Foldscope Mod: Standing on the shoulders of giants

Today I wanted to see if I could make my folscope a little more smartphone friendly. While the folded housing of the scope is fantastic for fixed slides and direct hand-to-human-eye microscopy, I’ve had some difficulty when it comes to taking pictures with the camera on my phone.

The issues are:

  1. Too many moving parts! Holding the scope lens directly over the camera lens, positioning the sample directly under both while adjusting focal length, and finally focusing the image and taking the shot are a few too many things for a two-handed person such as myself to safely accomplish.
  2. I’m looking at the wrong side! Watching the screen on the phones face while adjusting a sample on the backside means that I’m trying to look at two places simultaneously.
  3. Difficult to use in the field. While the standalone foldscope is very well suited for in situ microscopy, trying to take pictures can be.. well, trying.

My general design will be a housing that fixes the foldscope lens over the camera on my phone without the need for dactyl intervention. I would also like to make use of the “selfie” camera, so that I can adjust the sample on the surface of the phone while watching the screen real-time. An added benefit of this is that ambient light (like from the sky) suddenly becomes your backlight (normally from below). This is essentially turning the foldscope into an inverted microscope, commonly used in the analysis of aquatic unicellular organisms.

And voilá!

IMG_2443 IMG_2446 IMG_2448

The new design is perfect for my needs. I can adjust the sample with one hand while focusing the image and taking the picture with the other. One issue is that I can no longer adjust focal length without holding the sample above the lens at the desired distance (difficult to hold still). Future models might be made more robust with an adjustable stage that rests on top of the lens.

Overall a fun project that didn’t break the bank (2 nuts/bolts, 1 popsicle stick, and a small piece of clear plastic with holes drilled).

Now to go science! Thanks for reading!

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