that lent its components to the formation of the Hemimorphite crystals. I can only speculate on that as I wasn't there to see them grow. I speculate that the pudding was slowly dripped into existence as a mini stalactite (the part that hangs down and is usually found in long lance-ish growths). Then the cavity closed to dry it and where it grew was opened to allow a liquid solution to enter and grow crystals.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Oct 18 2013 05:39 AM

Same specimen, different light wavelength. I didn't move the specimen, the scope or its magnification. Funny, the pudding's raisins have all but disappeared! This means that there was a wavelength in the full light that was being absorbed by some mineral that is reflective of the blue wave lengths. After seeing this, I shone two more wavelengths on it.
When I put HMI-17 away, there were some tiny flakes remaining in its place. evidence that the plates growing across the rods aren't very strongly bonded to their earlier deposit brethren. This habit I think is shown in the upper right rod by the white circumferential band around the rod. Maybe not. What will the other lights show?
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 19 2013 01:45 AM

Moving on to green wavelengths the dark specks are more, but still faintly, visible in the core. The encapsulating two layers are a touch more visible too. The plate break in the upper right rod is much more visible. Other than those points, there isn't anything spectacular to note. One more color to try, the longer wavelengths of red.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Oct 20 2013 03:54 AM

Wow, where'd all that surface texture come from? Under this solitary red LED the middle wrap layer has disappeared. All signs of fracturing in the rods, especially that upper right one have gone. I'm left wondering whether the red light is passing deeper into the pudding in some spots due to some molecules that pass that wavelength or if that light is being absorbed by some surface bits and not being reflected. I can speculate that the wavelength of red is too long to effectively reflect in the rod cracks. Curiosity unanswered makes me turn to pick up the next specimen to see what mysteries are to be found there.
In this series of images I did not move the scope, the specimen and tried to position the light source in the same spot and angle. That couldn't exactly be replicated because the scope housing its own LEDs was in the way, but the colored pix are the same in every aspect I could control.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Oct 22 2013 08:11 AM

More Spessartine, but here as a cut and faceted gem it's Spessartite. This is a Garnet Simulant grown and produced in Sri Lanka. It is a 4 carat 12x10 oval cut in diamond brilliant manner (56 faces? I didn't count). It is a lab grown specimen hence the simulant. You'd think in a lab they'd get it perfect. But Nooo. You can see the inclusions near the table (top) surface and down some of the low side facets in this x33 magnification image. I took it with just my flashlight LEDs since the scope employs 2 'white' wavelengths (soft and bright). This light highlights the inclusions in such a way that the larger ones (visible indicators of what the smaller ones are?) look like gas bubbles trapped in the material deposition step. Anyhow, even though I'm using off axial lighting and the cut, though brilliant, is oval and not round, some of the indicators of a good brilliant cut arrowheads (8 equally spaced around a round table 8 unequally spaced around an oval) can be seen across the top side of the image. Not shown here but in the pavilion looking up through the stone 8 hearts can be seen in a good brilliant cut.
At least the orange color is spot on for this orange garnet!

Edit to add this link at Wikipedia about Diamond cuts and all the faceting that can go on with most gemstones, not just diamonds:
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Oct 23 2013 01:14 AM

Oh, alright. Here's a heart from a pic looking into the Spessartite's pavilion. The light is from the right and comes in at an angle parallel to the table (top). The Scope's lights are off. When they're on all the facets light up. I like how the outer rim facets glow. And there's still the gas bubble inclusions to be seen. The other white bits are lint and dust on the outside of the stone I believe.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Oct 24 2013 02:26 AM

Is it late October already? That's the season of orange for Halloween, right? Most of the specimens this month have been orange of some sort, from the button of the Mimetite to the pudding of the Hemimorphite, which in white light had aspects of that color to it. I'll try to finish out the month with orange images.
This is Wulfenite (WUL-46). It is usually a cubic rod with a pyramidal top. In this x28 image, the side of a crystal can be seen in the upper right quadrant. The square-ness is easy to identify. The start of the pyramidal peak is there on its top side. I cannot figure out how a mineral that grows to those simple geometric parameters can be so undisciplined in its face growth (as evidenced in the orange/white contrasts in the surface). The side looks like it was chiseled out of a quarry and placed here, very mechanical in it outline, random in its particulars. There's probably some molecular matrix variable I can't fathom that accounts for it.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Oct 25 2013 04:42 AM

Wulfenite also grows in a flake form. I've turned off the scope LEDs and bottom lit WUL-41 in this orange offering. You can see the near edges of three flakes in the mid frame area. Though all are square in the broad face, at this angle they look a bit like dagger points. In the lower flake, you can get a sense of how transparent they are if looked at through that broad face. Even in these thin examples, in a few spots you can see that the faces aren't flat at a molecular size. Again looking at the thinnest flake, the lower one, some dark spots distorting the passage of the light from below indicates an uneven surface. Below these three is one that points toward the lower right picture corner. It is seen almost head on to the narrow dimension giving us a good idea of how dark the orange can be. The peak corners of the top and bottom flakes of the center three appear to be starting to give rise to new growths. There is another flake off camera that may be the largest at twice the size of these pieces and surprisingly it has a rounded broad edge. I will try to get a shot of it but at first glance it wasn't much to look at and was hard to position for a clickety-click (my scope makes my computer go click when I push the image capture icon, a complete carryover from the old Polaroid/microscope hybrids!) This image is at x35 magnification. The overall specimen size is 50mmx25mmx25mm and each of these flakes are about 2mmsqx0.2mm.
Posted by: Jakeroo

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Oct 25 2013 09:36 AM

All the pics are great, but so are the text explanations!
You're obviously having a great time with your toy.
oh p.s. thanks for the photo of that glorious opal - it's my birthstone - I've never seen one quite that close up before!
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Oct 25 2013 10:13 AM

TYVM and Happy just-past or upcoming Birthday!
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 26 2013 08:28 AM

To be fair to the gemstone (showing its inclusions earlier was like showing a lady in her soft underthings) I should present an image of the Speassartite as it might be seen in normal vision. Here it is at x5 and no inclusions can be seen. It is a beautiful Orange Garnet I am proud to be associated with. Hopefully, this will stop it yelling at me when I'm trying to get to sleep.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Oct 26 2013 10:24 AM

Here's a list of the objects shown so far's origins or discovery locations:

Aquamarine (AQU-37) - Erongo, Namibia

Brochantites (BRO-20 & BRO-21) - Mex-Tex Mine, Hansonburg Mining District, Socorro County, New Mexico

Mimetite (MIM-22) - Level 13, Mina El Potosi, Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico

Spessartine (SPS-11) - Fujian Province, China

Fluorite (FLU-167) - Rogerly Mine, England

Turquoise (TUR-51) - Competos Mine, Sonora, Mexico

Opal (OPA-52) - Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia

Hemimorphite (HMI-17) - Level 8 San Antonio Mine, Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico

Spessartite Gem - Sri Lanka

Wulfenite (WUL-46) - Los Lamentos, Chihuahua, Mexico

Wulfenite (WUL-41) - Rowley Mine, Theba, Maricopa County, Arizona
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Oct 27 2013 07:02 AM

Here is the Wulfenite flake that appeared curved-edge to my normal eyesight. At x25 magnification it can be seen along the image's right side that mechanical fracturing may have changed a square edge to a round one. What a shame, too. This flake is about a centimeter in diagonal size (IOW, huge). The top side shows a definite straight edge heading down and right; while the bottom of it shows a straight edge going up to the right before the breaking begins. The clear, transparent nature of the mineral can be seen. It almost looks like an orange or caramel glaze which has hardened. Should I lick it to see if it has a taste? I don't think I should since Wulfenite is made of Molybdenum and Lead. The Lead would be sweet, or so they say and I'll take 'their' word for it. <((A good reason to keep mineral specimens out of the reach of children. Many of the crystals look like candy of some sort and can be poisonous.))>
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Oct 29 2013 05:05 AM

This is a piece of a geode. The mineral of note is the black Strengite. I see two other compounds that grew here. This indicates that the geode opened to solution and closed. Then opened to a different solution and then closed again and then did that cycle for a third time! The first growth was when the Herkemer-ish quartz crystals, which cover all the surfaces of the specimen's inside, were laid down (Note that none of the color, whether clear, purple, rose or smoky can be seen). The neat hexagonal terminations can be seen largely in the center one and minutely in several other underlying crystals. They were followed by a brief growth of Limonite which covered all the crystals in an orange shaded druse. The final and smallest exposure was of the Strengite which only deposited and grew in the area seen here. Isn't it kinda like that larger quartz crystal was set as a sentinel against future invasions after the Limonite was allowed in?
The image is at x15 under the Scope's LEDs.
Edit: Sorry the image isn't that great of an intriguing one.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Oct 30 2013 05:28 AM

