Spectrometers are devices that can identify objects using light. They usually cost thousands of dollars and are mainly used by scientists. But in the past couple of years we’ve seen compact spectrometers that are affordable and simple enough that even ordinary people can use them. If you’re looking for an even cheaper variant, check out Public Labs’ foldable mini-spectrometer.
Public Labs was able to reduce what was once a bulky and complicated machine into a piece of card stock and a DVD fragment. Or at least part of it. The rest of the spectrometer will be replaced by your smartphone and a web app. Once you assemble the spectrometer’s body, tape it to your smartphone such that it’s aligned to the phone’s camera. Then take your sample and go to Spectral Workbench on your phone’s browser to analyze the sample and upload its spectrum.
You can order the foldable mini-spectrometer from Maker Shed or directly from Public Labs for just $10 (USD). If you have a printer and a spare DVD, you can even make the spectrometer for free using Public Labs’ template. Be sure to check out Public Labs’ guide on using the device as well.