Tools category

1 Cent Lab-On-A-Chip For Early Diagnostics

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a way to produce a cheap and reusable diagnostic “lab on a chip” with the help of an ordinary inkjet printer. At a production cost of as little as 1 cent per chip, the new combination of microfluidics, electronics and inkjet printing technology could usher in a medical diagnostics revolution like the kind brought on by low-cost genome sequencing, said Ron Davis, PhD, professor of biochemistry and of genetics and director of the Stanford Genome Technology Center.

Lab on a Chip – Zahra Koochak

The lab on a chip consists of two parts: a clear silicone microfluidic chamber for housing cells and a reusable electronic strip and  a regular inkjet printer that can be used to print the electronic strip onto a flexible sheet of polyester using commercially available conductive nano-particle ink.

“Enabling early detection of diseases is one of the greatest opportunities we have for developing effective treatments,” Rahim Esfandyarpour said, a PhD and an engineering research associate at the genome center. “Maybe $1 in the U.S. doesn’t count that much, but somewhere in the developing world, it’s a lot of money.”

Designed as a multi-functional platform, one of its applications is that it allows users to analyse different cell types without using fluorescent or magnetic labels that are typically required to track cells. Instead, the chip separates cells based on their intrinsic electrical properties:

When an electric potential is applied across the inkjet-printed strip, cells loaded into the microfluidic chamber get pulled in different directions depending on their “polarisability” in a process called dielectrophoresis. This label-free method to analyse cells greatly improves precision and cuts lengthy labeling processes.

Rahim Esfandyarpour helped to develop a way to create a diagnostic “lab on a chip” for just a penny.
Zahra Koochak

The tool is designed to handle small-volume samples for a variety of assays. The researchers showed the device can help capture single cells from a mix, isolate rare cells and count cells based on cell types.The low cost of the chips could democratize diagnostics similar to how low-cost sequencing created a revolution in health care and personalized medicine, Davis said. Inexpensive sequencing technology allows clinicians to sequence tumor DNA to identify specific mutations and recommend personalized treatment plans. In the same way, the lab on a chip has the potential to diagnose cancer early by detecting tumor cells that circulate in the bloodstream.

Via: Stanford Medicine

Tune Your String Instruments Perfectly With Roadie Tuner

Roadie Tuner is a dream come true for guitarists! The automatic ring tuner, that is quick, easy to use, and three times more accurate than the human ear, is dedicated to beginner guitarists who are almost always frustrated with not knowing how to tune their guitar. This ultimate musician’s tool works on all string instrument to fine tune them in seconds, including bass guitars.

Roadie Tuner pairs with a free app on your smartphone, iPod or tablet through Bluetooth 4.0 smart. All the audio processing happens on the smartphone which sends tuning commands to Roadie. You can choose from a list of alternate tunings or you can easily create your own.

You can set up a profile for your instrument in Roadie Tuner app and it will track its maintenance history. Thus, it will inform you of the quality of your strings and recommend restringing as soon as the tone quality deteriorates.

Roadie tuner team had just launched their second version of this amazing product, Roadie 2. The new about this tuner the fact that it is  fully standalone and uses vibration detection to tune in even the noisiest of environments. Thus, no need to be paired with a mobile app anymore to tune your instruments.

Below are Roadie 2 technical specifications:

  • Metallic gearbox: Built with a 380:1 gear ratio motor that insures Roadie 2 will turn those rusty pegs for you. The motor can turn in micro-movements to achieve unparalleled precision.
  • Battery:Powered by a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery (included). Lasts 1 month on a single charge. Includes a battery indicator to show you how much juice is left.
  • USB-C: With a charging cable included.
  • Built-in user interface: For easy selection of instruments and tunings.
  • Bluetooth 4.0 low energy
  • Haptic feedback: When a string is in tune, Roadie will give you a little shake to move on to the next string.
  • OLED screen Invisible when off, lights up beautifully as soon as you turn Roadie 2 on.
  • Knob interface: Intuitive and fast to scroll through your instruments and tunings.
  • Weight: Product weight: 3.2 ounces. Shipping weight: 9.9 ounces.
  • Product dimensions: 3.4 x 3.0 x 1.0 inches.
  • Material / Color:Plastic / Black.