Calcium Carbonate, CaCO3, usually found as a white mineral, is called Aragonite. This name comes from the fact that the minerals appeared as the eflorescence left as an ancient aragonite sea dried up, much like Sodium Chloride, NaCl, or salt, forms near ocean beaches. This specimen is from Morocco and many of the Aragonites found there are of this orange/brown shade. Must have been something in that sea's water, something it drank. It points to the fact that there used to be (~10,000 yrs ago) many inland seas across the north of Africa where today there is nothing but desert. Some unusual element must have dissolved into the seawater to cause the color difference. (My guess is that it was an abundant element, Iron, and its rusty hue is what we see in the otherwise colorless compound, but that is just a guess)
This is a relatively soft mineral measuring under 4 on the Mhos scale. And that probably accounts for the transverse fracture lines we can see in this truncated rod specimen. The overall specimen is about the size of a golf ball and there are about a hundred such truncated rods. This is the largest one at about 5mm across. The image is taken at x25. I cheated on the color a bit by adding my one red LED to the scope's eight white ones. Call it the costume this rock is wearing for Halloween.
I was set on the mission to acquire this specimen by a question at Fun Trivia about what Aragonite is!

Edit: I took my rare earth magnet to the specimen and there was no reaction to the magnetic field. However, that is not a definitive no to Iron's presence. Had it reacted, it would have been positive for Iron. There are some forms of Iron (stainless steel for example) that are not magnetic, so Iron in the mix cannot be ruled out.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Nov 01 2013 06:47 PM

One of the first minerals mined by man, Malachite (Cu2CO3(OH)2). It was prized by the early mid-east civilizations for the Copper that could be melted out of it. This specimen (MAL-65) is from the opposite side of Africa, indicating the ubiquity of the mineral. Its source was the Tsumeb Mine, Tsumeb, Namibia. Most of the yield is from underground and the crystals form from copper rich water flowing across seed crystals (or so says the Great Wiki of Woz from behind his curtain).
The magnification here is the maximum my handheld will go to, x45. And still, the tiny size of the individual crystals can be seen. Each white point is the reflection of the scope's lights off a crystal facet. There seems to be a healed horizontal fracture running across the middle of the image. Maybe an earthquake cracked the specimen which then was washed with more Copper solution. The stone feels very lightweight and is very coarse in texture. This image is from one of the broader level areas. The darker greens of the top part of this image is more representative of the stone's general coloring. This might be a nice candidate for me to image on my digital bench scope at around x100. Someday...
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Nov 04 2013 02:21 PM

Upper left to bottom right of this specimen is about one centimeter in this x25 mag image of some Apophyllite-(KF). There's a story in that name or a question from me to the geologists that sit on panels and decide on names for these things: "What was wrong with just Apophyllite?" If you are going to add the distinguishing KF to it: "Why use both a dash and the parentheses?"
Anyway, in this image the blade growth habit of APOPHYLLITE can be seen. It doesn't grow at random angles like the Wulfenite flakes do, but build themselves along the sides of an adjacent, larger crystal. Usually they keep the same color throughout the crystal lattice. But here we can see a collector's dream of an oddity in some minerals: a change in color from one end to the other. Tourmaline is the most famous for doing this. I can accept that my specimen here goes from deep green on the older parts of the left to almost clearly transparent at the pointed growths on the right. The -(KF) is intended to set it apart from two other types of similar KCa4Si8O20(F,OH)·8(H2O). Umm, they want this to be called Fluorapophyllite because it fluoresces under black light and the other two don't! If F is for the Fluorine with its strange light qualities, why worry about the Potassium part in that addendum? Chemists...!

Edit to Add: This (APO-67) is from the Jalgaon District of the western-central state of Maharashtra, India, a country that is noted as a major source of green Apophyllite
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Nov 06 2013 07:52 PM

Okay here's a tie-in to the prior gem. The earlier Apophyllite was found in an area once ruled by Augranzeb of Maharashtra who had some excellent gems of his own. One of the largest cut Topazes is a 158 carat yellow stone he possessed. Mine is smaller and from neighboring Pakistan (the Kathang Mine, NWFP, around the Khyber Pass).
The Al2SiO4(F,OH)2 specimen here isn't that large. But, the yellow gemmy part is about the size of a grape! It is the top of a hexagonal crystal 1.5 inches in length and the yellow part is the terminating 1/2 inch. Oh, that's another tie in to the previous mineral. Grown from lower right toward upper left, it changes abruptly from a cloudy white almost instantaneously in geologic terms into the clear yellow. The termination is damaged, accounting for the curvy aspect to the faces of it. At a Mhos hardness of 8, I wonder if it is damaged or actually grew that way.
If you go to Topaz in Wikipedia my TOP-64 looks like a sister stone to the legend image but only that top left part and the bottom white part. Who knows, they may have come from the same pocket! Does anyone watch "Prospectors" on The Weather Channel? They find nothing but gem pockets in the Rockies of Colorado.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Nov 08 2013 10:51 AM

Live and learn. Live and learn. Sometimes, it seems the more I live the less I learn. I went to inspect my Pyrophyllite specimen. PHY-3 is mostly three sizable smoky Quartz crystals of exceptional quality that has lots of barnacley growth on it like the Spessartine specimen. As I unwrapped the item I found that two of the quartz rods had separated from the larger one. Darn! I didn't see much to photograph so I wrapped them back up in the polyethelene and back to its box home it went. Then I noticed that some very glassy flakes the size of pinheads had appeared on my wooden desktop.
This led me to find out why the thing had broken and gone flakey in the first place. Well, Pyro-phyllite means fire-leaf in Greek. It was called so from the times of the Greeks because they found it flaked apart almost just by looking at it (it comes in under 2 on the Mhos scale). You can see in a couple of these flakes that if they catch the light just right, they brighten like they were on fire in white heat.
This specimen of AlSi2O5OH , Aluminum Silicate Hydroxide, came from Brumado, Brazil. The image is at x25 magnification. I swept the flakes into a common area for a look-at. You can see how there is hardly a flat surface to have cleaved to a neighboring flat surface. Except for one unusual bit on the piece at 7 o'clock. The bottom side of that flake appears to have possibly developed in a crotch of the quartz rods and taken on their flat, hexagonal growth on three of its sides. I guess (as I have a habit of doing) that these pieces came from the area that held the three quartz rods together. The specimen box is now labeled "FRAGILE". Live and, this time, learn I hope.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Nov 09 2013 08:31 PM

Here be Serendipity and Fortunas' smile. This Pyrite (PYR-107) is the interior solid fill of a geode of a river tumbled-smooth rock dredged out of the Volga River in Russia. The crystals of the mineral are as small as, if not smaller than, the earlier Malachite specimen. It was hardly appealing as a digital microscopic capture even at this maximum magnification of x45. In normal vision it is quite interesting as the Pyrite glows in several different hues (possibly due to crystal facet size?). An image with a regular camera would serve to present that effect. I left the rock sitting on the stage while I attended another task. Usually when I am not using the scope I turn off the LEDs to save them and reduce the heat effect from them on the CCDs. That left just my ceiling fluorescents to illuminate the specimen and even then in the scope's shadow depriving more light. Returning my attention to the Pyrite stunned me in how much it looked like a deep space image of far off galaxies. From the macro-universe to the micro- one, there are similarities that capture an imagination.
That's the serendipitous part of this encounter. The fortunate part is that it comes right after I learned yesterday of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) or in another nomenclature world: Comet Nevski–Novichonok. It is passing through the vicinity of Earth's orbital plane, 30 degrees ahead of us right now on its way to circle the sun. It will come back our way in the northern skies from mid to late December. The source of the comet is speculated to be the Oort Cloud and this comet may never return. A one time visit. In early January the Earth will pass quite near (less than a tenth AU) of the tail material it is spewing now. This is setting up to be a millennial type of event in sky watching. Any images any of you can capture of it would be viewed with much appreciation here.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Nov 12 2013 05:34 PM

