After a few years, we're returning to one of our oldest kits to update and improve it, building o...
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After a few years, we're returning to one of our oldest kits to update and improve it, building on lots of community-contributed ideas, improvements, and refinements. This page collects resources, questions and activities related to the design.
To get started assembling your spectrometer, try:
Assemble your spectrometer or Get a kit
The first link also includes the design files for printing.
This introductory kit has been co-designed by hundreds of contributors as an entry point to Public Lab's collection of Do-It-Yourself spectrometry projects. Read about more on that page about what spectrometry is for, what we can do, and what its limitations are.
Our goals were:
Keep in mind -- this is the "introductory" design intended to onboard newcomers to the project, so we're trying to make it as easy as possible to build. Once you've made this, you're ready to move on to more complex projects, like scanning, sample preparation, and more robust designs.
We haven't gotten all the way there on every goal -- we'd hoped to make a version that required no glue -- just locking tabs -- but we just couldn't keep it small enough to be printed on a folded-in-half letter sheet. See this note, this, and some of these photos for my process of integrating all these changes, and see this page for some of the many many people who've contributed.
Add an activity or request an activity guide you don't see listed
Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.
This section is for questions about the Papercraft and Foldable Spectrometry Kits, specifically.
For questions about spectrometry in general, see this FAQ.
Ask a question or help answer future questions on this topic
Have you made improvements to the kit? Share them as an upgrade and we may get in touch to integrate your changes into the kit itself.
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:
Have you added to your starter kit, improved it, redesigned it, or solved one of the above challenges? Show others how to take it to the next level by posting a build guide here:
Add your upgrade guide here Request or propose an upgrade
Upgrades should include a parts list and a step-by-step construction guide with photo documentation. See an example.
The resolution and stability (ability to hold a wavelength calibration) of the spectrometer depend on how carefully you construct and store it. This kit is designed to be easy to assemble, and is not focused on precision or highly consistent measurements; it’s made of paper, and will crush if you put it in your pocket -- but it can be made out of easy-to-find materials and assembled in ~15 minutes.
For a more rigid, robust device intended for more advanced work, check out the Desktop Spectrometry Starter Kit.
To improve it, see the related upgrades and feel free to post your own improvements there.
Most digital cameras can record light in the visible range, ~400-700 nanometers, so this determines the range of your device. The resolution is mainly limited by the resolution of the camera (and its focus!) and less by the narrowness of the slit -- but measurements should be possible at better than 3 nanometers per pixel.