Tuesday, January 6, 2015

3D Printing

Electrophoresis Chamber


Vessel Holders

3D Printing

3D printing is becoming more accessible to the average person. Maker spaces usually have one or two that would allow you to use. 3D printing is another good way to make lab equipment, here are a few items I have printed:
In the top picture you will see a electrophoresis chamber made from a soap dish and 3D printed gel chamber and comb. I could have printed the whole chamber but I used a soap dish that I already had to save on plastic.

In the next picture I printed the dremelfuge which I have talked about in an earlier post. I printed both with chuck and with-out. So far I only used it with a drill. I still do not feel safe using it with a Dremel without enclosing it in some sort of housing to protect myself.

The last picture shows vessel holders for beakers, flasks and jars that I will attach to a shaker machine. I will talk about this in a later post.

You can find these items at :


There are many other sites you can get 3D objects from.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Water Bath

Water Bath Prototype

Driver Board

With the help of a member from my maker space, we are trying to create a working water bath that uses a arduino to control the temperature. If we are able to make it work properly we will open source it. We are looking to develop either a arduino shield or it's own driver board to run the water bath.

We trying to have it set to 42 degrees C. This is the temperature used for bacterial transformation(the heat shock method). It is working very steady with about 0.25 degree C on either side of 42 C. We are going to try at different temperatures next.

The top picture shows the setup, it is a power supply(top middle of picture), an arduino on a driver board(black box next to the power supply) built by a member of my maker space, a heating pad, LM35 temperature sensor and a plastic container(sitting on the heating pad). The lid must be on to bring up the heat and keep it at a steady temperature.

The next picture shows an arduino temperature driver board.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Maker Spaces

Maker spaces or hacker spaces(as some are called) are a great place to meet people and learn from them as well.

From spaces.makerspace.com/

What’s a Makerspace?

To describe them simply, makerspaces are community centers with tools. Makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling community members to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone. These spaces can take the form of loosely-organized individuals sharing space and tools, for-profit companies, non-profit corporations, organizations affiliated with or hosted within schools, universities or libraries, and more. All are united in the purpose of providing access to equipment, community, and education, and all are unique in exactly how they are arranged to fit the purposes of the community they serve.


They have tools from hand tools to drill presses to 3D printers to CNC machines to laser cutters. Some are even biological groups opening up spaces for people with that interest to do experiments with the maker spaces equipment and supplies.

Most maker spaces have a membership fee which can be costly, but I believe that many have open house days where you can visit the spaces and even get help with your projects.

I belong to the one in my city and have built different projects there for my lab. In one of my next posts I will be discussing some of the pieces that I have 3D printed at my maker space. I don't have a 3D printer but there is one at my maker space. There is so much different expertise there to help with electronics and programming, etc. I am glad I found this space.

If you don't have tools or space to work in, need help in learning how to use an arduino, etc. you should look into one today.

You can look for a space near you at:



google "hacker spaces", "maker spaces" your "city".

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 From the Old

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.