LOMO Biolam Microscope restoration.

As you’ll have gathered, Andy got me an old LOMO Biolam microscope for Christmas. Included in the sale were an assortment of extras ‘upgrades’ (all in their own wooden boxes) to the original base unit (most I don’t think have ever been used), including a binocular head with a pair of x7 and x10 eyepieces.

Being 41 years old, it needed some TLC – the main issue being the infamous ‘Russian Tank Grease’ originally used!

You can tell it’s age as the serial number contains it’s year of manufacture – just like Takahashi do, so the ’77’ is 1977.

This instrument is still a ‘LOMO’ version, later, it was also made and marketed under the Zenith brand (we used their cameras at art college!)

Over time, this grease has solidified (think your bonfire toffee apples), so most things that were supposed to move were either very stiff or just plain stuck.

Not being very ‘DIY’, I’ve spent the last few weeks tentatively stripping it down and soaking various parts in white spirit and WD40.


Andy came round just after Christmas and we had ‘first light’ – this image is of a Lilly Ovary, iPhone 6 held up to the 10x eyepiece in the Binocular attachment (adds 1.5x mag) and a 20x objective (so 300x)

It was pretty tricky to achieve focus as the main (coarse focuser) was lumpy and the fine focus unit inoperable….

The microscope (thankfully) turned out to be pretty easy to take apart.

Below, the main/coarse focus unit (after spending a week in a bath of white spirit). Brushed clean with my old tooth brush and re-greased with a modern silicon alternative.


Image below – bottom of the ‘stage base’ – the bit where you place your slide (‘rotating stage’ also stuck!) This shows the silver-grey fine focuser mounted on the side.

Most of the microscope is cast metal and brass. The only plastic part was this strip of gearing for the condenser (the unit that focuses the light source onto the slide/specimen). The two screws though caught me out – the top being countersunk and the lower a pan-head!

The brass is ‘pre-polished’….

Below images (x2) – back of same ‘stage’ part….

…..and with gearing removed….

The biggest issue was the fine focuser. The actual unit is self contained, like the inside of a watch and ‘runs- dry’ – so no grease. Whilst it worked on it’s own, I could not get the fine focus to work once everything was reassembled…

The large metal pin (above) sits in that circular recess shown below in the middle of that brass piece. Inside the main cavity sits the fine focuser which mates to the fine focus gearing/knob just seen in the shadow right at the back.

It turned out that the brass part (with circular recess) is supposed to freely move up and down with a turn of the fine focuser…

….the movement dampened by a large spring that sits inside this circular recess on the other side (top). The spring is held in place under tension by the serial number ‘date’ cover shown earlier.


Once we had worked out how this works Andy………. hit it…… (carefully) with a hammer….(!!!) after judisious use of WD40. That freed the brass dovetail allowing cleaning, polishing and re-greasing…

41 years of grease (finally) removed !

Amazing what a bit of Brass can do!

Once all back together everything finally worked!


Andy headed off and I finished polishing up the chrome objective head and attaching the X/Y upgrade to the stage.

Later in the evening I popped over to Andy’s to try the microscope out. I still have the condenser upgrade to sort (Russian tank grease again) and then sort an LED / Halogen illuminator to replace the 15w bulb version (itself an upgrade over the supplied mirror).


Andy’s calibration slide – each line is 0.01mm apart.


The moon….?


ET’s hand !




Second first light for Damian’s LOMO Biolam microscope

Following renovation – excellent results!

Commercial stained slides of fungi (Aspergillus and Saprolegnia) & pond water organism (Desmid) – Bresser Mikrocam 9.0 camera using 23mm eyepiece adapter in eyepiece of binoviewer on LOMO Biolam microscope (binoviewer adds 1.5x magnification to this microscope).

Andy & Damian

10x objective – calibration slide – each division = 0.01mm:

Aspergillus – 20x objective (Aspergillus is a genus consisting of a few hundred mould species found in various climates worldwide. Aspergillus was first catalogued in 1729 by the Italian priest and biologist Pier Antonio Micheli. Viewing the fungi under a microscope, Micheli was reminded of the shape of an aspergillum, from Latin spargere, and named the genus accordingly [Wikipedia]):

Saprolegnia – 10x objective – see fruiting body and mycellum below (Saprolegnia is a genus of water moulds often called “cotton moulds” because of the characteristic white or grey fibrous patches they form [Wikipedia]):

Desmid x40 objective (a single-celled freshwater alga which appears to be composed of two rigid cells with a shared nucleus. The presence of desmids is usually an indicator of unpolluted water [Wikipedia]):

Renovating LOMO Biolam microscope 21/1/2018

Continuing from yesterday, Damian and I unbound the dovetail on the fine focus mechanism from its saddle plate – we have found that the fine focus on this microscope locks up as the grease dries and it takes a lot of work to sort it out. It is also possible to easily break some vital bits and – as we did – through away bits accidently – some like a curved springy washer might look broken – golden rule – be gentle and also don’t through anything away even if it looks broken when you are renovating instruments like this!

