You have your shiny new USB microscope in front of you and you can’t wait to start examining specimens, cells, and any mysterious objects you can get your hands on. The trouble is, you have no idea how to connect your microscope to your laptop and last time you checked, the whole point of a digital microscope is to get it connected.
If this sounds familiar, read on for a step by step guide on how to get your digital microscope connected to your computer.
To get your digital microscope connected, you first need to install the recommended software for your product and follow the on-screen instructions.
Once the software is set up, plug the device into your laptop’s USB port. The image under your microscope lens should now be visible on your laptop screen.
Before you connect your microscope to your device, make sure you have the correct software installed. Your digital microscope will come with instructions on how to do this.
In some cases, this software will have the capacity to take time-lapse videos and photographs of your microscopic examination. It may even allow you to connect your microscope to your phone through an app.
If your product doesn’t come with special software, that is not a problem. You will still be using your laptop as a monitor screen and your microscope like a webcam. This means you will need to install a standard webcam software such as VLC Media Player.
Once the software you are using is set up and ready for connection, prepare your microscope. Adjust the stand to a suitable height and if necessary, give your lens and slides a quick clean. Again, your product should come with specific instructions on how to set up your microscope and stand.
At this point, your microscope is ready to be connected to your laptop. It is entirely up to you whether you prepare your specimen before or after you have everything hooked up.
Digital microscopes connect to electronic devices using the USB port. This is usually on the right-hand side of your laptop, although it may also be at the back or on the left. Plug your microscope into your laptop using the USB port and wait a few moments for the device to be recognized by your computer system.
If you are using the software that came with your product, your microscope camera should automatically display on your laptop screen. To test this, lightly touch the lens of your microscope to the specimen you are examining.
An image should now flash up on the monitor. You will either adjust the focus using the software or on the microscope itself, depending on your product.
If you are using VLC Media Player or a similar program, you will need to execute one more step before your device is properly connected. With your software open, head to the “Media” dropdown menu on the left-hand side of the screen. One of the options will be to “Open Capture Device”.
This will open a new menu where you can locate the name of your microscope. Select this and wait for the video streaming window to open. The live image captured by your microscope should now appear on your laptop screen.
If there is a slight lag between your microscope movement and the image on the screen, this will more or less always be down to your laptop, not the microscope. When you focus your microscope using the focus wheel, be patient and make small movements while the image on your laptop screen catches up.
It really is that simple. Your digital microscope is now connected to your laptop and microscopic examination can begin.
What are the pros and cons of using a USB microscope?
Set up may take a little longer, but there are many advantages of using a USB microscope. The main benefit is that you do not have to look through the eyepiece.
If you are doing lengthy examinations, using an eyepiece can become uncomfortable and limit the angles available to view the specimen. It is more convenient to sit back and look at the computer screen while you carry out your examination.
You can also take pictures using your device to examine further later.
The downside of USB microscopes is that the clarity of your examination can only ever be as good as the quality of the device you are viewing it on. At high levels of magnification, screens with low pixelation will not reflect the clear focus of your instrument.
When capturing images, it is important to take the image resolution into account as this too will affect the clarity of your microscopic photographs.
Can you link a compound microscope to a computer?
Although challenging, it is possible to connect an ordinary compound microscope to a laptop or computer. One of the simplest ways to do this is by purchasing a microscope camera with a microscope eyepiece and over-eyepiece adapter.
The microscope camera has a USB connection that can be plugged straight into your laptop or your phone. It is then just a matter of setting up the equipment so the camera fits properly on top of the eyepiece.
It is also possible to transform your microscope into a camera without having to buy much in the way of new equipment. For a makeshift alternative, you can transform your microscope by removing the lenses from your webcam and fixing its sensor on the microscope.
Although this is a handy budget alternative, it can be a tricky process and so we do not recommend doing this without expert instructions or guidance.