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Advanced Condenser Systems: Abbe Condensers


The images below compare performance of the Intel Play QX3 Computer Microscope with and without the aid of an organized cone of illumination from a substage condenser containing an aperture diaphragm. The digital images are unretouched and were captured with the QX3 interactive software.

The Coprinus genus of mushrooms consists of about 100 species from around the world. They are called Inky Cap mushrooms because after they discharge their spores, the cap disintegrates into an inky liquid that has been used for writing. Two species (Coprinus atramentarius and C. comatus) are edible, but only while the mushrooms are young. C. atramentarius can cause poisoning (headache, nausea and vomiting, flushing, and cardiovascular disturbances) if consumed within 72 hours of drinking alcoholic beverages. The mushroom produces an amino acid (coprine) which breaks down to form a chemical that prevents the body from metabolizing alcohol.

Coprinus Whole Mount
QX3 with mixing chamber (stock - 200x magnification)

QX3 with simple two-lens Abbe condenser
(200x magnification)

Semi-transparent and lightly stained specimens are often very difficult to image using unaided brightfield optical microscopy. The images presented here were recorded using the Intel Play QX3 microscope in transmitted brightfield mode. On the top is a digital image from a stock QX3 microscope using either auxiliary illumination provided by a fiber optic light pipe through a hole drilled into the mixing chamber, or standard illumination from the microscope's tungsten lamp and mixing chamber. The image on the bottom was recorded using the QX3 microscope body coupled to a simple two-lens Abbe low numerical aperture substage condenser. Illumination was provided by a 30 watt tungsten bulb housed in an illuminator with a heat sink, a frosted diffusion screen, and a daylight color-compensating filter.


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