Public Lab Research note

Ideas from the $100 Kickstarter backers on how they will use the spectrometer

by Shannon | December 16, 2012 00:39 16 Dec 00:39 | #5214 | #5214

We asked each of the Kickstarter backer levels what they plan to do once they receive their spectrometer. Backers at the $100 level are receiving both the mini-foldable spectrometer and the desktop spectrometer next week (as well as mobile "backpack" spectrometer in February). Here's some of the ideas that people listed from this backer tier.

Responses from other backer levels: $10 backer level $35 backer level $200 and $400 level

Related to light

  • Look and compare at light sources, see if it is of any use for evaluating water chemistry in aquaria using established colorimetric methods
  • Colorimetry and color calibration for photography and displays
  • Estimate CRI of LEDs.
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Comparing different LED lamps
  • Measure LED bulbs
  • Playing with light!
  • LED (and other lighting) spectra
  • Lighting spectrum analysis for quick color correction.
  • Assessing cheap outdoor lights
  • Evaluate LED colors
  • Try to measure spectrum of lamps.
  • Look at the shiny colours on the pretty screen
  • Sun simulation systems
  • Color Measurement Course
  • Play. Maybe see if the color of campfire flames can reveal contamination (flame spectroscopy with a marshmallow mode). Sort LED's by wavelength, maybe figure out phosphorescent mixes, copy environmental color mixes (sky blue light, campfire, twilight, tornado green, the cold morning white that comes before the sunrise). Subtracting that out could also answer the classic summer question: is the sunset pretty because of smoke or because of dust? Might even be able to figure out a bit more detail than that even. If the paper one can be refolded to fit in a model rocket some fun might be had there too.

Related to water and soil

  • Gemology
  • Analyzing water and oils
  • Measure weathered rock surfaces
  • Use it for demonstrations and to attempt to discern between mineral samples
  • Water analyse
  • Check for water clarity in Hawaii, do random science to inspire kids, other noble prospects
  • Soil quality testing
  • We were going to start by testing items around the house, like rocks we picked up. After we get a better idea how to use it, we may try it on water with impurities. I'm curious if it useful for testing tap water, pool water or the Hudson river.
  • Use it in water field
  • If possible, identify contaminants in soil and water near home.
  • I want to test water samples. I don't know sources yet.
  • To check water.
  • Lead detection in soil.
  • In field soil testing
  • I plan to use it for soil/water analysis
  • Hydroponic nutrient analysis.
  • Soil science!!
  • Test waste water
  • I plan to check my town water supply, my private rainwater tank and both post filtering
  • Examine water possibly contaminated by hydrolic fracing
  • Checking water in rural areas
  • Look at the spectra of gemstones.
  • Test changes in the local water and fauna and contribute to the public database; i also plan on starting a home brewing project and hopefully this will be of assistance.

Related to Food and Drink

  • Analysis of drinking water
  • I intend to do stuff and things, dunno yet beyond wine spectra
  • Study coffee roast and brew profiles.
  • Spectrobe the food, drinks, air, soil and see what readings match the database.
  • I have a variety of projects in mind for the spectrometer including water purity testing and measuring chemicals that can be washed off of store bought fruit.
  • Wine spectrums!
  • Examine things in a lab setting. Examine every day things like coffee and wine too.
  • Testing tapwater and nearby bodies of water, comparing city soil with nearby suburban soil, seeing if the fancy honey I buy at the farmer's market is substantially different from supermarket honey (I can't taste the difference), seeing the pretty colors that explain WHY the farmer's market cheese is so much more delicious than the supermarket cheese (omg it is).
  • Fermentation, water testing, fuel testing
  • I'll be measuring the wine I make at Villa del Monte Winery.
  • Plan to analyze water samples, and wine tasting
  • Examine the connection between tea quality and chemical composition, and a host of other things
  • Try to use for water/food quality. show more about science to my kids.
  • Not sure yet, possibly brewing analysis.
  • Look at all the plants! Experiment with sourdough starter spectrometry.
  • Potables' impurities, coffee, aquaria lamps
  • To discover my daily drink

