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DIYbio FAQ v1.5: "The biohacker's FAQ"

This FAQ for DIYbio is actively maintained by it's editors, and by you! Edit your contributions directly or email updates to the DIYbio email list,
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This topic DIYBio Projects is part of the DIYBio FAQ


  • Regardless of whatever article you've read in Wired magazine, or other publication, written by journalists who don't do proper fact checking and who sensationalize, most of the questions regarding engineering "new living organisms" or "replacement organs" or what have you, is currently not possible (and won't be for decades). Sorry to have to point out the obvious. -- Jonathan Cline on the DIYbio google group

Due to continual hype by the media regarding technologies which aren't yet accessible (or don't even exist), and reported without proper journalistic objectivity, resulting in subsequent FAQ'ing on the DIYbio group, the following FAQ answer is offered:

 > is it possible to use (organovo or any companies) bioprinter to print
 > living organisms that are visible to the naked eye (that doesn't mean
 > it has a brain and moves around and everything, just be alive)?
 Depends on your definition of 'naked eye'.   For example, you
 could spray pigmented/glowing bacteria as graffiti, which
 eventually grow and create a portrait.  Or using a larger
 liquid handling device you might be able to spray plant cells
 onto a substrate which then grow into moss, etc.    
 Organisms, no.  A single organ, yes: can be printed, that's
 the current limit of today's technology.
 "Ink jet printer spray" of bacteria has previously been
 discussed on this group so check the archives. 

-- Jonathan Cline on the DIYbio google group

External Links

Project Ideas

The following are project ideas (brainstorming) which have been discussed on DIYbio google group. Research papers or existing products similar to these ideas can be found, with the DIYbio aspect of lowering the cost, open sourcing the design, and allowing latest technology (such as USB or network, for electronics devices) to be added as enhancements.

  • Comparing various inexpensive reagents to the purified commercial counterparts; for example, food-grade agar-agars to commercial agaroses.
  • Using LEDs as spectrophotometer, colorimeter, etc. Some projects already exist around the web.
  • Using USB/networkable microcontrollers for thermocyclers.
  • Fabricating microfluidic devices and using USB microcontrollers for microfluidics (pump/valve/syringe) control.
  • Printing, patterning, synthesizing various substances or microbes with inkjet printers. Modifying gene expression with inkjet dispensing.
    • Several other fields are also very engaged in modifying inkjet printers: for making electronics circuit boards (inkjet PCB); for making physical objects (inkjet fabrication), for printing on objects (inkjet handhelds). Check these projects for how to modify inkjet printers for Bio projects as well.
  • Making a spin coater (from DC motors or computer drives) - which can be used for building microfluidics, etc
  • Imaging system for Electrophoresis Agarose Gels (or Gel Box that includes the imaging system built-in)
  • Modifying one's own biology through diet, and quantifying medical change by common and/or special medical tests, as compared to prior results and standardized results.
  • Distributed testing foods sold in grocery stores or restaurants by genetic sequencing or low-cost field tests, and publishing results based on geographic region.
  • Distributed Sample collection and sequencing system + protocols, with long-term archival and open source database.
  • Bioengineering (Metabolic Engineering) of a microbe for harvesting organic solar voltaic panel conductors and printed with a future RepRap model. -- Giovanni Lostumbo on the DIYbio google group

Computing Technology (Microcontrollers, etc)

 The following product is from Microchip.  Microchip has grown in
 interesting ways: they now have a cross-platform software development
 environment (Win, Mac, Linux) based on NetBeans (called MPLAB X).  The
 original MPLAB is one of the best microcontroller dev environments,
 especially for the cost (free), though previously limited to Windows.
 They are moving to the GNU compiler for their 32 bit
 microcontrollers.  They have an iPhone dev kit (which requires an
 Apple hardware license, since Apple is closed hardware, which some
 here don't like) and now recently announced an Android dev kit: with
 "Arduino footprint compatible for prototyping", even.  I don't want to
 stir up a big hooplah between microcontroller choice, but I will say
 that Arduino using AVR is a more expensive choice any time I've looked
 at it.  A typical microcontroller + board + periphery should not cost
 more than $60 for wired internet-capable designs and within $10-30 for
 standalone designs.
 This kit below (quite new, so docs still forthcoming) might satisfy
 some people's needs. Who here is designing smartphone-biotech-related
 devices?  Why have a lab device if it can't connect to a smart phone,
 that's my thought.  The smart phone app is the new user interface;
 don't waste $ or time building user interface LCD/touch screen/buttons
 into a lab equipment box (unless there are clean-room restrictions). and search for DM240415
 ""Approach to Develop Android Accessories ($79.99)
 * Buy the PIC24F Accessory Development Starter Kit for Android 
 * Download the no-fee, royalty-free licensed software library
 * Contact for additional support
 PIC24F Accessory Development Starter Kit for Android  (DM240415)
 * PIC24F 16-bit PIC® MCU with USB OTG
 * Type A USB connector
 * User interface buttons
 * LEDs and potentiometer
 * Device charger circuitry up to 500mA
 * Arduino footprint compatible for prototyping"" 
 Perhaps compare to a CUI32 PIC32MX Development Stick ($40):
 or to Ethernet Mini-Web PIC18 Development Board ($42)
 To do that on Arduino, you'd need the main board plus ethernet shield
 board ($30 + $45.00 at Adafruit).
 I've played with a Teensy board (AVR, was $20, but not
 Arduino) and it's cheap and useful as a USB device (not USB
 host).  It is comparable but less scalable than the USB Bit
 Whacker - 18F2553 Development Board ($25), 
Jonathan Cline on DIYbio google group
 I was at the Google I/O conference all day yesterday.
 One of the featured talks was about the new Android Open
 Accessory Development Kit, that allows hardware hackers to
 attach microcontrollers to the USB port and controll them with
 the phone:
 I will be connecting my Droid to one of these:
Simon Quellen Field on DIYbio google group
 Take a look at some low cost boards not Arduino branded by John Luciani. 
John Griessen on DIYbio google group

Engineered Microbiology

Culturing Yeast


   I want to learn some biology experiment at home for fun. I wonder 
   is there any yeast culturing protocol that can be done without a 
   research grade laboratory but a simple bench, a light microscope, 
   micro pipette and syringe, etc. May I know where are the potential 
   sources where can I get them? Thanks. 


