The world is an interesting place, but it's fascinating up close.  Through the lens of a microscope you can find details that you would otherwise never notice.  But now you can.

This instructable will show you how to build a stand for about $10 that will transform your smartphone into a powerful digital microscope. This DIY conversion stand is more than capable of functioning in an actual laboratory setting. With magnification levels as high as 175x 375x Edit:  with the addition of a second lens magnification can be as high as 375x, plant cells and their nuclei are easily observed!  In addition to allowing the observation of cells, this setup also produces stunning macro photography.

The photos in this instructable were taken with an iPhone 4S.  

Watch the video below for a quick overview of the project!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

The cost of this project is just $10 (not counting the smartphone), and it only takes about 20 minutes to build. You can be viewing cells with your smartphone within the hour!

Materials required:
3x 4 ½” x 5/16” carriage bolts
9x 5/16” nuts
3x 5/16” wing nuts
5x 5/16” washers
¾” x 7” x 7” plywood  -- for the base
⅛” x 7” x 7” plexiglass  -- for the camera stage
⅛” x 3” x 7” plexiglass  -- for the specimen stage
Scrap plexi (~ 2"x 4") for specimen slide (optional but useful)
laser pointer focus lens (use two for increased magnification)
LED click light (necessary only for viewing backlit specimens)

Assorted bits


Lights: http://www.amazon.com/FTmall-Pocket-Portable-Keychain-Flashlight/dp/B008O2KKYW/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2B8SF4TS2YZYV
Lenses: If you don't have a laser, these lenses have produced comparable results:  http://www.aixiz.com/store/product_info.php/cPath/46/products_id/374/osCsid/37cabc139b4f03b0e0a522178defae7e


