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This DIY kit helps analyze materials and contaminants. We need your help to build a library of open-source spectral data.
This DIY kit helps analyze materials and contaminants. We need your help to build a library of open-source spectral data.
This DIY kit helps analyze materials and contaminants. We need your help to build a library of open-source spectral data.
1,633 backers pledged $110,538 to help bring this project to life.

Over 200 people have signed up for a Community Microscope Kit

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Hello everyone! I wanted to get in touch again with a new Public Lab kit and campaign -- one of our most exciting yet: the Community Microscope Kit.

Explore the invisible microscopic world around you with an affordable microscope kit you construct yourself.

We've blown through our initial goal, and wanted to reach out to you to help us help 500 people build their own microscope!

This new kit has many of the things you've come to expect from Public Lab; it's:

  • open source
  • made from affordable, simple parts
  • fully DIY - remix and improve it!
  • aimed at environmental problems that affect communities around the world 

Just like previous campaigns we've run, we need you to pitch in, refine and improve this kit, to help measure things like air quality issues and ocean microplastics.

Learn more about it and see some amazing videos and GIFs of things you can see with it -- from dust motes, bacteria, chlorophyll and amoebas!

Click here to learn more

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:


Something new related to the project you helped launch...


At the end of 2012, you all pledged support to help us launch the DIY Spectrometry Kit. Your funding built into a serious analysis tool, and your contributions to our research project have lead us through numerous hardware revisions, research proving the tool’s capabilities, and the exploration of new techniques for pollution detection -- and dozens of new applications and experiments with a remarkable, affordable tool!

This week, we launched our first pollutant-specific testing kit, the Homebrew Oil Testing Kit, which is based on the core technologies developed in the DIY Spectrometry Kit. Beyond the huge amount of research we've done to improve these techniques (often in collaboration with some of you!), we’ve added new features, including sample containers and lasers! Now we need your help. 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 spectrometer so that it can provide a cheap alternative to laboratory equipment. As other projects come to market with proprietary consumer-grade spectrometers, 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.

Join the Public Lab nonprofit team!


We have a really exciting update from the Public Lab nonprofit--thanks to your support and the growth of our tools community, we're hiring! If you're interested in open hardware, project management and sales, check out our Kits Initiative Manager job description below. Thanks again for all your great support!

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 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.