If you've found your way here after cutting out a spectrometer from the Economist, welcome!
**The Economist** [is running a story about Public Lab and other open source, DIY science groups](http://www.economist.com/news/christmas-specials/21732703-growing-movement-seeks-make-tools-science-available-everyone-including):
This introductory kit (also [available here](https://store.publiclab.org/collections/spectrometry), and [more info here](/wiki/foldable-spec)) has been co-designed by hundreds of contributors as an entry point to Public Lab's [collection of Do-It-Yourself spectrometry projects](/wiki/spectrometry).
It's not the most robust design, or the most precise. But it's specifically for **newcomers to get started on** -- a stepping stone on the way to bigger and better DIY designs like the [Desktop Spectrometry Starter Kit](/wiki/dssk) and many more. This broader initiative is still actively under development by thousands of people coordinating their work across the open Public Lab community! Read more about our [challenges we're tackling](#Challenges), as well as the [limitations and goals](https://publiclab.org/wiki/desktop-spectrometry-kit-3-0#Limitations+&+Goals) of our designs.
Once you've assembled it (a task in itself!) and noted any ideas for improving it, take the next step by looking at a more advanced activity below.
If you're looking for a more robust design, try our new [Lego Spectrometer](/lego).
## Quick start
If you're ready to jump right in,
Click here to build a spectrometer or Get a kit
Then circle back to the activities listed below.
### Why we need you
We're **especially interested** in people pitching in to test out **a new method for determining the concentration of a water sample**. We'd deeply appreciate your help in testing it out and troubleshooting!
Click here to try comparing water samples -- but be sure to [assemble](#Quick+start) and [calibrate](/notes/warren/09-01-2016/calibrating-your-spectrometer-in-spectral-workbench) your spectrometer first!
This activity is not complete -- we need your help to flesh it out, troubleshoot it, and refine it so it's both rigorous and easy to do.
If you're not sure how to help, the first step is to **ask some questions** below!
## About Public Lab
Public Lab is a network of thousands of people around the world, working together to:
* collectively understand and address environmental problems that affect people
* develop and share more [accessible, affordable, and open source](/questions/warren/11-17-2017/what-are-design-guidelines-or-constraints-we-aspire-to-at-public-lab) ways to monitor these issues
* support one another as a community to achieve these goals
Anyone may join in -- to take the first step, find a question or project you're interested in, and share your thoughts!
**How can you help?** The first thing we're looking for help with is [refining this new version](/n/13076) of the foldable spectrometer design. We're hoping it'll be stronger, easier, and more intuitive to use [than its predecessor](/wiki/foldable-spec), as well as easier to duplicate (you can just copy it onto stiff paper with a laser printer/copier).
To try out the new design and provide feedback, please leave a [comment on the assembly instructions](/n/13076), or [ask a question on this page](#Questions)
(_Above: comparing two samples illuminated by an ultraviolet laser -- image by @cfastie_)
## Getting started
Before tackling a bigger project, here are some introductory activities geared at helping you build a spectrometer, troubleshoot it, and upload data for comparison:
These are more advanced activities for after you've gotten up and running with the [starter activities above](#Getting+started).
The easiest way to get involved is to simply ask questions!
## Related topics
Browse related work on Public Lab to see where else you can get involved:
* Turbidity focuses on measuring the opacity of different water samples - #turbidity
* [water-sampling](/wiki/water-sampling) focuses on techniques and tips for collecting water samples for environmental testing
* This collects a range of different work on #water-quality
* [reagents](/wiki/reagents) is focused on using color-changing chemical markers to identify specific pollutants, which could be done with a spectrometer as well
Once you've gotten a solid footing with some of the above activities, try tackling one of these unsolved challenges to advance our collaborative work: