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The design of the control system for a scanning tunneling microscope is described. The control system was optimized for a tube scanner instrument and for constant‐current‐mode operation. The optimization process included measurement of the transient and frequency responses of the instrument, design of the appropriate control electronics, and development of software consistent with the characteristics of the instrument and electronics. The limiting factor for tube scanner performance was found to be the transient settling time rather than the lowest mechanical resonant frequency of the tube. The settling time for the mechanical resonances of the tube scanner was reduced from 100 to 1 ms by potting the device with silicone rubber. After the potting procedure, the sensitivity of the tube scanner was essentially unchanged.