Sonlight Homeschool Microscope
Biology Student, Military Lab Technician and Comparison Shopper Stunned by the Exceptional Value of the Sonlight Ultra Microscope!
Sonlight-exclusive Ultra Microscope includes the "extra options" that make using a microscope a pleasure instead of a frustration.
It's true. A university biology student, military lab technician, a comparison shopper and many more people have all purchased the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope and been stunned by its impeccable quality and exceptional value. So much so that they wrote about how they felt. (You can read what they wrote below.)
But before we get to that, a question.
What Makes the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope Unique?
First and foremost, its value.
Our exclusive microscope includes all features you need but, unlike our competitors, we don't charge you for all the extras.
You should know that these are not frivolous extras; they really do make the experience of using the microscope more pleasurable, and they eliminate many of the common frustrations people experience using lower quality microscopes.
Here are just a few of the benefits you'll get from using the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope:
- Zoom in and focus on your slides quickly and easily
- Choose any of three levels of magnification for a variety of viewing conditions
- Comfortably share the microscope with up to four people
- Show your viewing partner exactly what you're looking at without having to explain where to look
- View slides while sitting at a counter or table (you won't need to crane your neck!)
- Switch magnification powers without having to adjust the slide you're viewing
- See crystal clear colors in your specimens, even around the edges
And these benefits only scratch the surface. …
The University Biology Student
"I'm thrilled with the microscope. We bought it 3 years ago when Anthony was starting biology. I'm now using it with my college biology class (it's far better than the cheapy thingy in my lab kit for the class).
"And I'm planning on keeping it for when I have my own classroom someday. I work in a middle school and my Sonlight microscope is as good (I think better) than the microscopes they have.
"I am very, very glad we purchased it. It moved from Washington to Colorado with us and looks brand new."
– Boa Toting Mama
Sonlight Mom and Biology Student
Features & Benefits of the Sonlight Ultra Microscope
Want to see more videos? If you own the Sonlight Ultra Microscope, or are interested in learning more check out the videos below!
View Slides at Different Powers of Magnification with Minimal Effort
The Sonlight® Ultra Microscope comes equipped with 4X, 10X, and 40XR DIN glass objective lenses, giving you magnification powers of 40x, 100x, and 400x. All three glass lenses are housed in a single lens cluster that rotates smoothly in a greased ball-bearing collar.
Looking for a 100XR lens with a magnification power of 1000x? Read this.
The lens cluster allows you to easily view specimens through each of the three lenses – simply place your hand on the collar of the lens cluster and rotate it until you feel a positive click signaling the next lens is in place.
The 40XR objective lens – the longest of the three lenses – is retractable (that's what the "R" stands for). In other words, the lens is spring-loaded to reduce the risk of damage if you accidentally rotate it into a slide placed on the stage.
The glass optics on the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope are fully achromatic. That means all the colors you see through the eyepiece will not be distorted. Rather, what you see will be color-corrected, which means you will see true colors, even around the edges of the image you're viewing.
Furthermore, the glass optics are parfocal and parcentered, which means you can switch between all three of the magnification powers without having to adjust the slides you're viewing. For instance, once your specimen is in focus and in the center of the field of view at 4X, you can simply shift to the 10X lens and the specimen will still be close to centered and almost perfectly focused. Similarly, once you center and focus the specimen at 10X, moving to the 40XR lens will require only a little further adjustment.
If you purchase a microscope that does not have parfocal and parcentered optics, expect to spend a lot of time recentering and refocusing when you switch between lenses!
How Coaxial Focusing Will Save You Time and Frustration
The Sonlight® Ultra Microscope has coaxial coarse and fine focus knobs with a slip clutch that prevents damage when you hit the microscope's limit of focal adjustment.
Coaxial focusing, in which the coarse and fine focus adjustments are interlinked, is much quicker and easier to use than the focusing systems typically found on microscopes under $300: the systems in which the fine and coarse focus controls are independent of each other.
In coaxial focusing systems, the fine focus knob is conveniently located inside – or in the middle of – the coarse adjustment knob. The two knobs, placed so closely together, are always easy to find. And you can always keep your eye on your specimen, even while you switch from fine focus to coarse focus and back again.
But much more importantly, there are no artificial limits to your ability to fine focus with a coaxial system. And that means you'll spend more time viewing slides and less time tinkering with the focus knobs!
On the other hand, you'll often find it necessary to make multiple adjustments when you use a microscope that has independent coarse- and fine-focus knobs.
