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Build a Lab-Grade, Raspberry Pi-Powered Digital Microscope at Wuthering Bytes 2015

Gareth Halfacree

It's Wuthering Bytes month here at oomlout, and while we've talked plenty about the various marvellous talks scheduled for the week-long highlight of the UK Maker Belt technological event calendar we've been ignoring the workshops. Part of the Open Source Hardware User Group (OSHUG) annual OSHCamp event, Sunday the 27th of September will see Wuthering Bytes attendees participating in some very exciting projects - including the first public workshopping of a 3D-printed, Raspberry Pi-powered digital microscope with a single-micrometre sample positioning accuracy.

Developed by University of Cambridge Junior Research Fellow Richard Bowman and demonstrated by his colleague and Winton Scholar Tobias Wenzel, the microscope project represents the latest in 'Open Labware:' open-source and open-hardware creations designed to make science more accessible to those on a budget while hopefully allowing for new breakthroughs in the technology that drives scientific progress.

Designed to replace a traditional digital microscope costing thousands of pounds, Richard's creation uses 3D-printed flex structures in place of more expensive components to drive the cost down to significantly less than £100. Offering micrometre positioning accuracy along all three axis, thinner than a single strand of spider-silk, the brains of the microscope are provided by a low-cost Raspberry Pi microcomputer. It's this combination of affordable, off-the-shelf components and custom-designed parts built using rapid and low-cost small-scale manufacturing techniques that make the microscope - and other open labware projects - possible.

To read about the project is one thing, but attendees at the OSHCamp workshops at Wuthering Bytes can go a step further and build their own. Following Tobias' lead, and either purchasing a Raspberry Pi on the day or bringing their own, budding builders will learn to put together the affordable kit of parts and build their own example of Richard's clever microscope. Following on from the workshop day itself, attendees will also be given the information they need to optionally automate movement along all three axis - extending the capabilities of the microscope to easily rival those of expensive off-the-shelf equivalents.

Interested parties can find out more about the project on the official Wuthering Bytes workshop schedule, while tickets for the OSHCamp workshops and other Wuthering Bytes events are available from our dedicated microsite.

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