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G1 + Android As Microscope

October 12th, 2009 No comments

So after reading this article in Technology Review, I started wondering whether there was an easy way to use the T-Mobile G1 as a remote microscope. I wanted to be able to build something and use it, along with my G1, to take some extremely close-up photos, which I could then send quickly and easily over email.

The catch is this: I wanted to do this with only stuff I could find around my home. There seems to already be a lot of buzz about remote microscopy, to the point at which companies are actually selling (expensive!) microscope adapters for your camera phone. I didn’t want any of these–if someone is cobbling together a cellphone microscope, I’m assuming they don’t have $375 to spend on a lens. If they did, they could probably buy…a microscope.

So I started to think about what around the house would contain a lens with enough magnification to produce useful images. I wasn’t trying to look at blood cells and whatnot just yet–I just wanted something which could be used for looking at materials, things of forensic interest, cuts and other little traumas, etc.

The solution I arrived at was using the lens from a CD player. These lenses are everywhere–you could even grab one from an old optical drive. They’re generally easy to get at (I plucked mine out of the CD player with needle-nose pliers), and they provide good magnification.

The rest of the build was equally simple–I just took the back off of my G1 and taped the lens over the aperature for the G1’s camera.

Here are some of the resulting photos:

Human hairs imaged by the G1 microscope

Human hairs imaged by the G1 microscope

A 12 point letter 'e'

A 12 point letter 'e'

A small cut on my thumb...gross, yes?

A small cut on my thumb...gross, yes?

The metallic end of a USB cable

The metallic end of a USB cable

A millimeter ruler...anyone know how to use this to calculate magnification?

A millimeter ruler...anyone know how to use this to calculate magnification?

Next step would be to incorporate a second lens to get higher magnification, since at the moment this is really more of a glorified loupe than an actual microscope.

Please share your thoughts!