This Raspberry Pi Microscope Was Built With Legos

(Image credit: DIY_Maxwell)

The Raspberry Pi community is known for its awesome variety of DIY projects. It's even cooler when a hobby-based project turns into a usable professional tool, like this Raspberry Pi microscope project from IBM scientist Yuksel Temiz, who shared it on Reddit. The Pi-powered microscope started as a side-project but quickly proved to be a useful tool for his lab at IBM.

According to an IBM Research blog post detailing the project, Temiz made the microscope because the IBM lab's microscope "kept producing bad images." Temiz's microscope works great for the maker's image processing magnification needs.

"It takes high-res pictures of small objects such as computer chips, some the size of a fingernail — with features just 10 micrometers in size (a micrometer is one thousandth of a millimeter)," the blog said. 

The microscope is entirely open-source, so it's definitely possible to recreate the project yourself. It uses a Raspberry Pi, an 8MP Raspberry Pi camera, an Arduino, a Digital Video magnifying microscope lens, a few 3D-printed parts and Lego bricks. The microscope camera is connected to the Raspberry Pi. While the maker's initial prototypes were completely 3D-printed, the later editions used Lego bricks to make the microscope more modular.

Temiz said it's possible to create the project without an Arduino, but the board does help simplify the process. The Arduino controls six stepper motors and can adjust the intensity of the illumination.

If you want to see how everything goes together, check out the project details on Github. It has everything you need to get started. Be sure to follow Temiz on Reddit for updates on his open-source microscope and future Pi projects.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.

  • NightHawkRMX
    Legos are more useful than you would think. Ask me how i know.
  • Deicidium369
    NightHawkRMX said:
    Legos are more useful than you would think. Ask me how i know.
    Like me, you played with LEGOs on a full time basis - my 3 kids are all obsessed with them as well - which makes me extremely happy - my twin daughters don't even own a Barbie doll and love cooperatively building things - their only issues is their little brother doesn't disassemble befre being put back in the tubs.

    So seeing something like this microscope being built in not surprising, I have also seen computer cases made from Lego.
  • daglesj
    The plural of Lego.
  • mwestall
    Exactly, it really bugs me these references to Legos. Lego, Lego set, Lego bricks, but NEVER Legos.
  • Slesreth
    daglesj said:
    The plural of Lego.
    mwestall said:
    Exactly, it really bugs me these references to Legos. Lego, Lego set, Lego bricks, but NEVER Legos.

    A note to readers who would be editors.

    Here is a publishing guideline request from the LEGO® Group in 2009:
    "Please help us to protect our brand name:
    • The LEGO brand name should always be written in capital letters
    • LEGO must never be used as a generic term or in the plural or as a
    possessive pronoun, e.g. “LEGO’s”.
    • When the LEGO brand name is used as part of a noun, it must never
    appear on its own. It should always be accompanied by a noun. For ex
    ample, LEGO set, LEGO products, LEGO Group, LEGO play materials,
    LEGO bricks, LEGO universe, etc.
    • The first time the LEGO brand name appears, it must be accompanied by the Registered symbol ®.
    Thank you for helping us!
    Using the LEGO brand name Company Profile 2009 is produced for the LEGO Group by Corporate Communications.
    ©2009 The LEGO Group
    LEGOLAND, the Minifigure, the Brick, and Knob configurations are trademarks of the LEGO Group."

    Please note, this was LEGO Group asking writers to use the product names this way so that readers would understand the context of the article in relation to the actual LEGO products being used in that article. The Webster, Cambridge, and Oxford dictionary's do not list a plural use for "Lego" as a noun on their websites. Etymology references usually point to the Danish origin of the word, not its grammatical use.

    This all being said, the word has been adopted by many English speaking countries differently. They may reserve the right to use this word as they have grown up doing. But, it is not polite to demand other countries use it the same way they do.

    As for the topic itself, I may actually build this one. It looks quite fun!

    Edit: For grammar and composition.