The Public Lab spectrometry project is an open source community effort to develop low-cost spectrometers for a range of purposes. All open spectrometry hardware and software efforts are welcome here!
Join in by:
- Learning what spectrometry is
- Reading about goals and asking great questions
- Building a basic spectrometer using one of our starter kits
- Trying (and critiquing) our community-made how-to guides and posting your own
- Building on others’ work; hack and remix the kits to refine and expand them
- Share your upgrades for others to try -- and perhaps for inclusion in an upcoming starter kit release or add-on kit
Public Lab’s Kits initiative offers several starter kits, including many of the basic components, and instructions for constructing a basic visible light spectrometer. The point of the kits is to provide a shared reference design for building experimental setups onto.
Lego Spectrometer Kit
Our most recent kit, incorporating community improvements while balancing low cost and ease of construction. Choose between webcam and Raspberry Pi camera versions and build attachments width standard Lego connectors.
Papercraft Spectrometry Intro Kit
A $9 paper spectrometer which you can attach to a smartphone or webcam. It’s made of paper to reduce cost and complexity, and is mainly intended as an “introductory” or educational kit. The flat design can be printed on a laser printer or photocopied to make more.
This is a list of community-generated guides for specific applications using your spectrometry setup (either a starter kit or a modded design). These activities can be categorized, and some may be more reproduced -- or reproducible -- than others. Try them out to build your skills, and help improve them by leaving comments. Together, we can repeat and refine the activities into experiments.
Note: If you are working on an urgent issue such as a threat to your or someone else’s health, please know that these techniques may not be ready for your use; it's possible that they never will be. Read more here
Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.
Have you added to your starter kit, improved it, or redesigned it? Show others how to take it to the next level by posting a build guide here:
Mods should include a parts list and a step-by-step construction guide with photo documentation. See an example.
We're working to refine and improve DIY spectrometry on a number of fronts; here, take a look at the leading challenges we're hoping to solve, and post your own. For now, we're using the Q&A feature, so just click "Ask a question" to post your own challenge.
Be sure to add:
- constraints: expense, complexity
- goals: performance, use cases
There’s a lot going on in open source spectrometry -- if you’ve developed another open source design you’d like to show others how to construct, post it here!
Colored light is often a blend of different colors. A spectrometer is a device which splits those colors apart, like a prism, and measures the strength of each color. A typical output of a spectrometer looks like this spectrum of the daytime sky, with the actual light spectrum at the top and the graph of wavelength (horizontal axis, in nanometers of wavelength) and intensity (vertical axis) below:
Needed: overview of spectra, calibration, units, comparison, and fluorescence/absorption. Please edit this page or link to a resource, potentially the Wikipedia page, although that's quite full of technical jargon.
Spectral data can be analyzed with https://spectralworkbench.org to create spectra plots, find centers of emissions plots, and find similar spectra. Data also can be exported in various formats (JSON, CSV, XML) for further analysis and visualization.
How does this compare to a lab instrument?
The Desktop Spectrometry Starter Kit is only one part in an experimental setup, and the following shows where it fits in an overall diagram of a lab spectrometric setup:
There are many, many different types of spectrometry and spectrometers -- many don’t even measure light. Even among those that do, some detect light in the ultraviolet range, and others in the infrared range of light.
The range of Public Lab spectrometers depends on the range of the commercially available cameras we attach them to (~400-700 nanometer wavelengths). A commercially available product with a slightly wider range (from 335 to 1000 nanometers) is available from Cole Parmer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Note our previous Frequently Asked Questions page, which can be found here » -- please help port these into the new system, here!