Yay, Emerald. EME-30 is a bit of a gem, an emerald isle floating in a sea of schist. This is taken at x40 under the scope's LEDs. The entire facing length (~5mm) of this is one flat facet! The crystal is so clear that what appears to be disruptions in the crystal face structure are actually reflections of the backside and the host it's grown on. There were a few other bits of emerald on the stone but the clarity of this one allowed for a better green to show forth. So, I took the shot. When I was saving it, I suddenly saw "The Old Man of the Mountain", the state geological wonder of New Hampshire that fell apart once it had been depicted as the reverse image on the State Quarter after hundreds of years of being naturally perched high in the White Mountains. If you look you can see the profile of a man looking to the left. How about that? The real one's gone but I have my emerald replica. Oh, the emerald came from Brazil.
So, if anyone from New Hampshire is looking for where their monument went...
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Nov 17 2013 11:46 PM

Some (Na,Ca)8[(S,Cl,SO4,OH)2|(Al6Si6O24)] at x10 magnification from the Badakhshan Mine in Afghanistan. Let me rephrase that. Some Lazurite from a mine named after the province of Badenkhshan in Afghanistan. Now let me untie my fingers. The main constituent of Lapis lazuli is Lazurite. This mineral has been mined in that part of the world since the seventh millennium BC! You'd think they'd have run out of it by now or at least come up with easier names to deal with. This specimen shows two of the common contaminants in this mineral: Pyrite and Calcite. Here the Calcite can be seen as the cloudy undefined white wisps across the blue of the Lapis. The other flashy white pinpoints are tiny facets of the Pyrite reflecting the scope lights. At the 2 o'clock area is an interesting neighborhood of a Pyrite vein leading outward to a calcite vein. I could only speculate (another of my guesses but in fancier terms) that there was a crack in the Lazuli that allowed a later deposit of the two minerals to intrude, Pyrite first then Calcite. Why that order? I think if the Calcite had come first it would have easily filled the void leaving no room for the Pyrite.
Off-center toward 7 o'clock is a pure specimen of the Lapis which I feel makes having the Fool's Gold and Chalk along with it worth while. The whole specimen in this image is about 1.5 x 2.0 inches in surface face. At its thickest, from the center through to the background, it is about 1.0 inch. If I ever get around to learning Lapidary arts, this Lapis should be my first piece, for at most of the other viewing angles this is a very dark blue hunk of gemstone.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Nov 19 2013 01:53 AM

This is one of the curiosities of the mineral world. It is Andalusite (AND-10). Clay or Carbon account for the dark areas from which Al2 SiO5, Aluminum Silicate, grows at a 45 degree angle from the axils of the center contaminant. It is often found with a symmetrical X on it but I liked the fact that this one comes from outside Malaga, Andalusia, Spain and has a cross shape to it. I cannot figure out why these natural specimens didn't scare the Moors away.
As an aside, I visited Malaga, the birthplace of Picasso, twice on day trips and on one of the visits got to see American and Russian vessels tied up at dock side by side! This was during the height of the Cold War in the early Seventies. The International port city of Malaga is quite beautiful, is only a few miles from Gibraltar but my heart is fonder of the high Sierra Morena to the north a few dozen miles behind which lies La Mancha. The rocks in those mountains are impressive. It reminds me of what some say is the beauty of California: skiing in mountains is only a couple hour drive from the Beach Boys' favorite surf sides.
This image is illuminated only by my LED flashlight. It is 2.25 in deep and 1.25 in x 1.75 in across the face. The Cross contaminant runs all the way to the other end. It is quite heavy for something that is basically aluminum. The unpolished sides look like the Elkhorn handles my grandparents had on their carving set, almost like dirty crevassed ivory. The heft belies those thoughts right away.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Nov 22 2013 01:50 AM

This is a Ruby rough specimen (RUB-50). You can see that the growth of the material was in layers and that those layers were seemingly deposited in a seasonal manner. Each minor slab is 1mm thick and the larger slabs are 2mm thick. At this angle and because no light can enter the Ruby's crystal matrix from above, below or behind, the mineral appears almost black. I can assure you from other areas of the specimen that its color is a brilliant red.
I was drawn to the stepped layers of this area because they indicated a sequence of conditions for growth that did effect the formation of the entire specimen. The ruby (aluminum oxide like the Andalusite but less some silicon and with some chromium thrown in, Al2O3:Cr!) seemed to deposit so wide, get wider then get narrow from top to bottom of the most expressed area. Or, I have it upside down and it got wider then narrower. Oops, that's the same thing. Sorry. It still intrigues me that something was going on in such a timely manner with essentially the same elemental mixture being deposited in such a rhythmic manner. The music of the crystal growth. The specimen was collected in Madagascar, The white mineral is Albite.
I'm fairly certain that if I split the layers apart, I'd be left with some nice mm thick red windows or transparent plates which might make for some beautiful jewelry. If only my hands had the steadiness of my youth and not the shakiness of aged single malt.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Nov 23 2013 04:23 PM

Another serendipitous find. I was at my workbench checking the voltage on some AAs and AAAs when I picked up the receipt for my last battery purchase. I couldn't read the figures too well so I got my LED flashlight to be better able to read them (a reason I go through so many batteries in the first place: my need to read). I set the paper down to read it but something was under it. I looked and there was this little, 1mm bead-like thing there. I couldn't figure out if it was a drop of melted glass, an insect egg, a drop of epoxy or something else. I decided to look at it under the microscope (which is the reason I got the scope: to satisfy my everpresent curiosity).
I first looked with the scope LEDs but they made a shadow skirt around the whole bead and reflected so much of the LEDs that not much could really be focused on. I did see that the best presentation was at x45 magnification, I shut the scope lights off and illuminated the bead with my Flashlight from above, leading me to conclude I probably needed a black background to see the item more clearly. As I withdrew my flashlight, the magnifying lens effect of the bead showed up! Boom, I took the shot.
Since it doesn't roll around easily, I rule out that it is a glass ball bearing. I lean more toward the epoxy drop but wonder at how it formed so close to round and didn't slough off as it dried. So. all I know for sure about the bead is that it is a nice model for an artistic image highlighting spherical transparency mechanics. And I still haven't finished reading the receipt.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Dec 02 2013 03:01 AM

I went through many of my mineral specimens over the past few days but found none that required a microscope to display them, their beauty or natural wonders. I have an Apatite that has such large crystals that they look like sugar glazed apricots and not minerals at all. But that is a macro not micro image. I found similar drawbacks to imaging some quartz, amethyst. apophyllite and a calcite that looked like the Aragonite only with much larger crystals. I had to go to my pebble box to find something worthy of the technology this microscope presents me with.
This is a bivalve fossil in shale I collected from the shores of Lake Seneca in Geneva New York thirty years ago. It has taken this long to be able to get a photo of it that I felt happy to share. The shale deposits were laid down along the bed of a river that ran North to Hudson's Bay several million years ago. The shale deposits around the lake have been all broken up into rubble over several ice ages' worth of glaciation. I was chilling out by the lakeside, contemplating stuff as I worked my best to accelerate the natural process of turning the shale to new sediment material (I was using the edge of my penknife to split the easily separable shale layers). I noticed this outline in one of the shards. The bivalve must have been a freshwater variety. All evidence of its calcium shell having been dissolved away millennia ago by acidic rainwaters (our atmospheric conditions are not something new, just new, or possibly attributable, to us). The fossil is 1cm at its widest.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Dec 05 2013 08:25 PM

Some recent press filings have intimated that the Oreo cookie is addictive! As Lead Scientist in a facility where one of our many outputs is the turning of ore into oreo, I decided to send the microscope to the Secret Laboratory to see if they could find anything that might be attributable to this "addictive" labeling in our favorite product.
We can see in this x25 magnification that the crystalline structure of the cooked cookie remains after the oven exposure. The individual grains of earthy molecules seems to be random in size and shape just the same way as when we dig the material out of the ground. The color has remained a uniform brown some refer to as 'chocolate'. The appearance of the black lines outlining the grain structures is a function of the illumination failing to penetrate the individual opaque crystals of the mixture. The report claims nothing can be seen in a view of the white, translucent filling our distributor adulterates the wafers with. The next step is to perform a simple (yet highly complex) analysis on the chemical texture of the whole (some of our apprentice and intern lab assistants refer to it as the taste test). Results: Delicious!
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Dec 10 2013 03:28 AM

This x45 image is a sample of Clinoclase (CLI-13) collected from the Copper Stope, Majuba Hill Mine, Pershing County, Nevada. I positioned the thing to exhibit the exterior of the stone at the top. Clinoclase is a hydrous copper arsenate mineral, Cu3AsO4(OH)3. It is often found near turquoise deposits. Turquoise has Aluminum in it - CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8·4H2O. I think there is some Al content to the host rock of this Clinoclase, but not much. It appears some acidic water or other acidic solution, has penetrated a seam crack at the top of this location and 'melted' the Clinoclase and washed it into the host rock. To either side of this area you can see what the original concentration of clinoclase was before the exposure to acid (the dark green spots). In normal light/normal vision, the dark green here is almost black and the lighter green very dark. I sense that had more Al been present, the solution would have mixed further into the host (by hydroscopic suction) and turned it to Turquoise.
In researching this, I wondered about what 'stope' meant as part of the source location and had the collector misspelled Slope? No, Stoping is a mining term! It is what I and probably most of us think of when the idea of 'mine' comes up, a cave of the sort the Seven Dwarves used to prospect for diamonds in. And I now know that the dark green crystals in Turquoise are Clinoclase and to keep all acid washes away from the stone if they are present. I found also that many gem suppliers will coat and bond the exterior surface of Turquoise so this change won't happen. But better safe than sorry as it is said...

