This post documents my very first attempt at using a foldscope! 

I chose sugar crystals because they were right there and because they were already translucent, easy to work with. Assuming the 140~ times magnification of the lens (as said in the foldscope kit) is accurate for my images, we are viewing the crystal at approximately 2 microns! Which is probably not very accurate. But I haven’t worked out a better way to figure out scale specific to my own images.

The first problem I faced was that my phone camera is not very good and would not give me anything beyond a blurry blob. For a solid half-an-hour, I thought I had managed to mess up building a four-piece puzzle!

Initially, I believed the light source to be the problem, so I secured an LED desk lamp. Balanced it just off the side of my work-table and switched it on.

That helped marginally. But my problem was not yet solved. Finally, I decided to borrow my parent’s iPhone 8, which was equipped with a far better camera. Now arose a completely unexpected problem. The magnet coupler on the foldscope repelled the iPhone 8’s camera lens. I don’t have a single clue as to why this is happening. Any ideas about how this can be countered would be much appreciated!

Thankfully, however, the repulsive force wasn’t particularly strong. A little bit of struggling and a lot of rapid clicking later, I managed to procure at least a few acceptable pictures.

And here it is! A close up on a single crystal of sugar. The thick grey stripe is the edge of this particular crystal. The next step, figuring out how to make the images sharper and make the camera focus on finer sugar crystals. Maybe figure out how to sample that amethyst crystal I own!

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