Upgrading basic build

I am planning to build a microscope and was looking for some advice. I would like to start with the basic build and depending on my use, possibly upgrade to motorised, then to an objective tube. If I print the base with the motor mounts should future upgrades be straightforward?

I was also wondering if there was a gallery of images taken with various configurations.


The main body is the same for all versions. The base is either 30 or 45mm deep. For infinity corrected objectives you need the deep base, but the extra depth is not a problem for other configurations.

Thanks, I’ll start with the 45mm deep base. I suspect I might want to build a high resolution version but I am relatively new to 3d printing and Raspberry Pi so I will try a basic build before I invest in the extra parts.

Is the beam splitter main body also compatible with the basic build? If so then I think I might as well print that as well.

I thought it was, but the standard body is not compatible with reflection. The reflection version is compatible with all other versions, so print that. It is under ‘advanced’ in the configurator.

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I’m now wondering if I should be thinking about the delta stage. Is there a good reason not to start with a basic delta stage build if it might be a better choice for more advanced microscopy methods?

Regarding “investing in the extra parts”, consider that they are dirt cheap (motors, drivers, arduino clone together will run about 15€), but take some weeks to arrive from China if you order them there.

Regarding “new to 3D printing”, the main body is a taxing part and takes a long time to print – so you better have your printer dialed in and verified with the “just_leg_test.stl” before you run into frustration there.

Have fun,


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Oh no, I thought I’d decided on build now I’m not so sure. I’d like to print a setup that allows for the greatest potential upgrade but that will work with a basic setup.

Don’t be put off! As a minimalist 3D printer user I mostly stick to the defaults. I use a Prusa Mk 3 printer which I built and set up according to the manual, I import the STL to the Slicer, making sure that the placement of the object is suitable for printing, mostly this means having the base on the print bed. Once that’s done I export the G code to an SD card and print from that, Using Amazon PETG filament the microscope base takes 14 hours to print with default settings. I’ve printed 3. Normally I start the print first thing in the morning and periodically check it, Smaller parts take less time. The only consistent problem I’ve faced is printing the actuator tools which always fails with a stringy mess and I’ve had 4 tries with both PETG and PLA.

You don’t necessarily to import the hardware from China, I’ve bought everything from Amazon U.K. or EBay apart from the condenser lenses. If you want one of those I’ll send you one for free. I had to buy 100 to get one.

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There are some good videos here to help show the process Instruction video

And I also made a lengthy video of my build of the lower magnification Raspberry Pi, Pi camera v2, with motorized controls:

I built mine for about $200 US.


Thanks for the pointers. I’m stil uncertain what about the delta stage, is it an all-round improvement on the standard build?

The delta stage is more complex, less well tested, etc. It may well be better in the long run, but who knows. The main use case for it now is if you are doing lots of fancy optics such as florescence. It is good for this as the objective stays fixed so we can add more weight or couple things in and keep them aligned. The delta stage really only works when motorised as you need to move all 3 motors simultaneously in different ratios for different directions.

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Thanks that’s good to know, I doubt I will be doing florescence microscopy so probably best for me to stick to the the standard stage. As well as using higher magnifications I’d also like to use reflectance microscopy to look at microfossils. I think my plan will be:

  1. a basic build with 45mm base
  2. add motors
  3. add tube optics
  4. adapt for reflectance microscopy

From what I understand I think that should work. I’d also be interested in using a higher quality camera at some point (without having to modify any IKEA furniture)

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