Obviously, I did it all wrong. I have a digital video microscope in my lab, but what I did was spend about $20,000 on a nice microscope, $1000 on a digital still camera and about $500 on a digital video camera, and $200 on a pair of custom adapters to link them together. The principle is simple enough, though; you’re just mounting a camera on the scope where your eye would be and grabbing images with a standard computer interface. So here’s New Scientist bragging about building a video microscope for £15.
I’ve done something similar in the past, but I can one-up Lewis Sykes: I made my adapter with cardboard and duct tape, instead of going all out and fabricating fancy-pants acrylic rings.
I should confess that there is a little bit of a quality difference between the images I get on my lab scope and the ones you can get out of $30 microscope. As long as you’re not trying to resolve sub-micron details, though, you can probably get by.