The "minimum hardware" you need consists of, at least:
- a microscope, as you said (which one exactly depends on what you want to do with it);
- whatever device you need to apply physical stimuli to cells (again, it depends on what you want to do exactly);
- a cell culture incubator;
- a cell culture hood to be able to work under sterile conditions;
- a dedicated cell culture room where to put the previous two items;
- a cell line to perform experiments on (actually, more likely several different cell lines).
Your question sounds like you are thinking about a personal project, but consider that none of these items is cheap. Add them up, and this project is really not affordable with the finances of an average individual.
The "minimum knowledge" you need consists of, at least:
- knowing how to do cell culture (mostly working under sterile conditions, which not only requires proper equipment but also very specialized technical skills);
- knowing (at least some of) the scientific literature about cellular responses to physical stimuli, because no lab is going to hire you as an intern if the project you have in mind has already been done and its results published years ago. You can search the biological scientific literature using PubMed.
So, to me it seems that your best chance of starting this project is to find a cell biology lab with this equipment and expertise, and do an internship there. You can start by looking this up on the website of the university closest to you.