The Wooden Monster - Horizontal/Vertical Macro Rig

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TheLostVertex
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The Wooden Monster - Horizontal/Vertical Macro Rig

Post by TheLostVertex »

So after a longer time than I had hoped, due to more than a month long of rain, I finally have most of my new macro rig done. All the wooden bits have been built by my brother. Assorted brackets and metal bits were done by me.

The main part of the rig is made out of bloodwood. The base is made out of baltic plywood. The base is supported by height adjustable sorbothane feet. The bloodwood is quite dense and strong. A big plus for building stuff. It is also quite pretty I think.

The electronics are housed in a project box which then relays everything through a DB9 cable (the power cable to the project box is not shown). There it gets split off to the motor and the shutter cable. This helps make breaking down the rig a bit easier. The motor and shutter cables can be swapped out from the small box connected to the rig with header pins (Ill have more on this in a later post).

Image

By now I am sure your eyes have wandered and wondered, 'whats with that second rail on the back' or 'is that a hinge?'.

Image

Yep, its a hinge*. Threaded inserts in the side of the bloodwood allow for linkages to be placed and tightened down with thumb screws. This lets me lock the rig at a fixed angle and helps make it more ridged, while still letting me adjust it quickly. It only takes about 2 minutes for me to go from the first image, to the second image.

I am using double sided arca swiss clamps and fat arca rails. The top rail also sits in a slot, so its position can be moved closer or further away from the rail on the focus block. This gives me the ability to have a pretty reasonable range of motion that I can have between the components I put on each rail.

The stage just clamps into the arca rail with a bracket I made. It does not appear to be sitting level, because...its not. I haven't adjusted it for levelness or centerness yet. I can center the bracket by adjusting the connection point on the underside. and levelness by the connection to the arca swiss plate.

Image

Another view of the cheaply purchased weitz stage.

Image

The motor mount is attached to a wooden slate which has a slot cut in it. Two screws secure the wooden piece down. Tension of the belt can be adjust be sliding the wooden piece and then securing the screws. The whole wooden piece and also be removed and replaced with another one which has a different motor bracket and motor on it. Fast change motors :)

As pictured, the belt is a bit loose. I plan on tightening it just a little bit more. It functions fine, if you are ok with 4 turns worth of backlash on it...

Not shown:
- Additional motor and mounting plate.
- Blatantly stolen focusing laser from the bratcam .
- Power cable. Its boring though, you can see the connection for it.

Still to do:
- Subject positioner for horizontal position.
- New lighting for horizontal position.
- Illuminator for the stage. I currently have a mirror and aperture for it. I still need to figure out the lenses I will use to focus the light. Then I can make the housing for it. I am open to all suggestions here, as I have little experience with microscope lighting.

Some potential issues:
- Making sure both rails are pretty well aligned with each other may be some what important. However, this rig is for focus stacking, so there is a point of "good enough".
- The linkages appear to work pretty well for making it more ridged. However I haven't used it above 20x at all. When the motor is moving, I can see no vibration from the motor in live view.
- Camera safety is critical when moving things to be vertical. Triple checking that I am turning the right knob, and making sure everything is tightened down is worth while. Accidentally loosening a clamp to the point that something falls would not be fun.

Finally, what controls the motor, and whats inside the project box? Well, that will be for tomorrow I guess. Its getting pretty late :) EDIT: Its FocusStepper!

Let me know what I missed, and if you have any questions.

*The hinge is actually spring loaded. So the rig doesn't slam down very hard if it falls flat.
Last edited by TheLostVertex on Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Pau
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Post by Pau »

Lovely rig!, I lilke very much the wooden work.

A possible weak point is the stage connection: it seems vibration prone. A sollid metal block could be better

I'm very interested on the parts used to connect the motor to the microscope focus knob, and of course on your next post about automation.

About the light source for transmitted light, you want one with almost parallel rays to fill the condenser entrance aperture. The most adequate (and often easy to buy used) could be a microscope base with the full illuminator train and field diaphragm, at least for high magnification work. For up to 10X things hare much less critical.
Is the condenser focusable and centerable?
...weitz stage
Could it be Leitz?
Pau

g4lab
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Post by g4lab »

I don't think I would use the word "monster" (well ok affectionately :D )
Very attractive work.

soldevilla
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Post by soldevilla »

Very nice wood work!