   Bakers yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is just as easy to work with as E. coli, 
   keeping in mind a few things. One minor complication is that they grow slower and 
   most antibiotics don't work as selections. What that means from a practical 
   standpoint is that contamination becomes a slightly greater problem then when 
   working with E. coli, and the media is a bit more complex to make. However if you 
   keep a clean environment and use good aseptic techniques you shouldn't have much 
   of a problem.
   The background yeast strain used for most genetic experiments is one known as S288C. 
   Other strains and backgrounds are used for a variety of industrial, brewing and 
   baking purposes but S288C is the one most often used in genetic experiments. It has 
   the advantage that it does not have a lot of chromosomal duplications and gene 
   amplifications that are found in most industrial strains, plus a wide variety of 
   different strain types are avaiilable.
   There are a number of repositories that have collections of yeast strains-alas I 
   do not know how willing they would be to send something to a home biologist. You 
   could search on the internet for biological repositories or if you have access the 
   latest issue of journal of industrial microbiology and biotechnology has a review 
   on yeast culture collections (Boundy-Mills, K. 2012. Yeast culture collections of 
   the world: meeting the needs of industrial researchers. JIMB 39:673).
   Like I said earlier working with yeast is just as easy as E. coli with a few 
   caveats. First of all because most antibiotics don't work the most often used 
   selections are nutritional selections. What this means is that the starting strain 
   is unable to make a particular nutrient (usually an amino acid or a nucleotide 
   precursor) because of a mutation in a single gene. The selectable marker carried on 
   the plasmid has an unmutated copy of the same gene. Therefore cells carrying the 
   plasmid can grow in the absence of the nutrient but cells that do not have the 
   plasmid cannot-just like E. coli cells with a plasmid can grow in the presence of 
   ampicillin but cells that don't have the plasmid cannot. From a practical 
   standpoint it means that the media used is a bit more complex so instead of growing 
   cells in rich media (which is relatively simple) you need to select for recombinant 
   cells on media that lacks only that single nutrient. You can but the media known as 
   drop-out media or you can make it yourself but it is more complex to make from 
   scratch. Cells are transformed similar to E. coli cells although the method used to 
   make the cells competent to take up DNA is different. With yeast Li salts (Li 
   acetate for cerevisiae and LiCl for Pichia ) are used. You can also electroporate 
   yeast like you can E. coli, and there is a method based on digesting away the outer 
   cell wall.
   A number of different plasmid vectors exist for use in yeast and a number of 
   different inducible promoters are available as well. So you can make use of high oor 
   low copy episomal vectors or you can use integrating vectors. Promoters, such as the 
   GAL promoter, can be turned on just by shifting the carbon source from glucose to 
   galactose (making sure the glucose is used up). One really cool thing about yeast 
   is that it is relatively easy to make genome modifications either by knocking out 
   certain genes or adding new ones. Plus you can do some nice genetic experiments 
   through simple mating and sporulation.
   Working with yeast is fun, pretty easy to do, and they smell a lot better than 
   E. coli!
shamrock on DIYbio google group

Culturing Bacteria


   In the interest of promoting DIYBIO, I have an offer to make to those 
   of you who have yet to set up a lab/do hands on stuff.
   I want to give you FREE PLASMIDS/consumables for producing GFP in 
   e coli.  I will even ship you most of the buffers you need.  This will 
   cut down costs on things that you only need a tiny amount of, and would 
   otherwise make this procedure expensive.  The caveats are:
   - It will come dry, on paper,  You will need to elute it with TE, which 
   will come with the DNA.  I haven't used this method before, but the 
   literature (any many people) report that it will work.
   - You have to send me photos of your results and procedure.  I am going 
   to trust that you will do this.
   - You have to send me a receipt/picture of the rest of the stuff you need 
   to do the experiment (listed below) before I ship
   - I will only ship 5 of these packages
   If you are interested, email me back with pictures/a receipt showing you 
   bought the stuff, and your address/name/shipping info.
   What you get:
   50 mM CaCl2, enough for 2 transformations
   Some TE for to elute the pDNA off the paper
   A piece of paper with the pDNA on it
   LB broth, enough for 2 transformations
   Instructions on how to do the transformation
   What I need pictures of:
   your ice bath (some kind of cup you can fill with ice)
   your hot water bath (water with some way of showing it is 42 C, think thermometers)
   some source for e. coli (Carolina sells these for like, $10)
   petri dishes (another Carolina item)
   LB agar media
   ampicillin antibiotic (Carolina, goldbio)
   sterile pippettors of some kind
   sterile loops or a wire loop (and a way to sterilise your loop, like fire)
   a microwave or stove for melting the agar
   The price of this stuff from Carolina is ~$50: (lb + ampicillin)
Avery on DIYbio google group

Human Biology Projects

"The Experimental Man" and similar ideas are based on the recent availability and affordability of personalized medical tests which expose and quantify one's own health factors. Some biohackers are monitoring these themselves, far beyond the scope of traditional modern medicine. Based on quantitative measurements, these biohackers are modifying their own biology using diet, vitamins, etc.

These related topics, especially diet, are highly controversial and it is generally not a good idea to attempt to convince others that you're "on to something."

Personal Medical Monitoring

 If I want to completely measure my biology, this is the list of
 everything I can think of which can be measured (non-invasively), on a
 daily basis, for uploading to a PC with a smart measurement device and
 tracking/logging. Are there others?  Listed in no particular order..
 * Body mass - with typical weight scale
 * Body temperature - probably using ear thermometer
 * Body fat - this would use calipers; not sure if there's an
 electronic method.
 * Height - though this shouldn't change normally
 * Blood pressure
 * Heart rate
 * Cholesterol test - LDL, HDL, triglycerides, uses pin prick (also
 quite pricey, and painful, for every day testing).  If pin prick is
 done for this, then should test ketone levels at the same time.
 * Walking cadence / Pedometer
 * Standing weight distribution - using smart body weight scale,
 similar to Wii Fit module, detect center of gravity from standing on
 the sensor, to detect structural imbalances
 * Hearing - with simple audio test
 * Blood glucose - more important for diabetics, of course
 * Breath analysis - chemical sensing: read ketones for diet
 monitoring.  Read nitric oxide to detect inflammation (I haven't
 checked if this test is low-cost-able, these are very expensive
 Other detectors are summarized here:
 * Respiration - breathing flow, with a peak flow meter
 * Mental ability - a while back the experiment used simple math
 problems with a timed computer quiz, with the same math questions
 every time, to judge some aspect of mental ability.
 * Brain activity - SoCal DIYbio is actively doing this with EEG.  Not
 sure what kind of "daily health metric" might be possible to generate.
 * Sympathetic nervous system state - from galvanic response (as I
 posted previously, and FYI, Cornell has a great project write-up with
 software here, although the "professor's preference" of using Begin
 and End statements in C is something from outer space:
 * Voice recording - Although simple to record voice, I'm not sure
 there's any information which can be extracted from this. 
-- Jonathan Cline on DIYbio google group


typing ability
blood oxygen saturation level via a cheap Pulse Oximeter 
(which uses a cool/clever optical sensing mechanism); 
For vision, intraocular pressure: 
Use GE's InBody Unit. It measures percent body fat using 
electrical impedance ... tells you the fat, muscle, and water 
composition of your torso and each limb. 
Grip strength ; well correlated with all sorts of things:

