Webmaster’s blog 2020

Alan Wood’s microscopical diary

July 2020

I have finally had time to get the Olympus infinity-corrected metallurgical objectives and brightfield vertical illuminator that I acquired in October 2016 working with the TH transformer (modified to take 4 mm banana plugs) that I acquired in October 2018. The lamphouse uses a cable that only fits the TGH transformer, and I have failed to find one at a reasonable price. Despite having exploded parts diagrams for the lamphouse and the plug, I could not get access to the wires at either end of the cable, so I reluctantly cut it and then fitted an extension with heavy-duty Deltron bunch pin plugs.

Olympus BHT with BH2-MA vertical illuminator and MSPlan objectivesOlympus BHT with BH2-MA vertical illuminator and MSPlan objectives

Olympus TH transformersOlympus TH transformers (left one modified to accept banana plugs)

Cable from BH2-MLSH lamphouse with bunch pin plugsCable from BH2-MLSH lamphouse with bunch pin plugs (original plug on right)

One of the first things I tried was a human grey scalp hair, because I was trying to get a photo of the scales on the cuticle for the hairs and fibres gossip.  The 20× MSPlan gave better results than my 20× Neo (from the BH era) but not as good as my 20× SPlan with transmitted light.

Scales on the cuticle of human scalp hairScales on the cuticle of human grey scalp hair (20× SPlan objective, with crossed polarisers in the lower photo)

June 2020

With no meetings to go to, I have finally had time to clear the backlog of Olympus microscope instruction manuals, brochures, catalogues, exploded parts diagrams and repair manuals that I wanted to scan and convert to PDFs so that they can go on my website (www.alanwood.net/olympus/downloads.html). Some of them came from Brian Bracegirdle’s estate, some were donated by other people, and others came from Club meetings.

Scanning cataloguesScanning catalogues

Scanned Olympus documentsScanned Olympus documents

I have also had time to work out how to update the Quekett website to use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) so that any passwords that members enter and any messages that people send are transmitted securely. You can check that the website is secure by looking for a closed padlock icon in the address bar of your web browser:

Closed padlock icon in Google Chrome browserClosed padlock icon in Google Chrome browser

Pages on the Quekett website should also load faster, because web browsers use the faster HTTP/2 network protocol with websites that use HTTPS. It is not easy to prove that HTTP/2 is being used, but I found a Firefox extension (HTTP/2 Indicator) that puts a blue lightning bolt in the address bar:

Blue lightning bolt in Firefox browserBlue lightning bolt in Firefox browser

May 2020

On Saturday 2nd May I received an e-mail from the Rangers Office on Wimbledon Common asking me to phone them, and I was devastated to hear that Dennis Fullwood had died. The neighbour who sounded the alarm did not know how to contact his family, but she knew he was involved with the Rangers. They had my e-mail address because I send them photographs of Quekett activities on the common. Nobody in the Quekett or the Natural History Museum or the Kent Geologists’ Group knew of any family except an aunt in a care home somewhere. Lisa Ashby did a brilliant piece of detective work on ancestry.co.uk and traced members of the Fullwood family in Canada who knew how to contact a relative in Carshalton, so now we will be informed about funeral arrangements and Dennis’s estate can go to family members.

Kai and I miss being able to catch a bus and go for long walks on Box Hill, Headley Heath and Mickleham Downs, but the bus ride does not qualify as a necessary journey. For exercise we are combining shopping with walks to the neighbouring towns, a round trip of about 5 miles.

Finally finished Amendment 7 to ISO 1750, after spending several days fixing all of the problems that ISO’s Word template introduced. It includes well over 100 entries like this, all meticulously checked and re-checked:

Coumoxystrobin table for ISO 1750Coumoxystrobin table for ISO 1750

Now I hope to have some time for microscopy. There is no news of when we will be able to have normal microscope club meetings, but we have held a couple of committee meetings using Zoom, and we are hoping to use Zoom for gossip meetings and lectures. We are also working on contingency plans for a virtual annual exhibition.

April 2020

No microscope club meetings to go to, and no meeting reports to write, so I have finally have the time to work on an amendment to add more pesticide common names to ISO 1750 Pesticides and other agrochemicals – Common names. I have all of the data in an XML file as well as on my website, so I have been working on an XSL stylesheet to transform the data into HTML that I can then import into the Microsoft Word file that ISO want. I really want to give this up so that I have more time for microscopy, but it is hard work trying to get ISO to set up a database of pesticide names.

March 2020

I missed the AGM and the Reading Convention because we were in Thailand for our annual visit to pay our respects at the graves of Kai’s parents in a huge Chinese cemetery that used to be a rice field. The lockdown in the UK and the cancellation of most flights in and out of Thailand started while we were there, but fortunately our Thai Airways flight was not cancelled, although it was completely full because BA had abandoned their passengers. We came back to a very different world, not much traffic on the roads, queues to get into supermarkets, and no microscope club meetings.

February 2020

Doug Richardson bequeathed his collection of nearly 2500 slides to the Quekett so that some of them could be added to the loan sets that members can borrow. There are lots of slides of insects and their parts, and many other invertebrates, birds, fishes, reptiles, mammals, plants, fibres and crystals. Nearly all of the slides were made by Doug himself, but there are a few by other people, including Brian Darnton, Vaughan Dodge, Dave Skeet and E. Markham.

Slides by Doug RichardsonSlides by Doug Richardson

Dry mounts and deep mount by Doug RichardsonDry mounts and deep mount by Doug Richardson

Almost all of the slides have been photographed and have had Quekett slide numbers added, and a workshop was held on how volunteers can help transcribed the information on the labels into an Excel spreadsheet. The photos and data will then be added to the database of the Club’s slide collection. The participants were allowed to select any slides they liked to take home and transcribe the data.

January 2020

I haven’t acquired anything new for some time, so for the “My latest microscopical acquisition” I showed the 2 ways I have been testing to photograph slides through microscopes at Club meetings. The more promising seems to be afocal coupling, with a Leitz Periplan 10×/18 eyepiece (from Microscopium) connected via a step-down filter adapter (from eBay) to an Olympus Zuiko 50 mm standard lens from the OM system, with an OM-EOS adapter (from eBay). This arrangement is rigid and parfocal. The other way is eyepiece projection, with a simple microscope adapter (from eBay) from the days of 35 mm SLR cameras that clamps to an eyepiece tube and holds a normal eyepiece, connected to a camera with a T-mount.

Afocal coupling and eyepiece projection adaptersAfocal coupling (left) and eyepiece projection adapters

About this blog

I am Alan Wood, webmaster for the Quekett website, and author of several web pages on Olympus microscopes. I spend too much time writing about microscopes and buying more equipment. I hope this blog will help me to focus on using my microscopes so that I have something to write about!

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