The first item up is admittedly one of the easiest to make. And although it won't necessarily be used in any of the first protocols F.Lab is looking at to do its pilot DNA barcoding project with, it might come in handy in the future, and the opportunity to build one was hard to resist.
That opportunity came in the form of a month-long series of free workshops organized by Hermes Huang from DSIL (Designing for Social Innovation and Leadership). Hosted at Fab Cafe Bangkok, and funded by the OSHW Project (oshw.honf.org) of the OCSDNet as part of a wider research project, the first workshop in the series had attendees build and walk away with a simple but functional magnetic stirrer built from a computer fan, rare-earth magnets taken from old hard drives, a 10k potentiometer, and a 9V battery.
The tutorial used can be found here on Hackteria.
|The workshop was held at Fab Cafe Bangkok. The parts used can be seen on the right, while on the lower-left, you can see the basal wood platform and the fan beneath, and if you look really close, you can see a spinning metal screwdriver bit.|
I'm hoping that these workshops inspire people to think differently about the way they learn science, and also about recycling electronics, meeting new and different people, and about finding creativity in everything.This series of workshops holds a lot of implications, and hopefully will be replicated and expanded upon by other makerspaces in Bangkok and beyond in the months to follow.
One of these stirrers ended up the very next day at Maker Zoo, where the 9V battery was replaced by a 12V DC adapter, the basal wood platform replaced with a custom designed and 3D printed case, and all the twisted wire connections permanently soldered into place. The result is F.Lab's first piece of DIYbio equipment, a magnetic stirrer capable of being used reliably everyday, and also capable of being upgraded further in the future.
The current upgrade uses a section of steel nail that was clipped to about 10mm in length, placed in a tomato sauce jar. Through experiments with various kinds of containers laying around, it is clear that the thinner and flatter the container, the better the results. It is also clear that by pulsing the power, even unstable containers can be used. However, currently, the stirrer still uses a manual potentiometer. In the future, a microcontroller could be programmed to go through several different modes, including half-power, full-power, and pulsed-power.
Ideally, connecting the stirrer to a networked lab would be the final destination for this piece of equipment. Then, you could pick a protocol and have each machine automatically set in sequence to carry it out. LEDs could even indicate which machine to go to next as one works through the lab protocol.
It's Never Been This Easy...
3D printing and a growing number of makerspaces in Bangkok, along with people like Hermes organizing workshops and passing out open source ideas, knowledge, and designs, makes it possible to take a proof-of-concept prototype from a Sunday evening workshop, and turn it into a fully functional piece of lab equipment on Monday.
If you're interested in learning more about the 3D design and printing process that made the subsequent stirrer upgrade possible, check out Maker Zoo (website here) where they regularly hold workshops and publish the 3D designs on Thingiverse for others to freely download and print out on their own.
F.Lab will eventually be putting together other pieces of equipment, and once 2-3 are built and the bugs worked out for each, networking them together will come next. All of it will be documented either by Maker Zoo or F.Lab, or hopefully, both.