For instance, let's say the fine focus is at the bottom edge of its range. If you were viewing a specimen and required a minute adjustment, you wouldn't be able to do it – at least not with your fine focus control. First you'd have to bring the fine focus knob to the middle of its range, then readjust the coarse focus, and, finally, adjust the fine focus a second time.
As noted above, you will never get into these kinds of situations with a coaxial system. You can fine-focus as much as you need in either direction and you won't hit any artificial limits.
How to Conveniently Share What You See with Others
The ocular tube on the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope is tilted at a 45° angle (unlike inexpensive microscopes' straight-up tubes), which means you can comfortably view your slides while sitting at a table or counter. You won't ever have to crane your neck or stand and lean over the eyepiece to view your specimens.
Also, the microscope head can be rotated 360° around the microscope base. This permits up to four people to sit around a table and view the same thing without having to get up and trade spaces in front of the microscope.
For situations in which more than one person is using the microscope, the eyepiece has a built-in, graduated pointer. The pointer permits easier cooperation between viewing partners: one person can place the pointer to indicate exactly what s/he is looking at, then swivel the ocular tube toward the next person so s/he can view the same item of interest.
Clearly, the whole microscope is designed to make the scientific process a sustainable pleasure.
Clean White Light that Won't "Cook" Your Slides
The light source in the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope is made of four parts: a cool, LED bulb, an optically appropriate Abbe condenser, an iris diaphragm, and a dimmer dial.
If you've ever tried to use a modern microscope with only reflected light, you'll know why you want a bulb. But why a LED bulb?
Many years ago we carried the same basic microscope we carry now except for the fact that it had a tungsten bulb. We had no problems with the tungsten bulb as long as we used the microscope for less than 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
After 15 to 20 minutes the entire base of the microscope began heating up … to the point that young children might burn themselves if they accidentally put their fingers in the wrong place.
Secondly, a tungsten bulb can dry out or even "cook" specimens that you want to stay wet and alive (like live paramecia from a puddle).
Because an LED bulb produces virtually no heat, it avoids both of these problems.
More than that, the LED bulb is a vast improvement over the fluorescent bulbs we had used to replace the tungsten. The LED give you more control with a dimmer dial, uses less power, and works anywhere you can plug it in. We used to have to carry two different microscopes with the fluorescent: one for US and one for international customers. If we sent the US version overseas, their bulbs would burn out immediately. No more.
The Abbe condenser ensures that the light from the LED bulb is focused on the specimen you are studying. (No great mystery, here. When you're dealing with high-powered optics, you need to focus the light. The Abbe condenser makes sure the light is well focused.)
And the diaphragm?
It permits you to control the quantity of light that hits the specimen. It widens and narrows the opening through which light passes through the stage to hit the specimen. The wider the opening, the more light; the narrower the opening, the less light.
You want a diaphragm because, for instance, the image of a tiny and highly transparent specimen can be washed out if it is bathed in the amount of light that would be needed to shine through a larger or more opaque specimen.
But why an iris diaphragm? Why not a simple disk diaphragm like those that come with most low-cost microscopes?
In sum: a disk diaphragm has five or six holes in it that permits you only that number of preset light levels. An iris diaphragm, on the other hand, has no finite number of settings. You can set it any way you want, in a continual range from very narrow to very wide.
Also, when you want to change the setting of a disk diaphragm, your specimen is obscured until you move the disk to the next hole. With an iris diaphragm, you can adjust the brightness to the exact degree you desire without ever obscuring your specimen.
Finally, most disk diaphragms we've seen have a maximum 0.65 numerical aperture (NA) that lets in far less light than the maximum 1.25 NA allowed by the iris diaphragm on the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope. This is especially important if you'd ever like to temporarily swap one of the objective lenses with a 100XR lens (1000x magnification).
To give you even more control over the lighting of your specimen, the LED bulb gives you even more control over the brightness with a simple dial on the side of your Sonlight® Ultra Microscope. This is a level of control never before had with the Ultra Microscope, and this dimmer comes at not extra cost with your purchase.
The Military Lab Technician
"My husband [an Army lab technician who teaches other Army lab techs] gave the microscope a thumbs up."
"It is an excellent microscope. We've had ours for a few years and love it. My engineering husband says it is a great value and well-designed product."
"We have a friend who is an ophthalmologist (M.D.), and he was quite impressed with the quality of the SL microscope. I've used it with one child already, and will be using it with the other 3."
