What features are necessary for a low cost lab incubator?

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Tony Naggs

Apr 1, 2022, 6:36:57 AMApr 1
to Biology Club
As you may have noticed in Jenny's recent messages, one of the projects at the Biomaker events (next event 20th April https://www.meetup.com/Makespace/events/284341456/) is to adapt a low cost drink cooler/egg incubator (see attached photo) for lab use.

What features are important to include?
As sold one can choose a temperature between 5°C and 60°C, and the unit will seek to that temperature and switch on & off to hold the approximate temperature. The requirement that Jenny has specified is to run profiles, such as running at 37°C for several hours and the cooling to below room temp.

I am interested to hear what other uses could be made, and whether any other features should be added. I am an engineer not a microbiologist, so I am likely missing ideas that are obvious to you!



Tony Naggs

Apr 28, 2022, 9:43:53 AMApr 28
to Biology Club
Hey all

We discussed the low cost lab incubator again at last night's meeting.

I have a pretty good idea of how I would like to make the incubator programmable (series of temperature steps). I also have an idea of how to make it somewhat reliable with an electricity supply that has brief episodes of unavailability (as experienced with rolling blackouts in California summers, & more randomly in other territories with poor infrastructure) - by remembering how much of the programme is complete & resuming when power returns.

I am now especially interested in any knowledge, opinions & suggestions relating to:
1. Automatically switching over to battery power when the mains fails? There are mains and 12V (via car cigarette lighter connection) inputs on the base line incubator, but selection is manual via a switch in the back. First question is, are labs in developing countries likely to have a 12V dc backup supply? Otherwise maybe this is a waste of my time to look at?

2. Maybe incorporating a small orbital shaker (or rocker or ???) inside the incubator. Controlled by an extra motor control channel from the incubator control electronics, and built with 3D printed plastic parts.

Happy to chat about any of the above by email, here on the Biology Club mailing list (for openness) or at the monthly in person meetings. :-)

Cheers, Tony

Richard Hopper

Apr 29, 2022, 11:36:33 AMApr 29
to tony...@gmail.com, Biology Club
Hello Tony et al,

It was good to see everyone on Wed.

There are modules for battery switching. The simplest just use a relay or diode e,g. here. One thing to watch is if there is a glitch on the power rail during switching which could affect the microprocessor operation (would need to be assessed). A better solution, technically, is an ideal diode or power path monitor switch but this might be overkill. Probably, best to try the simplest solution first!

Kind regards,

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