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Make a Public Lab spectrometer


« Back to Spectrometry

If you've found your way here after cutting out a spectrometer from the Economist, welcome!

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The Economist is running a story about Public Lab and other open source, DIY science groups:

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Introduction

This introductory kit (also available here, and more info here) has been co-designed by hundreds of contributors as an entry point to Public Lab's collection of Do-It-Yourself spectrometry projects.

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 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, as well as the limitations and 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.

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 and calibrate 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 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!


Goals

How can you help? The first thing we're looking for help with is refining this new version of the foldable spectrometer design. We're hoping it'll be stronger, easier, and more intuitive to use than its predecessor, 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, or ask a question on this page

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(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:

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Calibrate your spectrometer in Spectral Workbench verify review-me @warren 15m easy 5 replications: Try it »
Assemble a DIY Papercraft Spectrometer build complete @abdul 10min introductory 3 replications: Try it »
Build a papercraft spectrometer for your phone -- version 2.0 - - @warren - - 2 replications: Try it »
Reduce light inside foldable PL spectrometer - - @xose - - 0 replications: Try it »
Make a narrow slit for a DIY spectrometer out of paper - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Scan and compare different gases (in discharge tubes, like neon) using a DIY spectrometer - - @warren - - 14 replications: Try it »
See the Fraunhofer absorption lines in sunlight verify draft @warren 1h easy 4 replications: Try it »
Draft: Find the concentration of a liquid with a DIY spectrometer - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »

Add an activity  or request an activity

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Activities

These are more advanced activities for after you've gotten up and running with the starter activities above.

Purpose Category Status Author Time Difficulty Replications
Detecting Pesticides in Organic and Conventional Raspberries using Open Source Instrumentation - - @silverhammer - hard 0 replications: Try it »
Calibrate your spectrometer in Spectral Workbench verify review-me @warren 15m easy 5 replications: Try it »
Flame testing metal salts observe - @kgradow1 3h medium 0 replications: Try it »
Detection of Olive Oil Adulteration (with Peanut Oil) Using Visual Light Spectroscopy - - @ygzstc 10h medium 0 replications: Try it »
Detection of Added Sugar in Red Wine Using Visual Light Spectroscopy - - @ygzstc - - 0 replications: Try it »
Desktop Spectrometry Starter Kit 3.0 Assembly Instructions build complete @abdul 45min introductory 1 replications: Try it »
Tracking Plant Health Using Visible and Infrared Light -- Initial Experiences at an Arts High School - - @Travis - - 0 replications: Try it »
PLab 3 Gain Correction - - @stoft - - 0 replications: Try it »
Build a papercraft spectrometer for your phone -- version 2.0 - - @warren - - 2 replications: Try it »
Assemble a DIY Papercraft Spectrometer build complete @abdul 10min introductory 3 replications: Try it »
Water Quality Measurements with Optical Spectroscopy - under-development @philippg - - 0 replications: Try it »
Fat percent in milk - - @wagnerc4 - - 0 replications: Try it »
Using the Spectroscope for Analysis of Concentration (Beer's Law) test-limits - @straylight 3h medium 0 replications: Try it »
Light Amber - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Lycopene - - @cfastie - - 0 replications: Try it »
Make a narrow slit for a DIY spectrometer out of paper - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Spectrometer 3.0 Cuvette Add-on - - @programmer1200 - - 0 replications: Try it »
Scan and compare different gases (in discharge tubes, like neon) using a DIY spectrometer - - @warren - - 14 replications: Try it »
Classroom Flame Spectroscopy - - @straylight - - 0 replications: Try it »
Fraunhofer - - @cfastie 30m easy 1 replications: Try it »
Testing the Oil Testing Kit: identifying a "somewhat unknown" sample - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Importing spectra from NIST and WebMineral.com to Spectral Workbench - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Draft: Collect a sample for laboratory analysis - - @warren - - 0 replications: Try it »
Attempt at Quantitative Analysis for Desktop Spectrometer - - @ben.alley43 - - 0 replications: Try it »
See the Fraunhofer absorption lines in sunlight verify draft @warren 1h easy 4 replications: Try it »
Setup for UV Testing with Specrtrometer - - @JoshMc - - 0 replications: Try it »
Stress-testing the Desktop Spectrometry Starter Kit test-limits in-progress @warren 1h medium 0 replications: Try it »
Show 17 more

Add an activity  or request an activity

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.


Questions

The easiest way to get involved is to simply ask questions!

Title Author Updated Likes
Does the Beer Lambert law apply to the opacity of reagents? @warren 5 months ago
What's an easy way to compare two liquid samples with a spectrometer? @warren 6 months ago
Water Filter Effectiveness @Mempet 8 months ago
Testing Water For Specific Polluting Compounds @rajanzaveri about 1 year ago
What are good containers to use for spectrometry samples? @warren over 1 year ago
Can I upgrade a DIY spectrometer with a Raspberry Pi camera? @warren over 1 year ago
Sample container search @warren over 3 years ago

Ask a question  or help answer future 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 focuses on techniques and tips for collecting water samples for environmental testing
  • This collects a range of different work on #water-quality
  • reagents is focused on using color-changing chemical markers to identify specific pollutants, which could be done with a spectrometer as well

Challenges

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:

Title Author Updated Likes
Can the spectrometer or turbocharger be used for lal testing? @Ag8n 21 days ago
How can we detect contaminants in water samples with a DIY spectrometer using reagents? @warren 4 months ago
Can a DIY spectrometer be used to measure water turbidity? @warren 4 months ago
What's an easy way to compare two liquid samples with a spectrometer? @warren 6 months ago
How do I collect a sample for laboratory analysis? @warren 8 months ago
Desktop Spectrometry Kit to arduino? @jjoll 10 months ago
Can a Spectrometer be used to detect material type? @jjoll 11 months ago
What are good containers to use for spectrometry samples? @warren over 1 year ago
Can I upgrade a DIY spectrometer with a Raspberry Pi camera? @warren over 1 year ago
Question: Can DIY-spectrometer be used for analysis of soil @interestedperson_ha almost 2 years ago
Getting the spectrometer to work with a Raspberry Pi? @anjohn12 about 2 years ago
Show 1 more

Ask a question  or help answer future questions


spectrometry water-quality

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