We’ve seen a lot of practical machines built using Lego. Why not? The bricks are cheap and plentiful, so if they can get the job done, who cares if they look like a child’s toy? Apparently, not [Yuksel Temiz]. He’s an engineer for IBM whose job involves taking pictures of microscopic fluidic circuits. When he wasn’t satisfied with the high-power $10,000 microscopes he had, he built his own. Using Lego. How are the pictures? Good enough to appear in many scientific journals.
Clearly, the microscope doesn’t just contain Lego, but it still came in at under $300. According to an interview from Futurism, the target devices are reflective which makes photographing them straight-on difficult. After experimenting with cameras on tripods, [Yuksel] decided he could build his own specialized device. You can see a video of the devices in question and some of the photographs below.
According to the same interview, it took several prototypes to get it right. The first prototype didn’t use Lego but was 3D printed. However, in a quest to make the microscope more modular and configurable, [Yuksel] raided the toy box.
The open source microscope is fully motorized, modular, and uses a Raspberry Pi with an 8-megapixel camera to capture images. An Arduino controls stepper motors and the lighting. The second video, below, shows the construction, and you can find documentation on IBM’s GitHub repository.