The One Extra Feature that Is Essential to Any Worthwhile Microscope
Now, what I've described is an excellent microscope already. But here is the kicker …
We've gone one step further and included a mechanical stage in place of the normal spring-loaded clips.
What does that mean?
Do you remember biology class in high school when you had to use a microscope? Remember when what you wanted to look at was way off at the lower left corner of your field of view? You wanted it in the center of your view, of course. To get it there, you had to consciously tell yourself: "Everything I see is backwards, so to make the image move up, I have to move the slide just a little bit down toward me. And to make the image move to my right, I have to move the slide toward my left …"
Not only did you have to remind yourself that all movements were exactly opposite of what you were used to, but – and this was probably the worst of all – if you touched the slide just the slightest bit, it would make the image move what seemed like a mile: the 40XR objective lens would bite you.
Remember the frustration? It always seemed impossible to center the image in your field of view!
A mechanical stage eliminates all of that frustration. With a mechanical stage, you have a pair of thumbscrews on the side of the stage that permit you to precisely and confidently adjust exactly where the slide is placed. One screw sets the x-axis (left to right), and one sets the y-axis (up and down).
"Get the mechanical stage! At higher magnifications it is crucial. I am thinking, for instance, of the Apologia pond water experiment. You are searching the slide very slowly for microscopic creatures. A gentle turning of the staging dials makes this very simple to move slowly and thoroughly over the slide. It would not be possible to make such fine movements manually."
It's almost as if you can't miss when using a mechanical stage. Even the most uncoordinated student (or parent!) can get the image centered correctly – and with minimal frustration.
Oh, sure, a full-time professional lab technician eventually masters freehand image-centering. But your kids aren't full-time professional lab technicians.
So that's where the mechanical stage comes into play: it makes microscopy a pleasure. It eliminates the frustration.
We had a biotech graduate look at the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope. We hadn't told her anything about what we wanted her to look at. We just brought her into the room and her eyes opened wide when she saw the mechanical stage: "Oh! I love those! They make using a microscope so easy!"
We then asked a single mom who has two kids – a woman who had never used a microscope before – to try the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope. We had her try it first without and then with the mechanical stage. We told her of the price differential between the two configurations. "Is the mechanical stage worth the extra money?" we asked.
"Oh!" she replied, without a moment's hesitation. "I wouldn't think of buying a microscope without that thing!"
Another mom says it's "really easy to use!
I'm not a science person, so when I say it's easy to use, it is really easy to use! One afternoon I had four kids (grades 3-6) here with absolutely no experience with microscopes and they were able to use it with no problem. Our sons are using it now for Apologia's Biology and it's doing all they need for it."
Durable Construction Means Your Sonlight Ultra Microscope Will Last for Years, Even if It Gets Lots of Hands-On Use
There's no scrimping on quality with this microscope.
The guts of the Sonlight® Ultra Microscope are housed in a solid metal frame that has an acid and reagent resistant coating. But that's only half the picture...
The rack-and-pinion gear inside the microscope is also made of metal. Much more durable than a nylon gear, a metal gear will stand the test of time and will provide you with thousands of hours of trouble-free use.
Here are few other marks of excellence worthy of note:
The microscope comes with an industry-standard 5-year mechanical warranty and 1-year electrical warranty. If anything goes wrong, the manufacturer's warranty includes not only free delivery after it's been repaired or replaced, but FREE PICK-UP, too. (Free pick-up is available to customers in the United States only.)
The Sonlight® Ultra Microscope is made by quality-conscious entrepreneurs in their privately-owned ISO9001:2000 certified factory. ISO refers to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), one of the highest international quality control standards. (See www.praxiom.com/iso-9001.htm.)
The cord and light of your purchase is UL approved. "Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and certification organization. [They] have tested products for public safety for more than a century. Each year, more than 17 billion UL Marks are applied to products worldwide." (See www.ul.com.)
Also included with your microscope is a nice vinyl dust cover to prevent particles from collecting on your microscope when its stored. When used consistently, this free "extra" will lengthen the life of your microscope and prevent you from having to regularly remove dust or particles from the optics.
A comparison shopper
"It is the best microscope for the price we have been able to find anywhere after months of searching. We've had ours for 4+ years now. At first it was mostly used for fun, but is used more seriously as time goes by. My kids are now doing Sonlight Science G & 150. I can't imagine not having it. I can't tell you how many times we've happily pulled it out to get a better look at something!!"
