MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips

QX5 Computer Microscope

Tool photo.

The QX5 is the ultimate microscope for the casual scientist and is guaranteed to provide even the mildest-mannered geek with countless hours of fun. In addition to viewing, saving, and exporting magnified images, you can also take the microscope out of its cradle and use it as a handheld camera — extreme close-up style. Yes, that's right, ladies and gentlemen. You, too, can now create documentaries of your ant farm, get an up close and personal look at that nasty paper cut, or just muse to your brown-eyed girl about how pretty her irises appear when magnified 200 times.

Mounting the microscope to create time lapse movies out of still images of bacteria growing or plants sprouting is another really neat thing you can do, and the software included with the kit takes care of all the messy details of exporting your scientific research, allowing you to concentrate on the experiment at hand. Really, the only complaint I have is that the software that comes with the microscope only works for Windows users, but not to worry: Linux and Mac users can seek out and/or buy additional third party software to get things rolling, and the effort is well worth it.