TEDxYouth@SanDiego Logo

The critical shortage of organ donors in our healthcare system is the reason I’m registered to be an organ donor and motivates my research to develop suitable replacement technologies in the field of regenerative medicine. Video below! It was an honor and privilege to take part in TEDxYouth@SanDiego, which brought 400 San Diego high school students together to interact and think deeply about the future. It was incredible to speak with so many students who are truly the Architects of the Future.

From TEDxYouth@SanDiego:

Using simple yet illustrative analogies to help non-scientists understand his scientific discovery process, Biomedical Researcher Jordan Miller explains to his young audience how he developed vascular structures through 3-D printing. This exciting research is an important complement to advances medical researchers have made in 3-D printing bioidentical human tissue and organs in the lab. it’s a remarkable prospect for the future of organ transplantation.

Deriving inspiration from a cross section of bread and the sugar structure arcing over his dessert, Dr. Miller describes how he combined his background in regenerative medicine, a passion for the maker movement and reliance on worldwide open sourcing to develop viable 3-D printed vascular systems that he demonstrates actually transporting blood.

Jordan Miller, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral researcher in the Tissue Microfabrication Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. Involved with the 3-D maker community since its infancy, Jordan uses a 3-D printer in his work in biomedical research and regenerative medicine and credits open-source collaboration and the maker movement as important contributors to the success of his research.

 

The Creator’s Project released a new video, and our sugar printing, gelation, and blood pumping was featured in it! Trackback is to 3Ders.org The project goal is to unify artists and technologists and this video is focused on 3D Printing:

And I just got done with a talk at ScienceOnTap Philly! It was a truly excellent night! Special thanks to the Organizers and also the Hivers who came out or emailed in their support! You peeps are the best.

Here are some pics via the Twittersphere. Thanks to the photographers for posting!

 

New hydroponic setup… Let’s just say my carpentry skills are a little rusty.

So here is a quick update on my hydroponics setup at Hive76.  In my previous post I uploaded a video on a hydroponic garden I built in my basement two years ago.  My goal was to build the setup with as little moving parts as possible to ensure the garden required little maintenance.  With the hydroponic garden I am building at Hive76 I decided to keep to the spirit of simplicity but a completely different approach with it.

With my latest version I am using medical grade IV bags to store the water above the plants.  Then by attaching a mechanism to the IV bags known as a ‘flow controller’, gravity pulls the water from the bags to the plants below at a consistent rate.  The rate at which water flows through that controller be anywhere from 5 to 250 ml / hr.

The IV bags and flow controllers are great because they are very inexpensive (one IV bag and flow controller cost me a few dollars from medtecmedical.com).  Plus they can potentially be reused since they are being used on plants and not humans if you are careful to prevent contamination. But possible the most useful thing about using IV bags is that they require no energy to operate, which further reduces costs.

IV bags filled with water.

To evenly distribute the water that is supplied by the IV bags to the plants, I put the plants within a medium of rockwool cubes that are about 1 cubic centimeter in size.  The rockwool essentially acts as a sponge that takes the water that is supplied by the IV drip and evenly distributes it to all the plants within the container.

I’m testing my current hydroponic setup on spinach seeds at the moment.  The plants are still in their infancy so I have not added nutrients to their water supply yet but I plan to do so in about a week(adding too high a concentration of nutrients to young plants can damage their roots).  My short term goal is to monitor the spinach in my hydroponic setup through its entire life cycle, taking general notes along the way.  After the plants have finished their life cycle I want to take some time to build a second prototype and post its plans on Hive’s webpage. Hopefully by that point, the system will be a useful platform for scientific experimentation. Then the real fun can begin!!!

Gravity flow controller: controls the flow rate of liquid from the IV bags.

Germinating seed in rockwool and temperature probe.

Tagged with:
 

Hydroponics at Hive76

My current project at Hive76 is working on indoor hydroponic systems.   The project comes from an interest in plants that I picked up from tending to my mother’s  garden as a child.   My family was fortunate to have enough land for a sizable garden when I was growing up, but now that I live near center city Philadelphia, good plots of land can be difficult to find. So I naturally turned to hydroponics because it is not limited by land area the same way that traditional farming is.

Hydroponics has the potential to revolutionize farming as we know it because it allows for plants to be grown in highly controlled environments.  This means that the light, water, and nutrients that plants need to thrive can be optimized to promote rapid growth while reducing waste and pollution.   Also, as mentioned before, hydroponics systems be built vertically instead of just horizontally, which is a huge benefit in dense urban environments like Philadelphia.

Even with all the potential benefits of hydroponics, it has yet to become a competitor with traditional farming in the open market.  There are many reasons for this, one reason is that the cost of lighting in an indoor hydroponic system will always cost more than traditional farming, which gets its light for free from the sun.  (Luckily the cost of lighting is dropping all the time with advancements in florescent bulbs and LED technology.) Another reason is that there is a lot of politics around farming that doesn’t favor the development of hydroponics.

Despite all the this, hydroponics is still holds a lot of potential to revolutionize agriculture.  It is also a great way to learn about plant science.  I’m particularly interested in using hydroponics to develop a low cost platform for amateur science experiments.   The hope is that by empowering people with the right tools , the next breakthrough in agriculture might come from a high-school student’s science fair project!

The hydroponic system that I am building at Hive76 is very much in the early stages. In the meantime, I wanted to post a video on a previous hydroponic system that I built in my basement 2 years ago.   It works by flooding the roots of the plants with water supplied by a reservoir below.

Enjoy and stay tuned for updates!

Tagged with:
 

Giving the Gift of Making

This year I wanted to do something a little different for Christmas gifts. Instead of just getting people electronics or video games or clothes, I wanted to give something that encouraged creativity and making. A lot of people never even think to try to make things on their own, so maybe a little hobby-style gift will give them a taste and spark an interest.

Texas Instruments MSP430 LaunchPad.

To that end, I did two things. First, I bought ten MSP430 LaunchPads. These things are really inexpensive, so they make great stocking-stuffers. If you don’t know what the MSP430 is already (really, we talk about it constantly, where have you been), it’s a 16-bit microcontroller with really low-power consumption needs. They run on 1.8 to 3.6v power supplies at up to 16MHz, making them quite a powerful little beast for only $4.30, which includes the chip programmer. If you were to buy the chips alone, they cost about $0.50 each, with a few different serial communication protocols built in, and requiring only a small selection of external parts (2 resistors and 2 caps if you want to do it right, 1 resistor if you’re living dangerously, and face it, at $0.50, you can afford to live dangerously). It’s something of a long-term project plan of mine to buy 100 of these and try to build a small, physical neural network computer.

A lot of people have shied away from the MSP430 because the Code Composer Studio software–based on the professional-grade Eclipse development environment–is very difficult to use in comparison to the Processing-based software typically used to program Arduinos. But luckily, someone has taken the Arduino cue and created Energia, a Processing-based editor for use with TI’s LaunchPad line of MCUs! If you’re experienced with Arduino, using Energia is a snap, and if you’re not experienced at all, it’s really not that big of a learning curve.

I prefer to call it Serious Putty

Second, I bought supplies to make “magnetic Silly Putty”. About a week ago, I saw this Instructable about kneading some Iron-Oxide powder into a little Silly Putty and jumped on Amazon right away to get a 6-pack of Silly Putty eggs and a 5 lbs bag of black Iron-Oxide pigment. Honstely, 5-lbs is way too much, but there are plenty of other things you can do with it, like make ferrofluids or your own paint, so it’s handy to have around. You will need a fairly strong neodymium magnet, but again, these things are fun enough to have around anyway, so have at it!

Making the putty is really easy. I pooled all 6 eggs of putty together in a non-stick pan. On very low heat, I warmed up the putty until it was just too hot to handle with my bare hands. If it starts to become the consistency of chewing gum and sticks to the pan, don’t worry, it will unstick when it cools down. Don’t heat it further than that though, it will start to smoke and burn. Wearing rubber gloves to give me just enough insulation from the heat and to keep my hands from getting stained black, it’s just a matter of working a large, heaping tablespoon-full of the black powder into the putty. You will need to work the putty like taffy, stretching it and folding it to blend the powder evenly into it. Once the powder is sufficiently kneaded in to the putty, it will not stain anything, so keep testing it on the back of your rubber glove to see if it leaves any marks. I then cut the putty into 6 equal chunks and shoved them back in their eggs. It took 10 minutes total. I thought about taking some photos of the process to show it off, but really, it could not be simpler.

I’m hoping these gifts will be completely unexpected and will inspire people to try something they never would have considered on their own. The MSP430s are just a really easy, cheap, fun way to get into programming, and the magnetic Silly Putty is a great example of something you can’t buy as a product that is also extremely easy to make.