Edit: I consulted with my source on this one's possibility of exhibiting dissolving of the Clinoclase crystals. I went back to the specimen and took a shot looking down from the top and the rounded, rather than angular, outlines of the dissolved crystals are apparent. I will post that image on Dec. 15.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Dec 12 2013 12:03 AM

This is one face of a natural octahedral crystal of Magnetite (MAG-31). Usually in catalogs and encyclopedic sources, a beautiful representation of one pyramid sitting atop an upside down one is shown. Those are museum quality specimens. Here is what the stuff generally looks like coming out of the ground. There are un-flat faces, There are broken edges. There are other crystals grown to surround each other. Since Magnetite is of course magnetic, if a tiny edge or corner is broken off, the bit attaches itself magnetically to another crystal in an orientation that is other than the orientation in which it grew and that new orientation would be the average magnetic field in that locality. This contributes to the crystals all being arranged willy-nilly and not in the aligned manner one might expect to find and what one does find in lab grown specimens. Pwhew, that was a lot of nothing important said except as it relates to an observation detailed below.
I can imagine early man finding such a specimen as this, and, looking for better, harder arrow/spear points, cracking loose one of the octahedrons, letting it slip and seeing it jump sideways back to the rock it came from. This experience eventually leading to the discovery of magnetism and later to the development of compasses.
This x40 view includes a couple of other octahedral points: one medium sized in the upper right corner; and, one in the lower right corner that looks like it may be the broken off corner at that corner of the central crystal which has flipped around to align itself to the average mag field. All these crystals are tightly bound into the parent mass by chemical bonding so none are sitting like loose teeth ready to be pulled free. The central crystal is about 1/8 the size of a postage stamp. Oh, could there be another oddity to be seen? If you look to the right of center of the large crystal face, dropping from a dark horizontal line of some possible remnant material, there is the impression of a downward pointed triangle. A place where one face of a smaller octahedron had been attached, perhaps? Oooh, also impressed on that face going toward the upper left from there, are a half dozen other triangles. In fact, the whole face seems covered in triangle ghosts of all sizes. And all of those in alignment to the local field, that of the large crystal's face. Wow, where'd the ghosts go? Edit to add: maybe they stayed behind in the Calumet Mine in Chaffee County, Colorado, where this specimen was captured in the wild.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Dec 14 2013 02:44 AM

This is part of the connector that inputs Converted DC voltage into my portable DVD player to charge the built in battery it runs off of. It is where the wires go into the connector itself. It is a point that experienced flexing a couple of times a day and was found to be failed after about 1.5 years of use. I have another connector on a previous DVD player that I have now found to be broken in the same way. I mentioned this type of cable failure could be experienced by some notepads and laptop users here. When I look at this failure, I see that it might have 'functioned' at first after the breakage occurred (in fact, it may have been broken from the start judging by the hooked wire shown to the right side of the break and has the image of a failed/cold solder joint after a mechanical hooking of the wire bundle on a solder loop). The plastic jacket probably helped keep the flexure-overstressed wires in an apparent non-open condition, intermittently touching and allowing some battery charging to take place. Eventually, not enough juice was getting to the battery and the failure mode resembled a dead drive motor (scenes would remain frozen on the display and no motor vibration was felt).
On the left bundle of wires, you can see that the cable jacket has stretched as exhibited by the near parallel roving white ~horizontal separation of the jacket's coating. The wires in that bundle are also most likely in a broken, but intermittently touching state. I think I understand the failure aftereffects on the bit of wire u-turned up in the central area. It was exposed and a bend or push to right the cable didn't on its own align and so was wrapped backward. The hook ended wire is baffling. The varying lengths of the wires seen indicate that it wasn't a single crushing event that broke them but a series of flexing like breaking a wire coathanger (do they still make those? All I see now are plastic ones). If it has separated from a cold solder joint down inside the connector body, I hope to resolve that matter by burning away the plastic of the connector, making new solder connections and then coating with a non-conductive epoxy. Then do the same with the other broken Converter and cable.
Here's the kicker that should land in some Mechanical Engineer's butt: the lower half of the image displays the molded indents that were supposed to allow flexing without breaking! That professional either allowed the wrong plastic (too stiff) to be specified, or didn't oversee his manufacturing process to see that it was being done to design. Engineers are to be aware of failure modes, not make them part of a planned failure.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Dec 15 2013 11:02 PM

This is the Clinoclase imaged a week ago. To the upper left of a diagonal is the exterior of the host. I took a shot of the same site but from an angle looking down into what I think was a crack in the host material that allowed an acid solution to penetrate the field of Clinaclase crystals and melt (dissolve) them, thus creating a dye solution. The focal point is about halfway down the face of the earlier image. The greened area of the earlier image is contained entirely in the streak of dark green across the diagonal. The barren crystal field and then the dense field to the lower right of that dark green were below the area photographed before and not seen. The rounded outline of the crystals is evident. You can also see that whatever made the staining solution also either puddled atop the crack and stained the outside of the host or penetrated straight through the material to turn it green and toward the Turquoise. I tend to go for the puddle idea in view of the scalloped outline of the stain on the outside top of the host (here seen running diagonally from lower left to upper right above the crystal field of the Clinoclase). In the image's lower right corner are seen some crystals from below the bottom of the greened area in the original image. While adjusting the focus, I could see that the edges are sharp and straight on those crystals as opposed to the rounded edges in the melt field. The only thing I might say about this view in that regard is that in the melt field the roundness allows a light reflection off each crystal and deeper in, past the melt zone, though blurry, there are no light reflections to note, indicating that flat surfaces are reflecting the illumination somewhere other than back to the lens as a curved surface would.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Dec 16 2013 10:08 AM

This is my other DVD player power cable connector. The break is not as complete as the first since some of the insulation is still part of the other wire bundle. Two and possibly 3 strands of the bundle can be seen in the upper section. All seem to have flex broken at the same point (indicating the connector body relief molding was even stiffer than the first imaged unit. They have a brown tint to them. To me, there are far too few strands in a bundle that is supposed to see the exposure (both in use and electrical parameters) that a portable DVD player would expect to experience. When wires first start to separate, the resistance of that bit of circuitry increases. Current flow through increased resistance creates heat. It looks like some cable insulation did get exposed to high temperatures (as seen by the bubbly look of the part that has yet to separate on the first bundle of wires. Looks like the manufacturer of the connectors/chargers had some changes. Either it was a different vendor using the RCA design or RCA itself qualified a different wire bundle source for the component. This I gather from the cross-hatch pattern on the 'unbroken' half of the cable. That isn't part of the other charger's wire description. So, I've had two of these types (more than RCA uses them) of wiring failures on portable devices after about a year's worth of daily use. One of them appears close to have been a fire incident! If you experience a failure of a rechargeable device, I would look here for the cause. That Radiohut place has a charger that you can match the needed voltage on and select from a series of connector versions to be the plug part. Or, it's Xmas, just buy a whole new device? In light of the possibility of a failure and fire, inspection of this location should be part of an owner's inspect before use regimen.
I'm not talking Pinto gas tank here but many do go to sleep with this type of connector in use on a device next to them as they slumber.

