Maker Faire 2011 was, true to expectations, even bigger and better than last year. Expecting as much, Brian Degger and I were prepared. Our DIYbio table was a big improvement on last year, with more interaction and more experimentation on our part than before. As bad luck would have it, our location was very poor compared to last year; our stand was in the Convention Center, a room of wonders that was thoughtfully omitted from the maps and for which there were no signs to follow.
Well, everyone is doing it so I may as well jump on board. As it happens, 2010 has been a really, really exciting year for me, so writing this will be an indulgent remembrance. In fact, looking back this morning, I was surprised at how much of the things I’ve lately been happy with took place in 2010; some of them seemed like so long ago. Like any year, it’s been full of good, bad and ugly, but for the most part good.
DIYbio and its more professionally oriented cousin, Garage Biotech, are undergoing a revolution at present. Essential equipment that used to cost thousands is now available at affordable prices, in many cases under open licensing schemes and open to community development. Knowledge of biology, genetics and the procedures underlying it all is being disseminated in ever-more-abstracted forms to make it easier to get started. And soon, even the biological components: strains, enzymes and substrates, will likely become mass-marketable.
Long Overdue Update: I’m very proud to say that, some time back, I updated the Dremelfuge design with better tolerances and a better shape to handle tubes. When I tested it (only once so far) at full speed on a dremel with two tubes full of fruit smoothie, it didn’t eject or break the tubes at all. So there you go, Dremelfuge can now be considered the world’s cheapest midi-ultra-centrifuge, capable of putting about 52,000g on up to six 1.5ml eppendorf tubes.
I’ve had on my mind an idea for some time that I’ve wanted to try. Having a Makerbot has enabled me to experiment with mad science on a level I’ve not been able to before, so here it is: DremelFuge, a printable drill/rotary tool attachment that spins microcentrifuge tubes! I uploaded a quickly mashed-together first draft to Thingiverse, but didn’t have a chance to print it that day as planned because I lost my laptop in town while Christmas shopping.