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Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 15, 2025
Azimuthal beam scanning eliminates the uneven excitation field arising from laser interference in through-objective total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy. The same principle can be applied to scanning angle interference microscopy (SAIM), where precision control of the scanned laser beam presents unique technical challenges for the builders of custom azimuthal scanning microscopes. Accurate synchronization between the instrument computer, beam scanning system and excitation source is required to collect high quality data and minimize sample damage in SAIM acquisitions. Drawing inspiration from open-source prototyping systems, like the Arduino microcontroller boards, we developed a new instrument control platform to be affordable, easily programmed, and broadly useful, but with integrated, precision analog circuitry and optimized firmware routines tailored to advanced microscopy. We show how the integration of waveform generation, multiplexed analog outputs, and native hardware triggers into a single central hub provides a versatile platform for performing fast circle-scanning acquisitions, including azimuthal scanning SAIM and multiangle TIRF. We also demonstrate how the low communication latency of our hardware platform can reduce image intensity and reconstruction artifacts arising from synchronization errors produced by software control. Our complete platform, including hardware design, firmware, API, and software, is available online for community-based development and collaboration.