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Modular optical components

by seedwire, published

Modular optical components by seedwire Nov 2, 2012
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A build plate of various optical components:
(1) an XY-stage
(2) a linear rail for translation
(3) some caps/holders
(4) mounts for rails, stages, etc.
(5) base mounting plates

The ultimate goal for these components is to enable a printable compound microscope.


Most parts have 4-40 cap bolt holes, which self-thread, for either positioning (for the XY-stage) or as set screws (for the rail and mounts)

The linear rail can be stacked end-on with two other rails by joining them (with some 4-40 bolts) on a common base plate. The base plate does have trouble printing at low infill.

The XY-stage uses four thin, S-springs at the corners which will bind up at the extremes of the translation... you can get about +/-5mm with the current design, but some diagonal positions require "convincing".

The cuvette and cap included in this build plate are from http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:33638

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I tried this on my replicator 2 and it was a mess. Are the units metric or standard?
Mine looks smaller than yours. Did you use any custom print settings?

Should be millimeters... the XY stage is 53.5mm on a side and fits (with 1.5mm tolerance) a 25.4mm optic.

There are some pins on the plate (by the rail) which print miserably (apologies for not deleting them) ... and the cuvette cap (with writing on it) fails frequently.

Vz. Skeinforge settings, nothing special I think... I'm using a Rep1 dual, Sailfish v7, minimalist Mk8 extruder modification (uses a bearing and spring instead of the Delrin plunger), 120mm/s feed, 220 mm/s travel, extruder at 190C (PLA) on a 50C bed w/ painters tape. Leveled with three knobs (I removed one of the corner knob+spring assemblies to avoid the "4-points on a plane problem")

I have noticed that before I modified to use the minimal Mk8 I'd get a lot of drop out on the plate.

Do you have any photos of this put together? I realize you have a couple of different components but I'm not sure I know which is which.

I've just posted some. It's certainly an unfinished project.

I'm holding out for a simple lens solution and all my attempts at sandwiching plastic wrap with a compressible volume of water fail- well, leak actually...

So, an acrylic lens from a disposable camera, or if you can machine one as in http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:37147http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...... that works with a minor mount.

You may also like the optics from http://www.thingiverse.com/ordaoshttp://www.thingiverse.com/ord..., http://www.thingiverse.com/jpearcehttp://www.thingiverse.com/jpe..., and others.

Hand-made camera lens

Very cool. This should make a fun project. I'll have to look around for lenses.

I've uploaded a few pictures of the build. These are just the parts, and I'm holding out for a simple solution for the lens. If you have a disposable camera, the acrylic lens in there could be mounted... or if you have a way to machine an acrylic lens as in http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:37147http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Also, if you like this you might also like some of the optics from http://www.thingiverse.com/ordaoshttp://www.thingiverse.com/ord... , http://www.thingiverse.com/jpearcehttp://www.thingiverse.com/jpe... , and others.

Hand-made camera lens

Very cool. My daughter is into microscopes, and will get a kick out of this.

What other pieces are needed to complete this? Do you have an 'assembled' version of the geometry to use as a guide?

These are the basic mechanical components but there are many more optical components required. For example, a simple objective (with an aspheric lens) will go pretty far, but I'm holding out for printable lens molds for 'sugar glass' or maybe some other readily available household material. Eyepiece shrouds and a geared stage (to make fine motion, oh, and focus possible), yes, yes, these make it much more practical to use.

For me, the XY-stage with spring linkages was fun since these same basic kinds of stages (in machined, anodized aluminum) cost a surprising amount of money and are only marginally superior.