“I think the concept is fantastic and I would be thrilled to have one of these because I actually play twelve string guitars. You don’t know how bloody difficult it is to keep a twelve string in tune” – Spike Edney, Queen

More details about extra features within the Roadie Tuner app, the product versions and more are available at the Kickstarter campaign the team had launched 2 days ago. Within only 3 hours, the campaign had achieved its goal and it is already 300% funded. Early bird offers still has 8 hours to go, you can pre-order your own Roadie for $79! Also check out the official website for more information.

Carbon Introduces SpeedCell System & Bigger 3D Printers

Since 2013, the additive manufacturing startup Carbon had altered the 3D printing industry. Carbon produced its industry-changing M1 3D printer and CLIP 3D printing technology, bringing never-before-seen printing speed and end-use-quality polymer parts to the market.

Today Carbon is on a mission to help manufacturers and designers cut their costs, waste less energy and materials while speeding up the time it takes to get from concept to product on the market. The company released its ‘SpeedCell’ system, a new service aimed at contract manufacturers, and other high volume manufacturing businesses.

SpeedCell is a system of securely connected products designed to upend traditional methods of manufacturing. The first components of the SpeedCell include two new products that provide a powerful solution for additive manufacturing at scale: The M2 3D printer, and the Smart Part Washer.

The Carbon M2, with a build volume of 190 x 118 x 326 mm, is twice the size of the M1,  and it enables the printing of larger parts or more parts per build with the same 75 µm resolution and isotropic quality as Carbon’s pioneering M1 printer.

The Smart Part Washer is a novel machine that automatically cleans parts in a fast, repeatable, environmentally friendly and part-specific manner.

The SpeedCell was developed as a response to the needs of Carbon’s customers and strategic partners, including BMW Group and General Electric. Fast Radius, in partnership with UPS, are new Carbon customers and are among Carbon’s SpeedCell launch partners. Additional launch partners include Dinsmore and Associates, Sculpteo, Primary Manufacturing, and The Technology House.

SpeedCell is offered in two configurations:

  • Design SpeedCell: couples one M Series printer with a Smart Part Washer, allowing product designers and engineers to iterate on product concepts with the confidence that their product can be turned into real parts at any volume.
  • Production SpeedCell: specifically designed for industrial manufacturing applications, pairs multiple production floor compatible M2 printers with a Smart Part Washer.

For our customers, this means that their product development cycles no longer need to include the antiquated traditional manufacturing process steps of designing, prototyping, tooling, and then production. Instead, products can be designed and engineered on a platform that is also the means of production, eliminating prototyping and tooling steps. This dis-intermediation is at the core of Carbon’s role in accelerating the much-anticipated digital revolution in manufacturing.

~ Said Dr. Joseph DeSimone, co-founder and CEO of Carbon.

According to Carbon, the combination of CLIP technology and the SpeedCell system allows for the production of previously impossible designs, such as complex assemblies combined into a single part, or lattices that can’t be produced by milling or molding. It also minimizes the tooling and prototyping stages of the design process and enables manufacturers to go directly to end-stage production.

SpeedCell is being marketed with the same subscription model that Carbon used for the M1, with prices as following for 3 years minimum term:

  • M1: $40,000 per year
  • M2: $50,000 per year
  • Smart Part Washer: $10,000 per year
  • SpeedCell Bundle (available until the end of 2017): Includes a free Smart Part Washer with three or more M Series printers

Carbon displayedthe SpeedCell at the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) conference that took place in Chicago from March 19 to 23.

For further information, visit the official blog of launching the SpeedCell. You can also view an interview with Dr. Joseph DeSimone, co-founder and CEO of Carbon, about the new system at 3dprint.com.

10-bit resolution, 70-300 MHz, touchscreen scope priced from €1250

by Graham Prophet @ edn-europe.com:

Rohde & Schwarz recently announced its RTB2000 entry-level oscilloscope, aimed at education, R&D and manufacturing. With an starting price of €1,250, the company says it provides performance previously only available in higher priced oscilloscopes.

10-bit resolution, 70-300 MHz, touchscreen scope priced from €1250 – [Link]

Snapmaker, The Modular & Multi-Functional 3D Printer

Snapmaker is a Kickstarter project with a lofty goal: to be the holy trinity for at-home makers by using detachable modules to convert between a 3D printer, a CNC carver, and a laser engraver. In retrospect, the idea seems almost obvious. All three devices need three-axis motors to work: so why not combine them into one?

