East of England Meeting

Saturday 29th October 2016

Lewis Woolnough and James Rider organised this joint meeting of the Eastern Counties Microscopy Study Group and the Iceni Microscopy Study Group, and the Quekett Microscopical Club paid for the hire of the venue. The event was held in the Village Hall in Bradfield St George in Suffolk, with exhibits in the morning, followed by lunch and then presentations in the afternoon.

Bradfield St George Village HallBradfield St George Village Hall


Joan Bingley showed an unusual greeting card made of wood with a picture of an owl that had been etched by a computer-controlled laser. Under the stereomicroscope we could see that the design is inset, the light colour achieved by leaving some of the wood surface, the mid shades by varied degrees of cutting and the darkest by burning. Traditional marquetry has a flat (not inset) surface, and Joan also showed a marquetry note holder made by the late Ernie Ives.

Wooden picture of an owlWooden picture of an owl

Steve Durr brought along his Zeiss Standard compound microscope to show a slide of a cross-section of epididymis stained with haematoxylin and eosin, and some notes on the subject.

Steve Durr with his exhibitSteve Durr with his exhibit

Stephen Edler brought his trinocular Olympus BHS with analyser and polariser to which he had fitted a clear plastic graduated rotating stage, and used it to show thin sections of rock. The slides were smaller than normal, and the sections were varnished instead of having coverslips. The microscope was fitted with some very nice S Plan Apo objectives.

Stephen Edler showing his slides to Chris ThomasStephen Edler (left) showing his slides to Chris Thomas

Stephen Edler’s rotating stageStephen Edler’s rotating stage [by Robert Ratford]

Barry Ellam showed two black and brass monocular microscopes, a Watson Royal from around 1920 (with a ×10 1.27″ Holos eyepiece, a ×20 12 mm NA 0.65 Holos objective and an NA 0.92 Holos oil-immersion condenser) and a Baker B.L.M. 1.A.A (with a James Swift 25 mm ×10 Telaugic eyepiece, Baker ×6 1″ NA 0.197, ×8 ¾″ and ×12 ½″ NA 0.35 objectives, and a Baker aplanatic condenser).

Barry Ellam and Lewis Woolnough Barry Ellam (left) and Lewis Woolnough

John Garrett brought  a Wild M3C stereomicroscope that he had purchased with an incomplete Kombistereo attachment that allows a compound microscope objective to be used to greatly increase the magnification; he was using an NPL ×10/0.20. John had constructed replacements for the missing parts and now had a functioning system

Wild M3C stereomicroscope with Kombistereo attachmentWild M3C stereomicroscope with Kombistereo attachment

Mike Gibson’s theme was “Wonderful Wood”, illustrated with several photomicrographs and pages of notes. Mike used a Lomo МБР-1 compound microscope to show a Biosil slide of parts of the stem of Japanese sago palm (Cycas revoluta), a Lomo МБР-1Е to show a Biosil slide of stained wood sections of Canadian maple, and a simple Philip Harris monocular to show a block of wood for sectioning.

Joan Bingley and Mike GibsonJoan Bingley and Mike Gibson

Section of woodBlock of wood for sectioning

John Gregory used a Wild M11 compound microscope to show a slide that he had made of a tick (Ixodes scapularis Say) from a bird.

John GregoryJohn Gregory

Andy Johnston showed several small instruments that he has made for dissecting insects, including scalpels, seekers and needles. He provided notes on making the instruments, and a no-name copy of a Zeiss stereomicroscope so we could examine them. Andy has very kindly made his illustrated notes available to everyone:

Andy Johnston’s exhibitAndy Johnston’s exhibit

Andy Johnston’s mounted acupuncture needlesAndy Johnston’s mounted acupuncture needles

Les Larkman showed LED illuminators that Colin Lamb had made from a 6-watt dimmable panel light from eBay, plus a dimmer switch, cable and plugs from Wilko. Les used one to provide transmitted light for large rock sections under his Nikon stereomicroscope, and another to provide transmitted light via the mirror of his brass Leitz monocular.

