Public Lab Research note

This is an attempt to build an upgrade.
This is an upgrade for community-microscope. Try building it and report back how it goes.

Add a high-quality webcam to your Community Microscope kit using LEGO

by warren | October 24, 2018 18:25 | 194 views | 0 comments | #17386 | 194 views | 0 comments | #17386 24 Oct 18:25

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(or to another microscope, of course!)

We're seeing some amazing results from the Raspberry Pi cameras, and doing some really interesting work on making them easier to use (See #pi-camera and #pi-builder). But there are a couple steps we just aren't 100% sure everyone wants to do -- like removing the tiny tiny lens, and getting the camera WiFi working. So we're offering a great quality USB webcam (one we've been using ourselves) that's just easy plug-and-play, at much higher quality than the basic kit. I hope this makes sense!

Here are some photos of how this webcam board -- available for around $45 on Amazon -- can be mounted using some Legos and a 3d printed adapter ( to work with the modular Community Microscope system (or another microscope!)

There are definitely trade-offs, and the Raspberry Pi camera is better resolution -- but this is very easy to mount and start taking photos.

First, you can flip the lens like with the basic kit webcam and the results are really very good:

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This image is terribly lit, but shows the resimage description

Here it is with the adapter to the microscope lens:image description

And with a 40x lens, again with terrible lighting and focus (i'm just trying to show magnification here, i'm sure you can easily do better!):image description

And here's a photo of how the base is built. We'll post more build photos soon as we continue to test this out, and I'm also sure it'd be improved by some black paper or aluminum foil being wrapped around to reduce stray light:

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Finally, for comparison, here's the photo of the adaptor mounted directly to the Raspberry Pi, which works great, but there are a few extra steps to remove the Pi lens, which is extremely small:

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Here is the Lego build process!
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