Cellphone microscope for about $20

Medical-grade microscope photography for $20 might be a game changer in areas where medical services are unavailable. This particular hack uses an iPhone’s 2 megapixel camera, as well as a tiny glass marble, to magnify a sample to about 350 times its actual size. The two images seen on the left are red blood cells photographed with the improvised microscope. The main issue with this magnification method is a very thin plane of focus that is overcome with processing in software.

This makes us think of the microscope hack that shined a laser through a droplet of water, to project the image on a wall. The concept was later refined to work with samples on glass slides. There are a couple of distinct advantages to using this cellphone-based method. First, the sample can be seen with its true colors. Second, you not only magnify the sample, but you have a digitized image already on a device that connects to the Internet. If you’re trying to make a medical diagnosis this can easily be sent to a qualified professional for analysis.

The team that came up with this technique also figured out how to build a cellphone-based spectrometer for just a few bucks. The image in the upper right is the result of that hack. Both have a step-by-step build guide on the page linked at the top. The microscope is just a glass bead in a piece of rubber, as seen here. The spectrometer is a bit more involved.

[Thanks Fabien]

A different take on a laser projection microscope

[Dusjagr] has another take on building a laser projection microscope. Last year we saw a laser-based microscope that shined the beam of light through a water droplet which contained the subject to be magnified. The droplet bent the focused beam of light and projected the magnified contents onto a screen. Now that’s pretty neat and [Dusjagr] has used that method himself. But most traditional microscopes use glass slides to contain the subject and this new version now makes that possible.

A bit of experimentation led [Dusjagr] to the discovery that a lens re-purposed from a webcam can achieve similar focus results as a water droplet. The video after the break shows the apparatus seen above in action. The laser shines through the lens, then through a slide that contains a water sample from a nearby pond. The image is clear, albeit completely bathed in green.

For us the most interesting part of [Dusjagr’s] writeup is his discussion of the limits of laser amplification based on the wavelength of light the diode puts out.

Continue reading “A different take on a laser projection microscope”

Machine your own Ring Light

[Alan] acquired a stereo microscope from eBay, and decided to save some more money by designing, machining, and assembling his own arc reactor ring light to go along. After finding an LED driver board sitting around as well as ordering some surface mount LEDs, he set about using a lathe to cut away a block of lexan, making sure to include slots for the lights as well as the microscope mount point. Follow the link to see the detailed build photos, as well as some comparison shots with and without the ring light.

A month or two earlier though, and [Alan] would have had a fantastic start to an Iron Man costume.

Surgical microscope gets LED retrofit

[Roberto Barrios] picked up a surgical microscope to add to those other fun lab toys you seen in the background. These work very well when soldering small components because they don’t have to be as close to the viewed objects as traditional microscopes. But [Robert] didn’t care for the heat generated by the incandescent bulb so he build his own LED replacement. If you recognize his name it’s because we saw a beautifully crafted in-visor GPS system that he built back in April. This project exhibits the same level of craftsmanship in which he utilized the base of a spare bulb to add an LED, heat sink, and driver board that is adjustable on all three axes.

He also mentioned that he overhauled his site design and it now plays nicely with all browsers.

Microscope camera adapter

[Ben Krasnow] is capturing some great snapshots using a microscope adapter and some tricks. The camera attachment is just a lens adapter ring with a tube added. Unlike other microscope imaging hacks we’ve seen he used a real microscope but found that the pictures had a bit of light distortion to them. The camera sensor was picking up a glare reflected on the inside of the black tube. By adding a washer and repositioning the apparatus he got over that hurdle. The final part of the puzzle is image processing. By taking several pictures at different focal lengths and compositing them he gets killer photos like the compound eyes of that house fly seen above.

Open Source STM

We hope you paid attention in advanced theoretical and quantum physics classes, or making your own Open Source Scanning-Tunneling Microscope might be a bit of a doozy. We’re not even going to try to begin to explain the device (honestly we slept through that course) beyond clarifying it is used for examining the molecular and atomic structure of surfaces; but for those still interested there is a nice breakdown of how Scanning Tunneling Microscopy works.

[Thanks Rich]

Microscope lens hack

Who doesn’t need to take pictures of the microscopic bits inside of an integrated circuit? [Mojobojo] made an end-run around the expensive equipment by building a microscopic lens from an old camcorder. He’s using a regular digital camera with the lens set to its largest zoom level. The camera is pointed into the salvaged camcorder lens where the fine tuning is done. His first iteration was just taped to the desk with a small hand flashlight illuminating the subject. He upgraded that setup by building a LEGO enclosure and changing to a much brighter light source. The images he’s getting are quite surprising and this will be very useful during those extreme hacks when you need to tap into an IC’s internal data rails.

[Thanks Julius]