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We're hitting the beaches and hitching boat rides to make aerial images of the gulf oil spill's effects using cameras attached to balloons and kites.
We're hitting the beaches and hitching boat rides to make aerial images of the gulf oil spill's effects using cameras attached to balloons and kites.
145 backers pledged $8,285 to help bring this project to life.

A new Balloon and Kite Mapping project from Public Lab

Hi, everyone - although it's been a few years since this campaign, Public Lab has been growing quickly, and we've just launched a new project -- as part of Kickstarter Gold.

We're bringing back the Balloon Mapping Kit along with two exciting new prototyping kits -- the Mini Balloon Kit and the Mini Kite Kit. At half the cost of the original, these are designed for portability and for a new generation of smaller cameras that's now available.

We'd love to hear what you think:


A new DIY project related to the BP oil spill...

At the end of 2012, you all pledged support to help us collaboratively map the BP oil spill with kites and balloons. That project led to the founding of Public Lab and to the community of thousands of Do-It-Yourselfers today who are tackling ever greater challenges in grassroots pollution monitoring. Our passion for low-cost pollution monitoring has never been stronger. 

This week, we launched our first pollutant-specific kit, the Homebrew Oil Testing Kit, in the latest iteration of a project starter shortly after the BP spill. 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 alternative to laboratory 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.

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

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 Smartphone Spectrometer is now shipping, and the Infragram Webcams 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 and organizer Chris Fastie.

2013 Public Lab Barnraising in Cocodrie, Louisiana

Hello everyone - it's been a long time, but I wanted to reach out to invite you all -- who helped us get our start before Public Lab even existed -- to a fun event in Louisiana this October 4-6. 

As many of you know, in the past three years, our community has grown into a broader DIY environmental movement and network known as Public Lab. In one month, members of the global Public Lab community will be meeting up at our third annual conference, called the "Public Lab Barnraising" -- at a research station in the wetlands of Cocodrie, Louisiana. We'd love it if you'd join us! 

Dormitories are available, and the 3-day event will include unconference-style sessions, workshops, brainstorming sessions, outdoor activities like boating, kiting, ballooning, and other fun forms of DIY environmental research (not to mention late-night fishing on the dock). The Barnraising is free to attend, and lodging is an affordable $20/night. This year's theme is education

When: October 4-6, 2013 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) 

Register today: 

Below: a group kite-mapping session on the nearby canal, and a DIY spectrometry session at the 2012 Barnraising.

Hello again! We've created a plant health camera called the Infragram

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

During the oil spill, we began to experiment (in the same spirit of Do-It-Yourself creativity and environmental concern) with a pair of synchronized infrared and visible cameras in a technique for assessing plant health which we borrowed from NASA. You can read more about our work here:

Since then, as you probably know, we've formed the open community research network called Public Lab. Our goal with this camera has been to help quantify damage to ecosystems, using a low-cost version of the same techniques NASA uses from satellites -- very much in the spirit of Public Lab! The two-camera technique was expensive (although not as much as the thousands of dollars normally spent on such images!) and 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.