Microscope camera for online collaboration

When I was working online with a friend we needed to look at some small things. After a while of holding said things up in front of our webcams and cursing it to focus we realized that we needed a way to connect some sort of microscope to our online conversations. I already have a really good stereo microscope mounted at my work desk but it is not made with a camera mount.:

Furthermore switching cameras mid call is a no-go for most online platforms. I instead ended up just holding my webcam over one of the eyepieces which worked surprisingly well:

Camera looking through microscope

You have to hold the camera just right to get a good image so I tried various mounting methods of fixing the camera to the microscope. I didn’t want to modify the microscope so I designed and 3D printed this adaptor for my particular webcam (Razer KIYO):

Webcam and adaptor
Adaptor slips over eyepiece

The adaptor simply slips over one of the eyepieces and provide a cradle for the camera to rest in. The idea is that whenever you need to show something in the microscope you simply pick the camera off the monitor and place in the holder:

Camera in place

Whenever you are done with showing things in the microscope you put it back, all without disconnecting and making the software angry.

A couple of things was really annoying though. Some online platforms does not really let you control the settings of your camera. I encountered situations where the auto focus and auto exposure of my camera got confused by the microscope optics. To address this I made a small java script app that allows you to control the camera in browser based platforms:

Browser control app

It is very basic but allows me to at least lock the focus and exposure when I use the microscope.

It may not work for your camera/browser bit feel free to try it. Also if you have a similar camera here are the .stl files to print your own.

Overall I’m really happy with the setup and now use it extensively when collaborating online.

Leave a Reply