Tinkering around with a DIY LED mount

Hi Foldscope Community! I’m Carrie, another graduate student in the California State University, Monterey Bay class that was lucky enough to receive Foldscopes this semester!

When we were first constructing our scopes, we didn’t have enough LED switches and mounts to go around – not a problem! Our professor, Dr. Kerry Nickols, handed out some LED lights to tinker around with.  I absolutely love the fact that the Foldscope is so easy to assemble, inexpensive, and flexible. So, I came up with a challenge for myself: to create a mounted light source using only the materials at hand!

My foldscope, an LED, LED mount, and watch battery all ready to be tinkered with!
My foldscope, an LED, LED holder, and watch battery – all ready to be tinkered with!

I was playing around with the light mounting piece, but then I found the magnet holder still attached to my Foldscope paper. It has now been repurposed as a battery holder! Or what I like to call a battery burrito.

My LED "burrito"
My LED “burrito”

The battery fits perfectly and it lets the LED slip through, which keeps the light connected to the battery. The battery also sticks quite well to the back of the Foldscope because I had put the phone-mounting magnet strip on.  To add more sturdiness I used the LED mount paper to hold it all in, and ended up with an impressively sturdy light source!



Time to test it out! Looking around my room, I found a peacock feather that I thought would be pretty neat to look at up close. The light source held in place perfectly!


Peacock strand up close – we can do better!

I was excited that the light source worked so well but I wanted the feather to be better illuminated.  In my search for clever lighting tricks, I came across this post about side lighting. My version is not nearly as elegant — I don’t know a thing about building circuits — but it worked! I slipped my little battery “burrito” in back of the slide, after adding a couple of slides on top of the slide to keep it in focus. What a difference that made! You can really see that beautiful iridescence.

Time for some side lighting.
Much better!


This showed me just how easy it is to play around with the Foldscope – you can change so much just by changing the lighting angle, source, or location on the Foldscope! Now that I’ve got my lighting sorted out, I can’t wait to put this in action with some marine science! I’ll report back with what I find this weekend.

One Comment Add yours

  1. mherring says:

    Beautiful Carrie! I love the hacking trick! Just messing around with some LED’s and batteries can give some really good results. One other tip is to try with different tape (the pattern of the tape sometimes obscures the structure) or with cover glass or plastic. The peacock feather is so amazing. Do you know if other feathers have similar iridescence?
    Looking forward to seeing more images!

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