A career as a lab biologist can take many forms, but the general public seems to see it as a lone, lab-coated researcher sitting at a bench, setting up a series of in vitro experiments by hand in small tubes or streaking out a little yeast on an agar plate. That’s not inaccurate at all – all of us lab rats have done time with a manual pipettor while trying to keep track of which tube in the ice bucket gets which solution. It’s tedious stuff.
But because biology experiments generally scale well, and because more data often leads to better conclusions, life science processes can quickly grow beyond what can be handled manually. I’ve seen this time and again in my 25 years in science, from my crude grad school attempts to miniaturize my assays and automate data collection to the multi-million dollar robotic systems I built in my career in the pharmaceutical industry. Biology can get pretty big in a hurry. Continue reading “LEGO Liquid Handler and Big Biology”
Developing film at home is most certainly a nearly forgotten art nowadays, but there are still a few very dedicated people who care enough to put in the time and study to this craft. [Jan] is one of the exceptional ones. He’s developing 35mm film with Lego (Dutch, Google translate).
For the build, [Jan] is using the Lego RCX 1.0, the first gen of the Lego Mindstorms, released in the late 90s. According to eBay, this is a significantly cheaper option for programmable Lego. The mechanics of the Lego film developer consisted of multiple tanks of chemicals. The film was loaded on a reel, suspended from a Lego gantry, and dunked into each tank for a specific amount of time.
A second revision of the hardware (translate) was designed, with the film loaded into a rotating cylinder. A series of chemicals would then be pumped into this unit with the hope of reducing the amount of chemicals required. This system was eventually built using the wiper fluid pump from a car. Apparently, the system worked well, judging from the pictures developed with this system. Whether it was easy or efficient is another matter entirely.
You can check out a video of the first revision of the Lego film developing system below.
Thanks [Andrew] for sending this in.
Continue reading “Developing Film With Lego”
Remember in the late 90s and early 2000s when everything had blue LEDs in them? Blinding blue LEDs that lit up a dark room like a Christmas tree? Nobel prize. There’s a good /r/askscience thread on why this is so important. The TL;DR is that it’s tough to put a p-type layer on gallium nitride.
Have a Segway and you’re a member of the 501st? Here’s your Halloween costume. It’s a model of the Aratech 74-Z speeder bike, most famously seen careening into the side of trees on the forest moon of Endor.
[Andrew] needed something to do and machined an iPhone 5 out of a block of aluminum. Here’s the video of icon labels being engraved. The machine is a Denford Triac with a six station auto tool changer. He’s running Mach3, and according to him everything – including the correct tooling – cost far too much money.
Another [Andrew] was working the LEGO booth at Maker Faire New York and has finally gotten his LEGO Mindstorms Minecraft Creeper build written up. Yes, it’s probably smarter than your average Minecraft Creeper, and this one also blows up. He also had a physical version of the classic video game from 1979, Lunar Lander. Both are extremely awesome builds, and a great way to attract kids of all ages to a booth.
[Wilfred] was testing a titanium 3D printer at work and was looking for something to print. The skull ‘n wrenches was a suitable candidate, and the results are fantastic. From [Wilfred]: “Just out of the printer the logo looks amazing because it isn’t oxidized yet (inside the printer is an Argon atmosphere) Then the logo moves to an oven to anneal the stress made by the laser. But then it gets brown and ugly. After sandblasting we get a lovely bluish color as you can see in the last picture.”
The folks at Lulzbot/Aleph Objects are experimenting with their yet-to-be-released printer, codenamed ‘Begonia’. They’re 2D printing, strangely enough, and for only using a standard Bic pen, the results look great.
Everyone is going crazy over the ESP8266 UART to WiFi module. There’s another module that came up on Seeed recently, the EMW3162. It’s an ARM Cortex M3 with plenty of Flash, has 802.11 b/g/n, and it’s $8.50 USD. Out of stock, of course.
