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Dino Lite Digital Microscope
Handheld Magnifier for Professionals and Hobbyists alike!
The Dino Lite Digital Microscope is a handheld digital microscope which connects directly to your computer through a USB port.
At first glance this microscope looks more like a gadget than a useful professional instrument. However, these portable instruments are used for industrial inspections and medical applications, in addition to being used by hobbyists and schools.
The Dino Lite Digital Microscope requires software to be downloaded to the computer and set up.
The software allows the Dino-Lite to capture images, including time lapsed video, record audio associated with the image, annotate the image, and, on some models, allow for measurement and calibration of the image.
AnMo Electronics Corporation was established in 2000 in Hsinchu, Taiwan.
AnMo designs handheld digital microscopes utilizing rotating lens technology. The company has established an excellent reputation.
There are three standard series of Dino Lite microscopes. These are the AM2011, AM311 and AM411.
- AM2011 Series - The AM2011 series is considered the
entry level of the Dino Lite digital microscope, and is used primarily by home hobbyists.
This series comes with a 0.3 megapixel camera, 640x480 resolution and USB 1.1 output, upgradeable to the improved USB 2.0, and has four LED lights.
Listed at $130 USD, the AM2011 is an affordable basic digital microscope for the casual hobbyist or student.
- AM311 Series - The AM311 series of the Dino Lite Digital Microscope has the same 0.3 megapixel camera as the
AM2011 model, but it has an improved USB and additional LED lights for more illumination.
The USB on the AM311 series is 2.0 output, and there are eight LED lights instead of four.
This series is the best-selling model for the serious home hobbyist, and has additional models which include the Microtouch trigger only or the Microtouch trigger and the measuring software combined.
The AM311S retails for $185 USD. The optional Microtouch trigger is an addition $54 USD.
- AM411 Series - The AM411 series is viewed as the professional series, since it is better suited to professional applications. These applications include chip inspection, plant dissection, handwriting analysis, and biological and laboratory work.
This series includes a higher resolution camera (1.3 megapixels), USB 2.0 output, eight LED lights, and the Microtouch trigger. An optional model in this series includes all of the above, plus the measuring software.
Without the additional measuring software, this model costs $329 USD.
Measuring and Calibration
The measuring function allows you to input the magnification value from the microscopes zoom control. This allows you to measure the length, angle and circumference of the object.
For even more accuracy, the software can be calibrated using a known scale, such as a ruler laid along the specimen.
However, when used as a handheld digital microscope, measurements and calibrations are only as accurate as the hand holding the microscope. Movement of the microscope will impact the measurements.
There is a large range of specialty scopes available with a Dino Lite digital microscope.
Most of the specialty scopes are based on the AM411 models, but have additional features specific to their intended application.
The specialty series range in price from $469 to $549 USD. Additional features include:
- Enhanced working distance – this feature is usually found at fixed workstations where the user needs additional distance (up to 5.7”) between the specimen and the microscope.
- Polarization – this feature is typical when the composition of a specimen requires detailed inspection. This is used in rock and mineral identification, medical diagnosis and material inspection (plastics, LCD screens, computer monitors, etc)
- Ultraviolet – this model features four white LED lights and four UV lights, which can be turned on and off independently.
- Higher magnification – featuring 500x fixed focus magnification. This feature is has been used for closer examination of stamps and coins, and for forensic examination of hair.
- Low Power/High Power - This feature includes three variable objectives lenses. This allows you to get a low magnification of 50x and a high of 600x.
In addition to the above, there two Dino Lite microscopes designed for specific medical use. These are:
- Otology – the Earscope is used by audiologists and other medical professionals and costs $699 USD.
- Opthalmology – the Dino Lite Iris scope is used by opthalmologists and other medical professionals. This model retails for $599 USD.
While most of the Dino Lite digital microscopes are high impact plastic shells, a few of the models, such as the AM413MT5 has a metal shell.
Other accessories, such as a stand, are extra.
A great additional purchase that we, at MicroscopeMaster, recommend is the Dino-Lite Microscope stand.
Digital Blue also offers a digital microscope which attaches to a laptop, or other PC, through a USB cable.
Offered by Digiblue Corporation, the QX3 and QX5 digital microscopes are both designed for children, and have no application for the more serious home hobbyist or professional.
- QX3 - The original QX3 model comes with a stand, and is illuminated. However, when it’s removed from the stand, there is no focus except for moving the microscope closer or further away to bring the object into view.
The QX3 allows for media creation, such as video, time lapse, and the creation of slide shows. Video playback on the QX3 is rated at 5 frames per second.
A file created by the QX3 can be exported as JPEG, BMP or AVI.
The QX3 is priced from $60 - $79.95.
- QX5 - The higher end model offered by Digital Blue is the QX5.
Virtually identical to the QX3, it has the advantage of three rotating magnification lens (10x, 60x or 200x).This allows for easier focusing than the QX3 by adapting the magnification to the object, rather than moving the fixed lens closer or further away.
There are two super bright LEDs for the light source, and the video plays back at approximately 15 frames per second.
The QX5 is priced from $80 - $180.
Both models include:
- Computer microscope
- USB cable
- Sample jars with lids (2)
- Containment dishes with lids (2)
- Plastic tweezers
- Prepared slide
- Software (on CD)
- User Guide
- Slide clip
While the Digital Blue digital microscopes are significantly less costly, these are strictly children’s toys.
Purchasing the QX3 or QX5 for your child would be a good way of determining if your child has any interest in microscopic observation.
The wide range of products and features makes the Dino Lite digital microscope more than a toy, or an interesting add on to your computer.
These handheld microscopes are used as a reading aid for the visually impaired, for school or for your career.
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