Edit: Please note that on both connectors I bent the break areas open so they can be seen. Without doing this, the wiring looks fine and the break is virtually un-noticeable. So do any inspection delicately on working chargers.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Dec 18 2013 01:47 PM

I wanted a piece of cut Aquamarine. I plugged Aquamarine into a vendor's search engine and mostly Aquamarine of the Beryl type was reported back. One entry was different. This 3.5 ct Aquamarine colored, lab created Spinel. Why was it listed with a different mineral type? I'm not complaining because it is a beautiful color and has no flaws or inclusions I can see even in this x40 magnification. It is tipped slightly from looking straight into the crown so the scope lights aren't reflected (I do see two of the LEDs reflected just above the centerline). I love that in this rectangular cut piece, looking through the top half there are only two surfaces involved: the crown and the side pavilion. Yet some shadowing is seen and I think is due to attenuated reflections off the other sides and from the underside of the crown. I gives me the impression of stage lighting and sets up the bottom half reflections as images of a stage set. Interesting! Even though a drawback of magnification is the subtraction of color intensity, this image shows most of the lovely hue of the Aquamarine namesake. Best part may be that it only cost $14 shipped and handled!
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Dec 19 2013 11:32 AM

Tadah, for the cruciverbalists among us: the modern plastic AGLET. Personally, I enjoyed the old metal ones. They kept the lace draped down the side of the shoe and were a fitting last task of the polishing chore of shoe maintenance.

This x15 magnification exhibits the problem I first had with the glass bead shot - the LEDs create a shadow to both sides of the object, lending a false increase to the apparent width of the object. I looked at it with a single side illumination but that created in this case a large distracting shadow on the side away from the light source. This image works okay I hope.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Dec 30 2013 10:13 AM

My micro-printing needs practice as this x20 mag indicates. But the sentiment is at 100%.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Jan 15 2014 03:03 PM

I'm a little rusty from a holiday break so I figured a nice rectangular brilliant cut Lab grown Sapphire (no, not my Secret Laboratory but one in India) specimen wouldn't present too much of a challenge to image. 'Twasn't that easy. My first view had all the oily streaks that account for fingerprints on it. I wiped it with a previously wetted but now dry paper towel, you know. the kind that feel really dry to the point of being dusty? This specimen, being lab grown, doesn't have any inclusions. All those tiny white dots are pieces of cellulose from the towel and I failed to erase the oil streaks completely. I could have gotten my lens cleaning chamis to wipe it down but the dust is interesting dang it! This is a times 30 magnification. It is mounted atop a Hershey's Kisses sized and shaped hunk of plumber's putty to hold it square to the scope lens. You can see parts of four of the scope's lights around the bottom of the face of the stone, giving a measure of how out of perpendicular the image is looking into the material. Through most of the non-face peripheral facets you can see how clear the 3 1/4 ct of material is. It is a good piece to compare a rectangular brilliant cut with the plain rectangular faceting done on the Aquamarine colored spinel of a few postings ago. I think I can improve on the pose mounting into the putty too. I might try making four tiny putty posts to rest the stone in rather than plunging the pavilion straight into it and blocking the bottom light entry.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Jan 28 2014 11:43 PM

The delay in posting runs something like this, heck it is like this. I bought a 4.85ct average weight 12x10 oval brilliant cut color change Zandrite from Sri Lanka. Under fluorescents its a beautiful peachy orange and in the sunlight it shifts to a nice pale lavender color. I so loved its size, shape and color athleticism that I decided it would be nice to have a matched pair. So I ordered another under the same description. That word 'average' in the weight meant that even though it would be a calibrated 12x10mm oval, the depth of the pavilion could vary, a deeper stone bringing a heavier carat weight and vice versa. Another possible flunking grade could go to mismatch in the colors. Finally the second arrived and I present the pair here. Please excuse the difference in color look; they are slanted in different angles, but are a wonderful matching orange side by side to the naked eye. Since my microscope's LEDs are of two wavelengths, I think one of them is triggering some of the purple light to emerge from the stones, moreso on the righthand one.
This image has them mounted in the plumber's putty at x15 magnification (hinting at how large a stone each is.
Up next: I try to see how the polarizing lens off my old SLR camera effects the reflections of light off highly sharp angle crystals like drusey quartz and pyrites. I need to made a stand to set the filter on that would set it between the scope and the object. A cut and reformed aluminum can ought to do the trick.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Feb 10 2014 01:41 AM

Nothing expensive or dear to this one. It's just the cap of my ballpoint on the non-business end of the pen (and a black dot on the white paper background below the cap, sorry). It's just a cap and yet, there's so much engineering that went into its creation. The black of the pen body is seen in the upper right. A color ink indicator piece of black plastic is fused into the clear plastic of the cap body on the lower end. The short, bright lines just north of the indicator piece are molded holders of a soft spongy insert where the pen point sits when the cap is in place as a cap. I guess that insert (which is white, not clear preventing a view of the short bright lines that are on the far side of the cap) is to stop any ink flow out of the ink reservoir when not in use. In my earlier Happy New Year photo you can see the pen ball socket has been equally well engineered so leaks probably won't happen but good design calls for anticipating most possible failure modes and designing against them. As a purely artistic note, I love the way springiness was given to the clip part by using a cross-section shape of two different radii hyperbolic curves which allows the materially rigid plastic to distribute the flex stress along a much larger area than if two matching curves had been used.

On the polarized filter mount front I can report this progress: I removed the filter from the old camera (and got a 'sky' filter to boot - how that'll mix with the scope will be found out later); found a can top that it nearly perfectly fits; cut out the material of the can top with a can opener (! - some design tools can be found in kitchen drawers); have settled on a design for the side stands that will safely allow varying the height of the stand (affecting that aspect safely will require rolling the edges of the cut can to prevent lacerations and yet allow bending of the formed legs to account for wideness (footprint) for larger objects and setting the right height of the filter in the image pathway.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Feb 13 2014 07:09 AM

I had planned to post this in the Shiny theme thread of the month. But my week wait from last posting puts me to the 15th, one day too late. So here it is: my Claddagh ring. Worn on the right hand and with the heart pointed out. Happy St. Valentine's Day.

Edit to add: See also the post in this thread of Oct 23, 2013.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Feb 19 2014 07:03 AM

In yet another break from building my Polarized Filter Microscope Mount/Stand, I made a paper mount for a gem pic. I took a four inch square piece of note paper, folded the corners in by an inch at 90 degrees which set the surface plane of the paper 1 inch above another flat piece of the same paper, then easy folded the center area and took a crescent shaped bit out with some scissors (I took great effort not to run with them!). This allows me to sit a stone onto the slot and only a minimum of foreign material touches the stone. I also can light up the bottom piece of paper as a lit background by shining a flashlight into that 1 inch gap between the paper pieces. In this image you can see the thin edge of paper to the right, lower side of the jewel and the lit piece of paper below being lit by a different wavelength of white is seen in that triangular opening. This was my first try so I erred in the size opening I made. I used it this time but will try to make a better fit in the future. I will save this one for larger stones (don't want to waste paper)
Oh, the stone and image data - It is a 0.70ct, oval, Portuguese cut, 7x5mm Pink Tourmaline. I wanted the pink of a female Easter bunny dress and had gotten a pink Morganite that was way too pale to show its pink so tried the Tourmaline and am very pleased in the color presentation. The overall, un-spotlighted color can be seen in the upper left quadrant's pink pentagon shaped facet reflection. Its picture is taken at x40 magnification with scope LEDs and bottom lit indirectly (mostly, there is some side direct lighting above and below the mount plane) and from the image top with an LED Flashlight.
Does anyone have a clue to what the vendor meant by Portuguese cut?

Edit: The source location for the Tourmaline is listed simply as India. Sorry I can't be more specific to its collection history. Also I'd like to opine that this mounting method, which allows more light to enter the cut stone and from more angles with minimum shading from the actual holding structure, allows more of the sparkle to emerge into the photo, showing more of the effects of facet reflection.