Have you ever seen a wet sloth? They’re pretty scary. If that’s not bad enough, how do you feel about a robotic one?
Named the X-4 “Sloth”, this is one of [222Doc’s] hardest projects to date — a highly experimental quadra-ped that can climb up and across ladders. It makes use of a Lego Mindstorms NXT controller, 8 servo motors for the joints, 4 Power Function Motors for the hands, and a whole lot of Lego. Due to the number of motors, he also had to multiplex the Power Function servos to make it all work!
Sure, it’s Lego, but it was far from an easy project, as [222Doc] estimates he spent well over a hundred hours on it, and it still isn’t complete. He says he’ll never say to himself “this will be easy…” ever again.
Stick around after the break to see it scale this ladder — we wish they sped up the video though, it appears the movement speed is modeled after a real sloth…
Continue reading “Robotic Sloth Haunts Your Dreams”
[J. Benschop] is teaching his nine-year-old son electronics by giving him a few wires, LEDs, and batteries. Eventually, the son looked over at his dad’s workbench and wondered what the little bug-shaped rectangles did. Microcontrollers and embedded programming are just a bit too advanced for someone who hasn’t hit a double-digit age, but [J] figured he could still have his son experience the awesomeness of programming electronics by building a custom electronic Lego microcontroller system.
This isn’t as complex as a Lego Mindstorms system. Really, it’s only an ATMega and a 2.4 GHz wireless transceiver. Still, that’s more than enough to add a few sensors and motor drivers, and an awesome introduction to electronics development. The enclosure for the LegoDuino is, of course, compatible with every Lego brick on the planet. It’s made from a 6×16 plate, three blocks high, with enough room for the electronics, three AA batteries, and the IO headers.
Programming an ATMega, even with the Arduino IDE, is a little beyond the capacity of [J. Benschop]’s nine-year-old son, so he made a few changes to the Minibloq programming environment to support the newly created LegoDuino. It’s a graphical programming language that kids of just about any age can pick up quickly, and with the included RF transceiver inside the ‘Duino, it can even be programmed wirelessly.
It’s an amazing piece of work, and much, much simpler than even the noob-friendly Lego Mindstorms. Not as powerful, though, but when you’re just teaching programming and electronics, you really don’t need much.
[Eric Steenstra], from the Netherlands, decided to build a GoKart entirely from LEGO Mindstorm parts. Tested at being able to carry just over 100Kg in weight, a 16 stone man(224 lbs). This GoKart can easily carry a child and propel him along. Eric used 48 stock Mindstorm motors, geared down, and 16 battery packs to provide a balance between torque and speed.
This vehicle doesn’t expect to win any races in the speed department. From the point of view of being something different this wins hands down. The Karts first test drive was only two weeks ago so drivability and durability are still under development at this stage. See the video after the break on this monstrous Mindstorms creation.
Continue reading “Le-GoKART; a GoKart built entirely from Lego”
Modern society owes so much to medical research, though what happens behind the scenes in a laboratory is usually far less than glamorous. A group of scientists at the University of Cambridge are working to develop synthetic bone tissue, but the process to create the samples used in the study is incredibly tedious.
To make the bones, a substructure must be dipped in a mixture of calcium and protein, rinsed, then dipped in a mixture of phosphate and protein…hundreds and hundreds of times. Equipment that can automate the process is available but very cost prohibitive, so the scientists did what they do best and built a set of robots to do the work for them.
Their new bone manufacturing setup was constructed using Lego Mindstorm kits, which were a perfect solution to their problem in several ways. The kits are relatively cheap, easy to construct, easy to program, and able to perform the same function precisely for days on end.
Now instead of burning time manually creating synthetic bone samples, the group can focus on the more important facets of their research.
Continue reading to see a video presented at the 2012 Google Science Fair, showing how everything came together for the crew at Cambridge.
Continue reading “Lego Mindstorms used to automate tedious laboratory tasks”