Turn your iPhone into a Microscope

Ever noticed how expensive microscopes are? And, let’s face it, not many schools can afford it. But, what a lot of students and teachers do have are iPhones. So stop using your iPhone’s camera for selfies and let’s expand the use of that iPhone camera. Turn it into a microscope in a few easy steps:

First, you’ll need the following materials:


  • 3x 4 ½ “ x  5/16’ carriage bolts
  • 9x 5/16’ nuts
  • 3x 5/16” wing nuts
  • 5x 5/16” washers
  • 3/4” x 7”x 7” plywood (for base)
  • 1/8” x 7”x 7” plexiglass (for camera stage)
  •  1/8” x 3” x 7” plexiglass (for specimen stage)
  • Laser pointer (focus lens)
  • LED Click light


  • Drill
  • Assorted Bits
  • Ruler
  • Sharpie
  • Pliers


With the use of the pliers, remove the focus lens from the laser pointer as shown below. Unscrew the front cone and the back cover of the pointer and remove the batteries. Now, using the eraser end of a pencil, push the inside of the pointer out of the tube. The front end, which is opposite to the spring side of the innards, is where the focus lens are. Congratulations! You just gutted a laser pointer! The lens will serve as the magnifier for your contraption.

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Using the Sharpie, mark the two front corners of the base ¾” from both sides and the front edges. Before you drill, make sure to put another piece of wood underneath the base so that your work bench doesn’t get damaged by the drill.

Next, stack the (7” x 7”) plexiglass on top of the base as well as the (3” x 7”) plexiglass. Have the specimen stage (3” x 7”) extend ¾” off the edge of the base.

Following the markers you made on the wooden base, mark the plexiglass and start drilling.



Using a drill that is the same size or smaller than the diameter of the lens, drill a hole on the camera stage (7” x7” Plexiglass), and if the whole is a little small for the lens, use a file or sand paper to make it larger. Be sure to go slow when filing, and test to fit often. If you make the hole too big, the lens might not fit.



The light is important for specimens that need to be backlit in order to be seen clearly, which is why the light source needs to be directly below the focus lens

To mark the placement of the light source, slide the camera stage (without the lens) and mark with a pencil where the hole should be drilled.

Drill a shallow hole to rest the light in.



Now we put together the stage. Take a few washers and nuts, and use them to hold the bolts tight to the base.

Add some upside down wing nuts and washers to the two front bolts. Next, place the specimen stage on top of the washers, adding a nut to each bolt. Lower them ½” and rest the camera stage on top of these nuts. Make use of a level to make sure that everything is nice and flat. After making sure that the stage is level on both front and back and left to right, you may now tighten the final nuts.

Congratulations! You just finished making your iPhone Microscope stand. Now you’re ready to see the world in a different kind of view. See cells and other microscopic things with your iPhone. Get your children to use it and show them that learning can be fun with a little work and imagination.


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Louise Mosqueda

Louise is an anti-social being who enjoys the company of animals. A writer by degree and profession, she likes writing about anything her mind comes up with, and learning about the latest gadgets. A video game buff, she prefers the complexity of older video games to new ones. You can usually find her riding public transport, lost in thought about her next blog entry. Know more about her and her anti-social antics by following her blogs and twitter.

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