Microscope case

project: , published: by Maarten Tromp.

When I bought a microscope, it didn't come with a case.

SMD soldering is a really fiddly job. The smaller the objects, the bigger the challenge. To assist me in this I bought a microscope. It's an old, used, Carl Zeiss stereo microscope, fitted with a modern led ring light around the lens. The thing weights a ton, but that makes it very robust and stable. Soldering SMD under the microscope is so much easier than without it. Small IC leads are suddenly the size of DIL or even bigger. It's also much clearer to see if something is shorted out or not. The only problem now is, where do I store my new microscope when I'm not using it?

The microscope didn't come with a case. I tried for a while to store the microscope safely without a case and decided that I really did want a case for it. This looks like another woodworking project. Your typical wooden microscope case is nothing more than a simple box with a door on one side and a handle on top. And this is exactly what I made. The microscope is rather heavy so I made the case a bit more sturdy than I'd otherwise do. To prevent the microscope from moving around, I routed the exact shape of the stand in the bottom of the case. The door is mounted on a long piano hinge that I happened to have around. Everything is both glued and screwed.

I preferred to have a locking mechanism on the door with no parts sticking out and without a key. Parts sticking out will either scratch something else or snap off. Keys will be lost and that would lock the microscope out of my reach. This combination proved quite difficult to find. I tried every hardware store in the neighbourhood without success. Eventually, at a camping store, I found a replacement cabinet lock for use in caravans. When closed the handle sits flush with the door. When you press the handle the door unlocks and the handle pops out. This is exactly what I was looking for and will remember it for future builds.

With the case finished I can now safely store the microscope under my desk. Another problem solved!