Edit2: Some email exchanges with Jewelry Television (the stone's vendor) revealed that it was mined in Mozambique and shipped to India for cutting and polishing.
Also, their representative passed on this info about 'Portuguese' cut - Portuguese Cut: There are many variations of the Portuguese cut. It originally referred to round stones with 96 facets on the pavilion and 81 facets on the crown for a total of 176. There are variations with fewer facets but still far more than the 58 of a standard round brilliant typical of diamonds. - So there has been almost twice as much work put into this tiny stone than a similar sized diamond with a 'brilliant' cut. No wonder it sparkles so much.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Feb 21 2014 04:32 AM

The paper mount minus the Tourmaline and without the backlighting. The tiny dots seen to the lower right of the slit in both images makes me think that for some images a calibrated scale would be a nice addition/enhancement.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Feb 24 2014 09:43 AM

This is the pale pink Morganite rough I got from Amethyst Galleries to go with the pale pink Morganite cut and polished gem I got from jtv. The Morganite crystal is the darker sweep area across the right, a third of the way down from the top and with some white slashes pointing to the crystal apex toward its left. The magnification is at x40. The rough was collected from the Urucum Mine, Galileia, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
With a naked eye exam of the stone shows a nice pale pink, possibly 1 ct Morganite. You can see some pink in those mentioned slashes. I saw a flash of green in it! At one angle almost a quarter of the crystal reflects green light. I couldn't get the thing lined up right under the microscope but did find these two glints of green from it in generally the same area. You may have to zoom in to see the two spots but they are at the top left of the crystal and then below that one at the bottom edge of the crystal just to the left of where a bit of host rock crosses over the bottom of the Morganite. The green to me reminds me of opal green which then makes me wonder if some H2O is trapped on the backside of the stone against the host rock because there is no way I should see green out of a pink Morganite. Another possibility is that there are two Morganite crystals sandwiching the water.
Please forgive that this isn't a great sharp image of the entire mineral specimen. The task was to capture some of the green out of a pink Morganite and there is some success in that effort.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Mar 02 2014 06:05 PM

I purchased a matched pair of 6mm round green Apatite, about 0.7ct each. They are said to be cut in a 'Flower' cut. Like the Pink Tourmaline its history is: found in Madagascar and shipped to India for cutting and polishing. They do sparkle but with lances of flash rather than the mini-points with the Portuguese cut.
I made a mount out of paper like I did for the Tourmaline and side/bottom lit the stones. It brought out the pavilion cutting very nicely. The table top of the stone looks like a Brilliant cut (I will show it tomorrow), so it has a nice octagonal window to look into to see the pavilion reflections. The grassy pale green of the mineral is lost a bit through the magnification process (x22 in these images).
For some reason the image makes me think of Colorado! Maybe they should have called the cut a 'Leaflet' cut instead. Sure resembles Cannabis leaves.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Mar 03 2014 08:17 PM

This is the top lit view. There is still bottom lighting but the eight LEDs of the scope overpower the indirect lighting from under the paper mount. You can sense the green color better in this view. I can make out the openings I cut in the paper mount for the stones to sit in, They are a different shape than I used for the Tourmaline. Fun time: can you guess what the cut paper shape is? Tune in tomorrow to find out.
Mixing the two photos gives a good idea of how pretty the jewels are in the daylight.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Mar 04 2014 10:16 AM

Any lucky guessers? In trying to focus the paper I reduced the magnification to x20 so this photo won't overlay the other two exactly. I had thought of using a round punch but that is buried in the back of one of my toolbox drawers. The carton knife was handy and easily poked the eight slits needed to cut the openings. I did experience 'chads' just like in the 2000 election here in Florida. If I'd had the microscope back then, I might have picked up some spare change taking picks for the Board of Elections recording chads.
While pondering if I could have faired better with the photos if the holes were round, I thought that in this case maybe turning the stones upside down and on their tables might show the glimmering better...
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Mar 05 2014 06:35 PM

Dang! Here's the green Apatite round flower cut stones posed sitting on their tables (top facet) against a white piece of paper. I will place them on a black background but I don't think you'll see that shot posted here. It will probably show the microscope's ring of 8 LEDs reflection like this one does. I cannot seem to catch the neat glimmer these stones have. Maybe a side shot? Maybe they have to be rotated to align with the LEDS?

Edit: Or Table down, bottom lit? That would mean designing another paper mount with round openings... off to the toolbox.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Mar 07 2014 05:06 PM

I went to black cloth background, stones resting on the sides of their pavilions (that keeps the LED reflections to a minimum) and side lit by flashlight LEDs. The pavilion points are aimed downward; the upper stone's point toward the lower right corner; and, the lower stone's point toward the lower left corner. The green color seems more noticeable with the black background. The side lighting is almost straight into the right-hand stone so a lot of that light passes through out the pavilion point. I must be careful these things don't LASE on me!
There's just the straight into the sides with a white paper mount left to look at.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Mar 17 2014 10:00 PM

This is my Saint Patrick's Day posting. It is precious to me. My mother and niece vacationed in Ireland thirty years ago and brought this back to me. It is a Claddagh ring themed tie bar, by Solvar Ltd of Dublin and purchased at Blarney Woollen Mills.
The image is at x10 magnification. The illumination is from a new source I recently acquired. A bank of 28 LEDs mounted on a convex reflector field, powered by 3 AA batteries from Bell & Howell called a Torch Light. The stack of LEDs is arrayed in a field measuring 3 inches high by 1.5 inches wide. It produces a large field of nice white light.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Apr 16 2014 05:06 AM

The Engagement ring I was lucky to have returned. No, not in the material sense but in the commitment sense. If she still had it, we might be married and she'd still be running around with other men. We parted ways and she returned it to me. I had had the center stone, a 0.75 carat brilliant cut, perfect in the 4 Cs diamond. I wanted her to have a full carat so I added the two 0.125 ct baguettes on either side, mounted in yellow gold with the center stone in a traditional 4 prong mount and the baggies in box mounts. Perfect Cs baggies are easy to find. The underside of the rectangles is open, allowing the stones to be seen through and that assembly is mounted above the ring surface. They look like two light wands in mangers on either side of the main stone. Since the sides of the main stone are open, the light from the two side stones reflects up into it.
When it was put together. I had the center stone shot with a laser and the refracted beams output the far side recorded on film and that pattern registered. That was a neat process to witness. They square up and center the table of the stone to the laser and put a black sheet behind it. They move the laser back and forth to get the best focus, record that distance and then insert a polaroid sheet in the back and capture the image. Now I imagine they just write a microscopic number on the girdle.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Apr 17 2014 08:21 PM

A pair of Russian Chrome Diopside Rectangular Cushion cut, 0.85 ct, 7x5 mm, cut and polished in China. The vendor says the mineral is mined out and they were lucky to obtain these from the Chinese market which is a growing market. I decided on trying to get a matched pair by ordering 2 ea. of a single item. I think they match quite well. Usually the break in gem costs hit in at the 1 ct mark. I feel I got a deal with these slightly lighter than a carat each pair. I don't think any Chrome Diopside will be coming directly from Russia to the USA for some time even if they should find more. I think this pair will be a great investment.
The microscope was set to x20 magnification. I used the mount shown earlier with the two square holes in them so they'd sit upright for the camera. You can get a sense of their size that way too. They really look like 1 carat specimens!
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Apr 30 2014 01:15 PM

This reminds me of some of the images we've seen lately about the view from aircraft looking for floating debris. But, here's a chance to check the color presentation of your viewing devices. This is Turquoise. The parallel white lines on the right two quadrants are artifacts of the sawing process used to expose this face of the stone. They probably existed across the whole face but were polished away for the most part. The white calcite(?) vein in the 8:00 position reminds me of a lobster. I've seen albino and turquoise lobsters at the New England Aquarium. Does anyone know if they're still there?
This is TUR-49 from the Amethyst Galleries catalog, magnified x40 under the microscope's built-in LEDs. The stone was collected at Turquoise Mountain, Globe, Arizona. On one side there is what appears to be a white bacillus growing on the side. Under the microscope it turns out to be just some of the white mineral populating the stone's exterior.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed Apr 30 2014 01:52 PM

Here is the "colony" of growth out the TUR-49's side. I thought calcite but knowing the formula for turquoise is CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8·4H2O, I now tend toward the idea that the tiny crystals are a Phosphorous mineral of some sort (the radical PO4 of the overall turquoise?). A Phosphate salt could be what's grown on the side where some moisture reacted with the interior Phosphate and blossomed a growth of a salt form.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon May 12 2014 08:37 PM

A nice 1cm square cushion checkerboard cut, 3.25ct Moldavite. I wanted to get a pair of these (seeing that all my double buys seem to match well lately) for maybe someday making a pair of cufflinks. But in this time frame the vendor wasn't giving a deal on S&H so I figured I'd go back next month for a second one. I got a notice of a shipping deal from them and went to get that second stone. Oops, they're out of stock. I'll have to go to other vendors to find a match. Moldavite doesn't vary in color much so a calibrated 1cm square ought to be easy to find. It's the checkerboard cut that'll probably be impossible to match. Maybe I'll get to rectangular cuts for cufflinks and use this for a tie pin. Ugh, ties.
The image is at x25 under the 'scope's LEDs. The stone is from the Czech Republic and cut in India. Upon zooming into the bright spots in the image, you can see the typical bubbly stretch marks/striations that identify Moldavite from green glass. That structure was induced into the stones as they fell to Earth and stretch and engulfed air into the molten mix of an asteroid's explosion on impact and hurling much olivine material into the upper atmosphere. That makes it what is called a tektite.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Aug 22 2014 02:20 PM

