iNaturalist and Outdoor DIY tools?

I’m curious what are some tools you’ve made to help you in the field? I’ve heard stories about custom diffusers and macro lenses and all sorts of crazy creations. What have you made to aid your field research?

Personally, I’ve printed out small field guides for myself to use in the field. On a slightly unrelated note, something I’d love to make, but I just don’t know how to is a custom iNat ruler for myself. I have the template, but I just don’t know how to print out an accurate ruler, does anyone know the solution to this?

Speaking of rulers, the tool I use most often is a segment of a cm scale that I always have in my pocket. I bought several of those soft-plastic rulers and cut them with scissors into pieces about 7cm long. It would be great if it had an iNat logo though! Maybe I’ll try to put a sticker on it.


If I could figure out how to get an accurate ruler online I could create rulers with iNat stuff, but I’m not sure how to get an accurate scale from after it is printed :sweat_smile: If I figure out how I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated!

As you may have noticed, there are a few iNaturalists out there that have a scale tattooed onto a finger, no kidding. Maybe you could do that and add the bird.


You really should check out this forum thread. But, you’ll be reading for awhile! Lots of good ideas. (JanetWright has contributed to it!)


If you still want to try a printable (paper) ruler, just search for “printable ruler” online. There are several sites. At this site, you can download PDF files. So, you can just find a PDF editor and add an iNat logo.

Moved this to Nature Talk because it’s not directly related to iNaturalist.

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Assuming your template is to scale and you have a reasonably good printer, just make sure in your printer settings “scale” is set to 100% and it should print correctly. If your template is not to scale, just measure the first printout with a ruler and adjust the print settings “scale” to correct it. Won’t be accurate to forensic standards, but close enough for general field use. (Note that paper and cardboard will shrink/swell a bit with humidity changes anyway.)

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Awesome! Thank you so much!

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You can search for “keychain tape measure” If purchasing something compact meets your needs

Thanks, but what I’m trying to do is create my own custom tape measure.

You also might want to check


I made my own scale bar by cutting a soft white plastic shampoo bottle. I then marked it every 1 cm. Then using electrical tape, every other block gets taped. I then realized I will have to make a dozen more because I seem to forget it, it is in the wrong vehicle, or gets misplaced!
Note: my roll of electrical tape is a little wider than 1 cm so I cut it down the middle and over lapped the two pieces a bit. Use the original “factory cut” edge for a nice straight lines.

It would be great if iNat could design and create a professional scale bar/ruler. One side could be for normal use while the other could have graduated sections for macro applications. I am sure with enough people’s suggestions, a tool can be created that would be extremely helpful in many different circumstances and could even help standardize measurements of iNat observations. Maybe even have a small built-in magnifying glass, compass, bottle opener… okay I’m getting carried away.