Equipment Wishlist

Hello everybody,

I’m trying to come up with a plan to make scientific equipment more available. It seems to me that a lot gets hoarded, and it sits in a corner until someone throws it away. I think maybe something could be done, but I’d need to build a case for it.

So, to this end, I’m trying to build a list of equipment people would like to have. I’m thinking specifically about relatively low cost, non-consumable items (i.e. $10 - $10,000 new) that are likely to be just lying around gathering dust in some institution and that really should just be given to someone who could make good use of it.

I’m gathering two kinds of information to this end.

What do people think is holding them up equipment wise - give me a list of things you’d like to have.

Then, from the perspective of making a case for something to be done, it would be really useful to be able to say what that bit of equipment might mean to you. I’m thinking a sentence roughly of the form: I’d love to do ______ but I don’t have ______.

The following is my current list of the kind of equipment I’m thinking about:

  • Spectrometers, discrete optics, opto-mechanical components
  • Metrology Equipment
  • Power supplies, oscilloscopes, other electronics
  • Sensors, recording devices, cameras, microphones, anemometers, electrochemical sensors, temperature sensors, etc
  • Data loggers
  • Microscopes, scales, glassware
  • Automation components: motors, drivers, encoders, PLCs
  • Scrap: large plates, aluminium extrusion and fixings, racks and housing
  • PPE

At the edge of what I think might be possible (if any of this is), depending on the details:

  • Chemistry and biochemistry equipment
  • Gas systems: regulators, tubing
  • Lasers

I hope this gives an idea of the sort of thing that I’m thinking about. I’d love to know if there’s something you’d like to achieve that is being held back, or something that would just be easier if you had the right equipment.


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Very interesting, can you say more about your plan? Are you going around to these institutions offering to unburden them of old kit?

What do people think is holding them up equipment wise - give me a list of things you’d like to have.

Machine tools. I’d love to have a decent lathe and milling machine. I’ll probably get a CNC router later this year and make do with that.

Roughly that’s the plan, though I think I have a better strategy than asking individual institutions. Not a very well formed plan yet, but I’m working on it, figuring out something that could work and that I could convince people to enact.

The reason I didn’t include machine tools in the list (other than metrology, and stuff that can be machined) is because of hacker/maker movements that are very much on the case. At least in my part of the UK, there’s at least 4 places within a reasonable distance from where I live where anyone* can use a mill or lathe, probably a bias on my part though.

Hi Lucas,

Cool, I really like this idea of asking people what they need/want!

I ran a project similar to this back in 2018 as part of work with the Mozilla Foundation, where we ran a survey online asking people what kind of equipment they wanted the most. Once we had the results, we engaged with several people from GOSH and they chose items from the survey results and were given a small budget to develop open source versions of those tools… Here are the repositories of the tools created, plus some more info BFOSH · GitHub

Another point, is that TReND in Africa, an NGO supporting development in Africa, has an equipment donation scheme as part of their activities… they have a large database of equipment that institutions have already donated or are willing to donate in case a user/lab is found that could make use of it… If you want I can put you in contact with their general coordinator…

Thanks, that’s really useful.

Think a chat with these guys would be a good idea.

The equipment donation website needs a proof reader.

Just pinging @juul as it seems up your alley