– Grinning Screech Owl
Why is the Ultra Microscope Priced So Low?If the Sonlight Ultra Microscope Is So Great, Why Such a Low Price?
Please be assured: the reason we can offer you our microscope at the price we do is not because of shoddy workmanship, crummy parts, or inferior service. No. It has everything to do with the way we purchase.
Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. has dedicated itself to providing you with the best deal possible on the best microscope possible. And so we defined our specifications and found our manufacturer. Then we agreed to buy pallet-loads of these instruments at a time. (Indeed, the manufacturer does an entire production run, just for us, each time we order.)
Furthermore, we have all the "extras" built in at the factory. This saves us almost 80 percent of the cost of these upgrades.
And, finally, we pay our bills on time – or early. So we get an "unbelievable" deal … And then we pass our savings on to you.
Get Your Sonlight® Ultra Microscope with Shipping Included!
If you know you want to buy, please do it now while it's fresh in your mind. If you put it off until later, chances are you'll forget about this deal, or you'll remember it later after you've already spent too much money on another microscope. So act now to lock in your low price.
It must be because you have an objection of some sort. Maybe you think:
- Our microscope can't possibly be the same quality as a microscope that costs over $100 more.
- Your children aren't the right age for a microscope.
OK. These are legitimate concerns.
A very good bargain
"We bought the SL microscope and it is THE BOMB. I think it is a marvelous piece of equipment, and a very good bargain, actually, considering the quality. My kids are enchanted and just love to use it. This has been their favorite segment of Science E, partly because the microscope is Just.So.Cool.
"We know we'll be homeschooling long term, so it is more of an investment than a frill. From the perspective of really 'grabbing' my kids and stimulating their fascination with all things science, I don't think anything has compared to buying the microscope. "
– JennG not in Italy
The quality of our microscope truly is exceptional.
If you had one in your hands and you took it apart piece by piece, you'd find that each part is crafted with precision. (By the way, we did take one apart to provide you with the images you see above.)
When you heft the microscope in your hand, you can feel the assurance of its sturdy 7-pound frame. When you set the microscope on a table, you can feel how stable the rubber feet hold it in place. You can turn all the knobs and swivel the lenses and ocular tube and never once hear a rattle or feel any indication of poor craftsmanship.
And remember. The Sonlight® Ultra Microscope comes with a 5-year mechanical warranty and a 1-year electrical warranty. All the warranty information is packaged with the microscope, so you'll have everything right at your fingertips should you ever need it. (Even though it's highly unlikely you will actually need it!)
Microscopes can enrich the discovery experience of children of almost any age.
Children ages 5 to 10 are often thrilled by viewing cross-sections of leaves and flowers and other "everyday" plant matter through a microscope. And they're also often thrilled by viewing human specimens like skin cells and hair.
Getting into junior high and high school, a microscope becomes a near necessity... especially if you homeschool. And if your children have a healthy level of curiosity, they're sure to benefit from the use of a microscope outside of a school environment.
Bottom line: rarely are you too young or old to benefit from using a quality, high-powered microscope like the Sonlight ® Ultra.
From the research we've done, we believe the Sonlight® Ultra's quality and price is unmatched. So act now to make sure you get everything described above, including your free freight and handling.
Special Instructions for non-US Countries
If you live outside of the United States and your country uses one of the following plugs, you will need to use an adapter. The Sonlight® Ultra Microscope with LED bulb works with various voltages so you won't need anything else!
Click for Larger Image
We ordered and received your Ultra microscope just in time for the start of school and we are very thrilled by it. I'm a semiconductor scientist who uses high performance microscopes often. I must say that I am glad I purchased the Ultra from you. There are two things that impressed me the most. The first is the optics. We all know that optics are the most important component in a microscope & Ultra has one of the clearest and brightest optics I have used. Secondly, the microscope comes with an X-Y stage. The X-Y stage is so crucial to looking at small specimens, especially at the highest magnification, that I think it is a "must have" for all microscopes. Your purchaser made a very intelligent choice by packaging it with the Ultra. Good job, Sonlight Curriculum.
– Kwan I
"My kids love this microscope. It has traveled from the U.S. to Canada to Guatemala - so it's sturdy too. I'm really glad that we finally bit the bullet and made this purchase."
"I'm not a science person, so when I say it's easy to use, it is really easy to use! One afternoon I had four kids (grades 3-6) here with absolutely no experience with microscopes and they were able to use it with no problem. Our sons are using it now for Apologia's Biology and it's doing all they need for it."