Specimen holders

Accessories for manipulating objects under stereomicroscopes

Stereomicroscopes are ideal for viewing 3-dimensional objects, but are usually supplied with just a flat black or white stage. To allow objects to be viewed from various angles, microscope manufacturers and other companies sell a range of accessories, and there are some accessories that can be made at home.​​​​​​​​​​

The Watkins & Doncaster E741 Insect Examination Stage enables pinned specimens to be rotated through 360°, raised and lowered.

For more information, go to www.watdon.co.uk

Watkins & Doncaster E741 Insect Examination Stage
Bioquip 6188 Microscope Stage The Bioquip 6188 Microscope Stage, patterned on an old Watson item, enables pinned specimens to be rotated about 2 axes. The semicircular cutout in the base allows transmitted light to be used.

For more information, go to www.bioquip.com

The Helping Hand comes with 2 adjustable crocodile clips and a magnifying glass (not needed with a microscope).

Available from tool shops or on eBay.

Helping Hand
Reverse tweezers Reverse tweezers mounted on an adjustable stand, supplied with 2 pairs of tweezers, one straight and one curved. They are called “reverse” because they grip the specimen when you let go.

Available from model shops or on eBay.

A cup stage or ball table like this Olympus SZH-SC Cup Stage makes it easy to tilt and rotate specimens. It is quite large; the white stage plate is 100 mm diameter

A non-slip mat helps to stop heavy items sliding off.

It is easy to make a similar stage using domestic items, in a variety of sizes.

Olympus SZH-SC Cup Stage
DIY ball table A home-made cup stage. The base is made from a strip of thin card, rolled up and stapled to form a cylinder. The ball is a bowl from a kitchenware shop. The top is a cork coaster; just by good fortune the 75 mm diameter fits perfectly onto the ball; it is held in place with UHU glue.

The top could have been made of Plastazote, and can be covered with card or paper if a black, white or coloured background is desired.

The ErgoBall is a 30 mm steel ball supported on a 10 mm high base. One version has a magnet for holding specimens, the other version has a 20 mm disc of white Plastazote for holding pinned specimens. A 40 mm high base is available as an option.

For more information, go to www.fullerscopeservices.co.uk, or search for ErgoBall on eBay.

(Photograph copyright © Microscope Services Ltd)

2 versions of the ErgoBall (photo courtesy of Microscope Services Ltd)
Hinchcliffe brass and cork balls Quekett member Martin Hinchcliffe makes a holder that he supplies with one 30 mm cork ball and one 30 mm brass ball with a cork insert (and 2 spare inserts). The brass base is 12 mm tall.
The Entoball is a 30 mm steel ball hollowed out to hold a 12 mm disc of Plastazote. Five bases are available, 8 mm, 16 mm, 32 mm, 48 mm (with cut-out) and 64 mm high.

For details and prices, contact Stefan Ober ([email protected]) or Microscopes Plus.

 Stefan Ober’s entoball
Dennis Fullwood’s ball tables Two small home-made ball tables, one with a magnet for holding specimens, the other with Plastazote for holding pinned specimens.

The bases are short lengths of metal tubing. The balls are control knobs.

Jewel tweezers, also known as gem forceps, attach to a threaded hole in the base of the microscope, and allow an object to be rotated through 360°.

Available from microscope manufacturers or from eBay sellers such as MicroscopeNet, Microscopes India and Precision*World (search for tweezer in their stores).

Jewel tweezers
Olympus FM-III Mechanical Stage A mechanical stage with horizontal controls like this Olympus FM-III Mechanical Stage attaches to a stage plate and provides precise movement of microscope slides.

If your stage plate does not have a central hole for transmitted light, you can buy a spare and drill or cut a hole in it.

The Dino-Lite MS16C Specimen Holder has pivoting and rotating joints that allow a specimen to be viewed from any angle. Supplied with 3 types of clip for holding a variety of specimens.

For more information, go to www.dinolite-uk.com

(Photograph copyright © Absolute Data Services Ltd)

Dino-Lite MS16C

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