This month is proving to be a good month for open-source laboratory hardware. Two projects which have been showing steady progress for quite some time now are ready for large-scale production and have launched kickstarter campaigns to achieve this.
The miniPCR is exactly what it sounds like, a small PCR machine that fits on your workbench. The developers have made some great control software so you can load protocols from your phone,and are using sauna heaters to do the heating. Their kickstarter has been doing very well but some of their stretch goals look good too, so be sure to check them out.
It may appear as though these guys did what we set out to do with our OpenerPCR project, just better. This is largely true, however, we still believe there are some gains to be made in terms of price and the OpenerPCR project still has some use for people wanting to build their own. Either way, a big congratulations to the miniPCR crew and we are confident their product will have a large impact.
As many a scientist knows, sometimes lab work can be so monotonous and repetitive, it makes you feel like a trained monkey. Well, despair no more! Meet your low-cost, open-source lab-monkey: OpenTrons!
By letting this baby take care of the more brain-dead aspects of lab work, scientists around the world can now focus their efforts on the designing of experiments and protocols rather than executing them. At a price of $2000 these robots are a steal and hopefully we will see them used in labs worldwide.
DIYbio Groningen presents: E A S Y P H O R E S I S!
Inspired by our mission to create Open-source hardware for DIYbio labs, we set our sights on the electrophoresis setup. it was designed and programmed using the amazing open-source software OpenSCAD (highly recommended for anyone who enjoys designing 3D objects). Send the file to the 3D printer… — and a new ready to use electrophoresis apparatus is born!
Gel electrophoresis is one of the most used techniques in any biolaboratory, it is used for the analysis and visualization of DNA and proteins — it is a required step in most experiments that involve DNA manipulations.
It took us one evening to design a 3D model of the first ‘beta’ version of EASYphoresis. It costs just a few euro to 3D print, plus some tiny pieces of aluminium foil- and that’s it!
On Friday 17 October, we tested our EASYphoresis for the first time. Together with DJO enthusiasts, we performed an experiment during which we ran a DNA sample and some blue markers in the agarose gel. We also tried to make the equipment more waterproof by using the acetone vapour technique.
The results were:
Our first ‘beta’ version of EASYphoresis worked pretty well, which was not surprising to us as the electrophoresis apparatus is a very simple piece of equipment that requires no special materials or difficult hardware for its work.
What is now missing are an efficient power supply for EASYphoresis and a UV transilluminator that will help us to visualize DNA in the gel.
Do you want to help us in designing and making the missing hardware for DNA electrophoresis ? You are very welcome to join us. We meet every Friday at 19.00, come by and see what we can do together! 😉
Cathal Garvey, a valued member of the DIYbio community, has recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to create a DIYbio starter kit which he is calling “IndieBB”.
If you would like to learn more, or better yet, contribute, check out the campaign.
IndieBB is an open-source, small and circular piece of DNA (a ‘plasmid‘) that comes with everything you need to make your first engineered cell, with as little technical prowess or resources as possible. The engineered cells will be bright fluorescent green, enabling you to readily observe your success.
DIYbio Groningen’s first workshop was at the local Makerfaire. We showcased our OpenPCR clone, explained our mission and how PCR works. By rinsing their mouth with saline, putting this in a PCR machine and then running a gel of the amplified DNA, participants could use a PCR to get their very own DNA fingerprint. Several of our own member were joined by Pieter van Boheemen, who also brought along the Waag society’s ‘official’ OpenPCR machine.
Alec, one of our members, gave a ‘maker talk’ about the virtues of open source design and the benefits of having access to PCR. The slides to this talk can be found here.