PCR machines are too expensive for biologists who want to build their own labs. A couple of weeks ago I struck on a publication by Brian Blais on the DIYbio forum detailing a working PCR machine that he built in 2002 using only a light bulb and a steel pot. Oddly no one else has expounded on this idea, so I decided to build a better prototype with an arduino and only products available from Home Depot and Radio Shack.

In the end it cost me less than $50 to build this machine (including the $30 arduino). There are about a hundred different ways I could think of improving upon my build, so this is only a start. I’ll be sending it off to GenSpace in the next week to undergo some serious testing, but until then you can see the details of the build on this site:


Check it out and let me know what you think.

Here is a video explaining the project:

Light Bulb PCR from Russell Durrett on Vimeo.

One Response to “Introducing the Light Bulb PCR”

  1. charlie said

    This is excellent!

    I’ve been thinking of doing something like this to make an incubator that I could program the temperature time course for complex incubation of yogurt and other multi-temp incubations.

    But I really don’t know much about electronics.

    Basically it’s the same principle, except doing it in a styrofoam cooler instead (and the cooler-light bulb incubator idea from Art Sci Bangalore).

    The irony is that incandescent bulbs are going extinct. Soon. What will we use then?

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