Tag: DIY

DIY "Batcopter" Flies with Bats, Scares the Pants Off Them For Science

By Veronique Greenwood | June 17, 2011 3:14 pm


Batcopter flying in bat swarm (half-speed) from Kenn Sebesta on Vimeo.

When DIY robotics and the single-minded persistence of scientists intersect, you get things like the Batcopter. This four-propellered hovering boxspring was designed by Boston University researchers to infiltrate flocks of millions of bats as they bob and weave, recording data about how they manage to avoid colliding while simultaneously (we are confident) scaring the bejeezus out of them.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
MORE ABOUT: bats, DIY, open source, robotics, UAV

DIY Medicine: Motivated Engineer Designs His Own Heart Implant

By Patrick Morgan | January 25, 2011 5:25 pm

What to you do if a doctor says your heart’s aortic root had ballooned to nearly two inches, and that a heart attack is imminent unless you receive a mechanical valve–a fix that requires blood-thinning drugs for the rest of one’s life? Easy–just invent your own heart implant.

This was the scenario facing Tal Golesworthy in 2000. An engineer from Tewkesbury, England, Golesworthy has the same tissue disorder that afflicts over 12,000 people in the UK: Marfan syndrome. But Golesworthy decided that the valve wasn’t his only option. As The Engineer reports:

What excited him was the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer-aided design (CAD). He believed that by combining these technologies with rapid prototyping (RP) techniques he could manufacture a tailor-made support that would act as an internal bandage to keep his aorta in place…. “It seemed to me to be pretty obvious that you could scan the heart structure, model it with a CAD routine, then use RP to create a former on which to manufacture a device,” explained Golesworthy. “In a sense, conceptually, it was very simple to do. Actually engineering that was significantly more complex.”

The main difficulty was that the scanners had trouble imaging his beating heart, and since you can’t tell your heart to “hold still” for the camera, Golesworthy did the next best thing: he created multiple images of his heart at the same cardiac cycle. With CAD helping him design the implant, the next obstacle was how to translate a digital design to a workable heart implant. As The Engineer reports:

The team looked at a number of different processes, such as 3D embroidery, but ended up using a standard medical polymer, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in a textile solution that allowed them to form a mesh directly onto the former. The mesh weighed less than 5g, was an exact fit for the ascending aorta and could be sutured into place by the surgeon. The process, from proposal to final product, took just under two years.

All the while, Golesworthy was working against the clock, knowing that a heart attack could rear its head at any point. From The Engineer:

“My aorta was dilating all through that period,” said Golesworthy. “When you’ve got the scalpel of Damocles hanging over your sternum, it motivates you into making things happen and so they do…”

And they did. Golesworthy created his implant and surgeons implanted it into his heart in 2004. Since then 23 other patients have had the same surgery, and the implant has the potential to become the standard for valve-surgery in the coming years–all thanks to a man who could have died from a big heart, but instead decided to share it.

Related Content:
DISCOVER: Young at Heart
DISCOVER: Can Stem Cells Save Dying Hearts?
DISCOVER: Vital Signs
80beats: Bill Clinton Got 2 Stents. What’s a Stent? Are They Overused?
80beats: Dick Cheney Goes to the Hospital with New Heart Problems

Image: flickr /Vintage Collective

How to Build a Whizbang Chicken Plucker From a Washing Machine

By Brett Israel | November 17, 2009 1:26 pm

chicken-plucker-webWith Turkey Day right around the corner, you don’t want to be caught with an unplucked bird. And who has the money to buy a plucker?

The solution? Build a chicken plucker out of your washing machine!

From the Annals of Improbable Research:

A Whizbang plucker will pick the feathers off chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese in a matter of seconds. Every component needed to make the machine is thoroughly discussed and the construction process is carefully detailed, step by step. There are 62 clear drawings…. Commercial tub pluckers cost $2,000+ but this book tells the reader how to build a comparable unit for $500 or less.

A bizarre trend of DIY chicken plucker videos has emerged on YouTube. Must be the tough economy. WARNING: If you’ve never seen a chicken plucked, it may seem a little disturbing. The chicken is already dead, but still…

Related Content:
Discoblog: How to Turn a Papasan Chair Into a Solar Cooker
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Discoblog: The Secret to Why French Fries Smell So Good: Ironing Boards?

Image: Whizbang Books

Amateur Geneticists Biohack From Home

By Nina Bai | December 31, 2008 7:48 pm

biohackerThe latest in DIY involves playing around with DNA.  Toying with circuit boards and Python algorithms in basements and garages is so passé. The new crop of amateur tinkerers—self-pronounced “biohackers”—are cooking up genetics experiments and trying to reprogram life itself.  Could the biotech equivalent of Apple or Google, both of which were born in garages, emerge from someone’s home-made lab?

Meredith L. Patterson of San Francisco, who is a computer programmer by day, has set up a make-shift bio lab in her dining room.  She’s trying to create a genetically modified yogurt bacteria that will glow green to signal melamine contamination. She constructed a gel electrophoresis chamber for $25 and purchased some green fluorescent jellyfish protein from a bio supply company for less than $100. Step-by-step instructions for genetic transformation experiments were only a Google search away.  With the relative simplicity and low-cost of basic DNA experiments, it may not be long before kids start asking for electrophoresis kits instead of microscopes.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

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