After countless hours of reading manuals, schematics and myst documentation,  Mike Bales and the Santa Barbara Hackerspace crew were able to successfully assemble and power up the behemoth Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) that was donated to the Space by Santa Barbara Infrared. This puts the SB Hackerspace into a small exclusive group of maker spaces which have electron microscopes for use by members and the public.

The SEM has all the trappings of 1990’s complexity with multiple vacuum chambers, pumps, crystals, archaic x86 computers, CRTs and floppy drive image export.  It takes an impressive 3 hours for the SEM to fully boot up, reach high vacuum and be ready for use!  The SB Hackerspace has plans to convert the output to live HDMI feed for video and push-button image capture.

This model, the Jeol JSM 6400 F Scanning Electron Microscope, also offers a nifty engraving feature.  Mike is offering to custom engrave your favorite poem onto the head of a tiny pentalobe TS1 screw in exchange for a donation to the SB Hackerspace.  You’ll need an Electron Microscope of your own to read the engraving 🙂

Because the SEM uses electromagnets and electrons rather than lenses and light, there is a much greater degree of magnification available. This electron microscope can produce very clear, sharp images all the way up to an astounding 300,000x magnification!

Phoebe and I dropped by the Hackerspace to take the electron microscope for a spin: