In order to integrate best practices for open hardware design within our protocols, we spoke to Tobias Wenzel, co-founder of DocuBricks; a website for high quality open source documentation, funded by the OpenPlant program. See what we discussed in the interview:
How we integrated this into our design:
Neglect of safety features in open source protocols - as well as the features already included in our designs from community lab feedback, such as contained electrical connections and safety shields, we included instructions on how users can conduct isolated safety checks when building our hardware. For example, underwater pressure testing of the gun and checking of electrical circuits.
Encouragement of designers to document their hardware properly - in addition to our own protocols, we have included links on our wiki to DocuBricks and an easy-to-follow checklist of components for anyone considering writing their own open source protocol.
Adaptability of our design for different end users - including alternative supplier links for parts, where possible, to suit international users of the hardware and also providing an alternative in case the primarily-suggested supplier is out of stock.
Used open source software when designing CAD files for parts of the gene gun and growth facility, so these files can be downloaded and customised by anyone.
Designing for the DIY Bio Community
In order to best understand the requirements for our hardware, we contacted community labs from around the world to inform them about our project and find out the features they wanted to see in our designs.
We contacted the labs listed in the table below, asking about their current experience with plant synthetic biology, existing laboratory resources and technical experience in building hardware. This was to ensure we were creating accessible designs, both financially and in their technical demands for construction, that would definitely fulfill a real need for these groups.
The full survey and information about our project sent to these labs can be seen here.
|Organisation||Contact||Feedback/Comments||Comments integrated into project design|
|The Lab, LA's Hub for Citizen Science and DIYBio||Cory Tobin||Wide range of technical skills in their hackspace and interest in DIY bio hardware, but strong budget constraints on building devices.
Full survey response download
|Ensuring low cost of designs and thorough documentation of all the parts used|
|London BioHackspace<||Tom Hodder||Previous experience of building open source designs, such as openPump syringe, and strong interest in building our designs.
Full survey response download
|Ensuring low cost of designs (below 500 GDP specifically for the gene gun), and consumables required for these|
|bioCURIOUS, Silicon Valley||Jay Hanson||Previously built their own DIY gene gun and have published this at their website||Need for achieving pressure >100 psi in order to penetrate plant cells (from their own testing experience)|
|Bioflux Society, Berlin||Alessandro Volpato||Interest in receiving our design and lab protocols, and in working with microalgae||Integrating more safety features into the design, and checking these with thorough pressure testing|