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.