Brain Wave Measurement

"DIY electrophysiology Brain Recording Kits"

Brain-Computer Interfacing

 Subject: Brain computer interface experience
 After last year workshop in Paris and London, this sunday at
 Macval (museum of contemporary art at Vitry/Seine near Paris),
 La Paillasse presents a brain computer interface experience.
 Thanks to a simple headset your brainwaves will be captured
 and rendered in color and sound spaces.  In the light
 spectrum, red stands for a very low mental activitity, (up to)
 purple for an high activity mental state.  At the same time a
 generative music translate mental acitvity by using different
 As technology moves to non contact EEG sensors, this
 experience allows to see others mental activity and raise
 questions about intimacy and everyone's control of it.
 Between knowledge and fun experience, "Mind processing" is
 also a start to ask what use of biotech you want.
 The code of "Mental processing" is open source and available
 on github : tmpbci
 Sam @La paillasse
-- Samynosor on the DIYbio google group
 Subject: Re: Brain computer interface experience
 Any of the tinkerers here can manage this for themselves with
 the Neurosky SDK, and some combination of arduino/iPhone and
 one of the headsets to use the Neurosky chips. The Brainwave
 Analyzer tech demo that comes with the headset kit is a nice
 tech demonstration, but I've found the hardware to be very
 flaky, however - the manufacturing side of the technology
 needs a couple of years to bake more, and the presently
 leading companies need to find their feet to a point at which
 they can fix their SDKs to require less groundwork to use.
-- Reason on the DIYbio google group
 Subject: Re: Brain computer interface experience
 ... or you can just use OpenViBE and stop making things 
 hard for yourself. 
-- Bryan Bishop on DIYbio google group

Diet and Food

 Please contribute to this section.
  • See Calorie Restriction below.

Measure Food Effects or Quality

Edibles and Medicines: Yeasts, Kombucha, Tea, Mushrooms, Others

 Kitchen only -> play with yeast.  Make bread by hand.  Make
 cheese by hand.  Make beer (with a simple kit).  Make kimchi.
 Easily doable and is the basis for microbial biology.  Exotic
 stuff such as tempeh is simple as well.  Kombucha is also
 interesting.  I haven't found red yeast for purple pork, still
 looking for it.  The anti-bacterial effects of some of these
 foods is under scientific investigation and also they're very
 tasty.  Studies of chinese medicine were prominently featured
 at the last synthetic biology conference in Hong Kong.
 By the way, if you brew your own beer or Kombucha, you will
 suddenly find that you have a lot of friends.  That's more of
 a sociology experiment at that point.  :-D 
-- Jonathan Cline on the DIYbio google group
 Kombucha is interesting stuff, definitely an acquired taste.
 Big thing to bear in mind though is that Kombucha *needs* that
 30C growth temperature, moreso than most cultures. If you have
 pure yeast, perhaps they'll be ok at cooler temperatures and
 just grow more slowly. But Kombucha is a mix of up to 7
 species, and if the temperature is wrong some species will
 dominate more than normal, making for a bizarre and
 potentially disgusting brew.
 Interesting tidbit: I was researching Gluconacetobacter
 xylinum, the species that produces the most prodigious amounts
 of microbial cellulose in culture, and found that the highest
 quality cellulose to be isolated so far appears to have been
 from a strain of G.xylinum isolated from... Kombucha. Because,
 Kombucha has been selected for boyant, homogenous "SCOBY"
 pancakes of cellulose for generations, so we've effectively
 domesticated the strain to make the perfect cellulose. I
 imagine if you were to play with the mix of yeasts and
 G.xylinum, and feed them a bland sugar-nutrient mix to avoid
 colours, you could make some great premium paper! :) 
-- Cathal Garvey on the DIYbio google group

 Have tried making kombucha on both fruit juices and herbal 
 teas, so it doesn't have to be  Camellia sinensis extract 
 to work.
-- Rikke Rasmussen on the DIYbio google group
 I did see some mention of caffeine being an antifungal.
 Specifically inhibiting the growth of Aspergillus, which is
 known to be one of the potentially more toxic contaminants
 when brewing Kombucha.
 So black tea may actually be a safer starting material for
 brewing Kombucha than juice or plain sugar water, given the
 same amount of sugar and the same pH. Interesting...
 I still wonder about the concentration of caffeine before and
 after though. It's also possible that a more diverse SCOBY may
 have caffeine- metabolizing organisms, even if the minimal
 combination of G.xylinum and S.cereviciae used in commercial
 Kombucha doesn't. 
-- Patrik on the DIYbio google group


 Please contribute to this section.

DIYbio - Growing movement takes on aging:
Add Years to Your Life: What the anti-aging experts are doing now to live longer, better Please note this is controversial research not yet quantitatively proven.

Longevity Research

 The Campaign Against Aging is interested in condensing and simplifying
 the vast amount of information that exists about the biology of aging
 and the work being done to combat age related damage.
 Below is a list of books that we think may be useful.  If you can add
 to the list, please do.
 Aging at the Molecular Level (Biology of Aging and its Modulation)
 Modulating Aging and Longevity (Biology of Aging and its Modulation)
 Aging of Cells In and Outside the Body (Biology of Aging and its
 Aging of the Organs and Systems (Biology of Aging and its Modulation)
 Molecular Biology of Aging, Guarente
 Cellular Aging and Cell Death (Modern Cell Biology)
 Biology of Aging: Observations and Principles, Arking
 Biogerontology:  Mechanisms and Interventions 
-- Anonymous Poster on DIYbio google group

 Open Cures, a volunteer initiative to build a bridge between laboratory
 biotechnologies demonstrated to slow or repair aspects of aging and the
 developers who can bring this new medicine to the clinic. You can read about
 our aims at the Open Cures website: overview, background, and roadmap for
 future development: 
-- Reason on DIYbio google group

