Micro GigaPan Adapter Kit

The Micro GigaPan Adapter Kit is designed to convert a manual microscope into one capable of capturing the hundreds and thousands of images which can make up a MicroGigaPan.

Start making one!  Or read on for a meta discussion...

Design Goals

  1. Does not require modification of the microscope (parts attach in a way which is designed to be completely reversible). Many people use microscopes which are not under their control, and requiring the microscopes to be modified, such as by drilling holes, in order to install the adapter kit would risk damaging the instrument and limit the number of people who can use our adapter.
  2. Open Source Design: all hardware designs are published under an open license, software which runs in the adapter kit is open sourced, and at least the basic tools to control the microscope in XY and Z and to capture images are available in an open source form. (*we have two ways of triggering the camera and capturing images. One of those ways is completely open, the other method is proprietary and does not work on all platforms). Also, the software for image cleanup (ie. PhotoShop), focus stacking (Zerene Stacker), and stitching (GigaPan Stitch or AutoPano Giga) are part of the larger project, and includes some proprietary third party tools.
  3. Repeatability! The designs, schematics, code, bill of materials are all (should be :-) documented! It should be possible for a reasonably meticulous but not especially technical person to recreate and extend on our work with a minimum of special tools and skills. For example, we make extensive use of Laser Cut Acrylic because we can upload our designs to a site like Ponoko where uses can order pre-cut pieces for the cost of materials plus a per hour laser cutting fee. Some other examples: at one point I needed about 3/4" of an inch of 3/4" clear acrylic pipe in order to make a piece which would hold the microscope focus knob and let us connect it to a stepper motor. Requiring users to order such a small length of such a special piece would limit adoption, so instead I designed a set of rings to be cut out of 1/4" acrylic and glued together to make the knob assembly. This approach also means that we can create holders for different sized focus knobs, even tapered knobs, and then hold them in place with double sided tape or a bit of Shapelock, a 'low temperature polymer' (ie. a plastic you can heat in your microwave in a bowl of water, and then shape like silly putty. It works great for coupling to the focus knobs, but if you are not careful it can be hard to remove - violating rule #1 :-)

Current Status

The XY portion of the adapter kit currently works with the National Optical Model 163 Microscope. We are doing further tests to expand the range of instruments which it will be able to handle 'out of the box.'

Because the Z Axis (Focus) control of microscopes is much more standard (the knobs are all 'in the right place' ergonomically for people to use them) the Focus Stacking part of the hardware is more general. The same electronics, firmware (the code which lives in the Arduino Microcontroller which takes commands from the USB port on the computer and actually moves the microscope, and potentially takes the pictures), and software for the computer are used to control the focus stack portion.

It is also relatively easy, but a tad finicky, to manually move the microscope in the X and Y directions, and then trigger the focus stacking code to control the more 'fidgety' focus part of capturing the focus stack.Instructions on how to manually capture gigapixel images are available here. 

Sample Images

Build one!

I'm convinced! take me to the instructions to create my own CNC (computer numerically controlled) Microscope!