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DIY microscopy


This project deals with simple ways to build microscopes out of cheap and easily accessible devices/parts.
A small hack to the optics of a standard webcam allows to create video data, with a magnification of around 100 to 400x (depending on the model and the setup) at a working distance of a few mm. The highest magnifications can be achieved by inverting (putting upside down) the lens. Addition of good lighting by the use of leds allows to create images using a bright-field method (shine through the stuff) or dark field method (shine from the side and look at the reflections and scattering).

Simple Instruction
Step 1: Getting prepared…

Step 2: Play with the lens!

Step 3: Screw the lens, flip the lens, look at a pixel

Step 4: Build a practical and nice setup

Tardigrade couple recorded with 1.3 Megapixel webcam from TW, 20$

Tardigrade recorded with cheap 0.3 Megapixel webcam from TW, 5$

Blepharisma at highest magnification with cheap 0.3 Megapixel webcam from TW, 5$

Other models and setups
Step 1: Hack the webcam and unsrew the lens

Step 2: Remount the lens with an opaque-black tube and build a setup


Examples of Resolution
HTC HERO, 3,2-Zoll TFT-LCD Touchscreen mit HVGA-Auflösung (320 x 480)
3.2 inch = 81.28 mm
45mm / 320px = 140 micron



Human leukocyte cells (nucleus stain of chromosomes), effects of chromatic aberation

Fluorescent microbeads, diameter 1.8 micrometer

Fun Experiments

Beads of Thermoplastic Polymer from Struers, diameter approx 20-50 micron.


Looking at stuff, tardigrades, butterflies and amoebae…


  1. eschertsai on Friday 31, 2009


    any more details about the project?


  2. eschertsai on Friday 31, 2009

    find it in the hackteria wiki!


  3. Mac Cowell on Friday 31, 2009
  4. dusjagr on Friday 31, 2009

    i am working on the final project description. u can find lots of movies here:

  5. Ken on Friday 31, 2009

    Dear Marc,

    I just finished the workshop on Nov.14 and 15 2009, it was a great fun. I would like to thank for your effort. I also want to know where I can down load the platform of pd or dusjagr!



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