All Things CAD, Design, Prototyping and Fabrication

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3D printing for real science!

Recently, I sold a hardware kit to a Bioengineering student at UCSD named Chris. He printed up his own version of the Universal Microscope Phone Adapter and sent along a few pictures and even posted up a YouTube video!

Here’s the setup on a microscope.

Chris has been using the microscope adapter with a hemocytometer grid to count cells under the microscope. It sounds pretty interesting! Here’s a couple pictures he took with his iPhone 4S…

hemocytometer with universal smartphone microscope adapter 1

Aligning the camera to the microscope…

hemocytometer with universal smartphone microscope adapter 2

Close up of the hemocytometer using an iPhone4S.

Note: Photos are property of Christopher S Ahn, Bioengineering Ph.D student at University of California, San Diego

In addition to sending a few pictures over, he sent over this link to a video he made with the same setup of induced pluripotent stem cells, differentiated to heart muscle cells, beating in a dish. I have no idea what that really means but it sounds cool.

Chris also says that using the adapter he will likely publish a white paper using his iPhone4S to capture pictures and video for his research. Not bad for a few 3D printed components and $5 in hardware!

If you’re interested in hardware to put together an adapter, send me an email at I also have a few other printed items for free at



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Foray into Thingiverse

After a couple years of designing and 3D printing a number of different gadgets I finally decided to take the plunge into thingiverse. If your interested you can check out and download each of these things here.

A couple years ago I designed up a way to hold my iPhone over my microscope at my desk at work. It makes it really easy to get a decent picture of something tiny without breaking the bank and buying a high dollar camera.

Universal Microscope Phone Adapter

It takes a few minutes to try and get the camera lined up to take a good picture the first time but once you figure it out it seems to work pretty well. Once it’s lined up, it helps if you zoom the camera in on the phone a bit.

This project went through a number of iterations to get the springs correct and the original design had a compression spring between the clips instead of the torsion spring that is there now. Also, the slides that hold the phone were way to narrow to be considered “universal.”

Original Microscope Phone Adapter 2 Original Microscope Phone Adapter

After the scope adapter I decided to use the same design of the slide mechanism, turn it on it’s side and add a spot for a threaded insert to mount the slide to a tripod. That led to this:

RevB Render Camera Tripod Mount

And this morning I posted up a modular tool holder mount for the garage or workshop. Buying pegboard and all the accessories seems to be a hassle to me and it’s way more fun to do a bit of 3D printing. The idea is that you put the main hanger piece up on the wall and then print out each individual piece you need depending on the tool you need to hang up. There are multiple hangers with different sized holes for screw drivers, etc and then larger “hook” pieces to hang up hammers or larger tools that take up more space. I suppose this is strong enough to even hold up garden tools like rakes and shovels since it holds up my 4 lb mini-sledge hammer just fine.

Tool Hanger - FrontPhoto Mar 15, 7 32 47 AM