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Is there such a thing as a "hobbiest grade" spectrometer?

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Wasn't sure where to put this one. . .

I've often thought it would be neat to own a spectrometer to measure laser wavelengths, fluorescence of materials, LEDs, and pretty much anything that makes light. Are there any units available that would be affordable for the average joe? A search turned up some results, just way out of my price range. I'm thinking like $250 would be justifiable. Does such a thing exist? Or should I just keep dreaming?
 

icecruncher

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Me too.

I'm not happy with the idea of the spectrometer you make from a paper box that are ~$10.

I'd also be interested in knowing if there are used ones that can be found that are accurate and viable in a reasonable price range.
 

rhd

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There was some supplier... had "science" in the name (I know that's not a lot to go on). I feel like their spectrometer was around $99, but something crazy like an additional $450 for calibration.

I had a limited dialog with them about whether it could be calibrated on my end. The long story short was YES, as long as I spent another several hundred dollars on some sort of crazy metal vapour flash lamp, etc.

For whatever reason, 4 known wavelength lasers (473, 532, 556, 589) weren't enough (at least based on their opinion) for me to calibrate it on my end. So basically, $450 is the cheapest I could ever locate.

I'm not even clear on exactly what they're called. Spectrometers? Spectrographs? Spectroscopes? Calorimeter (or is that an LPM?)

EDIT: Yep - thanks 532, that's EXACTLY what I was thinking of. Though at $200, it's more than I remember the price being.
 
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rhd

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Spectrometer Resources - Science-Surplus

have you looked at this ( the aligning instructions)
None of the (supposedly) complicated physical calibration stuff scares me.

What terrifies me, is the calculus. I hate how after all of that work in explaining the physical process, they have two lines telling us to fit wavelength and pixel number to a third order polynomial in order to get our coefficients. It's been way too long since high school calc for me, and I've never used polynomials since.
 
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Well, that's a start. Looks like I get to Do Moar Research. . .

Thanks! (Don't consider the thread dead at this point. If anyone else has a suggestion, I'd be thrilled to hear about it.)
 
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None of the (supposedly) complicated physical calibration stuff scares me.

What terrifies me, is the calculus. I hate how after all of that work in explaining the physical process, they have two lines telling us to fit wavelength and pixel number to a third order polynomial in order to get our coefficients. It's been way too long since high school calc for me, and I've never used polynomials since.
its really more of advanced algebra which im decent at, but in all honesty the 2 lines of it scare me too. to me its obvious they don't want you to calibrate it yourself IMHO

EDIT: it linear algebra mostly coefficients are just a name to scare you and polynomials can be ridiculously simple but they can get complicated to ...:thinking:
 
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qumefox

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I have one of the precalibrated ones from them and it's indeed a handy thing to have. I just wonder what piece of medical equipment they originally came out of. I have one of the 473 lasers as well with the actual fluorescence pickup head that apparently came out of the same piece of equipment. It's interesting to play with the whole setup put back together, but I still haven't figured out exactly what they were used for. Measuring something that fluoresced under 473nm I know, but I don't know what that would be.
 

qumefox

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Um. My spectrometer was worth every penny.. It kind of bugs me that everyone in the hobby seems to think everything should just cost $5. And I wasn't trying to figure out the source to 'do it cheaper'. I mostly was just curious as to what they came out of.

Plus, even if you do find out what equipment they came out of, are you going to be able to build your own interface? Write your own spectrometer software? Etc.. It's not like science surplus is just wiping the dust off these and reselling them. They actually make them usable, as well as affordable, to the average hobbyist.. $300 for a working and calibrated one is CHEAP for a spectrometer. If you don't believe me start looking up prices for laboratory grade spectrometers.. which is about all else there is..

Though in regards to your ebay spectrometer. That should work fine as long as your not looking for extreme precision. Though you can accomplish the same thing with a diffraction grating of a known line count, a measuring tape, a calculator, and a laser of a known wavelength, (a cheap 532nm dpss pen will work fine) to use as a calibration reference.
 

icecruncher

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THose are the ones I was looking at, but looking for something better.

Um. My spectrometer was worth every penny.

$300 for a working and calibrated one is CHEAP for a spectrometer. If you don't believe me start looking up prices for laboratory grade spectrometers.. which is about all else there is.
However, they wrote this to me

Dear icecruncher,

An aligned spectrometer is $500, which includes your choice of grating. Unaligned spectrometer kits always come with the 1800 l/mm grating.

Regards,

- science-surplus
 
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Qumefox, if you have a spare moment, would you mind telling us a bit more about your spectrometer and your experiences dealing with Science Surplus? Like what you paid and when (I'd think prices have gone up, like everything else.) What was the company like to deal with?

As for the spectrometer, has it seemed to hold calibration fairly well? Could you tell us a bit about the software features, ease of use, etc? Any particular points of praise or complaint?
 
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You might wanna check out the Ocean Optics USB 650 'red tide' units. They are very popular and run a bit over $1000 new so it shouldn't be hard to find a used one cheap. These units interface directly with your PC and have the spectrometer and signal processor all in one palm sized unit. They measure from about 350nm to 1000nm which is well within the range of interest of the laser hobbyist, plus they're almost foolproof. You will though have to have the proper Spectra Suite software.
 
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Solonar

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I have one of the precalibrated ones from them and it's indeed a handy thing to have. I just wonder what piece of medical equipment they originally came out of. I have one of the 473 lasers as well with the actual fluorescence pickup head that apparently came out of the same piece of equipment. It's interesting to play with the whole setup put back together, but I still haven't figured out exactly what they were used for. Measuring something that fluoresced under 473nm I know, but I don't know what that would be.
I don't know what specific instrument they come out of, but I can tell you what they do.

Basically they take a patient sample(blood, urine,...) and mix it with a chemical reagent, then they expose the sample to a light source(UV, IR, or visible light) depending on the type of instrument. Then they measure the intensity and wavelength of the flouresence to determine the concentration of the analyte in question.
 




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