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An Electron Microscope For Your Home? 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-two-they're-small dept.
CuteSteveJobs writes "Could microscopy be in for a new golden age? Wired previewed the desktop-sized Hitachi TM-1000 Electron Microscope a while back. Light microscopes can magnify up to 400X (1,000X at lower quality) — just enough to see bacteria as shapes — but this one offers 20X to 10,000X, giving some amazing pictures. Unlike traditional electron microscopes, this one plugs into a domestic power socket and specimens don't need any special preparation; it's point-and-shoot, much like your typical digital camera. So easy a grade-schooler could use it, and earlier this year that's what happened: The kids at Iwanuma Elementary School in Miyagi, Japan got their own electron microscope. At $60,000, you'll have to give up on the BMW, but the hope is with economy of scale (so far 1,000 have sold) and miniaturization, the price will continue to drop. The only bad news? It runs XP."
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An Electron Microscope For Your Home?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 11, 2009 @09:36AM (#29710731)

    I don't know about home users, but this is something a university could justify purchasing several of for an undergraduate lab. Biology could have been even more interesting.

    • by deglr6328 (150198) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:46AM (#29711345)

      FYI Slashdot, one of this decade's genuine breakthroughs in science has been finally breaking the diffraction limit for visible light microscopy. The results in the past couple years alone have been nothing short of stunning. Specifically the techniques which are capable of doing this are confocal microscopy, near-field scanning microscopy, stimulated emission depletion microscopy, stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy and structured illumination microscopy [arstechnica.com]. All of these techniques use visible light and can image at below the diffraction limit of ~250nm resolution, but most use complicated techniques using lasers etc. to do so. Except that last one, structured illumination. This technology is going to literally revolutionize microscopy and probably biology as a whole in the coming years. It is a very clever technique and produces unbefuckingleivably amazing [wikipedia.org] images [wikipedia.org]. With it, full 3D reconstructions of individual living cells with ~10 nanometer resolution, at frame rates in the several Hz range can be taken using a relatively simple LCD retrofit to a high quality transmission light microscope which is installed between the light source and the stage. Look at some of these movies taken [nature.com] of cell processes using the technique and try to keep your jaw off the floor. While the resolution may be higher, none of this is possible with SEM or TEMs due to the necessity of imaging in vacuo.

      • by ccbailey (859060) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @04:27PM (#29712915) Homepage

        Since I seem to oscillate between looking at TEM images and doing confocal microscopy these days, allow me to chime in here.

        Apart from resolution, there are two factors that make EM useful in a way that light microscopy techniques never will be. Namely, that they allow you to look at an entire specimen at once and at the same time see things you weren't looking for. The pretty color images confocal images are made by tagging particular structures in the cell with fluorescent molecules. This is done either with fluorochrome labeled antibodies or by expressing proteins fused to fluorescent proteins. Therefore, you have to know what you're looking for in order to make a picture of it. Furthermore due to the overlap in the emission spectra of the fluorescent tracers, you can generally only look at about 3 things simultaneously. So if you want to see all the structures in a cell at once or you're looking for something, like a virus, but don't know which one or don't have an antibody for it, EM is still the tool of choice.

  • by nomso (591062) <hallgeir.hallgeir@no> on Sunday October 11, 2009 @09:37AM (#29710739) Homepage
    It could have been worse. It could have run Vista.

    Otherwise, an interesting development.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      Yo dawg, we heard you likes viruses, so we put a virus on your microscope, so you can get phished while you observe viruses though your microscope, dawg.

    • by richlv (778496)

      would it have xp downgrade rights then ?
      on a more serious note... microscope ? run by windows ? really, hitachi, how could you come up with something like that ?
      such suggestion before the product would get quite some funny mods not only on slashdot.

  • Very nice examples in the brochure. I wonder how steep a learning curve this machine has but it seems most is automated anyway.

    About it running on XP, cheer up it could have been Vista...

  • ... as long as you don't have to use some locked-down, proprietary software to read the images. I hope they don't use some closed image format for the output.

    On the other hand, I'm sure some guys would like to take the effort putting $YOUR_FAVORITE_OS in it...

