I have a fascination with DIY microscopes. I have been making microscopes with ball lens and laser pointer lens etc. When these lenses are coupled with the powerful smartphone cameras, they produce highly magnified images of microscopic objects. However, I come across a very interesting webcam microscope through Guadi labs. Basically, when we reverse the lens of the webcam it acts as a microscope. There are many versions of this microscope in the Gaudi labs website, from which I chose the laser cut version for its simplicity. The parts were cut in 2016 when I was in St Andrews, but now only they are assembled as I kept this project in cold due to other interesting projects. The only improvement, I have done is connecting LEDS of different colours to the webcam board in place if its original white LEDS. That way I am planning to excite many fluorescent proteins.
Below you can find the microscopic images of cells (~ 30um in length) taken with this webcam microscope. I also took microscopic images taken from smartphone based microscope with laser pointer lens (details will be in another post, see reference 2). Clearly, webcam gives large magnification but small field of view. On the other hand, laser pointer lens gives smaller magnification and large field of view. So these two DIY low cost systems can be handy for biological applications. In fact, I am making one of this microscope for my colleague to quickly screen drug injected cancer cells to know whether the drug has reached inside the cells or not. I will follow up the progress of that project in a future post. I must tell you that these microscopes are far better than the $15 usb microscope attachments that can be bought online.