Of the cut and polished minerals that entertain us with their beauty (and to some, attraction is for monetary value), I find Strontium Titanate to be the most beautiful. The refraction is such that white light is broken out prismatically into its rainbow constituents from what seems like more than the interior surfaces it has to reflect off of. It has orders of magnitude more sparkle than does Diamond.
These are a matched pair of Orchid colored (a tad bluer than lavender) 6 mm rounds of 1.25 ct each. The mineral in this case is laboratory created in China. The fingerprint oils were manufactured here in Florida. Sorry, I used my fingers to pick them up and place them on the two hole paper stand for imaging.
One of my dear childhood memories it being given access to one of my mother's single earrings whose partner had been lost. I removed two tiny (probably 1/4 cart each) Strontium Titanate stones. On my wooden Duncan Yo-Yo in the exterior spin center on each side I bored two cone shaped craters and glued the gems in place. I had learned to do the "sleeper" trick on the toy and could hold the spinning jewels up to eye level and gaze for long periods as they spun and changed colors. Didn't take too much to distract a simple mind. Yo-Yo's gone. Those Strontium Titanates are gone. All that remains is the simple mind.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Aug 23 2014 11:54 AM

This is the upper right hand stone from the image above. The earlier was done at 25x magnification. This view is at 45x. A little more of the color flashes can be seen here.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Mar 28 2015 09:54 PM

My neighbor called me to his yard to see If I knew what some insects massing on his Magnolia were. With my poor vision I could not identify what we were seeing. I was reminded of Dauber Wasp larva cells. He made the sacrifice and allowed me to take the leaf they were on and put them under my microscope. I took a series of images at x40 magnification. All well and good if you know what the leaf size is so you be aware of how tiny the cells are. I broke out my new Nikon Coolpix L30 with 20.1 megapixels and 5x zoom. This is that image. You can see the bottom lens skirt on the microscope. I ran the image through Microsoft Paint to size it for here and to put some highlight pointers on it/ The top two left side lines denote a six cell string/ The lower string is about 23 cells long and has one dead cell and a cocoon of some sort along the chain.
I think these are empty egg cases rather than mud cells
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Mar 28 2015 10:04 PM

This is a good shot of a series of the egg cases. They all appear to be broken out of on the same end and with similar shaped holes. It could have been a scavenger insect that broke all the egg cases as it walked along the line. Don't know but my neighbor is going to keep an eye out for more of them. I did notice an even tinier winged insect scuttling from case to case. I'm unexperienced at turning on the scope's video recorder. I have the leaf still under the scope in case the little [censored] shows up again and I'll snap his picture. He was so small, as he walked into each case his body and wings didn't measure to the width of the opening. That's small! Does anyone have an idea of the insect that laid this egg train?

Edit: I have two more shots to finish this bit I'll post tomorrow. One shows the dead egg case and nearby cocoon while the other is an image at about 100x of a single case.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sun Mar 29 2015 09:24 PM

This is an egg case at about 100x magnification. It is the third one from the top in the image which shows the microscope. I wonder if I should attempt to color it for Easter?
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Mar 30 2015 10:31 PM

It looks here like one of the eggs failed to mature because it became infected with some pathogen. The white fluff I thought might be an immature mealy bug buit it hasn't moved in 4 days,
Tomorrow comes a seasonal look at these curiosities.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Mar 31 2015 04:49 PM

For the 100th post on this thread and for the cultural honor of it being about Easter, I broke out the microscopic crayons and paint brushes and colored some of the egg shells. When I hide them, I don't think even I will be able to find them. Have a Happy Easter!
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon May 25 2015 11:11 PM

This is a Bismuth specimen. Not the greatest specimen. I have seen pix of a couple of beauties (check the one on Wikipedia). The mineral likes to fill a square space. It does so by growing at a 45 degree diagonal. How does it decide where the corners should begin and stop? I don't know. I just said, "Say cheese" and took its pictures. It's not very colorful, appears to be black and boring white. But the files even at a reduced size of 640 x 480 pixels came out near 200 kbytes. Theremust be a lot of subtle color variation going on. I might see if thereare astonishing reactions to some other wavelengths of light.
This and the following were taken at 25x magnification and mostly with the scope LED lights. I will note the one done with peripheral LED lighting.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue May 26 2015 09:07 PM

Here's another crystal lost in the mix where you can get the idea of what a plate is. You can see about a fifth of a plate emerging from the matrix of the rest of the specimen. Stephen Covey of Amethyst Galleries who I purchased this from, is one of the best sources for information on minerals on the web. Here is what he posted to me (in part) when he saw the pix and understood I was interestedin the crystal forms of Bismuth: "See my page on trigonal minerals, especially on the Hexagonal Scalenohedral Class of which bismuth is a member." and the link:
The areas that aren't neat crystals but a mix of broken plates and miniscule structures makes me wonder if the history of this specimen doesn't contain being involved in a volcanic eruption. I imagine that a large crystal specimen was partially vaporized and coalesced back together upon cooling. Stephen's history of the specimen's collection location points to the area where Eugene M. Shoemaker discovered that central Germany had been the center of a violent asteroid impact. This Bismuth came from Schneeberg, Saxony, Germany and that site is famous for the mining of silver, cobalt and bismuth.
This was taken at 30x magnification, scope lights off and peripheral LEDs as illuminators.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Wed May 27 2015 04:26 AM

Yeah, reading Stephen's information makes one aware of why it takes a college degree called Geology to understand the field. To the rest of us, the term rock gets us by.
This image has two plate edges visible at around a 30 degree angle between them (which to me adds to the idea that mechanical means interfered with the original construction of this material). The lower edge shows white reflection while the upper one shows black. A difference of the break angles on the edges of the plates probably accounts for this. This may have happened when the specimen was mined from its surroundings. the image does give an opportunity to see how thick the plates grow. Around the specimen's edge, down the bottom face a ways, you can see a piece of another plate lying nearly co-planar to that face and again the 45 degree incremental growth preference of the Bismuth crystal when generating a plate.
Again, 30x, scope LEDs illumination.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Jun 19 2015 05:03 PM

These next minerals are in my Cornea. There's a story (isn't there always?) about why I used my microscope to take a picture of it. I only have one eye and I went to the VA for them to verify my legal blindness due to loss of peripheral vision in that one peeker. They said they couldn't do the peripheral test because I have a cataract in the cornea (that was the optometrist) that was progressed to a 5 of 5 level. So the ophthalmologist did an exam to confirm the cataract but had the opinion that the cataract was at a 4.5 of 5. My mind's going cuckoo wondering where they came up with a process of development to 100% that they chopped to a 5 max level. Anyway, I asked the Ophthal guy if he would take photos of the cataract to measure it's progression

(This is important to me because when it grows to "5" and I can't see through it any more, the program is to have surgery to replace the cornea with a synthetic one. Since I only have vision in one eye, it is ethically difficult for the Ophth guys to risk messing up my only vision. But when the vision is gone, the ethical dilemma disappears.) He didn't see the need to track it, he just said to let it run it's course. Taurus excrement, I thought. I'd like to know if this is going slow or fast. Will I need surgery in the fall or in 7 years? I decided to try to track the growth myself.

I set the scope up with my monitor behind it, rotated it for horizontal imaging and turned off it's LEDs and illuminated my eye with a flashlight. This was to get an idea of whereabouts my head had to be to capture an image. I then turned the LEDs on and clicked the 'shutter', drew my head back a 1/2 inch , click, back, click about 6 times. Then I reviewed the images to find the best one. Boy have I been surprised. My eyes used to be Hazel. Now it is a dark blue/green! I don't know if that is a result of my eye drops, the cataract or simply age (or god forbid, some disease) I think that this shot where the blood vessels are viewable on the white is the best focus so even though the iris and pupil look blurry, I think that is the cataract speaking. On a zoom you can detect some redness where the pupil should be (and oh I wish I had a slit lamp for the pix so the LEDs wouldn't outshine everything in the bright central whiteness.
Oh, the cataract meant that I am indeed legally blind. Also, a majority of the elderly will develop cataracts in their corneas at some point so this is what many can look forward to if they are among those that get them.

Done at about x20 magnification. My right eye:

Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Jul 16 2015 02:04 AM

This is a Kyanite specimen (KYA-51). The blue crystal that is the kyaniteruns from this 1 inch bit, through 3 inches of the host matrix and shows at the other end as a flat rectangular butt of a plate of blue. If it is rolled a little off the right light, it looks black.
It comes from Hit-Ostrov, Karelia, Russia. The source description says there are also red garnet, black biotite and white quartz. I purchased it tobe my 4th of July Red, White and Blue example. I can't find the garnet but that may be a lack of the right light.
The image is taken at x15 magnification under the scope's LEDs. If I got out my blue LED the crystal might have shown up bluer and maybe not.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Mon Jul 20 2015 11:07 PM

A pair of matched Moldavite 8x7 oval cut gems weighing 0.8ct each. The image is at x25 using my microscope's LEDs, They appear a little off in ovality (?) but that is because I have them pitched at different angles to avoid the reflection of the scope's LEDs, They are clear green but the right angles they are a deep Earthy green, In the upside shadows of each, where the light passes through to the white background, you can see the color best. And in a couple of facets of the upper stone, you can see some of the molten bubbly condition of when the Moldavites were created (asteroid impact in Central Europe millions of years ago. The source was a commercial gem dealer.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Tue Jul 21 2015 09:40 PM

I hadn't stowed the 'scope away and had this experience today:
I discovered last night while bringing out the rubbish that my front door light (which I seldom use) wasn't lighting my way, out, no functionay, pfzzt. Today I dragged out the small step ladder; unscrewed the two nuts that hold the outer housing; and removed the dome house. There were some accumulations of dead bug bodies (the best kind) in the dome. Then I looked at the bulb which was still screwed into the fixture and saw a big lumpy grey thing attached to the fixture's 'top'. I pulled it loose and took a closer look at it. It was a wasp/hornet nest! About 1 inch by 1 inch by 1 inch. I quickly threw it down in case there were hornets that wanted to do some more building. I recovered it later because I thought it might make a nice image.
What kind of hornet you ask? Sorry, I can't answer that because I fortunately didn't run into one. The cells are a neat hexagonal shape but that view isn't too interesting. I appreciated the staggered cell length and got that image. The magnification is x12 under 'scope lighting.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Jul 23 2015 03:59 PM

Another plug problem with my portable DVD player. Last time it was in the power supply plug having an open circuit. This time it is with the headphone plug (and jack). The headphones are Skullcandy brand. I only mention brand because they are the only outfit I know that uses a flat braided, longer-lasting cable in their product. I thought that the use of a flat braid rather than a wire bundle would keep the connection from breaking. Evidently not. There is some slight plug seating issue with the DVD player's part since the plug has to be in the right position to keep both stereo leads in contact. Every day for two years I've plugged and unplugged the headset. For the past year I've had to grab the plug body to get that stereo seating. That's about a thousand handlings, Not bad I suppose. This microscope image shows the failure is not at the cable/plug interface like before. hebreak is internal to the plug. But these new jacks and plugs are machine made and then encased in a molded body. They are not readily repairable. It'd be a lot of work to remove the plastic body (burn it off with a plumber's torch?). Easier probably to just cut the cable lead and connect the ends to a new plug from Radio Shack.
This is a x25 mag shot, scope LEDs and taken with the plug pointed directly away from the 'scope. the flat cable is seen bending over toward the upper left out of frame. The plug body is black plastic but is highly reflective so it looks white. I think the round circular indents in the body to the lower left of the cable is where the robot separated the plug from the mold tree. Of further interest might be the brown in the lower right which is the wood of my desk. The other non-plug item in the image is the medicinal liquid box I slightly opened the top of while it laid on its side to use as a specimen stage/clamp. The weight of the liquid made it a stable table and the clamping of the box flap wanting to close flat acted to hold the plug's terminal post rigidly in place.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Jul 24 2015 10:29 PM

With International conditions the way they are (Russia going cold again as far as trade goes and China realizing its personal growth of individual wealth) This mineral gemstone may be hard to come by soon, It is Russian Chrome Diopside. A beautiful emerald green specimen. This is a 6mm round, 1 ct specimen. I rubbed down the stone before taking this shot. I think the tiny 'pits'(?) in the table top are actually voids in the crystal structure that can't be polished away, You can't see them with normal vision. The magnification is x35, In addition to the scope LEDs, I side lit it with more LEDs This created a neat diffuse green cloud image within the stone. I just noticed the label at the photo bottom says 2ct but it is 1ct. I've just had a quick lesson in editing photo titles.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Thu Aug 20 2015 11:09 AM

I first heard of Moonstone in Wilkie Collins' murder mystery. I'd never seen any in person until now. I got this 'matched' pair of Indian Rainbow Moonstone Marquise cut 8x4mm,1ctw. They seem to match in size and shape and crystal color. I think there are many fractures to be seen in the crystals. They appear different shapes because one is on it's side so the view there is from table to pavilion. The image is at x25 with scope LEDs and peripheral LEDs from two angles. The spots of white on the right side of each gem are the reflection of one of those banks of sidelight LEDs.
In searching Wikipedia to find the minerals hardness in considering those possible fractures, I found the Mhos value to be 6.0. I also found a serendipitous bit of trivia about Moonstone. Since the Apollo Moon missions left from Florida, the state has named Moonstone as the state gem. I now feel like a better Floridian.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Aug 21 2015 10:27 AM

Repair to a Flat cable stereo plug begins with deconstruction:
Re: my malfunctioning headphones. I was able to make the lost channel return by pushing the cable into the plug body. That means to me that there is an open circuit to deal with. I took my Skull Candy headphone plug apart. After crushing the plastic plug body with a pair of locking pliers, I used an exacto knife blade, a pair of nail clippers and brute fingernail strength to remove the soft plastic body. This I'd hoped would have revealed the areas where soldering was used, but nooooo. I found at the cable end of the structure there is a tin metal tube the cable passes through to an area that is hard epoxy. The metal tube, since it is ductile, was probably engineered to make the flat to round transition. I suspect the solder joints are under here. I would like to find out which cable lead is left and which is right since the Skull Candy attraction is that the set fits left to left, right to right on your head and you can't just flip the headsets around if the channels are reversed. So next step is to remove the hard epoxy robot applied material to reveal the connections. I then could possibly use this plug again but will probably have to order one from Amazon. The size I found is 3.5mm and that is for the diameter of the plug spear. I suspect I have revealed the braided ground cable and it is soldered to the highest to the left silvery section, about mid frame
Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Sat Dec 05 2015 02:58 AM

For years (decades?) I haven't been able to throw away little examples of complex human designs for mechanical purposes. A square foot of my workbench shelf is buried deep in such things. During this period/lull in my mineral acquisitions, I've decided to use my digital microscope to preserve some of them in bits and bytes.

The first will be the plastic shield that has been designed to protect the blades on the plugs of USA type power cord plugs. The round section is for the ground stem and the narrower of the square sections is for the High side of the power. The brown is the wood of my desktop where I have my digital microscope stationed. The engineered device goes 1 inch inward toward the wood and is slightly less than 1x1 inch in the horizontal. The scope is at x15 magnification. The lighting is by the 'scope's 8 LEDs.

The material is of the type used for Tupperware (polypropylene?).
It appears to have been formed by injection molding.

Posted by: mehaul

Re: Digital Microscopy - Fri Dec 18 2015 08:03 AM

This intricately designed (it exhibits roundness in two perpendicular planes) is the plastic pull ring/stopper plug from my Orange juice container. you use it by slipping a finger into the ring and pulling up. The plastic (again an injection formed polypropylene?) is less than paper thin where the plug meets the pourer throat so a little effort tears it free from the container. You can see a little of the thin area that pulled away last at 5:45 if it was a clock face. The two planes of roundness are the ring and plug in one plane and the two points where the ring splits and turns circularly from the ring to the plug (at about 1 o'clock) and thus allowing the ring/plug connection to flex when you do the pull up action. The bend down of the upper part of where the ring turns down to the plug can be seen in the shadow cast on the concave shaped plug surface.
This was side lit by a bank of white LEDs and the scope's LEDs turned off. Magnification is around x10. The pull plug is about the size of a dime. Once the plug is pulled there is a regular screw cap to close up the carton.