  • For Your Home? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wjh31 (1372867) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @09:44AM (#29710775) Homepage
    At 60,000USD, thats not for your home, its just a worktop Electron microscope for labs.
    • by Hatta (162192) *

      But if you do get a SEM instead of a BMW, you'll finally be able to see your penis.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You'd have to sputter coat your penis in gold to image it by SEM - perfectly fine for an Austin Powers villain, granted.

        • Ah, but this can image non-conductive samples without special prep, so no gold penis for you...
          • You still have to seal it up in the vacuum chamber. While most would appreciate the swelling that would cause, I'm not sure I want the aftereffects.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      At 60,000USD, thats not for your home, its just a worktop Electron microscope for labs.

      I also wonder if that includes the price of sputter coating, critical point dryer and all the other stuff you might want to be able to see biological stuff.

      The summary did mention though that economies of scale might bring that down. The article points out that $60k is already a significant drop from the hundreds of thousands other SEMs cost. Size is also an issue, this rig won't take up half a room, making it more "for the home" than others. Then again if you're willing to spend that much on your own mi

    • by IrquiM (471313)

      I just can't imagine who'd want a BMW 1series instead of an electron microscope. Think that's the only one you'd get for $60k here in Norway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 11, 2009 @10:10AM (#29710899)

    I am curious what this would imply as far as security involving micro-controllers goes. Some companies (particularly cable/sat providers would be hit the worst) use technologies like smart cards as a means of access controls. One of the biggest barriers to breaking these is how expensive it is to be able to reverse engineer one of these cards by means of a SEM. This would dramatically undermine that particular barrier.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ant P. (974313)

      That's possibly the best example of security through obscurity falling flat on its face I've ever seen.

    • you would be able to see the chip but not the contents , you still need the chemicals and info to lift the secudity screens and disable the uv sensors. Although with enough smart cards and enough patients that would probably be cheaper then having a lab rip it apart.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @10:20AM (#29710933) Journal

    It's a lot of fun mostly because of its ease of use. I'm pretty sure a 7-year old would have no problems using it correctly after only an hour or two of training. Another plus is that it can be configured with an EDS device for (relatively speaking) peanuts. And it is just as easy to operate as the TM-1000.

    But don't kid yourself: the quality of the images trails far behind the more serious equipment like, for instance, the Zeiss SUPRA series [zeiss.com]. I'm not saying this to be a dick; the difference is striking. With the TM-1000 you really do get what you pay for, and on bad days it seems only marginally better than an optical microscope.

    • by JamesP (688957)

      It's a lot of fun mostly because of its ease of use. I'm pretty sure a 7-year old would have no problems using it correctly after only an hour or two of training

      My 7-year-old self would've orgasmed if he knew what having an orgasm meant.

      Really, I'm thinking 60k is "payable" if you're really into the stuff.

      (Well, at least after the BMW is safely in the garage)

      • by vlm (69642) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:24AM (#29711245)

        Really, I'm thinking 60k is "payable" if you're really into the stuff.

        I have some knowledge of the microscopy hobby. Also ham radio. Both are similar in that ultra high cost options are available, and similar in that prices don't drop, at least not like prices in the computer/electronics hobby.

        It is considered "normal" to buy a $1000 radio or microscope, use it for a few years, sell for about $800, upgrade to the $2000 model, use it a few years, sell for maybe $1800, buy the $3000 model ... repeat for a few decades, next thing you know, "old" people of rather average income are operating $10000 of radio gear, $20000 telescopes, cameras, microscopes, etc.

        This is very difficult for computer people to wrap their heads around, since last years video card is merely a paperweight today, etc. And vice versa, good luck convincing a ham radio guy that his five old PC will not sell for even 50% of its new price.

        If computer prices were this stable, I'm sure I would easily have a $60K computer system by now.

