First Cam Field Test – 5th July 2016

First Cam Field Test – 5th July 2016

It’s always an exciting day when you take your prototype into ‘the field’ for the first time. Although things may be working well in the lab, you never quite know what will happen when you take them into the real world!


We had decided that it was time for us to venture out and conduct our first field trial. As we had strong suspicions that the River Cam would be harbouring a few(!) bacteria, we thought that it would make an excellent first test, not least because we could then sit in Jesus Green and enjoy an ice-cream and BBQ at the same time!


We collected a sample by Jesus lock, and were surprised by how clear the water was. However, the first round of filtering left a very dirty filter, showing just how much particulate matter can go unseen in the water! We then filtered the water again to catch any bacteria, and transferred the bacteria to agar. So far so good (especially as the sausages were nearly ready...).

cam riveralex and Nalin


The agar plate was then placed on the microscope, allowing us to test our new incubator. Unfortunately, a few burgers and an Old Speckled Hen later we couldn’t see any growth using the microscope. It was a disappointment, but it was to be expected that something wouldn’t work first time - we just had to work out where the problem was!


waterscope team at camben and richard

Thankfully, after leaving the agar in a commercial incubator for a short while we were able to see growth down the microscope. This suggested that it might be that our incubator isn’t working as effectively outside as we had hoped. Now back to the lab to tinker with our incubator ready for our next field test!

cam river trial result

Product launch

yellow waterscope

We launched our first product, the Raspberry Pi microscope kit, as part of Cambridge Open Technology Week 2016.  We’re still improving the instructions and the design of a few of the parts, but it’s exciting to be able to supply kits so more people can build the microscope.  Pop over to our store to bag yourself a kit!