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Make your own aerial photos and maps with our flight kit and MapKnitter browser app.  Add a camera to our reusable 5.5' balloon & kit.
Make your own aerial photos and maps with our flight kit and MapKnitter browser app. Add a camera to our reusable 5.5' balloon & kit.
463 backers pledged $34,646 to help bring this project to life.

Launching our Homebrew Oil Testing Kit

At the beginning of 2012, you all helped us launch our kits initiative with our first kit, the Balloon Mapping Kit. This kit was born out of mapping the Deepwater Horizon spill with kites and balloons.  Oil and gas accountability is central to Public Lab, and we're proud that our research community has come up with a low-cost way to grade oils in the field.  

From this research we've launched our first pollutant-specific kit, the Homebrew Oil Testing Kit, Now we need your help once again. Join us to beta test our system, or pick up a finished kit when they ship next spring.

We still have work left to do on our technique so that it can provide a cheap, DIY and Open Source alternative to existing equipment. As other projects come to market with proprietary devices, we continue to push open research, open hardware, and a community-based approach, with no “secret algorithms”. We hope you will continue to join us in lowering the barriers to pollution monitoring for everyone.

Thank you,


Hack your holidays with Public Lab!

This winter, choose gifts that delight your loved ones AND help support your favorite non-profit organization, Public Lab.

Check out these holiday specials at

Intro Kits for just $5!

Our foldable kits are on sale now at half price -- only $5 plus shipping for the Infragram plant analysis filter pack or the award-winning papercraft Foldable Mini-Spectrometer! These ship in a flat 6x9" envelope. Use discount code: INFRAREDNOSEDREINDEER

Upgrade to a kite?

Are you finding yourself struggling to balloon map on windy days? Public Lab now distributes kite packs to accompany your balloon mapping kit (with kites for high and low winds). The rest of the gear is the same -- just swap in a big 9-foot kite for your balloon and save on helium!

Gift Cards

Not sure which kit would make the best gift? We now offer Public Lab Store Gift Cards, so your giftee can make their own (DIY) choices!

Order/Preorder our newest items

We are excited to announce two new kits in our store -- the DIY Smartphone Spectrometer (pictured above) is now shipping, and the Infragram Webcam for plant analysis will ship in January.

Perfectly presented presents

We make perfect packages easy. If you're in the US and you'd like our illustrated boxes to arrive without postage markings, please select "Priority" under "Shipping Method". This option is available for all of our kits except balloon kits and kite kits.

Just imagine:

  • Walking through a winter-wonderland with winged widgets 
  • Capturing aerial photos of your family's snow angels and snow forts 
  • Documenting spectra of chestnuts roasting over an open fire
  • Searching for Rudolf the Infrared-Nosed Reindeer
  • Hosting a spirited spectral showdown to explore your favorite liquors
  • Basking in the spectral richness of holiday candles, colored LED lights, and incandescent bulbs

Public Lab open hardware kits are lovingly created by a community of contributors. These kits embody the spirit of giving, making them the perfect way to open source your holiday. Do you know someone special who'd love a balloon mapping kit or a spectrometer for their beloved smartphone? Public Lab kits make wonderful gifts for your friends and family--explore DIY science together around the kitchen table and outside!

Give back this season:

Your purchases at the Public Lab Store help us fulfill our non-profit mission: to make civic science something everyone can do, especially those affected by environmental injustice. Your support matters!

Wonderfully wintry photos of ribbony kits by Public Lab contributor Chris Fastie. Kite photo by contributor Pablo Rey.

Infrared "plant health" cameras are back!

Hello all -- it's been a while, but we wanted to get in touch again because one of the "advanced" rewards from this campaign has grown up into it's own project -- an infrared "photosynthesis camera" we're calling the Infragram.

If you remember that the highest rewards in the campaign were a pair of synchronized infrared and visible cameras for assessing plant health, you may also recall that the two-camera technique was a bit unwieldy -- a prototype! Well, we've worked hard since then, and with lots of help from backers (who are now active Public Lab contributors), we've come up with a single-camera version which we are offering in our new Kickstarter. You can get one for as little as $35 -- and the images are stunning; see below.

Grassroots Mapping Forum on its way to backers!

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grassroots mapping forum is finally printed!

After a few delays owing to shipping standards,  the first regular issue of Grassroots Mapping Forum is on it's way to backers via bulk mail!  I'm extremely excited that we've worked out the logistics of subscription services and that we'll be putting out the Forum regularly.  I hope you all enjoy it.


Preparing Grassroots Mapping Forum #2 & Surpassing our Retail Goals

Its been 3 months since our Kickstarter drove us to 544% of our required backing, and our retail sales have been keeping pace, with over 250 additional kits purchased through our retail store.  Thanks to Kickstarter, we've passed our yearly sales goal, and its only May!

Unfortunately, handling this incredible demand has delayed the production of Grassroots Mapping Forum, and we missed launching regular, quarterly publications for the first quarter.  Issue #2 can be expected beginning mid-July.

Right now we're looking for contributors who'd like to collaborate on three sections:

Unmanned Aerial Systems/Mapping ethics
Dual Camera/ Infrared imaging discussion and how-to

Notes on recent research and flights

Please contact me directly if you have ideas, suggestions, or if you'd like to participate-- Mathew [at] publiclaboratory [dot] org