        • by JamesP (688957)

          I really liked your answer. Mine was an under $100 kid's microscope (went up to x400 but still)

          Also worth mentioning are the people that have more than 60k worth of stuff in their car (yo! dog I heard you like...), people who are in the lightweight aircraft hobby, etc, etc

        • Not quite true. I don't know in which country you live, but in the USA you have a very lively and healthy market for used laboratory equipment of top quality. Perfectly usable, excellent quality SEM equipment can be had for 1/3rd to 1/4th of the price of new equipment of same quality.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The computer sitting on my desk right now has 8GB of RAM, 4x2.4GHz cores, and 1TB of disk space -- build-out was about $1,600.

          In 1995, I picked up a system with a Pentium @ 60MHz with 8MB of RAM for $2,000. Not that much can be added (I think the max RAM for this system was 16MB...maybe 32MB), but RAM was running about $200 for a 4MB stick at the time.

          Based upon the RAM alone, I am running a $410,000 computer system in 1995 terms.

          Let's look at the CPU...a P120 was about $400 at the time...strictly based up

          • by vlm (69642)

            The computer sitting on my desk right now has ... build-out was about $1,600.

            In 1995, I picked up a system ... for $2,000.

            I have a half million dollar system on my desk right now...

            No, you have a $1600 system on your desk (well, $1600 replacement cost, not resale cost)... doing the same stuff, more or less, as your 13 year old system that cost $2000.

            and I didn't have to sell my old system for $450,000 to get it.

            You'll have to pay to have the 13 year old one hauled away, and the new one probably would optimistically get maybe $800 used. Probably not $450,000 unless it turns into the next collectible genuine appleII ...

            Your example makes my point perfectly... spend $3600 on a computer hobby, and when you cash out to do something somewhat different

        • Yeah, it happens in other hobbies as well. I'm a blacksmith, I'm looking to trade in my 1929 Little Giant power hammer (50 lb ram) for something a bit more modern, probably a 1980's era forging press or similar. Given that the power hammer, despite being 80 years old, will probably sell for ~$3000, that's about 80% of the cost of a suitable forging press. --d
        • by don.g (6394)

          Unless you buy Macs. At least here (New Zealand) the second-hand prices are insanely high; I have several friends who upgraded from MBPs to the new one lump of aluminium things with not too much gap in price. I have no idea why this is; feel free to pretend I put an insulting statement about people who buy second-hand Macs here if you like.

          For me, this is a reason not to buy Macs -- I can't get a cheap second hand one, and I prefer Linux anyway.

          However, with the massive advances in computing, old (or new)

      • If you are really interested in SEM microscopes, why don't you look into 2nd hand devices? At least in the USA, you have a thriving 2nd hand market for laboratory equipment - something we in Finland don't have (here used equipment is discarded, even if it is 100% usable. At best, specialized companies disassemble and resell some of the components. It's a crying shame.).

        Most of the used SEM equipment in the USA can be had for 1/4th of the price of new, and this is ture also for stuff such as gas chromatograp

  • > So easy a grade-schooler could use it

    The real question is:
    Is it easy enough that a caveman can do it?
  • Bah! (Score:2, Funny)

    by jcr (53032)

    In my day, we didn't have electron microscopes at school! We had to squint! And we were grateful!

    -jcr

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "In my day, we didn't have electron microscopes at school! We had to squint! And we were grateful!"

      That's nothing. In MY day, we didn't have eyes!

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:07AM (#29711145)

    "...The only bad news? It runs XP."

    OK, don't get me wrong, I'm all for a good old fashioned bashing against the almighty iSteve with my Ballmer signature series chair thrower, but c'mon, seriously? Do we have to consider every damn application that runs XP a bad thing?

    Seems the "damned" OS has managed to survive in the corporate world years past Vista (we're STILL ordering brand-new systems with XP), and Netbooks have seen their own resurgence of support for the aging yet stable and predictable OS.

    I run a Macbook for school. What do I have loaded on Fusion? Yup, you guessed it. XP, for when I MUST run a Windows app. Every student comes marching in every year with a new Vista or OSX-loaded laptop, yet my entire computer lab is still running...yup, right again. Good ol' XP. Old, yet functional.

    And rounding out this volley back to the subject at hand, some simple applications (like a microscope) I would rather NOT have to worry about the bullshit bloat of some other OS, especially when you consider your target audience is USED to seeing XP.

