In this project, I will undertake the design of the Ultimate Microscope Illuminator based on the Cree XHP50.2 LED.
After purchasing a binocular microscope to aid SMD soldering and improve YouTube footage, it became apparent the standard LED illuminators are fairly low-end devices, built down to a cost. Sadly, even the expensive ring lights seem to leave a lot to be desired in terms of brightness or usability.
The gooseneck style illuminators offer many improvements and so this became the main light source for my microscope.
Link to Eakins Light: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_9iWXx5
They address a fundamental issue of reflections directly into the microscope lens which is an inherent problem with a standard ring light design. The gooseneck allows the light sources to be placed 30-45° to the work piece which improves the image quality dramatically. However I do not have a fixed place on the bench for the microscope, so when I swing the microscope out of the way, the gooseneck and gooseneck units are still in the way.
I set about a (much longer than expected) journey to design a high power LED illuminator for my microscope based around 4x Cree XHP50.2 LEDs:
JLCPCB kindly supplied the PCBs for this project and after some teething issues, I had a prototype the “worked”:
I used the illuminator for quite a period of time in this form, but the chassis had some issues. A lot of material had to be removed from the 3D printed part and there were some heat dissipation issues with the LEDs as a result of the lack of airflow to the heatsinks.
Around this time I also experimented with some other LEDs as the XHP50.2 LEDs are capable of significantly higher power than I am using here. The Luxeon Z ES white LEDs are a good alternative and more appropriate to the power levels, however I found the combination of the XHP50.2 with the 60 degree lens from LEDiL to work the best for me. The colour is extremely natural and there light is very diffused over the work area. As a result of this project, I may explore making some compact high power studio lights using these LEDs.
I am releasing the production files for this microscope for anyone to build themselves. At this stage I don’t plan to sell any assembled units.
PCBs can be assembled at http://jlcpcb.com using the production files
The LED Lenses can be found here: https://www.ledil.com/product-landing/single-lenses/veronica/
stl Files for 3D printing:
To print the chassis, I used a combination of the Geeetech A20M and the Creality Ender 3 V2:
Geeetech A20M: https://bit.ly/2YooVll
Creality Ender 3 V2: https://bit.ly/36lN8Ny