The QX5 digital microscope needs a computer in order to work. The power for the microscope is via the USB connection. Unlike a regular optical microscope, the QX5 has no eyepiece. To see, the image must be displayed on a monitor or laptop screen.
The QX5 digital microscope software can be installed onto any Windows computer. We decided to load ours onto a Sony Picturebook laptop. We wanted a portable setup we could take out into the field for the InTheWild report.
We ran the installer on a Windows XP system. The installation ran fine. We were up and running in about 10 minutes. The Digital Blue software was designed to let the user control all of the various aspects of the microscope (top/bottom lights, brightness/contrast, snapshot/video capture, etc...).
The main window is a live view of the microscope's stage. The interface was fairly simple and the onscreen controls were pretty self explanatory. We did have to search a bit to find the "exit" to the program, but most users will find it easy to navigate after a little bit of use.
For our FirstUse review we picked a test we thought most folks would probably do themselves if they got one of these scopes: examining the One Dollar bill.
The Dollar bill test is actually quite a difficult test: to prevent conterfeiting, a lot of technology and sophisticated printing techniques are used to print the images on US currency...micro-engraving, color shifting inks, and embedded tracking/tracing threads are just a few we are allowed to tell you about. We could tell you more, but then we'll have to...well, you know how the saying goes :-)
There are three different optical magnifications availabe on the QX5 (10x, 60x, 200x). We tried to show the quality of the images at these different settings with focus around the eagle. At 10X, most of the eagle is visible.
At 60X, just the head of the eagle fitted into the view. However, there are still a lot of unrevealed details in the image. When we increased the optical magnifcation to 200X, the details of the eye are now clearly visible!
We moved the bill around so we could show some other parts of the head. We took a snap shot of the image at 60X (lower red arrow). We added the upper red arrow to orient you to the nostril at 200X.
We went out the the RainyDayGarden and gathered a few live speciments for our test. The catepillar was too shy and just curled into a ball...great for a still shot, but not very exciting as a video :-)
We had better luck with a black spider. We were able to capture a QuickTime video of the spider moving around and turning over!
NOTE: All speciments were released back into the garden after their "alien abduction" for this QX5 FirstUse review.
The quality image is pretty amazing considering the cost of this instrument! Click on any of the four images above and the two below to see the quality of the actual images captured using the QX5 software.
For folks who want to use this great little QX5 microscope on Mac OSX, you can with software from EdH Software.
We actually found the Mac version a lot easier to use than the Windows version (surprise, surprise) and quite feature rich. The Mac software will also work with the older IntelPlay QX3 version of the microscope.
We found this QX5 microscope to be a fascinating and extremely fun piece of gear! It is now a permanent fixture in our test lab. If you are thinking of getting one as a present for somebody, we would recommend that you buy two of them...one for them and one for yourself. Trust us, once you play with one, you'll want one :-)