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This project is the continuation of the Fern Gametophyte Focus Stacking Project funded by the Biomaker Challenge Grant of 2017. The current project is funded by an OpenPlant Grant, and is again a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the John Innes Centre.


See our Team Page


Within the 6 month period of the grant, our aim is to design a £100 teaching tool and a curriculum to teach focus stacked photography to secondary school children and undergraduates.

We will also extend our DIY professional-grade system so that it can photograph subjects from 0.25mm to 1cm and beyond. The system’s current range is 0.5mm to 2.5mm. This will enable capture of unique plant science images and will be a valuable teaching tool in its own right. This system will be fully documented so that it can be adapted and copied by other groups. Within and beyond the period of the grant, our aim is to use the system to take deep focus images of Arabidopsis trichomes, Utricularia gibba traps, and developing fern gametophytes.

We hope that making these images available will start a trend for sharing of microscopic deep focus plant science images, and provide tools for school and University teaching staff to ignite enthusiasm for these tiny plant specimens.


The 2017 Biomaker system is fully described on the 2017 Biomaker Focus stacking project write-up.

Engineering changes since 2017 Biomaker Challenge

We have a couple of technical problems that we are working on:

  • Replacing the infrared shutter release with a cabled shutter release to avoid having missed shots.

  • We are trying to set up faster computer equipment for video editing, but this is hampered by me having trouble using modern screens, due to eyestrain from blue light. The technical issues of modern screens are quite interesting, and this is turning into a bio-electronics project in its own right, so I will document it too.

  • The code that we currently use to drive the system with the infra red camera trigger is on the Infra red setup source code page.


See our Results Page

Cost of parts bought on the grant

See our Cost of Parts Page

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