In order to attach the small lenses easily and firmly in front of the camera of the phone I needed an adapter. Because I was curious to try out 3-D printing I designed an adapter using Google SketchUp, and got it printed out at 3D Creation Lab.
The adapter for HTC Desire designed with Google SketchUp
In this model the lens is not attached directly to the adapter because I wanted to use many different lenses with the same adapter. Instead, the lens is attached to a piece of transparent plastic that fits perfectly to the adapter. Since I thought I needed an extra light source I also added a led light and a battery case to the adapter.
The SketchUp file of the adapter is available for further development here, and the stl file that can be used for 3-D printing can be found here. You can use these under the creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence.
For 3-D printing the SketchUp model needs to be exported in stl format. In order to do that with the free version of SketchUp you need to install a plugin.The plugin I used is available here.
In this short video I show how I turned my mobile phone into a microscope using a lens from an old webcam.
This is by far the best mobile phone microscope I have built this far! The magnification is great, and there is very little aberration in the image.
Because the depth of field is shallow getting sharp photos is difficult unless you use a stand. Here I have used a piece of sponge to support the phone. I have noticed that such a soft stand works better than a rigid one. Because most subjects are at least somewhat three dimensional you need to be able to adjust the height of the stand, and that is why a totally rigid stand doest not work well.
This video posted on YouTube by otivaeey shows how you can turn a webcam into a powerful magnifier.
I had to try this out, and it worked nicely, even with a very old and cheap webcam. Unfortunately, I could not find anything interesting to magnify because there is still half a meter snow outside.
Since the DVD burner and laser pointer lenses worked so nicely I was curious to see how would “proper” commercial lenses perform. I found two companies that sell optical and other lenses at their online stores, Edmund optics and Thorlabs,
Because I didn’t really know what kind of a lens would work best I ordered a range of different plastic aspheric, plano-convex and aspheric condenser lenses from Thorlabs. The photos below show how the different lenses worked. The subject in the photos is a calibre, and the distance between two lines is 1 mm. The camera used is HTC Desire (5 MP).
Plastic aspheric lens CAY046, F=4.6 mm
Plastic aspheric lens CAX100, F=10 mm
Plastic aspheric lens CAX183, F=18.3 mm
Plano-convex lens LA1540, F=15 mm
Plano-convex lens LA1207, F=100 mm
Aspheric condenser lens ACL2018, F=18 mm
The lenses are not too expensive. Plastic aspheric lenses cost about 13 € , plano-convex lenses about 20 €, and aspheric condenser lenses about 27 € (including 25% VAT). Unfortunately, packaging and posting is quite expensive, about 30 €.
The plastic aspheric lenses have become my favourites. They are cheap. There are many different lenses with different focal lengths available. The quality of the image is quite nice – I think. And because of their shape they can be easily attached to a piece of transparent plastic which can be taped in front of the camera.
This video posted on YouTube by HowtoGarage shows how you can built a tiny microscope using a laser pointer and a led.
Watching this I realised that I could probably turn my mobile phone into a microscope, or at least a strong magnifying glass by attaching a laser pointer lens directly in front of the camera. So, I bought a laser pointer from clas olson for about 6 €. The pointer seems to be still available at least in the Finnish and UK online stores. The video below is shot with this lens.
The lead role is played by the twospotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) which is about 0.25-0.5 mm long. It was the only, small enough living creature that I could find in the middle of the Nordic winter.
You can also use a lens from a CD or DVD burner to turn your mobile phone into a microscope (see e.g. my previous post), but if you don’t have a broken computer at hand, this is a nice, affordable option.
This video posted on YouTube by mrnandus shows how you can turn your mobile phone into a microscope using a lens from a CD or a DVD burner.
Simple, cool, brilliant, genius! I just had to try it out myself. So, I tore apart a broken laptop with my kids, and managed to attach the lens to my phone with a piece of cardboard and sticky tape. This is the first video shot with it.
The lead role is played by the twospotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) which is about 0.25-0.5 mm long. In this video the light is poor because I had not yet realised that the flash light can be turned on when shooting videos. In the following video the light is much better.
Since the depth of field of the lens is small taking photos is tricky. It is quite difficult to hold the phone absolutely steady when touching the screen in order to focus and shoot. Videos are much easier to shoot, and the blurry bits can be deleted when editing.
A mobile phone microscope made from HTC Desire plus a Thorlabs Plastic aspheric lens CAY046 (F=4.6 mm).
I turned my mobile phone into a microscope / a strong magnifying glass. In the process I created and learned some things that I’d like to share. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Maybe I will share something else too. Don’t know yet. Lets see what happens…
I’m sallaha on Flickr and asallaha on YouTube.