Genetic testing with Lego

From the dark recesses of the Internet circa 2009 comes the BioBrick-A-Bot, a liquid handling system for molecular biologists.

The 2009 iGEM competition was a student competition to build devices for synthetic biology. The BioBrick-A-Bot’s goal is to build a simple, low-cost liquid handling system that sucks liquids out of petri dishes and into vials.

Like most lab equipment, the commercial version of this tech is insanely expensive – about 10 grand for a commercial liquid handling robot. The BioBrick-A-Bot is made nearly entirely out of LEGO parts, so the cost of the entire system was brought down to about $700.

There are two main parts to the BioBrick-A-Bot. The Alpha module holds four pipette on a delta platform We’ve seen this type of robot built out of LEGO before, but moving liquids is new territory. The Phi module contains all the mechanics to suck microliters of liquid into a pipette and spit them out into vials.

The BioBrick-A-Bot didn’t win the 2009 iGEM competition (that honor was taken by students from Heidelberg Cambridge), but we’d take a LEGO robot any day of the week. Check out the demo after the break.

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Building a multidimensional display from trash

Here’s a simple concept that will let you turn any LCD screen into a multidimensional display (translated). [Herdek] used bits of that impossible to open clear plastic packaging to construct this add-on for the smart phone seen above. Three pieces of the material have been mounted at a 45 degree angle between the screen and viewer. The material is both reflective and transparent, depending on the angle at which light hits it. This allows it to reflect the light from the screen toward the viewer, but let light from the baffles behind it pass through unimpeded. The three baffles allow the LCD to be partitioned into three different sections whose images will appear to be at different depths according to the viewer’s vantage point. After the break we’ve embedded a demonstration video, as well as the how-to that shows the construction technique for the add-on.

This follows the same concept at the pyramidal volumetric display, which is still one of our favorite LCD hacks.

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Simple circuit reminds you to lock the door as you rush out of the house


It seems that [pppd] is always rushing out of his apartment to catch the bus, and he finds himself frequently questioning whether or not he remembered to lock the door. He often doubles back to check, and while he has never actually forgotten to lock the door, he would rather not deal with the worry.

Since he finally had some free time on his hands, he decided to put together a simple device that would help end his worry once and for all. Using an ATtiny13, [pppd] designed a circuit that would detect when his door has been unlocked and opened, beeping every few seconds until the lock is reengaged. The circuit relies on a reed switch installed inside the door frame, which is tripped by the magnet he glued to his door’s deadbolt.

He says that the system works well so far, though he does have a few improvements in mind already.


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