   This is far from being a good summary of the possible lines of research. The 
   present work on interventions into aging fall into two broad camps: 
   1) Metabolic, genetic, and epigenetic manipulations to slow aging 
   Researchers working on calorie restriction and exercise mimetic drugs fall 
   into this category, and form the majority of that small part of the aging 
   research community that does work on interventions. They are following the 
   traditional drug discovery process in search of targets that shift 
   metabolism into a state where aging proceeds more slowly. The obvious paths 
   here are things like boosting the operation of autophagy or trying to 
   recapitulate some of the epigenetic changes caused by calorie restriction in 
   the hopes of capturing some of its effects. The challenge here is that the 
   biochemistry of these states is exceedingly complex. 
   Evidently this is going slowly - a billion dollars have been sunk into work 
   on sirtuins alone, for example, with very little to show for it. 
   Structurally and strategically this is evidently an expensive path to a poor 
   end result. It is being taken because it is an easy evolution of the 
   existing drug development methodology, and therefore something that can be 
   shoehorned into the straightjacket regulatory process and sold to funding 
   sources. But it will take another few decades and a great deal of time and 
   money to obtain even a moderately good CR or exercise mimetic drug, or 
   something that works along similar lines, by following the present 
   regulatory path to approval. That drug will do next to nothing for people 
   already old, as slowing further damage has limited utility at that point, 
   and will in any case not be approved for use for anything other than 
   treating end stage diseases of aging. 
   (Absent regulatory changes, the FDA will not approve treatments for aging 
   and there is no present path short of revolution in that area of government 
   to declare aging a disease in the regulatory sense - this essentially 
   ensures that any commercial development must happen overseas, and that any 
   work in the US will be diverted to developer not-so-useful applications such 
   as incrementally better diabetes therapies or the like). 
   This is the path to wasting a great deal of time in generating nothing but 
   knowledge. If this path dominates over the next twenty years, we will let 
   the opportunity to extend human life slip through our fingers. 
   2) Repair the damage that forms aging 
   Aging is the accumulation of cellular and molecular damage, and evolved 
   reactions to that damage, some of which are the flailing of systems that 
   cause more issues in the old and damaged - because natural selection favored 
   front-loaded effectiveness in the young at the expense of later operation. 
   The immune system is a great example; at the most fundamental levels its 
   structure leads it to be both highly effective in the young and cause harm 
   in the old. Another is the way in which stem cells shut down in the old due 
   to changes in signaling in their niche tissues, reactions to rising levels 
   of cellular damage and dysfunction, most likely to damp the risk of cancer. 
   But at root it is damage that drives aging: mitochondrial mutations, 
   accumulated byproducts of metabolism that cannot be broken down (like 
   lipofuscin), cross-linked proteins, and so forth. These all happen as a 
   consequence of the operation of metabolism, build up, and kill you in the 
   end. It's like complicated rust - a metal structure left out in the rain can 
   fail in a thousand ways, but it's all down to the one root cause. 
   So it's possible to develop biotechnologies that can repair these forms of 
   damage. This is considerably better envisaged than attempts to slow aging - 
   there's a list and a roadmap. It shouldn't be any more expensive. It's hard 
   to imagine it to be any more expensive - that billion dollars spent on 
   sirtuins and a decade of time could give an even chance shot at repairing 
   all of the known fundamental forms of damage that drive aging in mice. 
   At the end of this road lies a package of therapies that will be of great 
   utility to the old, because they directly attempt to reverse the damage they 
   have suffered - not just slow down the final spiral, but reverse its course. 
   Yet as yet only a tiny - but growing! - minority of the research community 
   are working on this sort of thing, and as yet there is no regulatory path to 
   making the logical end result of once-a-decade preventative repair therapies 
   for the healthy easily available in the US or Europe. 
   Some reading material on the difference between these two opposed strategies 
   can be found here: 
   And for more in-depth coverage of the biology and present work, you might 
   look at the SENS Foundation's research report for 2011: 
-- Reason on DIYbio google group

Calorie Restriction

Extracting, Growing Human Tissue Cells

No, you can't.

 Subject: How to extract living cells from my skin?
 > I would like to know how to extract living cells from my own skin to
 > culture them.
 That's the easy part--large gauge needle, razor blade, etc.
 > I would also like to know what equipment do I need to grow human
 > tissue.
 Basically you can't and shouldn't.  It requires quite a lot of
 dedicated equipment for sterile handling, cell growth, and autoclaving
 waste.  The cells are maintained in media with buffers, antibiotics,
 and growth factors and require regular attention, every day or three.
 If you tried it, you would go $20k+ in getting set up and still mostly
 grow mold and bacteria.  It's not DIY biology this decade.
-- Jim Lund on the DIYbio google group

 Subject: How to extract living cells from my skin?
 Also, just so you know, it has been suggested that any human cell cultures
 be handled as BSL levels 2 or greater. In order to work with them you should
 gain a knowledge of asceptic technique and familiarity with Biological
 safety cabinets, and antibiotics.
-- General Oya on the DIYbio google group

Plants, Fungi

Grow plants and fungi for fun.


  • The Glow Fungi Project. Panellus stipticus is a non edible bioluminescent fungus, naturally occurring in Europe and North America.

Microscopes, Colorimeters, Spectrophotometers, "Cheaposcopes"



Laser Projection Microscope

"Basically, they are just pointing a laser through a drop of water suspended from the tip of a syringe."

Microscope Heater

Objective heater.

Microfluidics, Controller Boards, building Related Equipment

Introduction to Microfluidics

Using Jell-O for Hands-On Microfluidics chips

 Yes, store-bought Jello.  "Lemon-flavored Jell-O jelly powder was used
 because it
 produced chips with the best optical transparency."
 Yes, microfluidics.
 Yes, a good DIYbio introductory-to-microfluidics project.
 Open access article!
 Anal. Chem., 2010, 82 (13), pp 5408¿5414
 DOI: 10.1021/ac902926x
 Cheng Wei T. Yang, Eric Ouellet and Eric T. Lagally
 University of British Columbia (Canada)
 Publication Date (Web): May 25, 2010
 Copyright © 2010 American Chemical Society
 "Using the Jell-O fabrication technique, microfluidics may be more
 easily demonstrated in a hands-on approach to convey current research
 topics to younger students and the general public. Our experience is
 that when students learn about science at a young age, they will
 become more attracted to pursuing an engineering or science degree in
 their post-secondary education. To encourage this process, three types
 of Jell-O chips have been fabricated: a ¿JELLO¿ chip, a Y-channel
 chip, and a pH sensor chip. Using these demonstrations, elementary and
 high school students, as well as the general public can learn about
 how microfluidic chips are made; learn microfluidics concepts,
 including dimensionless scaling factors, diffusion coefficients, and
 pH sensing; make the connection to current microfluidics research; and
 become excited about scientific research.
 The fabrication method is fast, simple, and inexpensive, allowing Jell-
 O chip demonstrations to enter a wide variety of learning environments
 not accessible to current microfluidics methods. Other types of chips
 (including bubble and droplet generators, not shown) can also be
 fabricated, suggesting that this technique possesses an enormous
 educational potential. Experiments with other naturally-occurring gels
 also indicate that this method could be extended to developing regions
 of the world to provide microfluidic technology both for education and
 diagnostics. Finally, we are also currently developing fabrication
 techniques for bonded and functional multilayer Jell-O chips to
 further extend the applications of this fabrication method. We hope
 that this work will serve as a model for future educational endeavors
 in science."
 Figure 1. Scheme for producing Jell-O chips using soft lithography.
 (A) A negative mold is made with desired features. (B) Liquid chip
 material is poured onto the mold. (C) Mold with liquid material is
 cured. (D) Solidified chip is peeled off and (E) placed on a rigid
 substrate for experiments.
 Figure 2. General workflow for producing Jell-O chips using soft
 lithography approach. (A) Foam plate and wooden coffee stirrers are
 starting materials for making the mold. (B) A negative mold is made
 with desired features using double-sided tape. (C) Jell-O and gelatin
 liquid mixture is poured onto the mold. (D) The molds with liquid
 material are left to cure in a 4 °C refrigerator. Solidified chips are
 peeled off and placed on aluminum pans for experiments at room
 Figure 4. (A) A Jell-O Y-channel chip with a Reynolds number of 30.
 The injection of colored water to one inlet and clear water to the
 second results in the classic laminar flow profile, in which both
 streams remain separate and mix solely by diffusion along the length
 of the channel. (B) Diagram of laminar flow diffusive mixing occurring
 at the interface between two different fluids along the channel
 length. This phenomenon is governed by the Pclet number (adapted from
 Figure 5. Dual Jell-O chip pH sensor. (A) Two different pH sensing
 regions per channel can be used to detect different solutions. (B) The
 addition of either acidic or basic solutions to each channel results
 in a distinct pattern of color change visible to the naked eye. (C) pH
 indicator chart for reference (adapted from EM-Reagents).
 Detailed Chip Fabrication Protocol
 List of Materials Required for Jell-O® Chip Fabrication
 * Two 85g boxes of lemon-flavored Jell-O jelly powder (Kraft Canada)
 * One pouch (7g) of unflavoured (the Original) Knox Gelatine
 (Associated Brands
 * 2 beakers of 120mL of purified water for dissolving Jell-O® and Knox
 * Six 6¿ foam plates, round (Safeway Limited Canada)
 * One drinking straw, round (Safeway Limited Canada)
 * PAM® Original no-stick cooking spray (ConAgra Foods Canada Inc.)
 * Several 7¿ wooden coffee stirrers (Starbucks Coffee Company Canada)
 * Food-grade colour dye, green (McCormick Canada)
 * Single- and double-sided tape (3M Canada)
 * Six 5¿ aluminum weighing pan (Cat No. 12175-001, VWR International)
 Sources of Chemicals and Materials
 Lemon-flavored Jell-O Jelly Powder, unflavoured gelatin, round foam
 plates (6),
 drinking straws, no-stick cooking spray, wooden coffee stirrers (7),
 food-grade colour
 dyes, and single- and double-sided tape were obtained from local
 convenience stores."

Continuous Flow Microfluidics

Microfluidic Flow Device

  • ""Soft Lithography is a microfabrication process in which a soft polymer (such as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) ) is cast onto a mold that contains a microfabricated relief or engraved pattern. Using this technique, membrane microvalves can be produced. To design your own microfluidic device, please follow the Basic Design Rules and Mask Design Rules and make use of all the design information and reference articles provided on our website. ""


  • USB 24-Valve Controller Assembly Guide, Rafael Gómez-Sjöberg, QuakeLab–Stanford University. ""This document briefly describes the assembly of a USB-based controller for 24 solenoid pneumatic valves that can be used to drive a microfluidic chip fabricated by Multilayer Soft Lithography. You can build a computer-based electronic valve controller to allow you to control the opening and closing of valves and pressure in the flow lines of your chip. The controller is comprised of 1) an electronic controller box and 2) a set of electronic valves. "" Project at and main page at

DIY Spin Coater

 On Dec 3, 1:06 am, Nathan McCorkle <> wrote:
 > I want to make a spin coater using a highly UNMODIFIED cd or dvd rom.
 > Meaning I want to keep the laser mechanisms in place, and try to keep all
 > the moving parts as free from nasty buildup and grime.
 The electronics will have to be replaced or bypassed, for sure.  The
 couple times I've seen spin coaters used, the dispensing didn't seem
 critical (i.e. scoop polymer onto disc during spin up) and the
 rotation seemed to even everything out.  Does your protocol require
 baking the result, if so, better add some heat to the device right?
 Spin-Coating of Polystyrene Thin Films as an Advanced Undergraduate
 A simpler version of the well-established technique of spin-coating
 thin polymer films on glass slides is described. Starting with simple
 instrumentation and using an ordinary, commercially available cooling
 fan (a "CPU cooler"), a method of spin-coating an expanded polystyrene
 foam on glass slides is described. Making thin films of commercially
 available polystyrene on glass slides is also included for comparison.
 An interferometric technique is used to measure the film thickness
 employing a UV¿vis spectrophotometer. FTIR spectroscopy is used to
 verify the identity of the polymer on the glass slide. Using the Beer¿
 Lambert law of absorbance, the film thickness is also calculated from
 the FTIR spectra of films. A comparison is made between the
 interferometric and FTIR methods for thickness measurements. An
 organic dye is doped into a film and a UV¿vis spectrum is used to
 identify the dye.
 Spin Coater System
 This was my attempt to build a low cost spin-coater system that does
 both horizontal and vertical spin coating.  For about $70.00 dollars
 in parts and some ingenuity, I was able to put together the system
 shown below.  Ironically, we latter purchased a commercial spin-coater
 for $5000.00, but I saw little difference in the sample prepared using
 the one I built and it.  In my opinion, the only reason to even buy
 one of those things is to get better control of the overall spinning
 process.  However, most people just need something that goes around
 fast. As you can see, it's basically just an aluminum base that holds
 two small DC motors (RadioShack).  Power is supplied by a 1-10V DC
 power supply.  CDR cases serve as the spin chamber.
 Spin coater based on brushless dc motor of hard disk drivers
 We have developed a novel programmable, low cost, spin coater to be
 used for applications where flat substrates are coated with an uniform
 thin layer of a desirable material. The equipment is built with dc
 brushless motor present in most of the hard disk drivers (HDDs). The
 system offers manual control, wide speed range (from 0 to 10,000 rpm),
 spin speed stability and compact size. The paper also describes the
 use of such equipment for the fabrication of thin poly(o-
 methoxyaniline) (POMA) films, which are of particular interest for
 design organic electronic devices, such as diodes, transistor, sensors
 and displays.
 Pimp My Spin Coater
 If you're going to start making your own lab equipment you might as
 well trick out the new hardware. In that spirit, my spin coater has 3
 light emitting diodes: a green one, a red one, and a blue one. I can
 vary the revolution per minute from ~500rpm to ~2500rpm by varying the
 voltage I supply to the spin coater. The sample is mounted in the
 center and is stuck to the spin coater by Velcro, this can be more
 easily seen in the next photo. As can also be seen in the photo, my
 spin coater is just a regular pc fan I bought at CompUSA this past
 Wednesday. I monitor the speed of the spin coater with a laser mounted
 above the spin-coater that shines through the fan's blades and strikes
 one of our group's alpha detectors. The nice thing about the alpha
 detector is that I don't even have to supply any power to it. There is
 enough current generated, I presume by the photoelectric effect, to
 carry a signal to an oscilloscope which I can use to monitor the fan's
 speed. A picture of the laser, which is my boss's laser pointer he
 uses for talks, is seen in the next photo at the top of our group's
 only non-radioactive chemistry hood. It took me 2 days to build my
 spin coater, Wednesday and Thursday, and one more day to make sure it
 calibrates properly, Friday. The total amount in extra costs was $20
 for the spin-coater(pc fan) all the rest of the equipment we had lying
 Title: Engineering Organic Light-Emitting Devices
 Appropriate Level: High School Regents Chemistry, or any advanced high
 Chemistry course
 Using a spin coater is the ideal method for applying this ruthenium
 layer.  A simple
 device can be made using an 80mm fan and simple circuitry.  If a spin
 coater is not
 available, Q-tips and a heat gun can work to a certain degree:
 Use a Q-tip to apply some of the Ruthenium-tris(2,2¿-bipyridyl)
 tetrafluoroborate to the glass slide and then dry with a heat gun for
 3-5 minutes. 
-- Jonathan Cline, on DIYbio google group