Mike Gibson discussing LEDs with Les LarkmanMike Gibson discussing LEDs with Les Larkman (right)

Stephen Livermore showed some of his fluid mounts in wax cells, using a stereomicroscope on an unusual stand with fine and course focus. He used a Canon EOS 1100D digital SLR connected to a tablet running Windows and EOS Utility to display the slides

Stephen Livermore’s fluid mountsTwo of Stephen’s fluid mounts

Stephen has very kindly made his notes on wax cells, including formulae and techniques, available to everyone:

Bill Morris continued his “kit” theme of exhibits with some clones of Society of Arts microscopes, which usually came in a wooden case with a modular objective that could give 3 magnifications, a bullseye lens on a stand, forceps, stage forceps, and a live box.

Society of Arts microscopesSociety of Arts microscopes

Tim Newton showed 2 microscopes, one was a CTS M3000 (from Microscopium, similar to an M2000 but the stage can be lowered for large specimens) set up for dark-ground illumination (using Barry Ellam’s method of a blob of BluTack on the bottom of the condenser) with a ×20 objective and a strew of Pleurosigma angulatum; he also had a CTS catalogue. The other was a De Oude Delft (formerly owned by Ernie Ives) with a reflecting objective that gives a magnification of around ×320 with an NA of 0.4, used to view a Victorian slide of a wing of Papilio ulysses.

Cooke, Troughton & Simms M3000 microscopeCooke, Troughton & Simms M3000 microscope

De Oude Delft microscopeDe Oude Delft microscope

Tim Newton showing his microscopes to Peter SunderlandTim Newton (left) showing his microscopes to Peter Sunderland

Brian Norman brought a trinocular Kyowa compound microscope that he bought at Microscopium for £20 with very stiff course focus; he spotted a tension control and adjusted it to fix the problem! On top of the microscope he had a Raspberry Pi computer and camera in a housing made with a 3D printer, sending an image via HDMI to a Technika television. His subject was a culture of tardigrades (water bears), with lots of them crawling around the pondweed. Brian also showed a selection of camera adapters from a 3D printer.

Brian Norman’s Kyowa microscope and Raspberry Pi cameraBrian Norman’s Kyowa microscope and Raspberry Pi camera

Brian Norman’s camera adaptersBrian Norman’s camera adapters and housing

Geoff Phillips brought a trinocular Leitz Dialux 22 with a dual-observer attachment to show a cross-section of mouse brain, and a binocular Wild M20 to show a strew of cleaned diatoms that had been scraped from the stem of an invasive reed (Phragmites australis) on Upton marshes.

Geoff Phillips’ exhibitGeoff Phillips’ exhibit

Robert Ratford brought the largest and heaviest exhibit, a Flatters and Garnett projection microscope he had bought from Klaus Kemp. Sadly it didn’t work for us, even though it had been working earlier.

Flatters and Garnett microprojectorFlatters and Garnett microprojector

Robert and his son used a trinocular Lomo МБС-10 stereomicroscope with a Flexilux fibre-optic illuminator (all from Microscopium) to show fossils, and another stereomicroscope with an LED panel and torch to show minerals.

Lomo МБС-10 stereomicroscope with fossilsLomo МБС-10 stereomicroscope with fossils

Stereomicroscope with mineralsStereomicroscope with minerals

John Rhodes’ subject was aeropalynology in the home, and he used his Olympus BHT microscope to show slides of organisms and particles from the air in his own home, together with photomicrographs and explanatory notes.

John Rhodes with his exhibitJohn Rhodes with his exhibit

James Rider demonstrated two techniques for introducing contrast into images of unstained specimens, with phase contrast in his Olympus BHS and differential interference contrast (DIC) in his Reichert Zetopan.

James Rider’s Olympus BHS and Reichert Zetopan microscopesJames Rider’s Olympus BHS and Reichert Zetopan microscopes

Dave Skeet brought a brass Reichert Stand II microscope dating from around 1895, with a ×18 eyepiece and 3 objectives including an 8 mm that was used to view a diatom arrangement by W. I. Firth. Illumination was provided by a Vickers lamp.

Dave Skeet explaining his Reichert microscope to Les LarkmanDave Skeet (left) explaining his Reichert microscope to Les Larkman and Ron Cushing (right)

Peter Sunderland used a trinocular Zenith STZ stereomicroscope to show slides, some old ones and some that he had prepared. Peter also showed two old microscopes, a Baker school microscope with a square base and a J. Swift polarising microscope.

