A Workhorse for 18k: DIY Microscopy with Flexiscope

The Flexiscope is DIY microscope that can be easily converted from upright to inverted configurations in “under 30 minutes”. It’s capable of oblique infrared illumination imaging, multi-channel fluorescent imaging, automated 3D scanning, and even has an electrophysiology configuration.

The paper, written by Amy Courtney, Luke Alvey , George Merces, and Mark Pickering which details the construction and capabilities of the Flexiscope can be found on biorxiv. The parts list comes to 16201 Euro (or ~18000 USD right now) and includes everything, from a very cool 3D printed xyz stage, to the camera, to the light sources. The only component whose price is not included is the Infrared LED array whose price is listed as “salvaged”. Edit: As of 3/4/2020 a polished version of the design and paper has been published in the Royal Society Open Science journal with Niamh Burke added as an author.

Supplementary material includes a nice movie of the microscope converting from one configuration to another, and the files necessary to 3D print components for the microscope (that cool DIY xyz stage again). It also includes Matlab scripts to control the microscope

It’s not the cheapest DIY microscope we’ve seen, but it is an impressive general workhorse design made largely out of off-the-shelf components. One caveat is that software is mostly handled through ThorLabs APT Software combined with Matlab scripts and the Matlab Imaging Acquisition Toolbox. You’ll need to purchase and get used to working with Matlab, which is not included in the 18000 price-tag, but the lab says they will be pushing out a revised version soon that uses python in place of Matlab.