Related to Household items

  • Curiosity-based spectra of common liquids, possible use in an organic synthesis lab
  • Analyze motor oil
  • I shall find out what sorts of everyday items have usable spectra. For those where there is an available spectrum, I'll check for variations in supposedly uniform products.
  • Analyse substances I encounter in daily life.
  • Test various household liquids for what's really in them.
  • Analyze alloys and compounds for home forge/foundry
  • Fabric color
  • Scan stuff in my apartment

Related to biology and chemistry

  • Cataloging plants
  • Look at bugs in the lab for signatures
  • Methane detection
  • I will be looking at water, soil, and plant material.
  • Examine exotic HHO species
  • Biology lessons in school
  • Home lab
  • Apply to testing water chemistry
  • Plant research
  • Chem labs, crude soil analysis, really anything I get my hands on to test
  • Look at insect body colors
  • Blood analysis
  • Study fluids
  • Using for color change in pH metered cell media, and also for home brewing
  • Measuring of plants (flowers, leaves)
  • Collect material spectrum samples and analyze liquids if possible

Related to Astronomy and Atmosphere

  • Might try something with a telescope but who knows
  • I'm also going to see what I can do with a telescope and spectrometer.
  • Experiment -- have already been able to do some astro photography by holding cell phone camera up to eyepiece of telescope... Would like to try to image some of the brighter stars...
  • Wondering if it could be used for astro-spectroscopy as well

Related to Chemicals (general)

  • Check gasoline quality
  • Monitor and quantify pollutant levels in different environments
  • I have no idea, but I'll know for (relative) certain what chemicals are present when I do it.
  • I utilize various materials, photoresists, dry films, etc in semiconductor processing that I would like to characterize to detect shelf-life or modes of degradation.
  • Finding poison

Related to Education

  • My plans rotate mostly around science fair projects with my son at this point
  • Experiments at community events, soil testing, fun.
  • I work in a museum so, anyway I can use it I will and of course just for fun.
  • Teach my daughter about matter :-) ...I'm getting her started to be a geek ASAP !!!
  • I plan to use the spectrometer to help collect data from my travels and home (Washington, DC), for random curiosity relief and artistic inspiration, and to educate friends and family that spectrometry even exists.
  • Teach kids about spectrometry
  • Secondary school physics, online projects
  • Collect data with my middle school science students.
  • Hands-on college student learning of applied spectroscopy
  • Give it to a high school science student
  • Use it in my HS chemistry class
  • Don't have specific plans other than play around and help my kids love science. Just love the project and wanted to support!
  • Share with high school. Experiment with environmental testing.
  • Use it for Girl Scouts activities
  • Chemistry education
  • Give to an Environmental Education Center
  • Explore the world with my 11 year old nephew.
  • Bring into the classroom for demonstrations to faculty and students.
  • Use it in my Physics teaching.


  • Playing with it
  • Experimenting and learning.
  • Dream
  • Showing off to girls, that sort of thing.
  • Making like Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.
  • As an addon to my robots
  • Exploring the world around me and revive my inner - curious - child again
  • Hacking all the things.
  • Sneaky lab things
  • Offer to my Hackerspace.
  • As a gift for my daughter/son-in-law who are into hiking and the outdoors
  • Environmental testing
  • Various things with local hardware hacking group
  • I'm an opto-mech consultant, so the plan is to have it ready when i client shows up with a need
  • develop optoelectronic PV testing tools and other research instruments
  • This will be a tool for makerspace on Maui, Hawaii.
  • Hopefully contribute to the public database with things I encounter.
  • Looking into a cheap spectrometer for robotics
  • Creating my own spectral database
  • Not sure yet honestly, but I am keenly interested in DIY platforms from a design perspective and want to see myself how this product inspires unforeseen use cases
  • Environmental sampling.
  • I'll probably do something as yet unknown involving robotics.


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