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      I won't speculate about the intent of the original poster, but I found it somewhat interesting (and maybe even disappointing?) that it required a regular computer OS to function AT ALL?!

      If I spent $60K on a single purpose device like this, I'd wonder why it doesn't just have an integrated, dedicated operating system in flash memory or something? It wouldn't negate its ability to show up on a network (if that was needed/wanted), nor its ability to save images or videos in standard file formats.

      It seems like

      • by Doppler00 (534739)

        This is an electron scanning microscope, not a toaster. Why would you use some proprietary OS on an embedded system? Even a lot of new oscilloscopes are running Windows now and work quite well. Good luck getting all your proprietary commercial scientific libraries to compile on some random dedicated operating system in flash memory.

    • by j.boulton (661381)

      "...The only bad news? It runs XP."

      OK, don't get me wrong, I'm all for a good old fashioned bashing against the almighty iSteve with my Ballmer signature series chair thrower, but c'mon, seriously? Do we have to consider every damn application that runs XP a bad thing?

      Seems the "damned" OS has managed to survive in the corporate world years past Vista (we're STILL ordering brand-new systems with XP), and Netbooks have seen their own resurgence of support for the aging yet stable and predictable OS.

      I run a Macbook for school. What do I have loaded on Fusion? Yup, you guessed it. XP, for when I MUST run a Windows app. Every student comes marching in every year with a new Vista or OSX-loaded laptop, yet my entire computer lab is still running...yup, right again. Good ol' XP. Old, yet functional.

      And rounding out this volley back to the subject at hand, some simple applications (like a microscope) I would rather NOT have to worry about the bullshit bloat of some other OS, especially when you consider your target audience is USED to seeing XP.

      Ok. I'll bite. I am a Scientific Instrument Engineer. I have worked in government and Universersity labs. When you have an expensive instrument like a NMR or mass spec with a price in excess of $100K then you would expect a long service life. And in fact the more you use and instrument the more valuable it becomes as you gain 'trust' in the instrument capabilities through multiple calibrations. When the instrument is controlled through a OS like XP then you limit the life time of the instrument. Also you ha

  • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:13AM (#29711179)
    I can just imagine it... "Sorry sir, there was fine print there, right inside that little dot; perhaps your eyesight is such that you'll need a Hitachi TM-1000 electron microscope. The price has really come down recently."
  • There's a lot of considerations that go into making and operating an electron microscope. For one thing, they usually require a pretty high vacuum which always has to be on causing some pretty how power costs.

    Plus they also have to be isolated from vibrations in the ground, so even if it's not that sensitive, it still probably would only work if installed in the basement of a suburban house; operating that thing near the top of a multi-story apartment complex probably would cause some sort of calibration errors. The TEMs that I've seen were built on top of some huge concrete blocks (at least 10 feet deep) that were isolated from the surrounding so trucks could pass by without disturbing them.

    Don't see why it's worth $60,000 when you can give an entire class of about 100 a regular compound light microscope for everyone to use, as long as it's purely for educational purposes. Nevertheless, it's a pretty cool engineering feat, and I guess someone somewhere could find it practical.

    • by raddan (519638) *
      I was fortunate to be able to use a 1st-gen "cheap" scanning tunneling microscope when I was a college freshman (this was in 1997). This thing was really cool. I think it had a resolution of about 0.1 micron. One of the things the designers showed me was a bit of a CD-- you could actually see the "pits" and "lands". They wanted to build these things cheaply enough to get them into high schools. If I recall correctly, their target price was something like $10k.

      The purpose in me being there for was to
    • by Jaime2 (824950) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:57AM (#29711401)
      I was a TEM operator about twenty years ago. We didn't have any special floor and the vacuum was drawn with an Edwards High Vacuum roughing pump that plugged into the wall and the final vacuum (10E-7 torr) was drawn with the internal diffusion pump. It was a Hitachi 600AB that could do about 100,000X magnification, but we only used it to about 4,000X or so for our purposes. This was a two ton, seven foot tall scope. We didn't use it for high magnification, but for x-ray diffraction crystallography and EDS identification of elemental composition. We also has a Phillips SEM. I'm sure we paid far less than $60,000 for it -- we bought it used. Even the TEM, which we bought brand new, was only about four times as expensive as the TM-1000. However, neither of these scopes could ever be used in most homes due to power requirements and their sheer size.

