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.