Public Lab Research note

First draft vector files for foldable mini-spectrometer

by warren | October 10, 2012 05:14 10 Oct 05:14 | #4302 | #4302

Here's a first attempt to vectorize the design for the mini foldable spectrometer. I had to expand the postcard size to 5x7" but we'll see if we can shrink it back down. Also I added a "window" to put the diffraction grating over. Still to do:

  • add dotted lines for folds
  • print it and test geometry
  • figure out easier way to sturdily form a tube (the flap to close the tube is a little narrow)
  • add spectral workbench prism logo
  • test slit width
  • attempt slit cutting with laser cutter
  • try it on different phones for camera focus issues
  • add more instructions outside the foldable form (like how to cut and attach a grating)
  • try mailing one!

And more... soon! Try it out and post your experiments, let's chip away at this list!

Update: I made some changes after trying out the above design, and added some instructions. The updated file is also attached now.

Public Lab foldable mini-spectrometer

Update: More changes, showing which are valley folds, and a small illustration of the assembled device.

Mini-spectrometer 2.5 draft

Update: I lasercut again (photos soon) and made a few more revisions. This should be the final version!! Download the 2.7 version

Final foldable spectrometer design

Update: One more version! I re-did the layout and added some minimal design tweaks, but mainly did this so it would fit a stamp and address without messing up the solid black back-side with postal cruft. Download the 2.8 version

Folding mini-spectrometer 2.8

Files Size Uploaded
mini-spectrometer.pdf 241 KB 2012-10-10 05:09:14 +0000 1.02 MB 2012-10-10 05:09:26 +0000 1.03 MB 2012-10-18 20:30:49 +0000
mini-spectrometer-2.pdf 263 KB 2012-10-18 20:31:38 +0000


Will these work with emissions?

I hope so. I'm planning to use it to measure gas mixtures inside a fusor fusion reactor.

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What are the dimensions? Can those be added to the image?

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The design is scaled, so if you download you can see the dimensions. But the basic unit is a 1" square -- i.e. it forms a 1x1 square tube. You're right though, we should put some dimensions on there.

Kevin - wow..... that sounds amazing and crazy! I think the mobile foldable spectrometer is not going to be nearly as precise as the desktop version. But yes, the latter will be able to detect emissions... the only issue is whether it's sensitive enough if the emissions are faint. There is some discussion of this already on the mailing list.

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Just added some pictures of folding up the new design. I only had light colored paper on hand, but the design is basic enough where I think I can transcribe it onto dark, thicker material that will not fit into the printer.

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Thanks for the awesome design! A papercraft spectrophotometer is a brilliant idea!

Could you release the files so that the community can help?

As of 11/11/2012, it looks like the links to the 2.7 and 2.8 files from this page are broken. I couldn't find them on the site. Also, could you release the source files as SVG? Illustrator can convert the .ai files to .svg, which is supported by the excellent open source vector editor inkscape, as opposed to the propitiatory Illustrator.

I imported the mini-spectrometer-2.pdf to inkscape, and despite some mangling of the text, got an SVG. I was able to remove the background, and color the lines yellow, which allowed me to print the pattern directly on black construction paper (slightly cut down to be 8.5x11). The lines are faint, but I could cut out the pattern.

I'd be happy to pass on these files, although it only took a few seconds to generate. If you could generate the original vector design as a svg it would be trivial to export it with the text (and url) intact.

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Yipes, James! I'm so sorry i missed your comment. Yes, please send the files to and I'll post them -- or post them yourself on the site please! We are just adding file posting features to the new site in the next couple days.

The final designs in any case ended up here:

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