A How-To For DIYbio Lab Equipment
First thing’s first. Most DIYbio enthusiasts aren’t chemistry nerds from high school. They are lawyers, marketers, teachers, junior high kids, and so on, which means that aside from a high school or college 101 class, most haven’t really stepped foot inside a biology lab. I met with one DIYbio enthusiast who was in charge of a lab on the west coast and he got most of his lab equipment from stuff the local college threw out. We’re talking equipment worth 30k+. Most colleges auction off or get rid of their equipment in a way that makes more economical sense, so we’re going to assume you don’t have a biology department dumping tens of thousands of dollars in the dumpster every other month. Good news is that you can build your own lab. This page is dedicated to helping you set up your own DIYbio lab. (Here is a panorama of their biohacker lab in L.A.)
So assuming you’ve never been in a biology lab before, let alone one a DIY biology lab that can handle diybio and biohacking, what instruments are in there? What do they do? This is where the good friends at Biocurious come in to play. They’ve kindly published on their website a list of all the equipment in their lab, and while it’s not everything one could possibly have, it is pretty impressive. The goal of this section of DIY-bio will be to flesh out tutorials on building this lab yourself. Lastly, some things you won’t be able to build (normal lab supplies). For these, I’ve hyperlinked to a low-cost provider (usually The Odin).
DIYbio Lab Equipment
Normal Lab Supplies
- Test tubes, sterile single use test tubes
- Microscope slides, multiwell trays
- -20C Freezer
- Water Bath Shaker
- Deionized Water
- Ultra Pure Water
- Lab Sink
Creating your DIYbio Lab Equipment: Where to Start
So what to start out with first? That depends on what project you want to tackle. Some items are going to be used almost ubiquitously. For example, in a DIYbio experiment, chances are you’re going to be dealing with DNA. So in order to multiply a DNA sample, you’re going to need a PCR machine. This won’t always hold true, however. For example, the first DIYbio project I posted was regarding a ghost heart, or decellularized heart that uses a chemical wash to clear all cellular material away from an organ, leaving only the extracellular matrix scaffolding. This project definitely did not require a PCR machine at all. Perhaps the best advice, then, in building out your DIYbio lab equipment is this: find a project you want to start, and build the equipment you need on the list first. It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway- best to start with a DIYbio project where you don’t need to make seven pieces of equipment to get the thing done. Pick one that only requires one or two items at the most. After a few projects, you’ll have all the DIY biology lab equipment you need.
Learning How to Use Your Equipment
This is a new section I’ll be spinning out, but until I have enough to create a new page, I’ll just make a small section here, where nobody will probably ever find it.
Oh, and just for kicks, here is a photo sphere from LA Biohackers, a DIYbio hackerspace in L.A.. Just click on the bar below (warning, it may take a bit to load!)