Andy & Damian


Current early “Double doubles”.

In addition to the current early morning Lyra giving the” double doubles “of epsilon and the wider Σ 2470 Σ2474, there are some earlier and easier “double doubles. ” These are bright , easy to find and easy with small aperture.

Σ7 ( appears as Σ17 on the map ) with Σ401, paralell pairs.(SAO 75970)     (Near the Pleiades)
Σ742 paralell to Σ740 ( near M1)
Σ674 and Σ680 , pairs with near identical separations and magnitudes.

Σ1088 and Σ1087, nicely angled.
Σ1007 and h3288 in a full field.  

These rare wonderful sights will hopefully spur you on to the pleasures and treasures of binary stars,

under clear skies !

Highlights of recent microscopy with Zeiss IM microscope in Lichfield

Spirochaete bacteria imaged at last.

The following is a video of rod and spirochaete bacteria in a several week cultured sample of pond water from the local Lichfield Stowe Pool viewed with 32x objective on my Zeiss IM microscope.

Helicon Focus 6 – combining multiple exposures at different focus depths to improve depth of field and produce 3D models of sample.

The next photo is of a diatom from the same sample. It is the result of combining around 15-20 sub-frames in Helicon Focus 6 to increase depth of field. This gives lots of detail of inner structure within the organism.

Helicon Focus 6 can produce 3D models using depth information from multiple exposures at different depths and the next picture is an example of this from same sample as above.

The next picture is of Volvox (green circles centrally) and diatom skeletons:

3D Helicon model of above:

The next picture shows 3D model of cell walls within a piece of moss:

Highlights of microscopy of samples from Stowe Pool in last few months, with Zeiss IM microscope:


H&E stained algae clearly showing cilia at corners of cells and organelles:

Vorticella – cilia are just visible at edge of “mouth”:


Two different organisms – yet to be identified:

Daphnia – water flea – showing structure of eye:

Spherical ball of cells – identification uncertain:

Video of pond water from 2/9/2017 – highlights:

Video of pond water 2/12/2017 – highlights:

The following video comes from a sample from a bucket that had been left for 2-3 years next to my neighbour’s house:

The following is a video of bacteria cultured from my son’s mouth:


Renovating LOMO Biolam microscope – Damian and Andy

Damian bought around his Christmas present – his LOMO Biolam microscope – to my house this afternoon. He has done brilliantly renovating this machine and soon it will produce fantastic microscopic images. It is all metal and brass – gorgeous focusing mechanism inside like a clock!

Today, we had to dismantle the focus knob and mechanism to remove dried out grease which was preventing the mechanism from turning and also to do similar job on the rotating stage which wasn’t rotating! The latter had warped slightly over time and tended to bind. We produced some Heath Robinson hand made plastic washer of appropriate size and this prevented the binding – Damian is hoping to replace this in time with a purpose made washer.

Pictures from the renovation work today below.


Diatom photos processed using Helicon focus 6 from Stowe Pool jar culture 20/1/2018

Here are some diatom photos I processed today using Helicon Focus 6 – the pictures are either combined across 20-26 sub-frames or 3D models produced from that data.

All on Zeiss IM microscope with Bresser MikrOkular camera.

Preparation for photography of these samples included 20ml pipette in jar – 5ml formalin 10% added to kill specimens so that they don’t move during photography – important when taking pictures at different focus distances. Helicon does not really work on live specimens!


Diatom as in life:

Combined frame – great views of organelles. Note also the large number of bacteria in the slide (small dark rods):

Depth map:

3D model:

Empty Diatom Skeleton:

Combined frame – shows segmentation of diatom skeleton well:

3D model:

Diatom skeletons and Volvox (green circles in middle):

Combined frame:

Following are variations on above using different settings for smoothing and radius in Helicon Focus – variously brings out more or less the foreground diatom skeleton that goes from top to bottom just to right of Volvox:

3D Models:

Microscopy of culture of pond water and segment of root from Stowe Pool 20/1/2018

I collected this sample from Stowe Pool several weeks ago and it has been sitting in our study ever since on the shelf. I have added some sugar from time to time and it is starting to stink a bit!

The following is a small sample pipetted out of the jar:

The microscope is my Zeiss IM microscope with LED illuminator and phase contrast:

Video from the sample today:

Photos – including rods and spirochaete bacteria: