Thursday, March 19, 2009

2 grand? How about 20 bucks?


I've been having a recent bit of difficulty with our pipette pullers in the lab. Well, pulling program parameter searching is no news to any of the l33t electrophysiologists who frequent this blog. We've all been there, and we'll all surely revisit that terrible state of being.

But not too long ago one of the pullers started making a horrible noise when switched on, as the cooling fan must have lost a ball bearing. The company service folks were in the area for the recent Biophysical meeting (how was it Dr. Samways?), and made a swing through the lab. They offered to refurbish the whole thing and replace the fan for $2000. Not a pressing issue, but apparently as the heat builds up inside the puller, it would slowly dim the display, making it hard to edit programs.

Economic times being what they are, we demurred. Which is a good thing, because when we pulled the front panel off that sucker, the fan was just a 92 mm fan like you'd have in your computer. So we got one of those, pulled out the old dead one, and slipped in the new. Voila! And while we were at it, we got rid of the decade plus layer of dust in that thing.

Still though, I miss the old P-84 I used in my thesis lab.


Dr. A said...

I heart frugal science! Well done!

Dr. A said...

PS: Methinks you need to post some pipette pulling photos! Sounds too cool..

Nat Blair said...

THanks Dr. A!

And you want pictures of the whole pulling process, or just the guts we ripped out?

I do actually have a series of posts on assorted electrophysiology topics, in varying degrees of completion.

And they might actually see the light of day, now that the daughter slept through the night last night!

Dr. A said...

Hurray for babies sleeping! I am interested in the pulling process.. searched online but did not find many cool photos.

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

Ace! And now I have learned a little something. I'm bringing this up next time someone tells me blogging is a waste of time. Impressive lab mojo, sir.

Nat Blair said...

@Dr. A - Ok, I'll bring the camera to lab next week and take some pics. I'll warn you though that pulling pipettes for electrophysiologists is somewhat analogous to minipreps for the molecular biologist: a necessary step to more interesting things. And something that the initiate takes time to learn, but that the master doesn't need to think too much about.

@Dr. Jekyll - I guess it's lab mojo, but the willingness to rip stuff open and muck around hasn't always served me well. There was the time when, in some cockamamie rigamarole of electrical connections, I literally blew up an integrated circuit chip in a computer power supply. There was smoke, there was pop, there were pieces of the chip on the floor. Lucky I didn't kill the computer, the light source, or myself.

Still though, sometimes you just gotta give it a try!

DSK Samways said...

"I'll warn you though that pulling pipettes for electrophysiologists is somewhat analogous to minipreps for the molecular biologist"

Nonsense, it's art!

You should definitely put some patch clamp methodological stuff on this blog. Represent, and all that.

Biophys was decent. I would have like to see a bit more of Boston, but the weather wasn't really conducive to sightseeing.

Nat Blair said...

@DSKS - Well, I agree it is an art, but it's kinda like practicing scales for a musician. And I do take some pride in a perfectly pulled pipette, as I do with a nice miniprep/restriction digest/gel.

And I'm not sure what the meeting organizers are thinking coming to Boston in February. This is not one of our better months.