As I mentioned in a previous post, old Illumina GAIIx sequencers have a bunch of nice microscope parts in them. In particular, the have an ASI XY stage, Z stage, and filter wheel, all run by a single controller. This person on eBay occasionally sells these parts as a unit, guaranteed to work, for about $2000. I’ve bought two sets of these ASI parts from him, one to upgrade the previous manual system we built, and one to upgrade an AZ100 I’m building a light sheet system on. In the first case, we used both stages but not the filter wheel; in the second case we used the XY stage and filter wheel but not the Z stage (yet).
The LX-4000 controller in these systems is an OEM unit and uses a slightly different command set than the commercial ASI controllers, but it’s been reverse engineered and incorporated into the Micro-Manager driver, so setting up these stages for control by Micro-Manager has been very easy. There is a lot of good detail on setting them up in this thread from the Micro-Manager listserv.
The main drawbacks that I have seen are that the XY stage isn’t encoded and is a little smaller than a standard ASI stage. It also doesn’t come with a joystick, so there’s no easy way to move it without going through software. The stage mounts to the microscope or table with four 1/4-20 screws, so it’s easy to construct an adapter to mount it anywhere you might want. I’ve drawn up a stage insert for it that can be 3D printed and screwed to the stage to hold a slide; it’s also easy to adapt this for any other samples you want to hold.The stage insert and an adapter to attach the XY stage to an AZ100 are in the 3D printing section of the NIC wiki.
I haven’t seen any of these systems on eBay in a few weeks, but they’re worth keeping an eye out for if you’re looking for an inexpensive stage.