Although there are many different types of compound microscopes, the steps for using them are pretty much the same.
1. If you haven’t used a microscope so far, you have to get to know the microscope and its parts, so you can follow next steps. Also, you have to take great care of your microscope, since it is a sensitive “gadget”.
2. Once you have you microscope, you’ll have to place it on a flat surface. There has to be enough free space, so that you have where to put and prepare your material.
3. Prepare the material you want to view by using a cover slip or glass over the specimen, so that it protects the objective lenses, in case they touch the slide. You can position your sample between 2 pieces of glass to make a slide.
4. To start using your microscope usually you’ll have to plug its cord into a power outlet and switch it on, since most microscopes use electric light source. (There are some compound microscopes that use natural light, so if you have one of those, just skip this step.)
5. When you switch on your microscope’s light, let the maximum light pass trough, by adjusting the diaphragm to the largest hole diameter. If the microscope has an iris diaphragm, slide the lever until it lets the most light.
6. Then, turn the revolving nosepiece so that the objective lens with the lowest level of magnification is directly above the sample. This way, you can easily select the part of the specimen that you want to observe and then adjust further.
7. Now put the slide you have previously prepared on the stage. To hold the slide on the stage fasten it with the stage clips. You can push down on the back end of the stage clip to open it. Move the slide until the specimen is under the objective lens.
8. Look through the binocular eyepieces and adjust the iris diaphragm until the amount of light is satisfactory. Adjust it so that it suits your eye, having in mind that it is better to have better illumination.
9. Turn the large coarse focus knob until the specimen comes into broad focus. Move the slide carefully to get the specimen in the center under the lens, if necessary. This can be done by nudging it gently with your fingers or by turning the slide control knobs if you have a mechanical stage. You should not use the coarse focus with a high magnification objective to prevent contact between the objective and the slide.
Note: The image you are seeing comes as a diffraction of the light through multiple lenses. So, how you want to move the image is vice-versa to how you actually move it. If you want to see more left, you will have to move it right, if you want it to move up, you will have to move it down.
10. Now adjust the small fine focus knob until the specimen is clearly in focus. Then adjust the diaphragm to get the best lighting. Start with the most light and gradually lessen it until the specimen image has clear, sharp contrast.
11. Once you have attained a clear image, scan the slide (right to left and top to bottom) at low power to get an overview of the specimen.Then center the part of the specimen you want to view at higher power. You should be able to change to a higher power objective lens with only minimal use of the focusing adjustment. If you cannot focus on your specimen, repeat the above steps and work from objective to objective until the higher power objective lens is in place.
12. Rotate the nosepiece to the 10x objective for 100x magnification. Refocus and view your specimen carefully. Adjust the lighting again until the image is most clear (you will need more light for higher power).
What after you finish using the microscope?
If you take proper care of your microscope, it will last for a long time. So, you have to have in mind this:
- When you finish looking at your specimen, lower the stage, click the low power lens into position and even then remove the slide.
- If you are not planing to use it for another material, turn it off.
- Never touch the glass of the lenses with your fingers. Only clean them with special lens paper.
- When you are not using your microscope, always keep it covered or place it in its box, to keep it dust-free.