PMS Pool in Wharfedale meeting

Saturday 8th October 2016

Mike Samworth

Quite a good attendance at this very suitable venue, the Village Hall in Pool in Wharfedale, with early arrivals appearing just after 9 a.m. Organiser Mike Smith set out several large tables to accommodate the exhibits and sales of attendees, and provided tea, coffee and biscuits in the adjoining kitchen. The village hall has quite recently been refurbished, and getting tables and chairs out is now easier.

Ray Sloss was demonstrating a Wild stereo viewer which allows a pair of photographs to be viewed simultaneously to achieve an impressive 3-D image. He was also showing a fluorescence system utilising LED illumination and the Helicon Focus 3D program. This was on a Leitz microscope where cheek cells and bacteria could be viewed.

Ray Sloss’s Wild stereo viewerRay Sloss’s Wild stereo viewer [by Mike Smith]

Mike Samworth displayed a very nice box of slides by Patrick Everest that had been on PMS circuits, with accompanying note book, on an American Optical Series 10 stand with LED illumination. Some slides and books were available for sale, and back numbers of Balsam Post for those needing to make up their collection.

Bill Morris’s theme was the Society of Arts microscope, and he had an exhibit of six microscopes, including an original Fields and Son showing various capabilities and a range of accessories.

Chris Hammond and Peter Evennett’s exhibit centred around the RMS-approved microscope for secondary schools, which is a monocular instrument with ×4, ×10 and ×20 objectives, and a proper condenser. It has bright-field, dark-field and polarised light capabilities, with a 1 λ plate too. The illumination is an LED lamp, powered by rechargeable batteries.

RMS-approved microscope for secondary schoolsRMS-approved microscope for secondary schools [by Mike Smith]

There were also various sales items sold on behalf of the RMS schools fund.

RMS sales tableRMS sales table [by Mike Smith]

Janice Fulton, a local beekeeper and microscopist, had jars and samples of blossom and heather honey, for eating and pollen analysis.

Lawrence Hartley had various books for sale on microscopy, photography and general natural history.

Martin Elsworth had various bits on offer, mostly free to good homes, including glassware, chemicals, and microscopy equipment of various types.

John Birds and Mike Woof looking at what Martin Elsworth had on his standJohn Birds and Mike Woof looking at what Martin Elsworth had on his stand [by Mike Smith]

Colin Lamb showed the flea, as seen by Leeuwenhoek, using a single lens microscope (American PS 150 Pocketscope) to view various objects, including the flea. This unit will focus, but only has a single lens which you hold up to your eye. Also on show was a macro illumination set up made with a 6 watt LED panel light.

Geoff Mould demonstrated crystal melt preparations and microfiche viewer. The slide was heated with a cook’s blowtorch until melted and then the re-crystallisation was watched (using crossed polars) on a large viewing screen.

John Chapman demonstrated a Zeiss Axioskop with fluorescence, viewing sphagnum leaves and blue light excitation showing cellulose and chloroplasts. This microscope retailed at around £10,000 in 1994, and despite almost new condition and low price, did not sell. Also available were a Watson zoom stereo, Wild M20 stand, Zeiss epi-condenser III D with 5 epi-plan objectives and Zeiss III RS epi-fluorescence condensers.

Steve Gill has been carrying out experiments using various non-hazardous substances to clean diatoms, including path cleaner, sink un-blocker, hydrogen peroxide and numerous other household and other easily-available preparations. The aim of this is to make it possible for those not wanting to use strong acids or similarly very caustic and moreover hard to obtain chemicals to be able to clean diatom samples for mounting. His display consisted of a very comprehensive grid, with key, showing the suitability of various chemicals for a varied number of diatom samples and mountants. The slides he had made were available for viewing under a Leitz microscope, so that people could see for themselves how successful the different treatments were.

Diatom slides made by Steve Gill to demonstrate cleaning methodsDiatom slides made by Steve Gill to demonstrate cleaning methods [by Mike Smith]


Following lunch, there were two presentations.

Mike Smith showed a short video illustrating the mainly Protozoan life forms that were in a sample bought recently for a Leeds Microscopical Society evening meeting. This was one of the first videos that Mike had made through his microscope, and various species were visible, notably Paramecium, Colpidium and Aspidisca, all shown using DIC.

Steve Gill gave a presentation that explained his earlier exhibit, namely a set of experiments to find which easy-to-obtain chemicals would clean diatoms to allow mounting in high refractive index mountants. He explained how he felt that people being wary of using hazardous chemicals was the reason they did not attempt it. He had found that a number of the chemicals he had tried were in fact very successful, and had prepared slides to show this. Two worksheets detailing the methods were circulated to the audience, and following the presentation, two different slides were available for people to take away and look at themselves. Various questions were taken from the audience.

Mike Smith thanked the speakers and everyone for attending.


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 by Mike Samworth, photographs by Mike Smith

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