Giant Ants at Work – More Mobile Microscope

This time I didn’t do any damage to the mobile phone microscope as I did for the animated burning candle. I shot these on my walk from the car to campus, which I did basically with my head down looking for ants. So of course you start to notice things you don’t normally including these really beautiful yellow wild flowers.

I finally found my ants on campus near the steps to the entrance of the main building. They were working on their hill placing one grain of sand at a time, which in this GIF makes it look like they’re moving boulders.

Here’s the video as well with an extended look at the ant construction, but look for the critter on the white flower. I didn’t even notice it while shooting (it was bright and a hot 95° in Queens), the things you can discover with a portable microscope.

My Pants, Flowers, and Bit of Burn Out

So the parts to build the 350x microscope haven’t shown up yet, but the extremely inexpensive ($3) magnifying loop showed up. I like many a maker following the best instructions, ran into trouble. But that’s what makes the ‘thingy’ yours, not perfect but wholly mine.

I did achieve my first microscopic animated GIF of a candle flame. But I almost melted the microscope in the process.

Cellphone Microscopes, Please Break and Rebuild

Through a tweet I was pointed to this post about a middle school California standardized test which had a reading comprehension question on the proper use of a microscope.

The question that followed was this:

The microscope lens should initially be placed close to the glass slide:

A. Because focus is achieved by moving closer to the specimen.
B. Because the specimen on the slide will be in perfect focus.
C. To avoid breaking the glass slide when adjusting the focus.
D. To maintain distance from the microscopic stage.

The writer pointed out the insanity of students proving their knowledge of a microscope through their ability to follow a diagram’s instructions, which I completely agreed with and was equally disappointed by.

Have you ever looked through a microscope? Created a wet mount slide of pond water (I did in sixth grade) and utterly marveled at the world that exists inside that tiny space?

Inspired by the article, I started to search for what I new likely existed – hacks to build your own microscope with a mobile phone. I found this $5 one which is a 35x microscope that a maker attached to his iPhone case, creating a snap-on, snap-off microscope for his iPhone’s camera.

I ordered this little part from Amazon, but it’s not going to come in time for the class, so I’m going to make something a little harder, a 350x microscope attachment for the mobile phone. I looks to be a bit harder to make (and more expensive) but I’m hoping to use it for making not just 350x pictures, but videos as well. There’s another group making a similar scope that uses wet mount slides. The video will be really fun I hoping to make more animated GIFs, one of my ongoing passions.