But Snapmaker doesn’t just stand out for its modular nature — it’s also impressively cheap. The default Snapmaker costs $299 on Kickstarter, and includes just the 3D printer. The laser engraver and CNC modules then each cost $75, making the entire package cost $449 — which would be a pretty good price for just one of these devices, let alone all three.

Snapmaker also claims that it’s offering a fairly high-quality printer for the price, with an “all-metal” construction and 3.2-inch color touchscreen. When it comes to actual specifications, the 3D printing module can print items up to 125 x 125 x 125mm in size at a resolution of 50–300 microns. When it comes to engraving, the laser module offers a 500mW beam that can work with wood, bamboo, leather, plastic, fabric, and paper. And the CNC module can carve wood, acrylic, and PCB at speeds between 2,000 and 7,000 RPM.

Obviously, these are some pretty big promises to be making, especially at the relatively low price point that Snapmaker sells for. And as a first time, crowdfunded project from a new company that has yet to ship a product before, the burden is on Snapmaker to show that they can actually deliver. And while the company has posted videos to YouTube demonstrating the various modules in action, at the price that Snapmaker is selling, it’s possible the whole thing is too good to be true.

The crowdfunding campaign still has 35 days to go, and is already 130% funded! Check out the technical details at the official website.

Source: The Verge

ICP12 USBSTICK, A New Tool for Signals Control & Monitoring

iCircuit Technologies had produced the iCP12 usbStick, a mini size 28 pin USB PIC IO development board and a good tool for signal monitoring (as oscilloscope), data acquisition and circuit troubleshooting at 1mSec/Samples period.

The iCP12 usbStick is a PIC18F2550 based USB development board that comes preloaded with Microchip’s USB HID bootloader which allows users to upload an application firmware directly through a PC’s USB port without any external programmer. It provides access to its I/O pins through 0.1″ pitch headers. A slide switch is also provided on board to select the operation of the board in Bootloader or Normal mode.

The features of iCP12 are listed as following:

  • Mini size, easy interfacing, high performance and user friendly device
  • Used with PIC18F2553 28-Pin Flash USB PIC MCU
  • Excellent flexibility that allows user to expand the board with plug and play modules
  • Peripheral Features:
    • 13x IO Port (6x 12bit ADC pins, 2x 10 bit PWM/Freq/DAC pins)
    • Serial port emulation (UART Baud Rates: 300 bps to 115.2 kbps)
    • Supported operating systems (32bit/64bit): Windows XP ,Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Linux, Mac OS X and Raspberry Pi
    • Maximum Voltage: 5Vdc
    • 100mA current output at VDD pin with over-current protection
    • 20MHz oscillator
    • Green LED – power on indicator
    • 2x LEDs (Green, Red) – status indicator
    • ICSP Connector – on-board PIC programming
    • Switch Mode Selection – Boot or Normal mode

The iCP12 usbStick board is shipped with a preloaded data acquisition firmware that emulates as a virtual COM port to PC. Thereafter, the communication between the PC and usbStick is serial. The firmware also supports basic I/O control and data logging feature. They provide a PC application named SmartDAQ that is specially developed to communicate with the usbStick and control its I/O pins, PWM outputs, and record ADC inputs.

SmartDAQ has a very friendly GUI with real-time waveform displays for 6 analog input channels. The time and voltage axes scales are adjustable. SmartDAQ can log the ADC data in both text and graphic form concurrently. One can utilize this feature to construct a low-cost data acquisition system for monitoring multiple analog sensor outputs such as temperature, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetic field sensor, etc.

SmartDAQ v1.3 Features:

  • Sampling channel: 6x Analogs (12bits ADC/1mV Resolution) + 7x Digitals (Input/Output)
  • Maximum Sampling rate: 1KHz or 1mSec/Samples
  • Sampling voltage: 0V – 5V (scalable graph) at 5mV Resolution
  • Sampling period:
  • mSec: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500
  • Sec: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30
  • Min: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, 60
  • Trigger Mode: Larger [>], Smaller [<], Positive edge [↑], Negative edge [↓]
  • Sampling Mode: Continuous, Single
  • Logging Function:
  • Save Format: Text, Graphic, Both
  • Start Time: Normal, Once Trigger, 24-Hour Clock (Auto Run)
  • End Time: Unlimited, Data Size, 24-Hour Clock (Auto Stop)
  • Recorded Data format: Graphic | text | excel

iCP12 is available with the PIC18F2550 for $15, and with the PIC18F2553 for $24.5. You can order it through the official page where you can also get more details about iCP12 and its source files.