Peter Sunderland showing his slides to John TollidayPeter Sunderland (left) showing his slides to John Tolliday

Slides made by Peter SunderlandSlides made by Peter Sunderland

Old slides shown by Peter SunderlandOld slides shown by Peter Sunderland

Chris Thomas is organising a survey of the invading spotted-winged drosophila (Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura)) and provided a trinocular Olympus SZ stereomicroscope so that we could examine some samples in liquid.

Trapped fruit flies, including spotted-winged drosophilaTrapped fruit flies, including spotted-winged drosophila

John Tolliday showed a kit that is light enough for travelling (534 g) but can photograph slides at magnifications up to ×22 using bright-field, Rheinberg filters or polarised light. The camera is an Olympus Tough Stylus TG-4, which has a built-in LED that can be used with the LG-1 light guide to provide a ring light, or with the CLA-T01 filter adapter and a polarising filter. When the built-in light is not suitable, a Neewer LED64 provides a dimmable diffuse transmitted light. The camera can be controlled wirelessly from a Samsung tablet.

John Tolliday showing his travel kit to Brian Norman and John GregoryJohn Tolliday (seated) showing his travel kit to Brian Norman (left) and John Gregory

John Tolliday’s travel kitJohn Tolliday’s travel kit

Lewis Woolnough demonstrated variable asymmetrical contrast (VAC), with an unstained transverse section of wood using bright-field illumination under his binocular American Optical and a similar slide using VAC under his binocular Wild M11. Both microscopes were fitted with ×10 NA 0.25 objectives. VAC filters are placed just below the condenser and are made from sheets of polarising material. A different filter is needed for each objective, because the size of the central stop has to be adjusted for the NA.

Lewis Woolnough’s exhibitLewis Woolnough’s exhibit


After a busy morning browsing exhibits and catching up with friends, we were all ready for lunch. Lynn served up a chicken and bacon casserole (or a vegetarian alternative) with mashed potato, broccoli and peas. For dessert we had a choice including apple crumble, cheesecake and lemon pie.

LunchLunch in the Village Hall


After lunch we re-arranged the chairs and Lewis Woolnough thanked the Quekett for covering the cost of hiring the hall and introduced the 3 speakers.

Audience for the presentationsAudience for the presentations

Dave Skeet’s subject was time-lapse movie making. He started by showing familiar clips of bacteria multiplying and a human embryo dividing, and told us that he had wanted to see and record cells dividing but had not succeeded. He showed us the arrangement of overlapping coverslips that he uses to keep cells wet and alive for up to 4 hours. One approach to time-lapse is to use the software that comes with eyepiece cameras to specify the rate and number of frames. Another approach is take a series of still images and then use software to combine them into a video. Suitable software for this approach includes Photolapse 3 (available free from Softpedia) and Windows Movie Maker for Windows 10, and Lapse It for Android and iOS. Dave showed us videos that he had made of white blood cells phaging and urea crystals growing.

Dave Skeet lecturing on time-lapseDave Skeet lecturing on time-lapse

Stephen Livermore started by showing us two of his fluid mounts, a leaf miner inside an oak leaf and several aphids on a stem, one of them with its stylet visible. He makes wax cells up to 5 mm deep, filled with de-gassed formalin, with a flat top to the cell. Stephen learned about spinning wax cells onto a slide from Vaughan Dodge at a 2004 Belstead House meeting. To try to prevent leaks he wanted a flexible cement similar to NBS Clearseal, the exact formula of which was unknown, although Doug Richardson had analysed it and identified the components. Derek Underhill had used a thermal cement. Stephen had adapted their work and produced a cement very similar to Clearseal that gives good results. He explained how he builds up cells of wax, flattens the top and applies the cement, and demonstrated for us.
Stephen has very kindly made his notes on wax cells, including formulae and techniques, available to everyone:

Stephen Livermore making a wax cellStephen Livermore making a wax cell

Chris Thomas briefly explained the survey of the invasive fruit-fly Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) that Quekett members have been undertaking for publication in the Journal, and encouraged others to participate. Download the instructions.

Chris Thomas on the invasive spotted-winged drosophilaChris Thomas on the invasive spotted-winged drosophila

To close the meeting, we enjoyed a cup of tea with slices of excellent cakes made by Barry Ellam.


Our thanks to Lewis Woolnough and James Rider for organising the meeting, to Lynn Cardale for providing tea, coffee, biscuits and lunch, and to Barry Ellam for the cakes.

The Quekett Microscopical Club provided a grant towards the cost of this event, as part of its remit as a charity to promote microscopy.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

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