We want to record c. elegans worms pumping behavior. We have microfluidic chips where we can trap the worms in little corals and then flow food into their faces. We then use the raspberry pis to record the video for many hours and then we can analyze the resulting footage. I don't do the actual experiments, I just designed, built, and wrote all of the software for this thing and then let the grad students use it
The microscopes are very cheap straight-from-china that were like $75 a piece (this is in contrast to our high quality recording microscopes which are like $2k a piece. The Raspberry Pi's are cheap. So we could build 10 of these for less than one of our usual recording microscopes
They're Celestron 44104's. We bought them from Amazon but they've gone up a bit in price (we actually saw the price jump after ordering 11 of them)
They have 4x 10x and 40x + 10x or 12.5x eyepiece. We don't use the eyepiece and just have celestron 44421 cameras on some of them controlled by the raspberry pi's in the image here. I've also hacked a few apart to make various things. One has a filter holder for fluorescence imaging, one has some modifications allowing the camera to get a much wider field of view, and a few are modified to accept c-mount scientific CMOS cameras
We haven't tried near-IR with these yet. I don't see any reason why one couldn't do it, I just don't know how sensitive the celestron cameras are.
The fluorescence was a pain to set up. The filter we were using cost more than all of the other parts put together. We also found some GFP filters on ebay but decided it didn't really matter. We just set up fluorescence as a figure it a paper we're writing on this setup.
I actually managed to use a 405nm laser pointer to excite the GFP $10 on ebay and a lot of fun to play with.