Fermentors, Bioreactors, Photo Bioreactors

  • "Biosynthesis of organic conductors provides an alternative route for renewable energy that would not require a fuel as a carrier for kinetic energy, where instead, electricity could be directly transferred to organic batteries/capacitors through solar voltaic panels allowing for passive energy generation and storage." -Giovanni Lostumbo

For Yeast

  • DIY CO2 Injection: The Yeast Method. This article gives instructions for a cheap Do-It-Yourself CO2 injection system. The CO2 is produced by a mixture of sugar, yeast and water, and the setup is constructed entirely from cheap and readily available materials.

For Algae

  • A Photo Bio Reactor (PBR) is a system that provides an artificial environment for photosynthetic organisms (Algae) to perform a chemical conversion. Scientists and engineers have been developing several types of photo-bio reactors (PBR’s) over the past fifty years to grow microorganisms that are used in a wide variety of applications. Cultivated algae cultures can be used to produce human food, animal feed, health food, therapeutics, chemicals, fuel, hormones, and fertilizer. A prototype PBR was built at SDSU in 1998 that had a reactor capacity of 1 gallon. The prototype was inoculated with algae obtain from Argonne National Laboratory and produced an algae biomass in excess of 25g. The success of the prototype led to the decision to scale up the prototype PBR to capacity of 500 gallons. The 500 gallon PBR is large enough to study the feasibility of commercial production algae. In the summer of 2000 research was initiated to evaluate the feasibility of scaling up the prototype PBR. Research revealed that little is known quantitatively about how the different subsystems interact and affect algal biomass production in PBR. The scaled up PBR design was then modified to allow for the testing of the effect the different subsystems have on algal biomass production independently as well as interactions of the subsystems. Test variables may be light type (wavelength), intensity of light, mixing intensity, nutrient requirements, control strategies, etc.
  • An Algae Bioreactor from Recycled Water Bottles. In this instructable, we describe how to build a photo-bioreactor that uses algae to convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy. The energy that is produced is in the form of algae biomass. The photo-bioreactor is built from plastic recycled water bottles. By designing the apparatus to be compartmentalized, we are able to do many experiments in parallel.

  • How To Make an Algae Test Photo Bioreactor...Part One. This gives a step-by-step instructions on making an algae test photo bioreactor. This can be used in any application that calls for testing and/or growing algae, to determine maximum growth rates, best nutrients, etc., such as... Making algae biodiesel, Animal feed, Organic fertilizer, Cosmetics, Health food supplements and many more.
  • Inventgeek Photo Bio Reactor V.2 This design has many improvements that make it far more sustainable and practical for long-term use. I really focused on making it highly modular and insuring it was rugged for prolonged outdoor use that is easier to fill and harvest from. While the array is smaller for this project it can be scaled to any size or requirement.
  • I got interested in the idea of growing Spirulina at home after I obtained a breeding pair of Bristlenose Pleco’s. What better food source than fresh Spirulina, I thought to myself. I wondered around Google for days, which turned into weeks, then months. No where could I find a single source that could easily explain how to grow Spirulina at home. If you are interested in growing Spirulina at home, I hope you find this method useful. I’ll give you a quick run down of my version of “Growing Tubes”, both in expensive and easy to build in a day. I went to Home Depot....
  • In-Home Photosynthetic Bioreactor - 1997-98. Invented by Lee Robinson, the founder of the British biotechnological company Biotechna, the Biocoil is a "photosynthetic bioreactor that provides an environment for biological organism to grow in a controlled manner." The frame is built and clear PVC tubing is wrapped around it to form a circular model so that it is easier for photosynthesis to occur. Sunlight or artificial light is then put in at an angle to shine on the tubing while the algae flows through. Chlorella algae was used in the Sewage Sister Biocoil to remove nutrients from the sewage flowing along with the algae. The tubing of the Biocoil consists of several sections of tubing rather than one piece wrapped all of the way around. Compressed air pumps are used to push the algae and water through the Biocoil and to prevent anoxic conditions in the water.
The Biocoil Operations Manual (The Trip From the Algae's Point of View). The Biocoil is a tertiary sewage treatment system which utilizes light and algae to remove phosphates and nitrates from secondary effluent. The Biocoil is a round unit eight feet tall and six of those feet are surrounded by 1600 feet of clear one inch inside diameter food grade tubing. This tubing is exposed to light 24 hours a day, either by natural sunlight or artificial light. The inside of the Biocoil is composed of three tanks, the contact, holding, and settling tank. The manifold which distributes water from the tanks to the tubes is also located inside the Biocoil.
The Biocoil Project - 1994-95
The Biocoil Project - 1996-97
The Biocoil Project - 1997-98

Basics of Growing Algae

"How to get started growing algae at home."


