Invitation: Building a Digital Microscope using a Webcam

Building a Microscope using a Webcam

You do not need to know any electronics to do this project

A microscope magnifies small objects to explore the beautiful world of microorganisms or anything that cannot be seen by our naked eyes. It will make us realize that a big world exists even in a drop of pond water.

So, can we build a microscope ourselves?

Yes! Of-course you can build your own microscope, using which you can also take pictures and videos.

The picture shown below is one of the very low cost DIY (Do It Yourself) Digital Microscope made using a webcam followed by the images of microorganisms without additional light and with additional light respectively taken from the same microscope.

So Go Build Your own Microscope using a Webcam,

You can also build and add a multi-axis stage to adjust either the lens or the sample slide and check out a few of the millions of living microorganisms around.

While you are making whatever questions you have, whatever help you need, please ask by replying to this topic.

Report the following by clicking the reply button

  1. Photos of your microscope
  2. Details of webcam used
  3. Details of the multi-axis stage if you have built one.
  4. Measure the resolution of the microscope?
  5. Magnified photos of five different microorganisms observed under your microscope.
  6. Try to identify what you see, or ask the community to identify them.

Duration for completing this project is 1 week.

You can visit the following links for getting more help:

Turn a Webcam into microscope

We acknowledge the Art Science Bengalore for helping us build our first DIY microscope in 2016 in this workshop:

Do read the beautiful picture blog


Rotifers :smile: The pic is so cool. Is the second pic of rotifers, taken as a contrast image.


LED light is used near the specimen slide to get the contrast effect.

Will surely give a try if faced difficulty I will ask you :star_struck::star_struck::star_struck::star_struck: great thing


use “LED” for “Led”. It is a good idea to edit the documents with this change.

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The YouTube movie tells us that this will be a $9 microscope.
In Indian situation how much would be the material cost?


Last workshop we did we used a webcam purchased from a local market for Rs 450/- plus half a day of tinkering.

Calibrating a microscope.vlcsnap-2019-06-28-20h18m07s189
Use a micrometer slide.
1 small division is 10 microns
Image size is 650 micron in the horizontal plane.
Notice the slight skew?. That will produce a error. However the skew is less than half a division. Which means we cannot get a better calibration.

We need to calibrate separately in the vertical plane too. Cmos imagers have different resolutions in the vertical and horizontal plane.


Why do we need to do calibration of microscope? Can you just explain as i was just completely unaware of this fact @jtd


Thanks @jtd. Happy to see you have not only built a microscope but also started measuring the magnification. Congratulations!

Some more improvements that can be done are: better focus, and eliminating chromatic aberration.


So that we can measure the dimensions of the subject. Magnification and resolution will vary. Hence one needs to know the size of the image that the camera produces with a given lens.

If one were doing colour measurements, colour calibration is also required.


@jtd can you please explain in simple words i didn’t understand please

That will help us to measure what we see. If one complete width of the image is 650\mu then we can get a good estimate of the objects we see through the microscope.

This is very important step of every instrument that we build. Each microscope may have a different component, lens or the CCD we use make the digital microscope. Therefore it is even more important to do this every time we make one.


Here is what the digital microscope looks like.


The CMOS imager plane is not parallel to the slide. Hence we do not have good focus. This is due to the curved shape of the camera housing. I will get rid of the housing and seat the board flat.
Chromatic aberration is partly due to the pathetic lighting from the built in camera LEDs. I will remove those. Then we can provide much better external multiangle lighting.

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You are so inspiring!

I noticed the 650micron in mathfont with symbol of micron …

How to do it…


You can use LaTeX math symbols in the editor by embedding the code in $$.


Oh vow… Latex . …:heart_eyes:

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One could rebuild the lens by removing the top cap and dropping out each component. Then re assembling the same by reversing the order of the elements. The elments consist of multiple lenses and spacer ringss. Each spacer ring is used to hold the previous element at the right focal distance. The bottom most element - which becomes topmost in our inverted world - is an IR cut filter.