Love the simplicity of this and will definitely be taking inspiration. One question: how have you worked out the level of magnification you are getting?
The magnification was determined by using calibration micrometer slides and comparing the images obtained by this apparatus to the images from a digital microscope of known magnification.
<p>You don't need a calibrated digital microscope if you know the object size. Just measure a known size object on the display (that you claim the magnification for). For example, if a 1mm ruler mark is 100mm, measured on the screen, you have a magnification of 100. You can also use common objects, such as human hair, which is about 0.002 inch diameter as your &quot;calibration object&quot;.</p>
The LED light that is used in this instructable: <br> <br>Diamond Visions Inc 08-0775 Crazy Colored Stubby Keychain Led Flashlight
<p>I understand that you can use others as well?</p>
Easy to follow instructions, made some modification with object &quot;shelf&quot;, I had to secure it with a set of rubber band so it would not tilt away. Fine adjustment for lens is required, as it has a very tiny depth of field. Used a laser pointer lens.
Love those photos!! This whole instructable is simply marvelous--I love how folks are making/modifying it to suit their own needs. I am excited to get started on my own!!
<p>with my CNC router I just fabricated 72 kits which a friend gave away to children at the Portland makers faire. [ignor extra holes in base of prototype]</p>
<p>Love this.</p>
<p>Kudos to you and your friend! 72 inspired minds (likely more, because they'll share with their friends) Awesomeness!</p>
<p>Oh wow that&acute;s actually quite amazing. Keep up the great work.</p>
<p>is this a good science fair project? </p>
This would be one of the coolest science fake projects ever. As a judge of one or two myself, I would call this project a winner. Good luck!
<p>Ok, I wanted to share something I saw the other day- a company called Echo Labs is selling a wooden cell phone microscope kit somewhat similar to this one for ten dollars. I haven't bought one yet, so I don't know the quality of the kit or the lenses, but it looks pretty neat:<br><a href="http://echo-labs.com/woodenscope" rel="nofollow">http://echo-labs.com/woodenscope</a></p><p>It has an interesting focus mechanism, and is made of laser cut wood.</p><p>I've made a bunch of Yoshinok's kits too, we use them for school, and I like them. I would like to compare the two.very much.</p>
<p>Hi, BenR11! I picked up one of the wooden microscopes from Echo after you posted this. It is cute. It comes as a single sheet of laser-cut thin plywood. The greatest level of magnification I got out of it was about 50x (compare to the double lens smartphone microscope &gt;300x). That was AFTER I had zoomed in. Without the zoom it is closer to ~10x, maybe less. It doesn't come with a light source, and I had some issues with the keychain light (the one I use in my scopes). The individual LED's were clearly seen even after using diffusion gels. </p><p>The huge lens has a long focal length, so the samples don't need to be super close to the lens to be in focus. This is handy when looking at opaque objects as it allows a good deal of light to reach the sample. I'd say for very simple investigations of opaque specimens this microscope works pretty well. </p>
Thank you for the review! Oh, by the way, Yoshinok, your cell phone microscopes are working great in our biology lab, I appreciate you inventing this!
I can only see 40x. How to magnify to 175x? Please let me know, Yoshinok.
<p>Hi Samp130! You will need to use the digital zoom on the phone to achieve higher levels of magnification.</p>
<p>Looks awesome, Thanks in advance</p>
<p>This is my first time building something. A little crooked. Make sure to take proper measurements and honestly write down everything because I was being lazy and just taking the instructions from the video. So far I was only able to take some photos of some coins up close and they look pretty cool to me. My only issue has been that the objects need to be really close to the lens for there to be any kind of clarity. </p><p>I will eventually get a light and I also want to add another lens. </p>
<p>Excellent work! Those photos are great!</p>
One thing I found that I needed to measure the size of my lense because it was smaller than in the video. Drill bit and lense were the same size, had to woller the hole to make it fit. Then I got the hole too big... A little super glue on a toothpick wiped on the inside of the hole and allowed to dry and you are back in business. The lense can be inserted without falling through. Do not get the glue on the lense or plexi, and do not use acetone on plexiglass as it will mark the surface.
<p>I made it!</p>
<p>This was a fun build and it took about 3 hours (mostly due to finding all the parts cheaply) and cost me 9.57 to make. There are some cumbersome aspects that I will be fixing up in later renditions.</p>
<p>Did anyone built the microscope using 2 lenses? How's the result? Can anybody tell me how should I place the 2 lenses?</p>
<p>I made this microscope. I found the project to be a bit difficult, despite its seeming ease. And I definitely spent more than $10. I used the Aixiz lenses. All the holes are drilled with a 3/8&quot; bit. I enlarged the lense hole a bit with a round file and pushed in the lense. I still need to work on this more. I thought I would use springs between the specimen stage and the upper level (cell phone platform), as described here http://makezine.com/projects/smartphone-microscope/. But then I had too much space between the two levels. This is a great, fun, and educational project. I plan to work on it more. Maybe I'll do a full write-up of this project. I like the all plexi-glass version, with the center knob. And I like the version where the maker just put their own LEDs at the bottom, not an LED flashlight.</p>
