To get you started there are 5 prepared slides, plus 7 blanks. I was amazed how clearly
I could see the cell structures in a prepared section of onion stem(right).
Also included is an experiment for rearing brine shrimps from eggs supplied with
the kit, using a little sea salt, also supplied. The instructions warn that ‘The
brine shrimp are not suitable for eating!’
You can illuminate from above the subject or below or in combination and I found
that a desk-lamp or natural light also worked well.
Traveler USB Microscope
Aldi, August offer price, £29.95 with 10x, 60x, 200x magnification 1.3 megapixel camera For
making photos and recording video clips 2 intergrated light sources Ulead VideoStudio
7 software Website: Traveler
WHILE CUTTING back vegetation around the pond I came across some coltsfoot leaves
spotted with orange coltsfoot rust fungus Coleosporum tussilaginis, which I drew
in my Rough Patch garden sketchbook. I brought it in to take a closer look using
my new Traveler USB-Microscope, which I couldn’t resist when I saw it on offer at
Aldi’s this week.
On screen the feltlike hairs on the back of the leaves look like our feathery cavity
wall insulation. You can imagine my surprise while looking at this alien landscape
when a red plant mite trundled along the stem on the left. With a click of the mouse
I was able to capture it on video.
Gull wing feather, which I picked up at Langsett Reservoir last week.
Another feather from Langsett, probably a grouse breast feather, showing the barbules,
which zip together when the bird preens itself.
Umbellifer seeds (please let me know if you can identify which species) from the
edge of a track in Thetford Forest. Taken in natural light.
Fragment of pottery picked up in a field, probably Victorian, 10x.
Close up of the fragment at 200x. The scratches and cracks on the surface of the
glaze and the bubbles in it remind me of ice.
One of the prepared slides of Esthwaite Waterweed, Hydrilla verticillata, which is
very rare as a native in Britain but naturalised and invasive in the USA.
Leaves minutely toothed on their margins
This looks like the surface of one of the moons of Jupiter but in fact it’s bread
mould on an old crust seen at 10x.
At 200x the bread mould looks like little white daffodils, each on a slender stalk.
The rust mould at the top of the page looks like pins.
Finally a close up of a stone from my friends Rheba and Farris in Texas, that, according
to a palaeontologist, was a gastrolith; a stone swallowed by a dinosaur to aid digestion.
I think this microscope deserves a place on my desk because it’s so versatile. When
I had my first (and come to think of it only) full time job, working as a background
artist on the film Watership Down in London in the 1970s, I used most of one week’s
wages to buy a serious compound microscope from one of the technical stores on the
Tottenham Court Road but I’ve never used it regularly. Having this plugged in to
my computer means that it’s there for everyday use.
The focusing is simple but effective; you use the focus dials to move the stage up
or down. It’s not of course as smooth as my heavy metal compound microscope but,
as you can see, it works fine. Most fossils and rocks won’t fit on the stage under
the microscope so my solution - which isn’t recommended in the instruction book -
for the last picture of the gastrolith was to carefully remove the microscope unit
from its stand, lie it gently in a safe position on my desk and them move the stone