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$10 Smartphone to digital microscope conversion!

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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!
 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

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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)

Tools:
Drill
Assorted bits
Ruler

LINKS TO LENSES AND LIGHTS

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

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Yoshinok (author) 1 year ago
The LED light that is used in this instructable:

Diamond Visions Inc 08-0775 Crazy Colored Stubby Keychain Led Flashlight
bbtinker Yoshinok6 months ago

You can get the led light at Dealextreme too.

I understand that you can use others as well?

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?
Yoshinok (author)  Dean Wilson1 year ago
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.
tmichlovitch made it!17 days ago

My 9 year old daughter and I made this. We had a lot of fun putting it together. I cut the wood and the plexyglass and she helped me assemble it. We covered the wood with some black pressure sensitive vinyl type material so that it would look better. The close up shot is a picture of the letter A taken from a quarter.

Thanks, we had fun!

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Hi. Looking great. I see you also made the same modification as I did by adding extra bolts to the adjustable table to keep it more steady. One hint, try to get the laser inside an old CD,DVD player, burner etc... It is alot bigger and works much better than the laser from a laser pointer.

Thanks for the hint, I will try that out.

is plexiglass do anything with magnification
AlexM345 days ago

Do you know any teachers who have made use of this in classrooms? If so I would love to feature them in an article I'm writing now about accessible innovation - alexannem [at] gmail [dot] com

Any helpful tips on getting the lens out of the black housing from the lenses bought in bulk? l bought the ones listed, totally scratched one up trying to get it out. Ideas? Anyone know what size drill bit works best for the suggested lenses?
Any helpful tips on getting the lens out of the black housing from the lenses bought in bulk? l bought the ones listed, totally scratched one up trying to get it out. Ideas? Anyone know what size drill bit works best for the suggested lenses?
In the parts list it calls for 3 5/16 wing nuts... only shows two in the break down. Typo or am I missing something?
navaneethm12 days ago

I cant get the magnification you've achieved. I estimate my magnification around 10X. What could be causing this?

Have you tried the same setup with different phones? What were the results?

I used to have a laser pointer when I was a kid, but threw it our at one point. Can you tell me where I can buy just a focus lens?

Hi Christian. I build this microscope using the lens from an old DVD writer. You can find these lenses in any sort of dvd, cd, blue ray etc.. players. The lens is used to change the focal point of the laser. I would rather suggest using such a laser becaue it is alot bigger so you can get better clearer pictures.

Thanks. I have an old portable cd player which I will now make good use of :) I was keeping it for memories, but this is a much better idea.

This was my attempt making this microscope. Some modifications i made was making the adjustable table bigger so that it is more stabe. I also tried a lens from an old dvd writer which is alot bigger than a laser pointer lens. The laser pointer lens seems to give more amplification but the dvd writer lens is more clearer as you can see in my pictures.

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The pictures of the grass leaf was taken with X 1 zoom on the smartphone camera. With the laser pointer lens you need to get alot closer to the camera to get it in focus than the dvd writer lens.

Thanks for this idea. I build it a couple of days ago but instead of using the lens from a laser I used the lens from a computer DVD writer. Its alot bigger than the one in a laser pointer.

MelissaP218 days ago

One of the very best instructables I've ever seen! I love that this is inexpensive and portable enough to make it useful for teachers, too!

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http://www.roboticspedia.com

http://www.roboticspedia.com

http://roboticspedia.com

I also improved the stabilization with two pieces
of aluminum tubing.
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I built one! Then I showed it to my science teacher and she told me I should upgrade it. So I did. I used lenses out of a real microscope and created an even focusing system with lego hubs and a belt. Thank you for this great intractable. I had a blast!
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TofuTigerr1 month ago

The lens just makes things blurry for me, and I'm using the exact same laser pointer as you have in the picture!

Ok, i got it fixed now, it was just I couldn't get the objects close enough. How did you get the stage stabilized? In order for the stage to move smoothly, I had to make the holes bigger, but now it's wobbly. Also, I can't get the magnification you have even with 2 lenses.

my4pop11 month ago

Very nice liked. I hope you the further development.

They're right when they say, the best things are simple. Thanks for the share.

JeffreyB21 month ago
i will make this but add stuff like nob adjustments and stuff like that
liu.rijing1 month ago

Hi I bought the lenses from the link you
provided and when I attached the len to the camera phone, the field of view is
very narrow, do I have to take out the black rubber piece surrounding the len.
If need to, how to do so?

Thank
you very much for your advice. Very much appreciated

liu.rijing1 month ago

Hi I bought the lenses from the link you
provided and when I attached the len to the camera phone, the field of view is
very narrow, do I have to take out the black rubber piece surrounding the len.
If need to, how to do so?

Thank
you very much for your advice. Very much appreciated

liu.rijing1 month ago

Hi I bought the lenses from the link you
provided and when I attached the len to the camera phone, the field of view is
very narrow, do I have to take out the black rubber piece surrounding the len.
If need to, how to do so?

Thank
you very much for your advice. Very much appreciated

liu.rijing1 month ago

Hi I bought the lenses from the link you
provided and when I attached the len to the camera phone, the field of view is
very narrow, do I have to take out the black rubber piece surrounding the len.
If need to, how to do so?

Thank
you very much for your advice. Very much appreciated

liu.rijing1 month ago

Hi I bought the lenses from the link you
provided and when I attached the len to the camera phone, the field of view is
very narrow, do I have to take out the black rubber piece surrounding the len.
If need to, how to do so?

Thank
you very much for your advice. Very much appreciated

liu.rijing1 month ago

Hi I bought the lenses from the link you
provided and when I attached the len to the camera phone, the field of view is
very narrow, do I have to take out the black rubber piece surrounding the len.
If need to, how to do so?

Thank
you very much for your advice. Very much appreciated

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