Archive for the ‘PCR’ Category


July 29, 2011



Polymerase chain reaction is a core technique used in molecular and cell biology (not to mention many other fields).  Some folks who think like me and want lab equipment to be cheaper created a small company that does just that.  These makers call their machination OpenPCR.

OpenPCR is a $599 PCR machine that can handle 16 PCR tubes and supports Mac and PC for input/output.

This thing is slick as hell.  There is something I find extremely aesthetically pleasing about laser cut wood, arduino electronics and a devices capability.

Being a graduate student I do not have the cash to drop on OpenPCR so I can only discuss my concerns after reading about it.  I really only have two concerns device endurance and quality.

As for endurance, I am not too concerned.  Buying OpenPCR requires one to assemble/build the unit oneself.  This means the user of OpenPCR likely has a good grasp of how the thing works and should be proficient enough to do some simple repairs and replacements.

I do not know the ins and outs of PCR and I wonder how OpenPCR’s ability to evenly heat and cool samples compares to the industry equivalents.  I have used some real crappy machines and they still got the job done and so I am not too worried about OpenPCR.

I do wish there was some testimonials or data from experiments done with OpenPCR to compare to other machines.  This is a problem of the newness of OpenPCR and I look forward to hearing about people using it in the future.




PCR Tube Centrifuge

May 29, 2011

A salad spinner, two empty pipette-tip boxes, and tape can be used as an improvised PCR tube centrifuge.

Below is a video of the amalgam in action.

Tape two pipette boxes to the inside of the salad spinner. Take care to balance the whole thing with the boxes (only one is shown in the picture above).

The salad spinners are cheap, amazon has one listed for around 25 bucks.

PCR Tube Rack

April 28, 2011

This tip was sent in by a fellow grad student, Amanda Verde.

If you find yourself short on PCR tube racks and burdened with empty pipette boxes, you need not fret.  Pipette tips and their boxes come in a variety of sizes and as a result some have holes perfectly sized for PCR tubes.

The box can do more than just hold PCR tubes, the cavernous interior can be filled with ice to keep the PCR reactions cool as other protocol steps are performed.