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

Steven, you need to change your username - "TheAdjustableVertex" :)

There's a lot to like in your work (and your brother's), it's very appealing. I particularly like the way you could lock the rail at some intermediate angle to aim at something out on the table.

I also noticed the stage connection. How about an Arca clamp on an angled plane, so the stage slides up and out to get the horizontal distance to center the condenser? A couple of triangular pieces of that bloodwood?

AdmiralBumbleBee
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Post by AdmiralBumbleBee »

soldevilla wrote:Very nice wood work!
Thanks :D

TheLostVertex
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Post by TheLostVertex »

Pau wrote:Lovely rig!, I lilke very much the wooden work.

A possible weak point is the stage connection: it seems vibration prone. A sollid metal block could be better
Thank you! Yes, thinking about it now a piece of metal like that might be prone to resonance and vibration. For the time being I will try to make sure the bracket is dampened until I have time to revisit the solution.
Pau wrote: About the light source for transmitted light, you want one with almost parallel rays to fill the condenser entrance aperture. The most adequate (and often easy to buy used) could be a microscope base with the full illuminator train and field diaphragm, at least for high magnification work. For up to 10X things hare much less critical.
Is the condenser focusable and centerable?
Well, I ripped the mirror and iris that I have out of the base of the microscope that I harvested the focus block from. Unfortunately, there were no optical components other than the mirror there. Seems like somebody beat me to the punch!

The condenser looks adjustable for focus, but not centerable. I can adjust the position the whole stage is in, and hence the condenser with the bracket though.
Pau wrote:
...weitz stage
Could it be Leitz?
Sorry, I was typing while partially asleep. It is actually a Will Wetzlar according to the ebay listing I got it from.

TheLostVertex
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Post by TheLostVertex »

Thanks everybody!
AdmiralBumbleBee wrote: Thanks :D
Just so people know, that is my brother. He should be able to answer anything about the woodworking if I missed something.
ChrisR wrote:Steven, you need to change your username - "TheAdjustableVertex" :)

There's a lot to like in your work (and your brother's), it's very appealing. I particularly like the way you could lock the rail at some intermediate angle to aim at something out on the table.
Thank you. Yes, it was made so it can be locked at various angles. Due to the spring loaded hinge, the rig will actually sit close to 45-50degrees without any support. So it isn't too hard to set up those angles. Obviously swapping positions should be done with the camera and whatever is attached removed first.

I also forgot to mention two things. One, the linkages are made out of sapelé. Two, there are to be set up blocks. If you look at the space between the two pieces of wood attached to the hinge in the vertical position, a presized block goes there so that you just turn the rig till it sits flat on the block. Fast and no messing with stuff to get the right angle.
ChrisR wrote:I also noticed the stage connection. How about an Arca clamp on an angled plane, so the stage slides up and out to get the horizontal distance to center the condenser? A couple of triangular pieces of that bloodwood?
Can you clarify this a bit more? I do not think I understand.

Do you mean something like |\ where the \ is an arca swiss rail that the stage can slide on to adjust its horizontal position? I think I am misunderstanding.

Currently the stage is supported by an L bracket. On the end of this bracket, there is a slot cut in it, through that slot it is bolted onto a connection point onto the stage. I can adjust the position of the stage by loosening the bolt and sliding it around. A little bit fiddly maybe, but hopefully it works for the time being.

Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

Beautiful work.

It takes me back to my view camera days. While I primarily used all metal field type cameras, I did greatly admire the gorgeously made wooden models that also incorporated precision metal parts where needed. So aesthetically (and functionally) it's a "home-run".

And it incorporates a feature I find very valuable. I have a client whose components often need to be positioned on a perfectly horizontal stage. They also need to be photographed at angles between 35 and 45 degrees. Many vertical and horizontal set-ups haven't been built to accommodate such a situation since in most cases it's no big deal to change the subject stage orientation.

bobfriedman
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Post by bobfriedman »

really nice design and impressive craftsmanship!

NikonUser
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Post by NikonUser »

You wrote "Let me know what I missed...., "
Not sure if your microscope stage can rotate, if not the stage from an Olympus BH2/BHS can rotate right or left by about 120 degrees; very handy for orientation of a specimen on a slide or not even on a slide.
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Nikon camera, lenses and objectives
Olympus microscope and objectives

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

Do you mean something like |\
Exactly, something like this, whichever way round/up:Image

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