How to make a homemade spectrometer out of cardboard

Anyone interested in a small homemade cardboard spectrometer like is or similar, you can increase the capacity of the tool only with a pair of scissors and a little skill, following the step by step instructions below.


Step 1: Cut out and glue the work on the cardboard template.

Start by cutting the outer edge of the spectrometer following the template you purchased. Try to do this with firm, clean cuts.

Before bending the system, make a small hole with the tip of a pencil or nail just in the area shown in the picture. When you have it, carefully cut out this part and set it aside.

Now small variations are introduced in the predefined guidelines, to improve the capacity of the system. So, cut two areas of about 2.5 centimeters as you can see in the picture.

Glue the square piece of paper very carefully on one of these new areas following the pattern in the photo. Keep in mind that you will need to leave a slit where the light can be seen. The narrower it is, the better, but not so much that it prevents light from entering the slit.

Keep in mind that if you print or paint the back with black ink, you will darken the interior and the photo will be more intricate.

To clear the way when folding your homemade spectrograph, press with a spreading knife or scissors on the dotted lines to make folding later easier.

Step 2: Prepare and integrate the DVD.

The next step will be to cut a DVD with the scissors. Although it may sound complicated, you just need to do it as if you are breaking apart a slice of pizza.

When you have it, peel off the opaque layer from the clear layer, which is the one you need to keep. It is important that the part is free of aluminum, especially on its outer edges.

Once you get the expected result, paste the DVD piece in such a way that it covers the hole you made earlier.

Step 3: Shape the spectrometer, paste it and start using it.

At this point, you can fold back the dotted lines on the system so that the labels are on the outside of the equipment.

Continue to fold the smaller side over the longer and make sure you glue it tight. Repeat with the front lashes, working with one with the slit first, then with the other, to cover and set it.

Finally, glue the diagonal back cover, which will be the one you will need to attach to your cell phone, webcam or the equipment in which you want to use the spectrometer. When you do, don’t forget the calibration, for which you can keep an eye on Spectral workbench, a very useful open source database for obtaining information on homemade spectrometers.

If, despite these indications, you still have doubts about the assembly of this improved homemade spectrometer, you can find here additional hints that will make the job easier and help you get started with this instrument for optical measurement.

Original idea published in PublicLab.