New Mineral Named After GIA’s John Koivula
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 Post subject: Gemolite VII fiber optic illumination conversion
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 5:46 pm 
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Another day, another microscope project. This one ended up being simpler than I expected!
A while back I got a gemolite VII that was missing its darkfield well and had no power to either light. Basically, in great mechanical condition but completely nonfunctional. I was toying with the idea of making my own darkfield well when I had the chance to buy a Volpi fiber optic brightfield/darkfield illuminator. I had heard of these being used for darkfield from an old thread here, though I did not realize they ever made one that was switchable to brightfield as well. While the gemolites are known for excellent mechanical quality, there are sometimes complaints about heat generation and not being bright enough. LEDs provide one solution but they do have some inherent issues with color retention--being able to pump in as much high quality halogen illumination as you want and more without bringing any heat onto the scope is reallllly nice.
The volpi illuminator is about the same size as the original gemolite darkfield well, so all it took was a custom wooden adapter to hold the condenser in place under the stage. I also added an iris diaphragm at the top because it's just not the same without one, and put on an SMZ-10 head--this was actually supposed to be on my dad's scope but he ended up with a stereozoom 7 instead.
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From the top it looks pretty normal, but...
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Underneath you can see the Volpi darkfield illuminator, held in a beautiful bubinga wood adapter. The threaded holes that normally hold the darkfield well to the stage are 1/4 inch and quite deep so they have no problem holding up the weight.
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From the top you can see the brightfield and darkfield configurations, with brightfield being provided by sliding a disc of frosted glass above the ring light. This provides amazingly even and bright illumination, you would not guess that there was a ring light under there.
So, does it work on gems? Yes!
Here's a negative crystal inside quartz:
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And a veil in the same crystal. Note how the darkfield really brings it out.
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I actually got two illuminators and I originally got two gemolites in the same condition, so I will likely be making another one of these in the future. Overall I am very happy with how it turned out.

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 Post subject: Re: Gemolite VII fiber optic illumination conversion
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 7:52 pm 
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Wow. Impressive.


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 Post subject: Re: Gemolite VII fiber optic illumination conversion
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 8:59 pm 
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Thanks!
I just took a few more test pictures, this on a sample of "amber" we had lying around. I don't think these are ancient bugs, but they are certainly bugs anyway. The darkfield works very nicely, though you do get some round highlights on these curved cabochon surfaces.
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I focus stacked this darkfield one a bit to get all that bugleggy goodness, here is a crop from the center:
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You can also move the frosted glass out only partway and get some obliqueish lighting
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Typically I am the sort to crank lighting up to max and leave it there, but this one is too darned bright at 100% in a lot of cases, which is refreshing.

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 Post subject: Re: Gemolite VII fiber optic illumination conversion
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 9:14 pm 
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The pictures are excellent.
But, fossils in amber depress me. What a lousy way to die. :cry:
Kinda like the preserved bodies in Pompeii.
Horrific.
I can't look at them.


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 Post subject: Re: Gemolite VII fiber optic illumination conversion
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 9:20 pm 
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If it's any consolation, I am pretty sure these are modern resin. Given the state of the bugs they were definitely dead before they were tossed in. Probably swept off a windowsill.

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 Post subject: Re: Gemolite VII fiber optic illumination conversion
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 9:23 pm 
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Thanks for that. :wink:


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