CheapStat: an open-source potentiostat

A commercial potentiostat can cost several thousand dollars, but the CheapStat is an open source project that makes it possible to build your own at a tiny fraction of that cost. It is possible to build one for less than $80, breaking down the cost barrier faced by many labs that would like to have this test hardware.

A potentiostat is used to measure electrochemical properties. To give you a few examples of what it can do, the hardware can measure arsenic levels in water, Vitamin C concentration in orange juice, Acetaminophen concentrations in over-the-counter medications, and a bunch of other less easily explained tests having to do with chemical compounds and DNA.

The device makes use of an Atmel XMEGA microcontroller and connects to a computer via USB. A Java program grabs that data from the hardware displaying test results on your choice of computer platforms. If you’re looking for all the gory details you won’t be disappointed by their journal paper.

11 thoughts on “CheapStat: an open-source potentiostat

  1. Potentiostats are used in corrosion measurement techniques. They cost big bucks. Something like this would be great for chemists working in a lab. You could build a dozen of these, hook them up to a multiplexer to feed measurements to a computer, and run all types of experiments for a fraction of the cost of a commercial unit.

  2. It looks like a cool thing, but IANAC (I am not a chemist), and I would like to know what is possible to do with it: examples of measures that I can do at home, what electrodes, how much they cost, where to get them, test setup…

    Something like “potentiostat for dummies” would help.

    Electronically speaking, although the ground plane and decoupling caps are effectively missing, it still looks very interesting!

  3. ColinB: cool part but I’m not sure it matches the feature set of the CheapStat.

    “The device supports cyclic, square wave, linear sweep and stripping voltammetry over the potential range −990to +990 mV and over frequencies from 1 to 1000 Hz.”

  4. Producing a device that you would like others to use in a lab setting? Don’t call it “Cheap” anything – call it OpenStat if it’s open source, or something similar.

    Cheap has poor (!) connotations.

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