Guide To Turn Your Smartphone Camera Into A 375x Zoom Microscope

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Here is a guide to make your smartphone camera a microscope; that you can easily use in your personal laboratory and/or seeing around details of micro objects. The magnification level of the microscope is as high as 375x which can help you observe plant cells and nuclei within it. This can also help you capture stunning macro photographs.

image of a plant cell

Project Cost: $10

Total Time Required: 20 Minutes

tools for smartphone microscope 2

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” Plexiglas — for the camera stage

⅛” x 3” x 7” Plexiglas — 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 Required:

Drill

Assorted bits

Ruler

tools for smartphone microscope 1

The first step is to get the lens from $2 laser pointer. This lens will be enough for a 175x magnification but for higher magnification, use a second lens. You need to disassemble the laser, unscrew the front cone, back cover, remove the batteries and finally take out the lens from front of the assembly. You can use a pencil to push the innards out of the front assembly.

tools for taking out the lens

If you observe the lens from one side, you will notice a thin translucent strip. Make sure this side is not adjacent to the camera.

taking out the lens

Now determine the correct orientation of the lens by sticking them onto the camera with a hairpin and white tape (as shown below). The correct orientation will provide you with larger field of view. This trick is limited since it can not hold its place for long. Therefore, we need to build a stand.

attaching lens to mobile camera

In order to make the stand, we need to drill bolt holes in the plywood base ¾”. Mark  front two corners from both the sides and the front edges.

Stack the plexiglass camera stage (7” x 7” piece) on top of the base and the specimen stage (3” x 7”) on top of the camera stage with ¾” of the stage extending off the front of the base. Put a piece of wood beneath the entire assembly to save the surface from damage and drill through it.

Now fix the bolts into the assembly.

drilling holes for the stand

drilling holes for the light source

Now drill a hole for the lens in line with the bolt holes ¾” from the front of the camera stage. Test the fit for the lens, if the lens do not quite fit use a sandpaper to enlarge the hole. Its very easy to over drill, therefore drill slowly and test for the fit every time. If you are using two lenses,stack them on top of one another, stacking one lens from below and the other from above.

embedding the lens

Now place another plexiglass (the camera stage), the size of wooden base on top of the bolts and the focus lens. This will support the mobile camera to be placed at the required position.

camera microscope assembly

Now drill hole for the light source directly below the focus lens. Rest the light source on the drilled hole.

drilling holes for the light source

Use nuts and bolts to fix the entire assembly and you are ready to capture amazing photographs. Congratulations you have made your first digital microscope.

How To Make A Smartphone Camera A Microscope

Here is how a macroscopic coin image look like:

microscopic imahe of a coin

microscopic N on the coin

If you try this project, share with us how it turned out for you in the comment section below:

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