Digital Camera Spectroscope





Introduction: Digital Camera Spectroscope

This simple mod allows the slide to be mounted to most cell phones, turning them into digital spectrometers.


Step 1: Salvage Springs From an Old Floppy Disk

You need four floppy disk ( 3"1/2).

Step 2: Modify Springs

With a pince, modify springs to get arms parallel. Do it for each spring

Step 3: Use an Old Photo Slide

open it.

Step 4: Soldering Springs

with a candle ( or something else ) turn springs very hot ( red ), and quickly solder it on the slide.

put glue on each spring ( and in all corners )

Step 5: Side2

close the slide with the other part. Press it for 3 seconds.

Step 6: Rubber Band

take an old mouse pad and cut four parts ( 1cm x 4.5cm )

Step 7: Glue Rubber

put one rubber part under spring. put glue. put the second part on it and press hardly for 5 seconds.

do it again.

Step 8: Finish !!!

now you finish it ...

Step 9: Diffraction Grating Slide

put a diffraction grating slide in front of it ( glue or other ).

Step 10: Be Mounted to Most Cell Phones

you can use it on most cell phones

Step 11: Make Spectro Picture

Now you can make this kind of picture

Step 12: Go to My Site for More Information About Spectrometer



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    You can get a diffraction grating by peeling off the aluminium layer from a cd... I've tested this and it works very well.

    1) Is there a quick and dirty procedure for capturing spectra using this slide and a cell phone? 2) is there a library of spectra to which any spectrum you captue can be compared? A program for doing this automatically? If so, this would be no end of a useful tool. Parents could run quick checks for contraband substances in their kids' rooms; anyone could determine right then and there exactly what they are looking at. Narcotics cops could dispense with cobalt thiocyanate and just look at the stuff they capture to get immediate identification of the aliquot. No kidding, this would rock. Last question - how well would Motorola's i860 camera phone work with this system, if you just know off hand? I don't have an immediate need for an IR absorption spectrometer, but you never know, do you?

    Get your hands on a grating from and test it by placing it in front of your camera. I have several of these, that I use for educational purposes in an astronomy lab and the students love it. Never thought ot taking pictures of the spectra though! They're gonna get a kick out of this!

    I've used laboratory spectroscopes to identify pure elements (eg. Hydrogen gas. Each type of atom absorbs tiny pieces of the light that hits it and reflects the rest. The particular parts of the light spectrum it absorbs is unique to that atom. The combined colors that the atom reflects appear as white light so we can't see this with just our naked eyes. If we pass the light through the diffraction grating, the light gets spread out so we can see all of it's component colors and the pieces that were taken away by the atom (dark areas). This type of picture shown from the phone is called an "Absorbance Spectrum" and is just like a "bar code" that is unique to the atom we are looking at. If we use the spectrometer get an absorbance spectrum of an unknown atom and compare it to a database of knowns, we can identify it. We also use "mass spectrometers" to identify unknown atoms. They're a lot more complex because they rely on electric and magnetic fields to manipulate the atom. In the picture is a few examples of the "emmision spectra" of a few elements. This is the same basic thing as the "Absorbance Spectra" except we only include the colors that the atom took away. This type is more commonly used in labs. I got the pictures from and


    The most common use for a simple spectrograph is identifying types of light sources. Mercury lights are very different from sodium vapor, and they both have prominent lines (which will appear as colored images of the source) in contrast to incandescent bulbs, which produce light by heat. Light made by heat has a smooth spectrum, and the image will be a smear, like a rainbow. LEDs have more pronounced lines than thermal sources, especially red LEDs. As you get to blue LEDs the lines are smeared more. White LEDs use a UV LED and a phosphor, so it spectrum looks a lot like thermal. Some have a yellow LED too to make the light less blue. I bet you could see that with this spectroscope. I would love to see a picture of a UFO taken with this. It would be interesting if the UFO was using mercury vapor bulbs. That would suggest a mirage of distant street lights. Fireworks could be interesting. You could probably identify the elements used to produce the colors.

    This is really awesome! The only thing I'm having difficulty with is trying to analyze the resulting image - does anyone know of any way the spectrum can be analyzed for specific absorption bands? Or is a comparison with a full spectrum the only way to go about it? If there's a way to do this with even some vague accuracy, I can use it for protein estimation without having to wait in that long queue!

    I'm afraid you can't take pictures of a full spectrometer using a digital camera ... Most digital camera use a RGB filter on their censor, and most RGB filters don't cover the full spectrum. Most of the time, you'll get a partial spectrum with a lot of holes because of the RGB filter ... I think it would work better with a gray-scale censor (surveillance camera for instance) : you'll get a gray scale picture of the spectrum (color intensity instead of color+intensity), but it should be more complete than with a color censor. I can't find diffracting grating here ... where did you buy yours ?

    You get those from

    Hey thanks for the link ! They're definitively less expensive than what I thought ! They cost only $US 0.4, and someone was trying to sell me one for 5 Euros ........... I can't believe that ...