 

Lately, a few members have been discussing the use of 3D printed parts in use with metal casting techniques to create some stronger, lighter and more durable parts. As all good hackerspace conversations do, we immediately decided to go with the most painful and difficult solution: Metal Casting. Luckily for us the very next day, we got an e-mail that a local group, Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, that they intended on hosting an aluminium greensand casting class. A perfect opportunity to learn some metal casting techniques, even if not totally applicable to what we wanted to ultimately end up casting. Andrew S., and myself both signed up along with a few friends of Hive76.

About 30 minutes into making our own greensand molds, we realized that this was going to be a difficult process, and immediately destroyed several hours of work trying to get a good crisp mold for our first pour.

Broken Greensand Mold

A simple gear was too difficult

Several hours into our class, we managed to finally get a good solid mold of a 3D printed TARDIS. We hopped in line and got a pretty good looking cast. Andrew also attempted the TARDIS with some success. He also managed to get some good casts of a wooden puzzle, including one that blew out. However, due to our earlier troubles, we decided to hedge our bets and get one more good pour out of the class before we would start wrapping up. While waiting to pour ours, I was being shown how to work the furnace by Gus, and ended up melting down plenty of scrap and helping others make their pours which was a lot of fun to be working with. The furnace was operating at about 1300 Celsius, and moving around molten metal at that temperature can be quite a thrill. We plan on working with Gus and Darla at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym on some other types of casting techniques, especially as they apply to our 3D printing. We look forward to working with them in the future, and hope you all consider taking their next Greensand class in January.

 

Make Things Awesome(ly Scented)

I’ve been wanting to teach a class on how to make DIY/handmade personal care products for a while (a long while) now. Now, finally, it is happening! On Sunday, December 2nd, from 12-2:30pm, come learn how to craft your own personal care/beauty products from all natural ingredients! Together we will create a variety of body care products– such as aluminum-free deodorant, fabric softener, lip balms, and hand salves– using simple, inexpensive recipes composed of non-toxic materials like cornstarch, olive and coconut oils, beeswax, dried herbs, honey, and essential oils. We will also learn how benign, common household ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, salt, lemon, and hydrogen peroxide can be used to effectively clean around the home. Everyone will leave the class with their own handmade samples of lip balm, deodorant, fabric softener/scented sachet, and hand salve. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  I’m super excited to share the processes, recipes, and resources I’ve come across/developed/tweaked over the past couple of years of making my own personal care and cleaning products. Not only is it a fun way to spend an afternoon, but it feels empowering to have control and awareness of what goes on your body. I’ll be showing you just a few more ways that you can avoid consuming—and embrace making—in other aspects of your life!

Added bonus: these easy-to-make products can be re-created on your own to be used as gifts for the upcoming holiday season!!

All Natural Handmade Personal Care Products Class

Sunday, December 2, 2012, 12:00PM – 2:30PM

Hive76, 915 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA 19123

$25 (includes all materials…but feel free to bring your own essential oil if you have a specific signature scent!)

 

 

 

Tagged with:
 

Exile: The Family You Choose: The Kickstarter Campaign

ZOMG GUYZ!

One of my first projects here at Hive76 was the Burning Zombie Dummy. A friend of mine had called me, asking me if I knew how to set people on fire safely, and that led into a very stern discussion about what he was trying to do and that I would take over so that noone would get hurt. So I became the Special Effects Design Engineer for Exile: The Family You Choose, and it was one of the best times of my life. I got to do some pretty awesome things (including making an impromptu harness for doing a shotgun-to-the-chest effect), met a lot of really great people, and learned a lot about a hobby that would ignite my passion in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. Seeing our end result, this thing that we made together, from start to finish, without any adults (of course, we’re all adults, but you never really feel like it) helped to further cement my belief that anyone is capable of doing anything. The hacker spirit is strong in the indie film world. (more…)

The No-Video Game!

It’s a vidya game but not! A completely audio-based game, the objective is to use sonar to find the hidden submarine and destroy it with depth charges. But be careful! If you are not close enough to hit the submarine, it will get away and you must hunt it down again.

Got an Arduino Mega2560 on the innards side. Got the joystick and arcade buttons from Ada Fruit! Very nice quality, shipped very quickly, and not too expensive to boot. Box was just a little, prefab wooden deal from a craft store somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And the speakers, I think I pried them out of a few alarm clocks.

Tagged with:
 
Google+