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Hardware Hacking Open Source Science Build

An $80 Open Source Chemical Analyzer 51

An anonymous reader writes "A group of electrical engineering students at UCSB teamed up with some chemists and built an $80 gadget that can check water for arsenic, measure the level of vitamin C in orange juice, and also do simple DNA biosensor tests. The electronics in a blood sugar meter could do all of those things, but their firmware isn't easily hackable. All of the circuit schematics, gerber files, and software for this project are available on their project website. Another team at Denver Metro College is working to improve upon their design. Eventually, it could be used as a teaching tool in chemistry classrooms, or possibly to do blood and water tests in developing countries."
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An $80 Open Source Chemical Analyzer

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  • by ramk13 ( 570633 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @03:48AM (#37395782)

    What this group should get credit for is open sourcing a cheap design.

    The chemistry and circuit design involved are well-established and taught at the undergraduate level. You can easily find schematics for potentiostats online. It's reaching to say that they've built an $80 chemical analyzer, because a lot of prep work and specialized electrodes (platinum!) are needed to run some of these analyses. This is a cheap lab instrument, not something you take out in the field to make measurements. Ruggedizing and standardizing reagent solutions are what would make a field instrument much more expensive.

    I'd bet the group didn't make an exaggerated claim, it's the unfortunate nature of science reporting.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @07:43AM (#37397120) Journal

    It's not an "obscure computer" It's the very computer you're still typing on

    ^h = control key + h. The "trick" you probably don't know is that control + character combos are shorthand for ascii control characters. Specifically, the characters a-z correspond to 1-26, and a few off the surrounding keys also map to control characters (there are 32 total control characters)

    You will find that, in windows programs like Word, etc, many or all of the combos are trapped, and made to do other things that may be more useful to the user, but in, say, a command window, the ones that make sense there will do what they always did.

    It's not relevant to many of your current tasks, but it's not so far obscure that you couldn't even experience it any more. In fact, I use about ten of them every day working with .. an obscure, proprietary program needed for work that apparently was implemented as a terminal program. For instance, It turns out that u,d,l,and r map to the same ascii control characters as the up, down, left, and right arrow keys, and it happens that I hate moving my hands off of the home row if possible.

    And.. you know what.. forget everything. It looks like you meant to say, "obscure computer trick," which is pretty true at this point.

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