Public Lab Research note

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Tweaks to foldable mini-spectrometer design

by warren |

What I want to do

A few months ago, I taught a papercraft class at Parts & Crafts, and we went through a lot of different paper hinges, joints, and fasteners, so I tried some out on a mod of the mini foldable spectrometer (available in the store here).

Update: for detailed instructions on assembling this design with step by step photos, see this note.

My attempt and results

It's tough to figure out a glue-less fastening which is also light-tight, but one way is to have double flaps. This is clearly a work in progress, but I also widened the design so it's easier to hold, and fits our wider acetate slits, and makes a wider band of spectrum, so it's easier to get a cross section.

I also found it made it wide enough to put instructions on -- I thought perhaps build instructions could go around the cutout, and usage instructions could go on the device itself -- kind of like the instructions written on the door of the Antikythera mechanism (thinking back to the talk I gave at the Open Hardware Summit a few years ago)!


(image via Wikipedia)

Here are a bunch of photos:






Questions and next steps

I think a more thorough division of instructions between construction/use as outlined above is a good next step, and further work has to be done on attempting glue-less attachments, if possible.

I'd like to see if it's possible to make it easier to print onto stiff non-black paper, and just blacken the back (by printing black ink, or painting it). This'd make it easier to reproduce.

Why I'm interested

This design's been around a while, but there's still room for improvement! It's a great onboarding opportunity too.

Design files

To build one yourself, download the PDF here, print it onto some thick paper (you can also do it on thinner paper and trace it) cut it out and piece it together:


Update: see newest design files at bottom of this comment thread!

Document your attempt to build this 

Builds (1)

Title Author Updated Likes
Scissors-only build of wider papercraft spectrometer @warren 5 months ago

This is marked this as an upgrade for others to try.
Try it now   Click here to add some more details.

spectrometer instructions foldable papercraft silhouette-cameo foldable-spectrometer printability glue

difficulty:easy upgrade:spectrometry category:build upgrade:foldable-spec time:1h status:proposal


I also worked on this, which is a bit easier to assemble and can go together without tape or glue, though it takes up more space on the page:


Update -- I removed the tab-and-slots, to simplify cutting a bit, and added some instructions on how to cut out the windows with just scissors (this was a problem here:

Much better! foldable-2.0.2.pdf




And another up-close shot:



With instructions!!! Almost there.

And with some small extra tweaks and an extra diagram: foldable-2.0.4.pdf

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