New candidate for cheapest, quickest DIY microscope?

I know we got lots of dirt cheap microscope enthusiasts here, but at a recent event (funded by GOSH and Sloan from the event funding giveaway) @alex9000 showed the cheapest and quickest way i have seen to have 30 5 year old kids build and use their own microscopes in minutes l!

Here’s the simple open source recipe to turn any phone into a quickie microscope for like 10cents, based on @wildlivesclass @GOSH workshop!

  1. purchase cheap laser lenses in bulk for like 10 bucks
    laser lens 7mm for sale | eBay

  2. use a bobby pin as a lens holder

  3. tape the lens over the widest angle camera lens on the back of your phone

  4. let the kids loose! Since you are using phones, i had some of the kids send their observation straight to inaturalist. They could auto-ID many things! This included some citronella ants, that made us curious if the ants smelled or tasted like lemongrass, and within about 5 minutes, an ant-licking craze started and the kids had a blast.

(I don’t think i posted this here before, but sorry for double posting if i did!)


Also - if you don’t have a smartphone but still want to go digital:



Ha, what a cool and super simple design! Gonna remember this for future science outreach-y things I do. Also love the step of tying in iNaturalist.

Dumb question: If the laser lens is already secured to the camera on the back of the phone with tape, what does the pin do???

on the longer legs.

1 Like

You don’t tape over the lens so you don’t obscure it. The clip holds the lens, and you tape the clip

1 Like

Ah I see. Thanks! Cool stuff.

Ha! Quite some classics here!
The laser lenses work perfectly fine for many “macro” applications… go even cheaper by just adding a drop of water and use the spherical meniscus to magnify :slight_smile:

Or make your own lenses from scrap glass you find on a beach:


Super rad!

I finally extracted, pirated and released our old chapter on how to build the “hackteria style” DIY microscope here.

Link to direct download.