Inexpensive manual microscopy stages

I’m building a simple, low resolution microscope for imaging microfluidic devices (follow on research to our paper on bead encoding) and I wanted a cheap manual stage for the microscope.  All the stages I could find from the big microscopes vendors and the other usual suppliers of such things were over $1000, which is probably about what I spent on the rest of the components of the microscope. I wasn’t too happy about that, so I went looking for some cheaper options, and found a company, Manual Positioning, which makes a number of very cheap (<$200) microscope stages. One of their stages is resold by AmScope on Amazon with free prime shipping, which brings the cost down to only $80. I bought one, and it seems perfectly good for what I want to do. The control knob on the top of the stage is an odd choice, but not a problem for our application.


The stage, installed on our microscope.

To get it to work as I wanted I had to make some modifications – I milled out the mounting holes to use 8-32 screws for compatibility with Thorlabs posts, and replaced the glass plate that held the sample with a 3D-printed insert, but with that done it works very well.