You can also see this product preview to know more about its functionality.

Easy ARM Programming With 1Bitsy & Black Magic Probe

1 Bit Squared executes hardware and software design, development and manufacturing for a wide range of micro to nano UAV systems available on the market: from quadcopters to multicopters as well as airplanes, helicopters and transitioning vehicles. A Kickstarter campaign was launched to unveil  the new Black Magic Probe V2.1 with its companion demo platform 1Bitsy V1.0.

The Black Magic Probe is a JTAG and SWD Adapter used for programming and debugging ARM Cortex MCUs. It’s the best friend of any ARM microcontroller developer. It works like a brain tap, it allows you to inspect and affect any aspect of the program you are running on your 1Bitsy without having to add special code. 1Bitsy is a user friendly open-source ARM Cortex-M4F Development Platform.

Check the campaign video to know more about the new products.

The Plug & Play JTAG/SWD ARM debugger features:

  • On board implementation of JTAG (Joint Test Access Group) protocol
  • On board implementation of the SWD (Serial Wire Debug) protocol
  • High speed data interface to the Device Under Test 4.5MBit
  • On board implementation of the GNU Debugger Server protocol (no need for OpenOCD) works with stock arm-none-eabi-gdb (no patches or plugins needed)
  • Automatic detection of the Device Under Test (no need for config files)
  • Frontend Level shifter. Usable with targets that run on voltages as low as 1.7V and as high as 5V.

In efforts to demystify ARM programming, you are now able to do the following applications while using a Black Magic Probe:

  • Interrupt program
  • Inspect and modify registers and variables
  • Watch variables (the program gets interrupted and reports a variable value change)
  • Breakpoints (you can set a point in your code that will cause the program to stop as soon as it is reached)
  • Call stack and backtrace (you can see what functions, with which parameters brought us to the current point and state of the program)
  • Disassembly (see the machine code and find out exactly what your program is doing)
  • Dump memory (download the RAM and/or flash content to a file)

1Betsy & Black Magic was available as an early bird combo for $65. The campaign has exceeded its $10,000 goal with $47,841 and should be delivering rewards now. More technical details can be reached at the campaign and the official website.

Accessible Microfluidics Devices With Ultimaker

Researchers at Cardiff University use 3D printing to create small devices that move small volumes of fluid and are used in various areas of research. 3D printing makes it possible to share the devices with other researchers, making the study of microfluidics more accessible to a wider audience. The 3D printed devices offer a cost-effective alternative to the traditional ones, which are expensive and require specialized skills and equipment. As technology advances and more materials become available, the application of 3D printing in microfluidics research continues to grow.

Microfluidics research

Microfluidic devices are small-scale circuits that are used to study the behavior of fluids in small volumes. The devices consist of small tubes that deliver small volumes of fluid to different sensors and other actuators in the circuit. Conceptually, they can be compared to plumbing systems that are reduced in size, onto a chip. The techniques used to create these microfluidic devices largely coincide with techniques used in the microelectronics industry to make the electronic chips in our computers and phones.

Microfluidic devices are used to make, for example, artificial cells for pharmaceuticals development, nuclear fusion targets for fusion energy production, and alginate capsules with neuronal stem cells inside to transplant into people with damaged spinal cords.

Traditionally, making these microfluidic devices was an expensive, lengthy and sophisticated process, requiring different types of expertise and using specialized equipment. The adoption of 3D printing significantly sped up this process, made it a lot cheaper, and allowed for the devices to be made on the spot in the research lab.

Microfluidics research studies the behavior of small volumes of fluid – Source: Ultimaker

3D printing microfluidic devices

Using their Ultimakers, researchers at Cardiff University now 3D print the microfluidic devices they use in their studies. The 3D printed devices are based on a modular system that consists of standard building blocks that are assembled together. Starting off with a number of standard components (tubings, junctions, etc.), the research team developed different types of microfluidic systems and used those designs to make a modular system that any other researcher can use to make their own microfluidic devices.