      I think the big deal here is that this one (the TM-1000) fits on a table top, weighs 200 pounds, and doesn't require liquid nitrogen. BTW, the EDS detector available for this unit is pretty lame and is only able to detect elements from sodium up.
    • by khallow (566160)

      Don't see why it's worth $60,000 when you can give an entire class of about 100 a regular compound light microscope for everyone to use, as long as it's purely for educational purposes. Nevertheless, it's a pretty cool engineering feat, and I guess someone somewhere could find it practical.

      Interesting thought process. Personally, I wouldn't want to have to maintain a class of 100. They wouldn't fit in my basement and probably require daily feedings. And as pointed out elsewhere, the maximum resolution of optical microscopes is a bit less (at least a factor of five). The computer interface for the TM-1000 might be a considerable portion of the value of the microscope. Still doesn't sound that exciting to me either.

      As for vibrations, it depends on the magnifying power. This particular micros

  • the summary is wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by myc (105406) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @11:18AM (#29711205)

    On a research grade light microscope, the maximum magnification one can get without loss of resolution is roughly 1500x - 1600x, not 400x as the summary suggests. Also, resolution of the image has nothing to do with magnification; the numerical aperture (N.A.) of the objective lens determines the resolution.

    • The real advantage of electron microscopy is depth of field. At 1000x magnification or higher, only a very thin layer is in focus. The much shorter wavelength of electrons produces a much greater depth of field, allowing realistic looking 3-dimensional images to be captured. This makes it very useful for failure analysis, where rough surfaces are typical. This product may reduce the capital cost for failure analysis consulting. But you'll still need a decade or more of training and experience.
  • Yeah, I could really have used those $15 that running Linux would save me..
    • it has a USB 2.0 connector to attach to PC which is recommended to run XP. Probably not a big deal to get it to work with Linux or BSD or Mac OSX

  • Like the poster said, hope these come done in price. They are so many differicult microorganisms that we only way that humanity is going to get near to cataloging, understanding and using them all, is if many hobbist get labs capable of viewing, growing, gene squencing and describing the life cycles of them. Until every village in the world, has a guy that can identify new life forms, and send them up to a central database, the world is going full of unknown, possibly dangerous lifeforms.

    The above microsc

  • Wake me up when I can own a Rife microscope [rifewiki.org].
    • For some strange reason, I decided to follow along.

      Wow, what a bunch of whargarble. I think I could go through the entire list of logical fallacies and find at least one example of each somewhere on that site.

      Thank you for such an interesting diversion.

      I think I prefer the TM-1000 myself.

  • Bidding is open for a Hitachi S-6180 from the University of Wisconsin... mds.bussvc.wisc.edu [wisc.edu]

    Five grand (and a the winning bid) and it can be yours.

    • by treeves (963993)
      Could be a good deal for someone who needs to look at 6" or 8" patterned semiconductor wafers. Not for general samples. And it said one of the vacuum pumps doesn't work and it hasn't been used for three years, and it weighs two tons. If you can live with all that, go for it!
  • sample prep? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by brillow (917507)
    EM is all fine and good, but you cant just stick things into it like you can a light microscope. Sample prep is very complex. Unless these kids have several rather nasty solvents to fix the sample, and a high-pressure liquid CO2 bomb to remove excess liquids, not to mention a sputter-coater, there is nothing you can do with it. Sounds like a waste of money for schools to buy this. Better to buy 200 decent light-scopes and let kids play with it individually than watch the teacher put a prepared sample i
  • by doctor_no (214917) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @12:30PM (#29711633)

    The electron microscope I used to use ran on OS/2 Warp. Acquired images had to be transferred off the computer using Zip drives. Its still in service. I have a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) machines that runs on OS9 exclusively.

    The thing is, being that some scientific equipment can easily be six-figures, the computers that are connected to those machines are dedicated to it and run one piece of software exclusively. Many scientist aren't in-depth computer people, most labs with won't allow those computers to have any other software that isn't necessary to be installed, or be used to surf the net, or be upgraded if its working. Any downtime associated with such an expensive machine can be costly, and the software that runs it is usually finicky and filled with bugs (being that the userbase is miniscule).

