How To Create A Digital Microscope For Under $10

I’ve always been a little frustrated with macro photography. Rather than spend a lot of money on macro lenses, I’ve often tested the minimum focus range of cameras to see how close I could get to a subject. A few weeks ago, I heard about a simple way to create a digital microscope from a cheap webcam, so I gave it a shot and the results were surprising. Here’s the camera I started with.


This is not a great webcam. I bought it for around $10 and have since determined that I don’t much like or need it, so it was sitting in a box with my other orphaned gadgets. You can get one on ebay for $7 now. With this camera, I had to unscrew the lens from the housing and then actually clip off the focus ring edge with wire snips. It screws on, but then I think they glued it. Yeah. $7. Anyway, it’s a decent camera for the job and is otherwise easy to take apart.

How To Create A Digital Microscope

This is really much easier than it sounds. While the instructions below are specific to this webcam, you can apply the theory to many other webcams: Open it up, flip the lens around to be backwards, close it up.

1. Take apart the webcam. (5 screws)
2. Remove the camera board from the housing. (2 screws)
3. Remove the lens housing from the board. (Be careful not to touch the tiny CMOS sensor) (2 screws)
4. Unscrew the lens from the mount.
5. Using wire snips, very carefully remove the black focus ring edge if it won’t unscrew on its own.
6. Screw the lens back into the mount backwards.
7. Re-assemble everything.

Sample Photos And Uses

Personally, I wanted to do this mostly to film small insects like ants and tiny spiders. Using a webcam adds the benefit of having both photo and video capabilities. If you have kids, this is a great way to provide them with a digital microscope and get them more excited about science. Below are some examples I came up with in the hour since I’ve completed the conversion.

A human hair

The head of a pin

Pixels on my monitor

The head of a small screw

Enjoy and post your success stories and links to photos below.

How To Replace A HTC EVO 3D Digitizer

When electronics break or malfunction there are two things you can do if you don’t want to pay for repairs. You can sell it cheap or you can fix it yourself. I like to fix it myself if I think I can, so when I saw an HTC EVO 3D at a garage sale for $10, I had to ask what was wrong with it. The seller told me “the screen acts like you’re touching it sometimes and gets all crazy”, so I bought it with the hope that I could fix it. Sure enough, another $14 and an hour of my time was all it took. Below are the instructions on how to do this yourself. Read them all the way through before starting, click any photo to super size it, and comment below with any questions. Now let’s get started.

1. Buy a new digitizer. Check ebay and you should be able to find one for under $15. The one I bought from etechnotics came with a T5 screwdriver a Phillips screwdriver, and two spudger pry tools.
2. Remove back cover. This is pretty simple to do and likely you’ve done it before.
3. With the cover off, remove battery and MicroSD card.
4. Remove the six screws shown. There are two Phillips screws half way up the phone on the edges, and there are four T5 screws on the corners.
5. Remove the small plastic piece at the top of the phone with a spudger.
6. Remove the back inner housing with a spudger carefully. Be sure not to break anything.
7. With tweezers, remove the three pieces of yellow tape from the connectors.
8. Now disconnect the four flex cables shown. Be careful not to damage them!
9. Remove two silver Phillips screws pointed to in the photo. This will loosen up the board.
10. Flip the piece shown up as you can see in the photo and carefully pull back the board from the top end, being careful about the remaining flex cables that are still connected.
11. Pull back the silver cover tape just enough to reveal these two flex cables and then disconnect them.
12. While you’re at it, unplug the antenna cable.
13. Now for the hard part. Pry the glass away from the screen as shown with a spudger. You can try to loosen the glue with a heat gun or hair dryer, but be very careful about the amount of heat you use as it can damage the components.
14. Pry the screen out of the case in the same way, being mindful of the flex cables. Be very careful here. I nearly damaged the screen being impatient. When complete, you should have three pieces as shown.
15. Clean up any leftover glue between the screen and the digitizer and replace with thin strips of double-sided tape.
16. Peel the backing off of your new digitizer and carefully line it up with the screen, pressing it firmly in place when lined up.
17. Finally, just reverse the steps to put it back together (don’t forget to reconnect ALL the cables).

How To Set Up A Home Entertainment System

Home entertainment systems are more than just your average TV and Blu Ray player plugged in and set on default. They involve multiple components and aim to provide the ultimate media experience in your living room, whether you are looking to bring the magic of the cinema to your own home or to get right next to the action at the next big sports match without forking out for a ticket. As such setting up a home entertainment system can be tricky, but this brief guide should give you enough information to help you get started.

Home Entertainment Center
Photo: Blake Patterson (CC)

First you will need to appreciate the kind of space you are working with and base your choice of entertainment technology on these immutable parameters. If you are starting from scratch and buying an HDTV along with an audio system, media player and DVD/Blu Ray device then you can be much more exacting in your choices. For example, it makes no sense to slap a 50 inch TV set in a room where you will be sitting just five feet away from the screen because all that display real estate will overwhelm the space and have a negative impact on your viewing experience.

It is also advisable to pick a consistent selection of components which are ideally made by the same manufacturer. So if you have a Sony TV it will work at the top of its game when paired with a Sony Blu Ray player and Sony brand surround sound with a compatible amplifier. Of course this kind of perfectionism is not essential because most devices should be cross-compatible on a basic level, but since most home entertainment devices from individual manufacturers are designed to interface with one another and provide inter-device control from a single remote, you may want to make the investment upfront to ensure smooth operation at a later date.

Positioning your TV so that it can be viewed comfortably is relatively simple, but setting up surround sound speakers can be a little more taxing. The satellite speakers at the rear may typically operate using long wires running from the amplifier by your TV, although some models have wireless rear speakers to reduce clutter, but be prepared to pay more for this convenience. Pay close attention to the manufacturer`s instructions when it comes to angling your surround sound speakers to ensure that the full effect of the advanced audio is experienced by the viewer.

If you want a truly flexible home entertainment system setup then you might consider buying a flat TV wall mount so that your television can twist, rotate and hang remote from the rest of the gadgets. Wall mounts can offer varying degrees of articulation, with the more complex setups typically costing extra but letting you swivel and pan the screen precisely. This may be of particular interest to anyone who has a 3D TV that requires the viewer to be seated within a particular viewing angle to enjoy the latest effects without any blurring or image disruption.

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