5 Essential Tips on Extending the Lifespan of Your Microscope
If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember your parents telling you not to sit too close to the TV screen or “you’ll ruin your eyes.” If you’re of a decidedly younger age, you probably remember your parents telling you to take a break from the iPhone or tablet already or “you’ll ruin your eyes.”
Whatever screens with which we’ll be ruining our eyes in decades and generations to come, the fact remains that good vision requires care and vigilance – and that goes for your microscope as well.
Microscopes can cost hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars. You don’t want all that money to have been in vain, so you need to make sure that you take proper care of your microscope and don’t ruin its “vision.” With that in mind, let’s take a look at five key tips for taking care of and extending the life of your microscope’s parts and functions.
Take Care of Your Microscope Bulb
This is one of the most common mistakes people make with their microscope, and one of the easiest ways to rack up early bills for repairs and replacement parts. You do not need to run the light for slides constantly, nor should you do so.
Just as bad, however, is repeatedly turning the lightbulb on and off, which can wear it out very quickly. You should, thus, get a sense of what you need to look at under the microscope, how, and how long it should take before turning on the light. All of this can help you improve the lifespan of your microscope’s lightbulb.
Other common microscope lightbulb caretaking tips include:
- When in doubt, leaving the microscope’s lightbulb on is better than repeatedly turning it on and off. This can prevent power surges, which in turn can crack the filaments inside. That said, you obviously shouldn’t abuse this and leave the lightbulb running forever, either. If you don’t need your lightbulb for at least the next half an hour, it’s best to switch it off.
- Know how long your lightbulb should last. A common lifespan is 100 to 200 hours.
- Using the lower, Rheostat setting can help lower the voltage, thus, conserving the bulb.
- Don’t touch the bulb too much, or if you can afford it, as this can smudge and break it.
- Make sure your microscope’s wires and sockets are in good condition before turning the bulb on.
Have Your Microscope Regularly Serviced
We all need to see the doctor now and again, and your microscope needs checkups, too. Different models will vary, but every two years or 180 hours (whichever comes first, depending on the degree of usage) is a good rule of thumb, especially for high power compound models.
You can cut down on the need for assistance by taking care of the unit yourself. Regularly and carefully wiping the lens and making sure you follow other caretaking steps on this list is a good start.
When wiping the lens yourself, be sure that you are using lint-free wipes. Wipe it after every session. Don’t wipe it while it’s hot.
Lastly, for the servicing, be sure to take your microscope to a certified technician.
Treat the Optical Parts with Great Care
In addition to all that careful lens wiping, you’ll want to make sure you treat the optical parts of your microscope with great overall care. For example, you should always try to make sure that your lens remains dust-free, as this can cause minute scratches which can become magnified by the microscope.
When removing lenses or eyepieces, store them with the utmost care. Once again, they must be kept dust-free and should be cleaned before they are stored.
Store it Properly
The last thing you want is to simply leave your microscope sitting out there where the elements can get to it. Even if you have “just” left it indoors, this can lead to dust building up, which we have already established is a bad idea.
Make sure that microscopes are stored in a cool, climate-controlled area that is neither too hot nor too cold. A protective coating – leather or similar – can also be helpful for ensuring that the microscope remains protective.
This can be a good way to clean your microscope’s internal machinery. You only need a little oil – you don’t want to drown your lens in it. Failure to do this can result in the microscope sticking in place. Wipe away the oil after every time you use it. In addition to immersion oil, cleaning alcohol may also be used. Your soft lens cleaner is a good choice for removing excess oil or cleaning alcohol.
By taking these and other steps to properly take care of your microscope, you can preserve and use it to probe the microbial world for years to come.
- Posted by Lori Wade