  • a space that can be easily heated or cooled depending on the weather.
  • cool white flourescent lights 35-40 watts.
  • aquarium aereation pump. tubing, and airstones... tees(all this from walmart.)
  • shelves depending on how many cultures you want to grow
  • glass jars one quart, and one gallon for as many cultures as you plan to grow
  • aquarium sea salts (Instant ocean) I cup per gallon of distilled water.
  • dial thermometers
  • graduated measuring cups
  • Ph. papers
  • Nutrient solution
  • algae cultures( often come in 50 ml tubes )
  • growing instructions come with the cultures.


  • when you receive the culture add the contents of the tube to 250 ml of water (salt or fresh)
  • keep lights on 24/7
  • keep aereation on 24/7
  • once the 250 ml turns green add another 250 ml and so on untill you have a liter of green algae
  • take the green liter and add it to a gallonglass jar,
  • once you have a gallon you can seed a ten gallon aquarium or you can add the gallon to larger tanks or to a closed loop ecosystem
  • and in two weeks, voila! youll have algae growing.
  • unenclosed ponds are unstable and prone to contamination by outside influences such as acid rain, water fowl that carry wild algae on thier feathers , animals , temperature variations.windbourne pollutants. night time temperature variations.etc
The above is from (lots of pictures there)

Stirrer, Hot Plate

"DIY Stirrer/Hot Plate". with video

Incubator, Shaking Incubator

 You can make a 30C incubator really easily using
 pet-shop-bought thermostats and heat mats designed for
 reptiles, and a polystyrene box. Not all species will thrive
 at 30C, but for me it works great with B.subtilis. They grow
 more slowly, but according to the literature they retain their
 competence for longer at this temperature rather than 37,
 anyway.  A battery-powered mini-fan or some such would
 probably even out the temperature nicely
-- Cathal Garvey on the DIYbio google group

Bob Horton's Shaking Incubator

Note the date on this project.

  • Bob Horton horto005 at
  • Wed Mar 6 11:06:24 EST 1996

Bob's Homemade Shaking Incubator Design

This is my design for an easy-to-build and inexpensive laboratory shaker/shaking incubator. It will undoubtedly remind many readers of something they may have built for the Science Fair in the 5th grade, but as far as I know, the use of record-player power and the hanging platform are original. And, hey, you can't argue with the price.

Three figures are attached. The attachments are MIME-encoded, and should be decodable with any MIME-compliant newsreader, including the one built into NetScape 2.0. The figures are small, black and white drawings in GIF format, and should be viewable from any web browser, once they are decoded.

Figure 1: Parts for the Home-Made Shaker.

Figure 2: Additional Parts for the Shaking Incubator.

Figure 3: Portrait of the Final Product.

The shaking platform is cut from a particleboard sheet the same size as the top of the box; the rest of the sheet is used to reinforce the top of the box. The platform is suspended from the edge of the top opening with strings. Slipknots are used in the strings to make them easy to adjust until the platform is more-or-less level. Then the knots are secured in place with tape. The strings and holes are arranged so that the strings hang as vertically (i.e., parallel to one another) as possible. This way the platform will remain essentially level as it swings around in a circle.

A bolt is mounted on the turntable, and passed through a hole in the platform, so that when the turntable spins, the shaker moves in an orbital motion. Note that it takes very little work on the part of the record palyer motor to move the platform in a horizontal circle, even if it carries significant weight.

The heat source (light bulb), fan, and thermostat are mounted on a particleboard base, and wired so that the fan is always on, but the light bulb is turned on and off by the thermostat in classic Jr. High School Science Fair fashion. The whole heat-control unit is placed in the incubator box, and a thermometer is used to calibrate the thermostat. The thermostat I use keeps the box somewhere 35 and 38 degrees centigrade. I think a regular home thermostat would work better, but the bugs don't seem to mind.

The fan blows air around fast enough that air in the whole box is very close to the same temperature. But I put the thermostat probe behind the fan so it would not detect radiant heat, and the light is below the platform so it doesn't shine right on the cultures.

I covered the areas of the cardboard walls and the portion of the bottom of the platform that come close to the light bulb with foil, to reflect some heat so they wouldn't be quite as likely to catch fire. If you fold several thicknesses of slightly wrinkled foil together, they make a nice shield against radiant heating (this was the suggestion of Mike Herron, from the lab across the hall).

The box is sealed with masking tape, except for the top opening. A lid (not shown) is made of an additional cardboard sheet, edged with soft foam weather stripping. This type of flat lid limits the height of culture flasks to the distance between the shaking platform and the top of the box; alternatively, a raised lid made of a second box would allow more room.

This shaker has three speeds; 33, 45, and 78 rpm. The fastest setting is still somewhat slower than typical bacterial culture conditions, but it works OK if you leave plenty of air in your flasks. A faster motor could be substituted for the record player, but it wouldn't be as cute.

The heating unit and the record player can both be plugged into a power strip, so a single convenient switch can be used to turn the whole thing on and off.

The tools required are fairly simple:

  • wrench, pliers, screwdriver, etc. to remove any parts of the record

player that stick up too high.

  • drill to mount the bolt on the turntable, and make holes for the


  • knife to cut cardboard and strip insulation on the wires.
  • jigsaw to cut the platform from the particleboard.

My estimate of the cost of materials is as follows:

  • cardboard box, string, tape, etc.: $0.00
  • record player: $0.75 (yes, I can get them in Minneapolis for 75 cents

at the "Digger's Delight" behind Goodwill on Como Avenue near Highway 280. Otherwise they may run you 5 bucks apiece at a garage sale).

  • thermostat: $3.50 from AxMan surplus, University Ave., St. Paul. At a

hardware store, these cost about $12.

  • fan: $7.50. I used a 120V AC box fan, about 4 inches in diameter

(AxMan Surplus). I couldn't find one the right size at Digger's, but keep your eyes peeled.

  • light socket: $0.85 (hardware store)
  • weather stripping: ~$3
  • power strip: ~$3.50 (only used for the Shaker Deluxe).
  • thermometer: $1.19
  • I scrounged the light bulb and the particleboard. (Retail ~$3?)

