What is this thing?
April 23, 2007 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Please help me identify a mystery object: Apparently manufactured by 'Leica'. Looks like it is supposed to magnify things. Pictures inside. Links

While digging through boxes, my father-in-law found this object.

Here is a second picture from a slightly different perspective.

It looks like it should magnify things. The black handle bit with the cord and wall socket is a flashlight.

It comes with three objectives with markings as follows:
short: 215/-P8/0.18
midsize: 215/-P16/0.40
long: 215/-5.6/0.15

Anyone have any idea what this object is called and what it would be used for?
posted by billy_the_punk to Grab Bag (23 answers total)
um. Ignore the 'Links' link in the question. I'm not sure how that got in there.
posted by billy_the_punk at 1:38 PM on April 23, 2007

OK, might be a microscope, might also be an old one of those things that the doctor usese to look down your throat or up your nose.

The markings on the three lenses that come with the device tell the magnification factor, the optical length of the lens, and ... are you sure that's a P and not an F? That factor would usually indicate aperature.

Leica is a magnification-equipment (cameras, binoculars, telescopes, microscopes, etc.) manufacturer from Germany. Some of the finest optics and rangefinder cameras in the world are made by Leica.
posted by SpecialK at 1:42 PM on April 23, 2007

Yeah - I am assuming, but if I recall correctly once you have your film developed - you get negatives back with it. This could be something to view negatives.

Which is probably why it has a light-source and electrical plug.
posted by jkaczor at 1:43 PM on April 23, 2007

Actually - I think SpecialK is onto something, this looks like a lab or medical instrument.
posted by jkaczor at 1:45 PM on April 23, 2007

Please disregard this answer completely. Obviously, people like me who do not actually know the answer really should sit on our hands.

BUT, I agree that it looks like part of a microscope. The lamp section would go on the bottom, and the various objects could be rotated over the light. Normally, all of this would be attached to some kind of focusing arm for moving closer and further away from the light source (which would be used to illuminate the slide).
posted by Deathalicious at 1:47 PM on April 23, 2007

Check out Leica Microsystems see if anything on the website resembles that...
posted by SirOmega at 1:47 PM on April 23, 2007

It looks like an illuminator for a microscope, perhaps with a couple of matching objective lenses.
posted by Good Brain at 1:48 PM on April 23, 2007

Hmn, actually, jkaczor might be on to something. Can you take a picture from the top of the silver piece down towards the flashlight?
posted by SpecialK at 1:49 PM on April 23, 2007

Make that: a few matching objective lenses.
posted by Good Brain at 1:49 PM on April 23, 2007

Leica does make high-precision instruments, including a number of microscopes we used in our college materials science lab. I suspect it's one of those. No model number or anything that you could find on it/
posted by olinerd at 1:52 PM on April 23, 2007

The pictures I have are were emailed to me, so I can't take new ones right now, but I will request them. Because the object was picked up at a government surplus sale in British Columbia, I would think it is not medical related.

I will try to get some better pictures.
posted by billy_the_punk at 1:54 PM on April 23, 2007

I think it's some sort of industrial microscope; pretty sure it's not a research 'scope.

As for the objectives: the second number is a magnification: you have a 8x, a 16x, and a 5.6x objective. I think the "p" indicates that they're plan objectives (corrected for field curvature, useful for long working distances). The last number is numerical aperture. These are small NAs, which would also be useful for long working distance applications.

I think "215" is a series model number of some sort.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:57 PM on April 23, 2007

Well, if it's an old monocular microscope which was my first thought, it sure seems to have a few parts missing. This really old one has a simpler design. I know I'm not helping, but I am dying to know the answer.
posted by Listener at 2:02 PM on April 23, 2007

Any clues as to who packed the boxes your father in law was digging through?

Also, it doesn't vibrate does it?
posted by gravelshoes at 2:18 PM on April 23, 2007

It looks a lot like something my optometrist has in his office. I have no idea what it is, or whether it's actually the same thing.
posted by fogster at 2:22 PM on April 23, 2007

I don't know for sure but I'm just tossing this out there as an idea -- might it be the device that an optometrist uses to check the prescription (curvature, etc.) of a lens that's already been ground?

I've only seen one of those once, but my recollection was that it was somewhat similar. A light source and an objective lens that you'd look through, with a space in the center to put the lens that you wanted to measure.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:42 PM on April 23, 2007

It looks to me like a slide projector/viewer thing. There are all kinds of weird devices people used to use to show clients slides, this may be one of them.

The only experience I have with Leica is with their cameras/lenses, which they are pretty well known for.
posted by bradbane at 3:16 PM on April 23, 2007

mr_roboto writes "I think '215' is a series model number of some sort."

OK; I'm going to take that back. I bet 215/- is a focal length designation, probably the focal length of the instrument (in mm) that gives the nominal magnification on the objective.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:52 PM on April 23, 2007

It sure does look like the horizontal piece on the old Zeiss 20 microscope. I can't figure out if Leica made something similar though.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:01 PM on April 23, 2007

Transillumination attachment. You keep the heat of the light away from the optical path with this design; there's probably a "hot mirror" that reflects the infrared. In this design the transillumination stage is at the top of the device.
posted by jet_silver at 4:08 PM on April 23, 2007

billy_the_punk writes "Because the object was picked up at a government surplus sale in British Columbia, I would think it is not medical related."

Microscopes are used in Mining, Forestry, Engineering and environmental testing; all things the government has their hand in.
posted by Mitheral at 4:53 PM on April 23, 2007

"Because the object was picked up at a government surplus sale in British Columbia, I would think it is not medical related."

The BC government surplus sales and their auction website (www.bcauction.ca) regularly have medical items and all sorts of weird and wonderful items. They also dispose of customs-seized items for the federal government, so it's not only government surplus items.

Did your father-in-law ask the people at the surplus sale what the item was? Perhaps they would know or could trace it back to where it originated and find out from them.
posted by nelvana at 8:34 PM on April 23, 2007

In addition to cameras, Leica makes all sorts of high end microscopy equipment (and other optical devices). This looks like some component from a microscope, but it's hard to say what it is, exactly.
posted by aladfar at 10:04 PM on April 23, 2007

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