Tankbot controlled Microscope

Written by: admin@makezilla

Picture of Tankbot controlled MicroscopeIMG_0295.jpg

Have you ever used a microscope?
I often used one for my research when I was a graduate university student, and sometimes it was awkward to use.

So I and my friends tried to make a more user friendly microscope.

The microscope I will introduce here is actuated by "Tankbot" a  toy tank controlled by a device like iPhone, iPad, Android.

Photograph1 is an overview of this device. The contents are included below.

1. Tankbot and holder
2. Flexible joint 
3. USB camera
4. Microscope and XY stage
5. LED light
6. Base panel

The Tankbot is fixed in the holder (1) and the rotaion of tires is transmitted to the XY stage(4) by flexible joints (2).
So the movement of the Tankbot changed to movement of a slide glass on stage and you can watch it from your PC via a USB camera (3).
An LED light (5) is used for a light source of the microscope and the Base panel (6) is the foundation of this device.

Photograph2 is the Tankbot's face.
If you want to know more about it, see the page below.

The movie below shows the overview of this device.


In the next step, I will describe how to make the Tankbot holder.

Step 1: Make a Tankbot holder

Picture of Make a Tankbot holderStep1_1.jpgStep1_2.jpgStep1_3.jpg

I made a holder out of Lego blocks.
To fix the position of the Tankbot, make a space to fit the size of it.

Both sides of the holder have reduction gears that enable slower movements.
(When you see the microscope, the movement of the stage should be precise.)

Each Gear has below functions.
1. Touch Tankbot's caterpillar and transit the movement to axis rotation.
2. A small gear, the axis of it is same as gear1, transmit the rotation to gear3.
3. A larger gear, transmit the rotation to flexible joint. 
(axis of gear 3 is connected to flexible joint and when gear3 rotates, flexible joint rotates and transmit rotation to XY stage.)

The gear ratio of gear 2 and 3 is 1:8. But it's not essential.

Step 2: Setup XY stage

Picture of Setup XY stageStep2-1.jpgStep2-2.jpg

XY stage enable us to control the position of specimen remotely. 
(in this project, I didn't make Z axis. So the focus adjustment is manually-operated).

It was most difficult part in this project.

XY stage is mainly made by 3 acrylate plates.
Bottom plate is base of them and Y axis is made on it.
Middle plate is move Y direction when the flexible joint rotate, and X axis is made on it.
Top panel is move both X, Y direction and specimen holder is made on it.

Screws are connected to flexible joints and those rotation makes X, Y axis movements.
I selected 1mm pitch M3 screws. Small pitch screws are fit for this device.

Step 3: Observe specimens

Picture of Observe specimens

Tankbot holder, flexible joint, XY stage enable you to control specimen position from devices.

The microscope and USB camera can be selected freely.
So I bought ones as cheap as possible.
(The LED camera was 2100 yen and the microscope was 2660 yen.)

I used film case to adjust the position of LED camera.
The focus of microscope is manually adjusted.

That's all. Now we can control a microscope remotely from our devices.

This movie shows how to Tankbot movement transfered to XY stage movement.


And this movie shows the image acquired from LED camera.
(The specimen is a wing of insect. The image is not clear because we used very cheap microscope..)

Controller application of Tankbot can be downloaded from Desk Pets Site.

Thanks for reading :)