Sourcing this part is critical to being able to continue to sell GelIS. Unfortunately there is an incredibly long lead time on these parts, as they come from China. My strategy is to generate a few orders for the box, and then order extras far far in advance. I hope it works! If the rate of orders keeps up, I should be ok, but otherwise delays could happen! I will have to think carefully about this.
The Gel Integrated System is done. I have packed an electrophoresis power supply, illumination, and casting system into one tiny box. All the parts, other than the enclosure, are off the shelf parts. It can be shipped flat and assembled with only a screwdriver. This all comes in at a sale price that is an order of magnitude lower than commercial systems, with a bench footprint an order of magnitude lower than commercial systems.
It has been tested, and it is completely functional. The gel is bright enough that you can take pictures of it with your cell phone. If you want to get one, I will be selling the first batch of ten here for $200 a piece. Use that link to contact me if you need a large batch, or find me on the diybio mailing list. I will hopefully have an assembly video (and feature video) soon, but until now you can see my instructable on assembly here.
Almost ready to test the latest prototype! Everything electrical is go, but I managed to loose my LED panel in my moves from showing my prototype in CA, visiting the bay area, and them moving from an apartment in Somerville back to school. Oops.
One of the major improvements in this prototype is simplified wiring. I did away with the ammeter (since it was on the fritz anyways), and now it is very easy to assemble with only a screwdriver. The improvement is that lots of wires don’t need to go into screw terminals now- there is a max of only two wires per terminal, and if you wrap stranded wires around solid wires, you have a pretty solid connection.
I am really looking forward into getting these into peoples hands!
This is the newly designed tray for the gel system. It is a major improvement over the last tray, and it comes with some other major revisions to the box. The big upgrades to the tray are:
- about 2x cheaper
- built-in diffuser
- tighter slots for the dams (orange things in that picture) by .005″
This makes the tray system pretty solid, and the low profile saves gel and buffer, and makes it even harder to get your digits into anything that is electrified. It also makes the box 100% cuttable, with no need to drill any holes, which was an issue since the laser cutters I use can’t focus on an object that is 3″ high.
The other major revision that is coming is an adjustable LED light source. I love the EL panel, but it is tough to get a good photo without a decent camera, and it is just not as bright. Even though the EL panel is great for me, I expect that some people will just want to use a cell phone, which is not feasible with the EL panel as it is. Heck, my phone is my lab notebook, and carrying around a big camera is inconvenient, so most of the time it is all I have (I am advocate of the lab having a camera).
With the dam sorted and the illuminator design tested, I am ready to call the next revision the minimal viable product and ship it out.
Some folks were having trouble with microcentrifuge a.k.a. eppendorf tubes escaping the rotor of their dremelfuge. I compiled a handy list of dimensions for the tubes we have at BOSSLAB, and stuck it a PDF. I might have to build a dremelfuge now.
The brands and sizes measured are:
Carolina biological colored tube- 1.5ml
ABI Geneamp tubes- .5ml
Biologix flat top PCR tube- .2ml
The second prototype of the Gel Integrated System is done. I ran a gel on it (wet tested it) today, and I am happy to say that I am ready to sell, build, and ship the first few units. There are a few minor revisions that will go out in the first few units, like a clear “lid”, and slightly different dimensions for the wire cutouts, but mostly they will be the same as what I tested today.
Here is a brief rundown of how the test went.
Pouring the gel started out ok, but I need to get the seals a little wider and the slot that they go into a little thinner, so they seal. The leakage I experienced should be a non issue for future users.
It is literally impossible to run this box backwards by accident, since you can only put the tray in in one direction. If you wanted to run it “backwards” you could pull the electrodes out and move them to the other side, but otherwise your DNA will always be loaded on the right side. The wells need to be wider and thinner, but setup for this part is slick and simple., and changing the width of the wells is as simple as cutting the comb out of thinner plastic.
Here is the post-run gel, in regular light You can barely see the loading dye on the bottom, since I didn’t quite get the sample in the well, but the lanes ran very evenly.
This picture shows two things: one, I might need a pre-filter if I want to do photography. Two, you can barely see that the the gel did run, but that the sample wells need to be broader so you get the nice crisp bands that everyone loves. In real life it is quite a bit more visible. We will see what people want!
Overall, I would call it a success. A few tweaks need to be made on the units to be shipped out, but it’s time to try to get this thing out there, and have people use it!
The second prototype has seen large improvements in fabrication. Other than the obvious problems, like the box being too small, there have been a few big improvements.
On the left is the cut sheet from the previous prototype, and on the right is the cut sheet of the latest prototype. The latest prototype is actually larger by square inches, but it takes almost half the time to cut! And there is less waste of material between the parts. The improvement here was manually aligning pieces to share edges, and then deleting (again, manually) one of the shared edges. If you do this, deleting the extra edge is very important. If you don’t the laser will hit it again, and sometimes create a very small “peel” of plastic between the two laser lines. This piece of plastic is very thin, and will be insulated by air on post sides, which will cause it to catch on fire! So delete the extra line.
This is the “mouse door” cutout that lets you route cables with big connectors through small slots in mortise joints. This one is still slightly too small, but it still works pretty well!
I also changed the box configuration. On the left is the new box, which is thinner and more affordable to fabricate. It eliminates the on-edge holes, which I normally have to drill. Originally I wanted to turn the tray on-edge and just laser cut the holes, but the cutter was not tall enough for that.
Thats all for this note!