Sunday, September 14, 2014

Revisiting the Incubator Repair


I have been working on improving my incubator. I picked up this incubator (see an earlier post) and had to repair it to get it to work. It is basically an old metal box. As you can see I have adding corrugated plastic to the sides and top. This will help keep the temperature stable for my cultures to grow in. It also makes it much easier to clean, disinfect and sterilize . The metal had a acid type smell of old metal. Once cleaned up and the plastic inserted this helped take away the small. I am not sure how long the plastic will last but it is inexpensive and can be found at hardware stores. Therefore I can replace it when needed.
New Centrifuge

New Incubator

I found this inexpensive centrifuge and brought it home to find it not working. I took it apart and cleaned it up. It only needed rewiring to get it up and running. Now with this I am able to retire my blenderfuge. In the blenderfuge the center piece kept warping and had to be replaced. I believe this was caused by the very high speeds of the blender. The blenderfuge was much faster than this centrifuge but this one will work for my needs.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sample Rotator


Front View

Side View

With very simple items I had laying around I was able to build this sample rotator. It rotates very slowly. This will allow samples to be mixed. I hope to place it in my incubator to attempt to use as a shaker for the media broth for cultures (continual mixing).

Parts: the motor came from an old hand-held vacuum, I bolted a disk from the bottom of a cd holder on to it. The frame is from an old computer power supply box (the top half). I use 1 inch PVC conduit clamps to hold the motor in place. I use broom handle wall clips to hold my culture tubes. They had to be adjusted to fit both 15 ml and 50 ml tubes. They are mounted on the plastic disk with nuts and bolts. It runs using a power supply that ranges from 1.5v - 12 v.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Older Incubator
I picked this old incubator up very inexpensively. It was not working. I took it apart and the wiring was removed. I rewired it and tested it out. The heating panel works and so does the thermostat.

It is an old metal box. I intend to add some insulation, either Styrofoam or corrugated cardboard or plastic to keep the temperature more stable. At first I thought maybe I would mount it on the outside of the incubator but as I think more about it I believe it might work better on the inside as this might be easier to clean than metal walls.

I will revisit this when it is finished.

I now have 2 incubators the earlier one I built which goes up to about 30 degrees C and this one which goes up to at least 40 degrees.

I found this link to the pdf file for The Amateur Scientist by C. L. Stong. This is a classic with experiments in archaeology, biology, physics, electronics, etc. These are projects from Scientific American's The Amateur Scientist column.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sterile Chamber

Baby Incubator Cover

I found this item, a baby incubator cover that was very inexpensive. I am using it to build a sterile chamber to do culturing in. It has plenty of room inside it and plenty of arm maneuverability to be comfortable to do projects in it.

I will mount it on a vinyl covered piece of plywood or press board. Add a fan that blows the air out and in through a Hepa filter. I will sterilize it with a Lysol/alcohol solution. This will keep the work area in a fairly stable environment, I won't be breathing over the work area or as I move sending dust and particles into the chamber. This should work better than the aquarium that was put together earlier.

I will keep post further as I finish it up.

Update Link

The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

DremelFuge - centrifuge

Warning - be careful when using or building a centrifuge, they are very dangerous. If at all possible try and buy a professional one.

Here is a centrifuge created by Cathal Garvey called DremelFuge. It can be found here:

It uses standard 1.5ml/2ml Eppendorf/Microcentrifuge tubes. Works with both a drill or Dremel.


I was trying to get it printed out but I was having trouble with it. So I decided I would try to make my own from parts laying around. It consists of a 3.5 inch PVC plumbing cap and a bolt, nut and washer. As seen below I have it running on a drill press. I did try it on a dremel, it worked, but I would not use it that way unless a closed off compartent is built for it (later project).

Homemade dremelfuge

Working in drill press

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Even More Books

Modern Book

Older Books

I have picked up 3 more books for my library. 2 are older and from a better time for citizen science. The other one newer but important for the amateur scientist. (I truly dislike using amateur or citizen scientist. It gives the impression that real science can not be done by them.)

1) Apparatus - 1967 by F. F. Blackwell.

This book shows you how to build various science equipment from household materials. Focusing more on the physical sciences but can be applied to the biological as well. Sections include:

Elementary electricity, Biological apparatus, Light, Machines, Air, Sound and heat, Water, Weather and soil studies.

