Assembling the OpenFlexure microscope

and connecting it to a Raspberry Pi

 

The OpenFlexure microscope is a build-it-yourself microscope which features a flexure-based XYZ stage with sub-micron precision and a range of 8mm.

 

Don't be fooled by its appearance. Because it's constructed using flexible plastic, its motion is free from friction and vibration. And because it can be connected to a Raspberry Pi, you can see pin-sharp detail on a smartphone, tablet or monitor, rather than the limited view through a traditional microscope.

 

Whether you buy the assembly kit or 3D-print the parts, assembling the microscope is relatively easy as well as rewarding.

Connecting the microscope to a Raspberry Pi

Once you've assembled the microscope, connecting it to a Raspberry Pi takes just two steps:

  • Connect the LED cable to pins 4 and 6 (if the LED doesn't light up, reverse the connector to pins 6 and 4)
  • Connect the camera's ribbon cable with the blue side toward the USB ports

Preparing the micro SD card

To use the microscope with the Pi, you need to install a Raspberry Pi operating system image on a 4GB SD card, as explained in this useful resource. There are two operating system images to choose from, depending on how you're going to use the microscope.

  • Choose the WaterScope image if you want to use WiFi to stream images to a phone or computer
  • Choose the Official Raspbian image if you want to connect the Raspberry Pi to a monitor and use the Pi to control the camera

Observing the microscopic world

If you're using the WaterScope image and connecting to your smartphone, tablet or PC via WiFi, look for WaterScopi, use the password waterscope. and enter the address 10.0.0.1 on your web browser.

 

If you're using the Raspbian image, simply connect the Raspberry Pi to a monitor, and use the normal Raspberry Pi camera module commands to control the camera.

 

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