Best Hardware Special Prize:

Our project includes several design features specifically engineered for user convenience, automation, and reduced system costs. Our custom housing from aluminum rails and hand made t-slots were designed to give the system a sleek, portable, sturdy exterior that is also cost efficient. The touch screen interface is affixed on the exterior with metal mounting and large degrees of rotation to give the user easy access to the system's functions. We decided to create a custom incubator from acrylic sheet and a reversed cooling chip for better integration into our housing and system. The emphasis our team had on user ease of access is most shown in our three stage filter design. We incorporated both a CNC-milled acrylic filter and a 3D printed design to prevent clogging in our tubing and gave user access through a removable filter sheet design. All of these factors piece together to give the user freedom to make changes easily. Our sensing and regulation tanks allow for replaceable sensors - all made possible from 3D printed sensor holders and a removable lid. While the hardware of our project was something we had a keen focus on, our success really came from our focus on user convenience, easy access, and low system cost.

Figure 1: Our hardware device, from its housing to its electronics

System Automation:

The heart of our project are the various microcontrolers and electronics that make our system automated and seamlessly function as one device. This wasn't something we sought out to achieve but instead naturally accomplished as we focused heavily on our users needs. To make a system less reliant on lab personel and easy to operate by new users, we used three Arduino boards and one Raspberry Pi to control the many peristaltic pumps, on/off valves, mixing fan and other features. With liquid passing through every corner of our product and various electronics controlling the entire process, the user can view the progress through our user-friendly webb app interface without having to worry about controlling each individual function. We tested each function’s individual code and connected these different parts together in the electronics section of our housing. The perforated aluminum sheet gives the exterior a clean design while providing sufficient cooling for the heat generated by the various microcontrollers. Our device combines the fields of synthetic biology and engineering - all exemplified through our system automation.

Figure 2: The AM1's Raspberry Pi, the brain of its hardware

Small Footprint:

Housed in 25mm aluminum rails and acrylic sheet, our project housing portrays our focus on design, engineering, and accessiblity. From the initial water tank that incorpoates replacable filter sheets to the easy modification of liquid sensors in the regulation tanks, our design allows the user to test water or biosensors without a lengthy set up process. We decided to fabracate a filtration process that uses standard chemistry filter paper because of the easy accessbility and low costs that come with this product. The variablity in industry sheets also allows users to choose the magnitude of filtration - all dependent on the filter paper they use. Instead of engineering a complex design, we developed our system with the users needs in mind. On the other side of the aqautic environments are the two microfluidic chips, custom incubator, and fluigent pressure pumps all housed on a two-level custom made arcylic shelving. To hold the chips and incubator in place, we machined incisions for them in the acrylic shelves using CNC-mils. We went this route to allow for portability of the system without the interior functions getting damaged or disassembled. The true extent of our hardware success is shown through the custom incubator. Standard incubators require their own power source and are bulky in design. To reduce overall interior dimensions and continue the focus of portability, we used a reversed cooling chip with acrylic sheet housing to make a small design that could also be controlled by an arduino board.

Figure 3: The components of the AM1 housed in a simple, yet compact manner

Below you can see pictures from the various stages of our hardware design and manufacturing process

Building the Hardware
Deciding the Layout
The modularity of the device required several iterations of layout for the most efficient transfer of materials
Building the Hardware
Assembling the Frame
The enclosure for the AM1 is being assembled
Building the Hardware
Assembling the Frame
Side profile of shelf locations and more frame supports
Building the Hardware
Aluminum Vent
Drilling perforations in an aluminum sheet to provide ventilation for the electronic components
Building the Hardware
Shaping the Shelf
Cutting shelves out of acrylic sheets to hold and organize all the components required for the AM1