Here we outline the specific hardware items used. Some can be sourced from Adafruit. Other items are from external vendors.


A Raspberry Pi Zero W with a V2 camera module was used for all video capture. You could use any other model Pi as well. But since we only used the Pi for video capture, and all Pi's have a good GPU, the Pi Zero W is plenty good.

You can get these items separately:

Angled shot of Raspberry Pi Zero W computer.
If you didn't think that the Raspberry Pi Zero could possibly get any better, then boy do we have a pleasant surprise for you! The new Raspberry Pi Zero W...
Out of Stock
Angled shot of Raspberry Pi Camera Board v2 - 8 Megapixels connected to a flex cable and a Raspberry Pi.
Snap, snap! The Camera v2 is the new official camera board released by the Raspberry Pi Foundation!The Raspberry Pi Camera Board v2 is a high quality 8...
In Stock
Angled shot of a Raspberry Pi Zero v1.3 Camera Cable.
This camera cable is specifically designed to work with the Raspberry Pi Zero - Version 1.3! Just plug it into your Pi...
In Stock

Or you can get them as a kit:

Angled shot of a Raspberry Pi Zero W Camera Pack - Includes Pi Zero W
We've got to hand it to the Pi Foundation - adding a camera port and built-in WiFi to the already awesome Pi Zero was a brilliant move. Now you can...
In Stock

You'll also want one of these to help focus the camera lens:

Lens Adjustment Tool for Raspberry Pi Camera
This nifty little plastic tool provides you a super simple, super cheap means for adjusting the lens of your Raspberry Pi...
In Stock

NOTE: One drawback to using a Pi Zero W is the smaller and more delicate camera connector on the Pi. The "regular" sized Pi boards all have a larger and generally more durable camera connector that may prove more robust in an educational setting. We mainly wanted to show that this experiment is possible on the cheapest Pi available. Any model Pi will work.

Laser and Optics

Here are the links to the laser, batteries, and line generating optics used:

Yep, the optics were more expensive than the laser itself. But we got a very nice laser sheet as a result.

The Box

We used a left over cardboard shipping box lined with black poster board. Any other suitable box with similar dimensions should be fine.

Inside of the box showing the cutouts for:

  • Pi Camera
  • Laser Sheet
  • Mask (where tester speaks through)

This is the side where the Pi Zero W and Pi Camera are attached. A small hole is cut for the camera module.

The Pi Zero W and Pi Camera module are put in place. Make sure the camera module is pointing through the hole.

Attach the various cables. At a minimum, you need power. Here we show additional connections for audio and a button.

Tack everything down with blue tape.

And here's the final setup, with the addition of the audio cue and the Go button. The mask tester sits in front of the box and places their mouth into the mask test hole. When ready, they can then press the Go button. An audio cue plays to let them know to start speaking. After the video is done, another audio cue plays to let them know it's over.

Here's an example with the laser on and spraying in some water from above through the open box top. Even with the room lights on, the particles are clearly visible in the light sheet.

Note that the box used here does not have an exit slot for the laser, which the box in the original paper did. This did produce a noticeable amount of back scattered light into the closed box, as observed through the mask hole. However, it was minimal enough that it did not seem to affect the simple threshold based analysis done here (details later).


Here's a short clip showing the resulting video.

This guide was first published on Oct 14, 2020. It was last updated on Oct 14, 2020.

This page (Hardware Setup) was last updated on Oct 05, 2020.

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