3D printing gives rise to significant cost savings over the traditional methods and allows for rapid iterations on the design of the microfluidic devices. Since the designs can easily be shared with researchers in different locations, microfluidics research becomes accessible to other researchers as well. As David Barrow, Research Professor at Cardiff University, explains:

The simple purchase of a 3D printer means that as long as one is able to draw out an object in a suitable file format, using a wide range of available software tools, it is a relatively easy thing to print the object, and indeed make many revisions, relatively rapidly.
Alex Morgan, Research Associate at Cardiff University, points out that other researchers previously discounted the use of 3D printing to create microfluidic devices as they were non-transparent and often leaked. By optimizing the print settings, however, Alex found that by printing in 50-micron layers and at a print speed of 30mm a minute, devices can be printed that are both transparent and water-tight. The research group’s recent publication explains how to do this.
After printing, the different parts of the microfluidic device are assembled – Source: Ultimaker

3D printing in research

3D printing makes it possible to share the designs of microfluidic devices with other researchers so that they can print them out in their own lab, perform their tests and report back the results. In this way, microfluidics becomes accessible for other researchers that otherwise may not be using it.

As the 3D printing industry evolves, applications of 3D printing in research continue to grow. As Oliver Castell, Group leader for Membrane Biophysics and Engineering explains, as the diversity of available materials increases and the precision of the machines improves, it becomes possible to incorporate not only microfluidics but also optical and electronic components in one device. This will yield multi-functional devices made from different materials.

The role of 3D printing in research is expanding with these technological advancements. Take a look at Ultimaker’s explore pages for more applications of 3D printing in research.

Source: Ultimaker

PCB-Investigator Now Supports Browser-Based PCB Design Review

PCB-Investigator is a CAD software developed by EasyLogix for circuit board design and PCB quality assurance. Its latest version came earlier in February with a new browser interface that enables electronics assemblers to do PCB review processes without the need for local installation.

By using the ODB++ data format, PCB-Investigator creates a common database, which documents every change, and is accessible to everyone involved in the development, quality assurance and production process. With the software’s comprehensive visualization, export and import capabilities, all layout reviews are easier. Errors can be fixed earlier and prototypes can be reduced. Further improvements in version 8.0 are an improved component library with editor capability as well as clearance and creepage distance measurement.

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HPS140MK2, The New Handheld Oscilloscope

Velleman Inc., a producer and a distributor of electronics, has produced a new handheld oscilloscope with the same power of its HPS140, but with smaller size and modern design.

HPS140MK2 is a 11.4 x 6.8 x 2.2 cm versatile component tester that fits in your pocket. This small oscilloscope features a real time 40 MS/s sampling rate with up to 10 MHz bandwidth and 0.1 mV sensitivity.

HPS140MK2 features:

  • 40 Mega samples/sec in real time
  • Bandwidth up to 10 MHz
  • Full auto range option
  • Sensitivity down to 0.1 mV
  • Signal markers for amplitude and time
  • Memory hold function
  • Direct audio power measurement

The device is powered by 4 AAA batteries. On the front panel you can find four buttons; menu, up, down, and hold. The display is used to menu options and received signal. On the top side you will find an on/off switch and a BNC input connector that can accept maximum input of 100Vp.On the bottom side there is an X10 probe test signal.

Specifications:

  • Bandwidth: up to 10 MHz (-3dB or -4dB at selected ranges)
  • Input range: 1 mV to 20 V / division in 14 steps
  • Input coupling: DC, AC and GND
  • Real-time sample rate up to 40 MS/s
  • AD resolution: 8 bits
  • Time base: 250 ns to 1 h per division
  • Auto set-up function (or manual)
  • Probe x10 readout option
  • Readouts: DC, AC + DC,True RMS, dBm, Vpp, Min-Max. (±2.5%)
  • Audio power measurement from 2 to 32 ohms
  • Hold & store function
  • Time and voltage markers readout
  • Max. 100 Vp AC + DC
  • Monochrome OLED
  • Power supply: 4 x 1.5 V AAA batteries (not incl.)
  • Operating time: up to 8 hours on quality Alkaline batteries
  • Dimensions: 114 x 68 x 22 mm
  • Weight: 166 gr
  • Current consumption: max. 150 mA

The product is available for $150 on Velleman store. Additional parts will be available soon including component tester ‘HPS141’ to receive all useful information about resistors, transistors, diodes and more, including their pin out identification, and the ‘HPSP1’ protective pouch.