    The fact that its on XP isn't much of an issue, in fact, it seems a lot more progressive then other equipment out there. I know equipment that will on run on Windows 95/98/Me, and let me tell you it's a NIGHTMARE!

  • by tsa (15680)

    FEI has a much better one that can do 24000X max [fei.com]. At 70000 it's a bit more expensive than the Hitachi but then you have soemthing you can really work with. Trust me, 10000X is not nearly enough to see anything interesting :). I saw a demonstration of one of those at a conference once. I wish I had the money to get one of those things for myself.

    • by tsa (15680)

      That's 70000 euros. Bloody hell /., when are you going to go with the times and use a correct character set?

  • Make one ! (Score:2, Informative)

    by hebertrich (472331)

    Want one ?
    The very serious " The Amateur Scientist " column in Scientific American in the
    early 70's had detailed plans on how to make an electron microscope.
    A do it yourself project. With a teacher , we had built one of them and it turned out
    very interresting images. Just a thought.

  • Here's one of the elementary school's blog entries about the subject, in case any of you were curious.

    "The amazing world through an electron microscope [fc2.com]" (Japanese only)

    Previously, we asked the children for suggestions on what they wanted to see through the electron microscope. At this morning's assembly, we showed objects that three students wanted to see. The first was a butterfly's scales [on its wings]. The second was a 10 yen coin. The third was a single-celled organism called Foraminifera. The child

  • Now, for just US$60000, the busy Blade Runner about town can look for manufacturer's reference codes on synthetic snake scales from the comfort of his own home! No more standing out in the rain!

  • Uh... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Legion303 (97901) on Sunday October 11, 2009 @08:55PM (#29714553) Homepage

    "It runs XP."

    No it doesn't. Perhaps submitters should start looking at what they're submitting. I know it's a lot to ask.

  • ... it's tough to complain about the Microsoft tax. It's so small as to be unnoticable. Still, once enough of these get out into the hands of ordinary folk, how long do you think it'll be before someone has Linux-based replacement software?

  • How about a SEM for $5k? Assume similar to Hitachi resolution, ease of use; 1/2 the size and 1/4 the weight. What uses can you think of for this? How big is the market--how many per year would people buy? Yea, it's possible. -Dr.E
  • This is very much like the FEI Phenom microscope [phenom-world.com], which my company wrote the software for. The Phenom has been on the market for several years already. It's cheaper too, if I'm not mistaken.
  • Three decades ago, when I was at high school, and even in early university years, I was fascinated with biology and specially botany. I acquired a good conventional optical microscope and got custom fixtures made for SLR cameras to take pictures. I managed to scan some of those I could find on my page on photomicroscopy [baheyeldin.com]. I was endlessly fascinated by seeing the patterns on pollen grains and chloroplasts inside plant cells.

    I always hit the limit on what optical microscopes can see, even with an oil immersio

    • by dr.ebeam (1654573)

      Three decades ago, when I was at high school, and even in early university years, I was fascinated with biology and specially botany. I acquired a good conventional optical microscope and got custom fixtures made for SLR cameras to take pictures. I managed to scan some of those I could find on my page on photomicroscopy [baheyeldin.com]. I was endlessly fascinated by seeing the patterns on pollen grains and chloroplasts inside plant cells.

      I always hit the limit on what optical microscopes can see, even with an oil immersion lens. The depth of focus was always very shallow and I had to prepare stuff before seeing much. I kept reading on electronic microscopes, both scanning and tunneling, and only dreaming of ever operating one.

      Perhaps in my lifetime it can be more affordable as an item for the hobbyist.

      So, would you pay $5-10k for an SEM that was relatively simple and easy to maintain?

      • by kbahey (102895)

        Yes, I would consider the 5K if it is simple to connect and operate. 10K? Maybe not so much. That would be after the kids are done with university and I have spare time and money.

        Or perhaps the public library should get one, or the local Hacker Space, and share it among many people.

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