Transport Case for Mobile Microscope

I am thinking about a mobile case for the Openflexure for some time now. The basic Idea is, that due to it’s size/weight/cost it is an ideal microscope for field operation and other tasks where you have to bring a microscope along.

That would require a rugged, watertight case with:

  • Microscope
  • Damping/Foam
  • Batteries/Powerbanks
  • Screen
  • Controller
  • Additional Storage for Sample Prep Equipment etc.

I found some time this week to test a case and to design a first rough version of a base-platform.

I use a case from Auer Packaging, which should be available for the foreseeable future. It is also relativley cheap, 46€. Auer Packaging Case

Essentially two different types of 3D printed parts (6 parts in total), which hold a plywood board snugly in place. The parts are currently not designed in OpenSCAD, since they are based on the .stp file of the actual case provided by Auer.

I had some troubles setting the insert nuts with just some basic tools. It’s far from acceptable right now, so please ignore this ugly detail. I could have used a drill rig, but I want to come up with an easy to build design which doesn’t require much wood working and too many tools. So I may have to come up with a different solution for attaching the rod.

It would be nice if we could have a project, similiar to the Microscope itself, with BOM, printed parts and an assembly instruction to have a quasi-standard solution for a mobile case. I certainly will continue working on it, since I have the requirement for such a case. Also I will try to document but would really love some input or any other contributions.


@aurel This would be fantastic!!

I have always been surprised how many extra things we need when we run the microscope (though it has got better over the years). I have generally used a similar case, used foam inserts, and then balanced the microscope on top of the case to use it outside. It would be far better to have it mounted as you are doing and then have some space on the side for peripherals.

Here was my setup in Panama:

Not the most ergonomic workstation!!

A couple of suggestions for the nuts in the plywood. Firstly, would a 3D printed jig/drill guide help to get holes drilled straight and in the right place without a drill press? Second, I like to use T-nuts for bolting to wood - the kind that have a spreader plate and prongs to go into the wood.

The thing with the T-nuts, they would have to be properly countersunk so they don’t pertrude out of the lower side of the wooden board. Depending on the kind of wood and surface finish this is kind of difficult (without special tools like a forstner-bit). The board sits on the bottom of the box and should be level with the corner bracket so it sits really snug with in that corner.

About printing a jig/guide. Yes, that’s my next idea. It’s not so much about the drilling, the actual insertion of the insert nuts is the difficult part. I will try a 12.2mm printed guide for screwing them in.

I am thinking about mounting several things on this rods. Propably a 7" field monitor for DSLR and video cameras may be a good, but not very cheap, solution for a screen. I would store that one, vertically in a printed case which is mounted on those rods. For operation I would only have to pull it out, with already attached cables, and stick it with velcro to the inner side of lid of the box. Propably the same for a controler, I currently use one from XBox, but one from SuperNintendo is ceaper and smaller.

I do like the way the corner pieces make it a snug fit. In the photo there seems to be a small step in the bottom of the box that would allow the ~1mm for a T-nut, but your solution will also be neat.

This looks really promising. We should try to connect you with the team in Peru who have also done some work on mounting in a rugged case - though they have taken a diffrerent approach with a self-made box. Your current insert looks like it will be pretty rigid, though you mention foam - I’m curious where you’ll incorporate the flexibility in that design?

It’s also worth mentioning that @j.stirling and I discussed the possibility of mounting the microscope from the top, so the stage pokes through a plate that sits just below the level of the sample. That would work very nicely for your box design, but it requires a few changes that won’t make it into the microscope for a while. I’m just mentioning it here in case it’s useful to you to know what’s likely to appear in the future.

Lastly, monitor options we have used so far are:

  • Official Raspberry Pi 10" touchscreen (nice, but not huge) and printed case
  • Unofficial 7" or 10" display (not amazing quality picture, but not expensive) - doesn’t come with a case and is easier to integrate e.g. into the lid than the official Pi touchscreen (this isn’t the one I’ve used, but it’s similar: 7" monitor
  • Portable 17" monitor (fairly rubbish colour reproduction, but much bigger than either of the other options, and comes with its own travel case) - mine came from aliexpress

I’m not delighted with any of these options, so if you find something better please do share your experience.

With the space a monitor takes up in the case it might not be unreasonable to say “carry a laptop”. Not ideal, as you want a kit you can just open and use. I think if there was a good way to mount a monitor in the lid then this would be great.

I was thinking about using the delta mircroscope for this. But I am not sure if the current design is practical in terms of mounting. I would need a base/lower housing so that the flexure mechanism has clearance. But in the current design, is the main body even attached by screws to the lower housing, or does it just “sit” there?

If rigid mounting with screws is possible, I would design another, lower element where two standard powerbanks can be mounted and which has a flat, rectengular base. Then I would try to bond this base with glue to some layers of foam and glue that one to the wooden baseplate. Hope that won’t be too dodgy. Some additional safety could be done by tying it in with loose strings. Not great, but should keep some vibrations away from the stage.

For additional dampening, the case itself has 4 hollow “legs” which could accept 2 cm of EVA foam. That would only work on flat surfaces tho.

Hi @aurel that sounds really sensible - the delta microscope ought to be more reliable for this, because the optics module is static and thus much more securely mounted. The biggest problem I’ve had travelling with microscopes is the focusing mechanism snapping in transit, because the optics are relatively heavy if you use a proper objective lens.

@samuelmcdermott has updated the design quite a lot recently, but it was certainly always my intention that the microscope could be screwed to the base - I think that’s what happens with the UC2 adapter, so it’s definitely possible though we’ll need to check that the screw holes exist in the latest version of the design. If mounting with screws is not currently possible, we can and should add that in.

I think a “floating” board glued to some foam is a very nice solution, and indeed @j.stirling and I often suggest very similar things to people. Additional security is always nice - I wonder if you could arrange things so that some foam in the lid clamps everything in position when it’s closed?


At the moment the main body is not attached to the base with screws, but it would certainly be a welcome addition! However, there are some screw holes in the bottom of the main body if you wanted to screw it to something else.


ah - I think those screw holes might be the ones I added for the UC2 adapter. Screws between the body and the base are probably a good idea.

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