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BioCurious Message Board › Call for microscopy stuff for Maker Faire

Call for microscopy stuff for Maker Faire

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A former member
Post #: 137
Greetings, fellow curious ones!

We have less than a week until Maker Faire, and I could use your help. I am still working on the microscopy demonstration, and I want to thank Jennifer and Yamanoor for helping me get this far. (My friends Brenda and Jay, who aren't in BioCurious, helped too.)

Can anyone recommend free PC software for displaying live images full-screen at Maker Faire? We have software for the Celestron, but the webcam-based DIY scopes assume you're using them for video chats, and I don't have appropriate software. Yamanoor generously lent us a Dell laptop, so at least I'm not stuck trying to get the USB video talking to my Mac any more.

Does anyone have fluorescent samples (stained slides or plates of C. elegans with mCherry or GFP) I can use for testing and/or the booth?
One of my hitches in development has been that I can't test to see if my LEDs work on fluorescent samples without test samples. So far, I only have a sample that needs UV excitation... and I haven't figured out yet how to do that without risking my eyes. The sooner I can get samples, the better. Texas Red, mCherry red fluorescent protein, or equivalent staining would be ideal. I can pick up your samples and buy you coffee.

Does anyone have a student-grade (or better) microscope they'd be willing to lend us for the booth?
(I mean student in a classroom, not the $19.99 toy at Fry's.) Yamanoor kindly lent us a Celestron USB pocket microscope, but my tests show it is basically just a digital camera with a macro lens. I doubt it will be useful for looking at Jennifer's demonstrations using stained cheek cells. I won't be able to use it for fluorescence imaging because the built-in LEDs are always on. At least its optics are better than the $10 pocket microscopes, but it is difficult to focus well. I have two $10 pocket microscopes with different magnification ranges, but the optics have severe color fringing. (However, if I can get my fluorescence illumination to work, the limited spectrum might fix that.) I will need a few days for things like trying to hook up a webcam, so I would need this ASAP too.

Does anyone have other stuff that would look good under the microscope at Maker Faire? I'm hoping to get some more stuff that would be interesting at the magnifications we have.

Thank you for helping make our Maker Faire booth a success!

A former member
Post #: 138

Brenda found full screen webcam software for me.

We tested her Logitech webcam, which seems to have good macro capability and excellent optics. I'd say it's better than the USB microscope, which says Celestron's marketing exceeds its engineering.

I am going to test highlighters as DIY fluorescent stains. Also, my Lumbriculus worms have autofluorescent setae I can try to visualize.

user 7440595
Alameda, CA
Post #: 3
Hi Kathryn,

It's so great you're pulling this together for MakerFaire! Don't forget we'll also have some bugs from our Winogradsky columns to look at. The filamentous cyanobacteria from the top of the columns should show up as fibers under moderate amplification. And if someone brings one of the Winogradsky columns in a plastic bottle, we should be able to sample from the lower layers as well, simply by sticking a syringe through the bottle.

Besides highlighters, you can also extract fluorescent curcumin from turmeric powder with some alcohol. Or you could buy some fresh turmeric root, and look at a very thin slice under the microscope. For the Burners in our midsts - fluorescent body paints or powders should work as well, of course.
A former member
Post #: 140

You have some great ideas!

Jennifer is going to try to get some slides to use with our borrowed compound scope. She's making an inverted webcamscope.

My dissection webcamscope could probably be rotated to look at the side of a column, since the camera is on a ball joint.

I have plenty of turmeric and some rubbing alcohol. Would you happen to know if it's useful for differential staining? That's what I was hoping for the highlighters but have not had an opportunity to test. (Brenda and I built a very cute little UV illuminator by retrofitting UV LEDs on a booklamp. It works great on highlighter!) Sections of turmeric root sound great, and I can stop by an Indian grocery store.

Jennifer's planning to use iodine for DIY home dye (staining starch in vegetables) so I bet I could find some nifty vegetables to section for that.

user 8999572
El Sobrante, CA
Post #: 1
I'm checking at work, but I may be able to get an inverted microscope. It will allow you to look at petri dishes and flasks with cells in culture. I can also get some cell samples.

Is your fluorescent scope compound (use slides)? I have GFP cells that I may be able to fix on slides but I've never tried before.

Let me know, I have a lot of resources in the lab.

A former member
Post #: 141
Thanks, Sal!

We have an upright compound scope with fluorescence, a low power dissecting scope, and a webcamscope or two.

I have UV illumination that works on GFP bacteria.

I may have filters and illumination for a few fluorophores for the dissection scope, but it's finicky.

A former member
Post #: 142
P.S. The compound scope has filters for GFP and DAPI, separately.
user 7440595
Alameda, CA
Post #: 4
I have plenty of turmeric and some rubbing alcohol. Would you happen to know if it's useful for differential staining?

No idea if it would work well for differential staining. I know turmeric stains can be really hard to get out of clothing, or even your fingers, so I'd say there's some hope there.

Actually, I wonder if we can adopt some textile dyes for DIYbio. I know wools and silks tend to require very different types of dyes than cotton, so at least there should be some differential staining between proteins and cellulose. I bet we could borrow some dyes (and maybe some expertise) from the Craft hall, and do some experiments at the Faire.
A former member
Post #: 143
I have a lot of procion dyes, which I've heard are useful. Maybe we should have a Meetup to test microscopy dyes!
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