So I have over $20 invested in my shaking incubator, and it could easily cost over $23 if you had to buy particleboard and stuff. Old record players also make great sample rotators, if you set them at a steep angle, or they can be used to wash gels and blots, if you put your pan on the turntable and slightly raise one end of the record player. The only shaking incubator I have in my current lab is of this design (serial number 00000001). I have used it to grow 50 ml E. coli cultures in LB, in regular 500ml Erlenmeyers, and 1.5ml cultures in TB in 15 ml snap-cap tubes. I have recently used this incubator to clone a cDNA sequence for a novel human neurotransmitter receptor subunit. But I'll try not to let Real Science interfere too much with inventin' stuff. :)

Happy shakin'!

Bob Horton


Simple DNA Extraction

Extract DNA from your Halloween pumpkin!
How to Extract DNA From Human Cheek Cells!

Thermocycler / PCR

Light Bulb PCR -

Laser Tools

Inexpensive laser shutters using common electronics!
"DIY Laser Shutter"
Pranav's air freshener laser shutter.
Laser Tweezer Enclosure

Gene Gun

 You can make your own gene gun using either a modified pellet
 gun, or by turning a diaphragm valve on a lathe and pulsing a
 low-density high-pressure gas to a small aperture, or by
 shooting a prepped wall of a vacuum chamber to disperse a
 prepared nug of DNA coated fine metal particles with a small
 arm (don't do this).
 Here's a video that'll give you a good idea of how they can be
 used, they're good for transforming most things.
 Also be aware the video contains a rat brain being autopsied. 
 The manufacture of the ammunition is the tricky part, it
 involves engineering the DNA payload and binding it to very
 small tungsten or gold particles. The process is outlined in
 the video, note the part where the plastic tube is filled with
 dried metal-bound dna and cut up to make bullets. 

-- Forrest Flanagan on the DIYbio google group

Homebrew Centrifuge

Warning: Building a high speed device is dangerous. Take appropriate measures to ensure safety.


Jonathan Cline: A basic equation of physics, for those out there building their own centrifuges: What are RPM, RCF, and g force and how do I convert between them? The magnitude of the radial force generated in a centrifuge is expressed relative to the earth’s gravitational force (g force) and known as the RCF (relative centrifugal field). RCF values are denoted by a numerical number in “g” (ex. 1,000 x g). It is dependent on the speed of the rotor in revolutions per minute (RPM) and the radius of rotation. Most centrifuges are set to display RPM but have the option to change the readout to RCF. To convert between the two by hand, use the following equation: RCF = 11.18 (rcm) (rpm/1000)^2 Where rcm = the radius of the rotor in centimeters.


Cathal Garvey has designed a simple centrifuge using open source hardware technology, and you can order one yourself! Dremelfuge is a rotor designed to fit standard lab microcentrifuge tubes and miniprep/purification columns, to be spun by either a powerdrill or other chuck-loading machine or by a popular rotary tool. Dremelfuge features an easy click-in loading system which holds tubes parallel to the plane of rotation for optimum pelleting and delivery of force. Intended basic applications of Dremelfuge include column purification (tested to work with miniprep columns) and bacterial/cell debris pelleting (under testing). With standard microcentrifuge tubes, the average rotary distance is 4cms. Results are shown with the Dremelfuge used to pellet E. Coli samples. Dremelfuge is open-source hardware. Source files are available on Thingiverse, linked from the items on Shapeways. The Creative Commons license used entitles copying, sharing and remixing for any non commercial purpose. Please consider that professional printing services qualify as commercial use.

Two editions of Dremelfuge are available for purchase at

Open Source Gel Boxes

  • Hosted on OpenWetWare, Open Gel Box 2.0 is now available to buy; includes transilluminator. Contact Tito.

Electrophoresis Gel Box Power Supply

  • See Open Gel Box 2.0 Power Supply on OpenWetWare. Working unit has been constructed.

3D Printed Gel Boat and Comb Set

To: DIYBio google group
From: Cathal <>
Date: Sep 17, 10:07 am

I've just published my first designs on Shapeways, for a $100 Gel Boat
and Comb set.
Sit these into a plastic container with some graphite electrodes at
either end, and you have a complete gel electrophoresis kit.
I intend to make more designs and share them both on this shop and
with the open-source community in the near future!

The designs are open source, and are available on for
those with access to a 3D printer.. just be sure and let me know the
results please! I'm awaiting my own 3D printer right now so I'm
itching to see results.

Note: Because of the opaque nature of the printed plastic, UV
visualisation will have to be Top-down.

Gel Box from Tupperware or other

  • THE MACGYVER PROJECT: GENOMIC DNA EXTRACTION AND GEL ELECTROPHORESIS EXPERIMENTS USING EVERYDAY MATERIALS. By Yas Shirazu, Donna Lee, and Esther Abd-Elmessih. DNA extraction and separation by agarose gel electrophoresis is a simple and exciting process that anyone can perform. However, the high cost of specialized equipment and chemicals often hinder such an experiment from being carried by members of the high school community. Here, we describe a cost effective way of extracting and electrophoresing DNA under a prescribed MacGyver limitation – that is using only materials available from a grocery store or shopping mall.
  • add your gel box project here

Inkjet Printer Hacking for Bio Projects

Many papers over the years involve using either EPSON inkjet printers (piezoelectric print head) or HP/etc inkjet printers (thermal print head) to dispense very small amounts of biomaterial or biochemicals.

EPSON Printers

Epson is the only brand which uses piezoelectric print heads. Epson printers also have CD-printing, which provides a mechanical method to feed larger objects into the printer.

  • Epson R280
    • Open Access research paper: "This paper presents a low-cost inkjet dosing system capable of continuous, two-dimensional spatiotemporal regulation of gene expression via delivery of diffusible regulators to a custom-mounted gel culture of E. coli. A consumer-grade, inkjet printer was adapted for chemical printing; E. coli cultures were grown on 750 µm thick agar embedded in micro-wells machined into commercial compact discs. Spatio-temporal regulation of the lac operon was demonstrated via the printing of patterns of lactose and glucose directly into the cultures; X-Gal blue patterns were used for visual feedback. We demonstrate how the bistable nature of the lac operon's feedback, when perturbed by patterning lactose (inducer) and glucose (inhibitor), can lead to coordination of cell expression patterns across a field in ways that mimic motifs seen in developmental biology."
Cohen DJ, Morfino RC, Maharbiz MM, 2009 A Modified Consumer Inkjet for Spatiotemporal Control of Gene Expression. PLoS ONE 4(9): e7086. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007086
As discussed on the DIYbio google group:

HP, Canon, .... Printers

  • Add inkjet printer projects here