Team:Cornell/project/drylab/design considerations


Cornell University Genetically Engineered Machines

Design Considerations

1. Compact
The goal was to build a bench-top incubator. To fit on laboratory benches, the device has to be relatively small. This has further benefits: a small incubator becomes portable; smaller environments are also easier to control and maintain. Thus, we decided on a 1’x2’x1’ rectangular box.
2. Enclosed Environment
A staple of any incubator is a fully enclosed or isolated environment. This allows the interior environment to be unaffected by outside conditions, which in turn allows for precise control. Insulation isolates the incubator from the outside temperature, a solid casing from humidity and air, and opacity from outside light. Therefore, we ultimately decided on a double-wall incubator with an insulating material in between.
3. Adaptability
One of the driving motivations was to build an adaptable incubator. We initially set out to control temperature and humidity, however we designed our incubator such that light and CO2 control could be implemented in the future. Our Arduino Fio microcontroller allows for many possibilities.
4. Compartmentalized
The high heat and humidity levels needed for fungal growth could damage the control system’s electronics. Conversely, contact with metals in the electronics could be toxic for the fungi. To keep both our fungi and our electronics respectively growing and running comfortably, they need to be kept separate and, ideally, isolated from one another.
5. Cost
Commercially available incubators cost at least $500 and does not include controls for humidity, light, and CO2. Additional controls raise the price of equivalent incubators and also raise the cost of building one. Our current incubator costs less than $400.

Component Is it Implemented?     (Expected) Cost  
Basic structure and general electronics Yes $277.62
Heating Control Yes $45.43
Humidity Control Yes $64.85
Light Control No ($80)
CO2 Control No ($100)
Total cost so far: $387.90
Total expected cost: $580