DIY Drugs

April 16th, 2012 | Posted by paul in DIY/Maker - (Comments Off on DIY Drugs)

From University of Glasgow:

A new 3D printing process developed at the University of Glasgow could revolutionise the way scientists, doctors and even the general public create chemical products.

Professor Lee Cronin, Gardiner Chair of Chemistry at the University, believes his research could lead to the development of home chemical fabricators which consumers could use to design and create medicine at home.

A new research paper, published in the journal Nature Chemistry, outlines how the process has been proven to work. Using a commercially-available 3D printer operated by open-source computer-aided design software, Professor Cronin and his team have built what they call ‘reactionware’, special vessels for chemical reactions which are made from a polymer gel which sets at room temperature.

By adding other chemicals to the gel deposited by the printer, the team have been able to make the vessel itself part of the reaction process. While this is common in large-scale chemical engineering, the development of reactionware makes it possible for the first time for custom vessels to be fabricated on a laboratory scale.




LSG (Graphene) flexible capacitor

A super advanced technology breakthrough using  a $50 DVD-Burner.

Courtesy Extreme Tech:

A team of international researchers have created graphene supercapacitors using a LightScribe DVD burner. These capacitors are both highly flexible and have energy and power densities far beyond existing electrochemical capacitors, possibly within reach of conventional lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries.

The team, which was led by Richard Kaner of UCLA, started by smearing graphite oxide — a cheap and very easily produced material — films on blank DVDs. These discs are then placed in a LightScribe drive (a consumer-oriented piece of gear that costs less than $50), where a 780nm infrared laser reduces the graphite oxide to pure graphene. The laser-scribed graphene (LSG) is peeled off and placed on a flexible substrate, and then cut into slices to become the electrodes. Two electrodes are sandwiched together with a layer of electrolyte in the middle — and voila, a high-density electrochemical capacitor, or supercapacitor as they’re more popularly known.

Now, beyond the novel manufacturing process — the scientists are confident it can be scaled for commercial applications, incidentally — the main thing about LSG capacitors is that they have very desirable energy and power characteristics. Power-wise, LSG supercapacitors are capable of discharging at 20 watts per cm3, some 20 times higher than standard activated carbon capacitors, and three orders of magnitude higher than lithium-ion batteries. Energy-wise, we’re talking about 1.36 milliwatt-hours per cm3, about twice the density of activated carbon, and comparable to a high-power lithium-ion battery.

These characteristics stem from the fact that graphene is the most conductive material known to man — the LSG produced by the scientists showed a conductivity of 1738 siemens per meter (yes, that’s a real unit), compared to just 100 siemens for activated carbon. The performance of capacitors is almost entirely reliant on the surface area of the electrodes, so it’s massively helpful that one gram of LSG has a surface area of 1520 square meters (a third of an acre). As previously mentioned, LSG capacitors are highly flexible, too, with no effect on its performance (pictured right).

These graphene supercapacitors could really change the technology landscape. While computing power roughly doubles every 18 months, battery technology is almost at a standstill. Supercapacitors, which suffer virtually zero degradation over 10,000 cycles or more, have been cited as a possible replacement for low-energy devices, such as smartphones. With their huge power density, supercapacitors could also revolutionize electric vehicles, where huge lithium-ion batteries really struggle to strike a balance between mileage, acceleration, and longevity. It’s also worth noting, however, that lithium-ion batteries themselves have had their capacity increased by 10 times thanks to the addition of graphene. Either way, then, graphene seems like it will play a major role in the future of electronics.



Open Source Cars

March 16th, 2012 | Posted by paul in DIY/Maker - (0 Comments)




Wikispeed Roadster

There’s a manufacturing revolution going on that is making it possible to produce most of what we currently buy from the global production system (multi-national companies, like Walmart, and China) locally, within our own communities.  That even includes products as larger and complex as cars.

Wikispeed is making an open source car.

Wikispeed is an online car company with a volunteer team of designers, engineers, and enthusiasts all over the world.  Recently, this team jointly designed a complete car in a stunningly quick three months that:

  • gets high performance,
  • achieves 100 miles per gallon mileage,
  • meets all US safety standards,
  • uses modular construction (so that all parts and subsystems can be easily replaced).

If you want to take on the challenge of building this car in your town, check out their technical videos.

I want to point out that modular construction means that the most difficult repairs could be fixed in less than 10 minutes. No more devastating $2000 mechanic bills.  You simply plop the part out, and put the new one in. This is exactly how airplanes are built – to be very easy and fast to repair. Cars on the other hand are made intentionally difficult to fix in order to maintain the Auto industry/auto mechanic money racket. No more planned obsolesence either. There open-sourced cars can be made to last indefinitely.  Imagine that, one and only car purchase, and should you get bored with it, upgrade it, or swap it out. What this means is a lot less stress on the planet, less materials consumed, and far less energy.

For our purposes, it’s important to understand that this design can be made in a relatively small, local “factory.”  A factory that employs craftspeople you know.  A factory that you can visit.  A factory where it may be possible to participate in the manufacturing process. Here’s a video of one Joe Justice, one of the team leaders, talking about how they did it:


So how it is possible to build an awesome 100mpg street legal and beautiful car in three months?  Scrum:

The Scrum Framework in 30 Seconds

  • product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog.
  • During sprint planning, the team pulls a small chunk from the top of that wishlist, a sprint backlog, and decides how to implement those pieces.
  • The team has a certain amount of time, a sprint, to complete its work – usually two to four weeks – but meets each day to assess its progress (daily scrum).
  • Along the way, the ScrumMaster keeps the team focused on its goal.
  • At the end of the sprint, the work should be potentially shippable, as in ready to hand to a customer, put on a store shelf, or show to a stakeholder.
  • The sprint ends with a sprint review and retrospective.
  • As the next sprint begins, the team chooses another chunk of the product backlog and begins working again.
For more information see Wikipedia entry on Scrum, and the Scrum Alliance.

Wikispeed has recently inked an agreement with the people over at innovative Open Source Ecology.

Local Motors is also working on their own open-sourced, locally manufactured automobile.

[Source:  Resilient Communities]


Shift From Consumers to Producers

January 7th, 2004 | Posted by paul in DIY/Maker - (0 Comments)

Doc Searls makes an interesting comment, one that I have believed would happen increasingly as cheaper, smarter, more user-friendly software hits the market. It’s becoming easier and cheaper for anyone, assuming their motivated, to create their own music, movies and news (blogs), etc. We are seeing a shift from the consumer being transformed into producers, and as Doc Searls says this means a freer, bigger, more diverse and healthy marketplace for all of us.

I predict that within the next decade, we’ll also start to see this same type of shift happen in the manufacturing center, with smaller groups and individuals become the chief innovators, empowered by desktop manufacturing as it gets cheaper and more sophisticated.