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Equipment Mastery & Hacks

How to Care for Your pH Meter

Is there anything more tedious than pH-ing a solution? Standing there adjusting the pH of your buffer, adding acid or alkali drop by drop until you get to the right pH… With pH-ing being so boring, it’s in our best interests to keep the equipment in good working order so that we needn’t fuss over…

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10 Tips for Pipetting Perfection

Several years ago as a freshman in a research lab, the very first project I received was to pipette incremental micro-volumes of H2O onto a piece of parafilm. Boring! Weighing the liquid on parafilm and comparing the weight between 10 replicates for each micro-volume continued for a week before I touched anything else in that…

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Infrared Thermometers as Infrared Laser Detectors

I recently read an article on WIRED about an optics experiment cooked up by the scientists at NIST to allow office workers to test for potentially dangerous infrared (IR) leakage by inexpensive laser pointers. Like many who read it, I wasted no time attempting to replicate their experiment on my desk. (I’m not sure why…

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Pimp your Microcentrifuge

Microcentrifuges are pretty much the epitome of efficiency, but I have a couple of suggestions that may make using this instrument even easier. Divide by Three Not only is the number of tubes a microcentrifuge can hold divisible by two, but almost always by three as well. How does this help you? If you have…

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Respect the Ultra

If a random sampling of my hallway is any indication, then half of you don’t think too much of using a ultracentrifuge, while the other half of you are scared to death of it. I think the best approach is right in between these two perspectives: have a healthy respect for the ultra. Here are…

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eBay – The other source of lab equipment

While almost all of you are probably familiar with the power of eBay to bring you everything from concert tickets to electronics to your very own Batmobile, you may not have realized that the world’s largest garage sale also has quite a collection of laboratory equipment. I’ve been turning to this source for equipment for…

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Lab Stuff I wish I could use in my kitchen

We recently had a feature from Jode on everyday equipment that you can use in the lab, but what about the other way around? Do you ever take a look at what you’re doing in the lab and think, “Wow, this would really come in handy at home?” Here are a few of the things…

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How to Build a Plate Centrifuge for $25

I recently visited a lab that had a salad spinner on their lab bench and at first I wondered if they were putting together a salad lunch there but when I took a peek I got a nice surprise. It turns out that the salad spinner was actually a bench top, “minifuge” version of a…

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Lab Hacks: Lab equipment from the hardware store

While almost every lab has a small toolbox with some screwdrivers, pliers, and such, here are some tools that may not have obvious utility at the bench, but could make your life easier. A Butane Torch If your OCD is as bad as mine, then watching a bubble flow out of the flask onto the…

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RPM Does Not Equal RCF

RPM and RCF are two units that can be used to describe the speed of a centrifuge. Although they may look similar, they are oh-so-different and confusing them has resulted a disastrous end to many an experiment. So let’s set it out in black and white to make sure you don’t succumb to the same…

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Low-Tech lab gadgets and solutions: My All Time Favs

For the record, as well as loving Red Dwarf, I’m a huge fan of MacGyver, the TV secret agent who could build any device from everyday items found in the room. You name it…he could build it in 60 seconds or less using only the chewing gum and dental floss found in his pocket, escape…

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