Stamp Magnifying Microscope

Do you have a computer and are you tired of struggling with a magnifying glass to identify your stamps??   Well maybe it’s time to update with some technology.  Having worked most of my adult life in the IT field (yes, I am a geek) it seemed only right that I should look to technology to help my stamp collecting addiction.  So last year I purchased a Celestron 5MP Digital Microscope Pro (currently $104 on Amazon) to help me identify stamps.  This week I got an email with a review by PhilaSupplies on the digital microscope I had purchased last year and I thought I’d share with the club some of my thoughts on their review and what I did to overcome a major short coming I felt there was with the product.

PhilaSupplies says: This stamp magnifying microscope is setting a new standard for stamp collectors. It´s an easy-to-use microscope, perfect for viewing stamps, coins, and other small objects at magnifications up to 200x! This stamp magnifying microscope is extremely versatile – you can use it in handheld mode to view large object surfaces and access tight spaces or just use the included adjustable stand for smaller objects. View the images from the Handheld Digital Microscope Pro directly on your PC using the provided software, and save the 5MP images or 30fps video to your hard drive!

Read the full review:

In general, I agree with the review, but I do however disagree with the claim that it is useful in the handheld mode. I personally am too shaky to hold it steady in one hand and use a mouse to capture a good image in the other.  My microscope didn’t come with a USB cord that has a shutter in the cable which may help resolve my issue. Since I didn’t have the shutter on the cable, I had to come up with something that worked for me. 

I found a very simple and inexpensive fix to the problem.  The stand comes with a very nice, although too short, 0.625” OD (5/8”) polished stainless-steel rod to which the microscope mounts and is perfectly adequate for very tight and detailed viewing.  If, however, you want to capture an entire stamp larger than a Washington/Franklin, the rod is not long enough.  I tried spinning the microscope around 180 degrees on the rod and setting the base on books to elevate it but that was awkward and unstable.

Replacing the short rod was needed to fix the problem, I had originally started looking for a piece of stainless-steel tubing to replace the short piece provided but quickly found it was going to be quite expensive.  A 24” piece of 304 polished stainless-steel tube was going to run $35 or more.  So rather than spend money on a stainless-steel tube that I’d rather spend on stamps (of course), I opted for a hardwood dowel rod. I found that a 16” length of 5/8” Poplar dowel rod replaces the original tube just fine by simply removing the original rod by loosening the retaining ring and removing from the base (figure 1).  This eliminated the need to hand hold the microscope for larger/entire stamps (figure 2) while still very useful up close as well (figure 3).  A 48” piece of 5/8” Poplar dowel rod cost less than $3 at Lowe’s.  I assume that if I were to use it a lot the wood would eventually wear down and need to be replaced but this is still a far cheaper approach than buying stainless steel tubing and for the $3 I spent I already have left over dowel rod for 2 replacements.  If money is not an issue then go for the polished stainless-steel, but for occasional use the wood works just fine.

In summary, with the above exception I would agree with the final verdict of the review that was posted on PhilaSuppiles, that if you are wanting a microscope for examining your stamps the Celestron 5MP Digital Microscope Pro is one to put on your list!

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