2) Procedures in Experimental Physics - by John Strong. Originally published in 1938 republished 1986.

Another book dealing with physics. It has great explanations of certain techniques. This book and The Amateur Scientist by C.L. Stong make for great physics experiments of old. Sections include:

Glass blowing, High Vacuum technique, Optical work, Photoelectric cells, Heat and high temperature, Molds and casting, etc.

3) The Laboratory Companion: A Practical Guide to Materials Equipment and Technique - by Gary S. Coyne 2006.

This is a very useful book that discusses the different materials used in labs and how to maintain them. This is a modern book discussing modern equipment.

When I look at some of the older books I pick up I can't believe how many books existed that helped young people build their own labs and equipment. A far cry from what you find today. I am glad that I am still able to find some of them.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Photo 1 - Parts for Condenser

Photo 2 - Inner assembly

Photo 3 - Fully assembled

Photo 4 - Full set-up


A condenser is used for distilling and separating chemicals in fluids. They can be a very expensive item. In the photos above you can see how I made one from items I found in a pet store - total cost less than $5.00.

Items needed:

1) Outer tube (approx. 12 in. long, 22 mm inside dia.) - Large diameter plastic tube - can any kind of tube clear plastic, white plastic or black plastic tubes. As well as copper or glass tubes.
2) Inner tube(longer than outer tube, 16 in. long, 5 mm outside dia.) - Small diameter plastic tube - can also be glass tubing (I recommend glass f you can get it).
3) Inlet and outlet tubes(2)(3 inches long, 5 mm outside dia.) - Small diameter plastic tube.
4) 2-hole rubber stoppers (2) - They fit tightly into the large diameter tube. No. 4 stoppers fit best for my set-up.
5) Rubber tubing(fits 5 mm outside dia. tubing)  - Used to run water into and out of the condenser. This is air tubing in the aquarium section.

First photo shows you the collected items.

Second photo shows how to assemble the inner tubing.

Third photo shows the condenser put together.

Fourth photo shows the condenser in working mode. Notice the baby fruit jar (I talked about this in the previous post) being used as the flask to be heated and the baby food jar(I talked about this in the previous post) is used for collecting.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Glassware found at flee market

Improvised glassware for little or no cost


In the top picture you can see a group of glassware that I found. I found this group of glassware all 45 pieces for $30.00 at a flee market. it consists of 6 - 400 ml, 6 - 250 ml, 6 - 100 ml beakers. 2 - 500 ml, 4 - 250 ml, 8 - 125 ml, 9 - 50 ml conical flasks. 2 - 500 ml volumetric flasks and 2 - 50 ml bottles. This was a great find.

If you are unlucky or can't afford to buy your own glassware, In the lower picture you can see the glassware I have and you can collect at little to no cost. For flasks you can use glass baby bottles and baby glass fruit juice bottles, these can be heated. These have measurement marks on them and hold about 100 ml. You can ask around your neighbourhood, friends and family if they can save you some (families with babies). Another good item that can be used as a flask is a coffee pot from a brewing station (not seen here).

For beakers you can use baby jars, they come in different sizes and can be heated. Another good source is mason or canning jars, they to come in different sizes and can be heated or sterilized. Also seen in the photo, I have used custard cups for petri dishes, mixing, culturing and condensing as watch glasses, etc.

As you can see there are many options for you to get your hands on much needed glassware. Have fun and keep looking you never what you will find.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another Old Science Kit

Another Old Science Kit

Here in the top picture you see another set I found, it doesn't have the box though. This is exactly the one my parents bought for me in the 1970's. It is the "Mr. Wizard Experiments in Crystal Growing". I really enjoyed playing with this, I always liked growing crystals. As you can see they gave you plenty of chemicals to work with back then. Mr. Wizard had some nice science kits in the 1970's. I had 2 of them the chemistry set and the crystal growing set.

The second picture is an old catalog from the The Perfect Parts Company. I remember once when we I was young and we where in the United States. I don't remember what store it was but they had a booth with this companies products and there was a huge line up of people trying to buy things. I had wished we had some place like this where I lived, finding lab equipment at a reasonable cost was hard for me when I was young. If you do web check you will find they still exist.