<p>this is awesome. I can't wait to try it out with my kid. thanks!</p>
<p>What about using two lenses, how should I arrange them? Or the distance between?</p>
<p>thank you</p>
<p>Hello from Spain...<br> I love this, it is very clever.<br> I'll do it with a friend, and I'll tell you how it goes ...<br><br> Thank you very much for sharing</p>
<p>How I can convert it to phase contrast ??. I want to count cells using haemocytometer. </p>
<p>THE BEST!</p>
Hi Yo. Ingenius and Innovative setup you made there.<br><br>I am a Nigerian who studied Microbiology. Students in Nigeria find it difficult assessing a microscope because its very expensive and most schools dont even have a working one.<br><br>So as soon as i saw this setup, i couldnt help but wonder how helpful this cheap setup can be to students and how many thousands of dollars (millions in nigerian naira) one can make by harnessing, perfecting and commercializing this setup.<br><br>I am doubly sure that this setup can be improved enough to be able to view bacterial cells.<br><br>I am yet to practically construct this set up coz am still gathering the materials, but from the contributions so far, i havs some questions to ask<br><br>what is the magnification of the laser light lens?<br>a light compound microscope uses 2 kinda lenses - the objective lens (with a maximum mag of 100*) and ocular lens (with a maximum mag of 10*). this lenses are inclined at an angle to give us a total mag of 1000* whatever we are viewing (this mag can be used to view bacteria). So are the lenses in your setup inclined at an angle or simply stacked atop each other to get a more magnified view?<br>Lenses are made of tiny reflecting units, so is it possible to cut a big 100* lens into the size of the laser focus light lens so it can fit into the small drilled hole in your set up.<br><br>Pardon my long comment. I am seriously considering the prospects of perfecting and commercializing this setup to help students and also make some gains. thank you
<p>with nokia asha 210 and a laser pointer lens, i made microscope phone with only 5 minutes!! </p><p>Back cover of the phone has lens hole. I removed the plastic from inside and make the hole a little bigger with knife. After that i inserted the lens. And ready to make about 100x mag anywhere.</p>
<p>Which lenses exactly make the best microscope then? Would a dollar store laser lens be equivocal to what you find in say a petsmart laser pointer? Also getting a linking problem on the page, it takes you to some acrylic lenses on both links. I got one to work! Very fun, I think I need to make the stage less wobbly and it was hard to drill through the plexiglass, since it is so polished and the bit just won't start so it cracked where I put in my microscope lens. A little rubber cement will hold the lens if it drops through! </p>
<p>I just bought a dollar store laser pointer/Led flashlight &amp; let me tell you it's complete waste of a dollar. There was no way to take out the lense. </p>
I did manage to remove the lense from the brass casing. Part of it needs to be twisted free or carefully use a drill bit by hand to extract the lense from the surrounding container. Needle nose pliers help, you may need to bread away the brittle container edges.
And yeah is it important to use glass on the top?
And yeah is it important to use glass on the top?
Hi first of allits amazing got my attraction and the best incredible second can i use a normal glass instead of plexiglass plz reply fast, thanks in advance
Sorry for the wrong spellings and some words
<p>Looks awesome, I will try it as soon as I have free time.</p>
<p>Does this make traditional light microscopes redundant given their weight and lack of photography ability usually?</p>
<p>I made two modifications. I made it a &quot;4-poster&quot; and expanded the depth to 10&quot; to accommodate an iPad mini. I also glued together two pieces of Plexiglas (one 1/8&quot; and one 3/8&quot;) to create a thicker top. This allowed me to easily insert two lenses.</p>
<p>I made it with a few modifications...</p><p>I made it larger to accommodate tablets (my school has a 1-1 iPad program) 9' x 11&quot; with the lens centered allows an iPad to be set on the plate sort of crooked and used.</p><p>Options at the big orange store were lexan or acrylic sheet in .903&quot; or .22&quot;. Decided to try the thinner cheaper acrylic sheet (1/2 the cost). Works fine so far (and easier to cut). </p><p>Only cheap LED flashlights I could find were tall, so I used 5.5&quot; bolts. </p><p>Took a little experimentation to get the image in focus (slide stage has to be VERY close to camera). We'll see how it works for yeast cells on Monday! </p><p>(it is ugly, yes, but it was a quick job and I had help from a 3 year old!)</p>
<p>I did it! :) Made entirely of plexiglass except the bolt offcourse. I used one central wheel for focusing instead of two. I made pretty cool images with it. You can see spider's &quot;skeleton&quot; and mosquito's hairy leggs. Amazing idea, but I'm not sure about magnification because I used CD ROM lens, I doubt it has 375X but it's just fine. And I used LED strip instead of flashlight.</p>
<p>Do you think a CD ROM lens would work better?</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>Why don't you make an instructable of this! I'm very interested in this version because of the one central focusing wheel.</p><p>Thanks in advance</p>

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