Open Science Hardware unseminar in Heidelberg - OAWeek2018

We had a great seminar + workshop event at Heidelberg this week engaging in Open Science Hardware. This thread hosts the documentation of this event.

There were ca. 25 participants from various backgrounds (academic, computational, industry, biohacker).
There was an introduction round (introduce yourself and describe a hardware you regularly use without using any of the words in the name of the hardware), followed by 3 flash talks from @jarancio @Tobey and Michael from the Biotop Heidelberg DIY Bio club (
Then, we had an unseminar in the Wold-Cafe style (World Cafe Method :: The World Cafe) in four groups, which resulted into very engaged discussions.


Group 1 discussed possible user profiles of OSH stakeholders, as a follow up to our GOSH 2018 session:

Open Hardware user profiles

Another group discussed Open Hardware in Academia.

Here is the session documentation:

Open Hardware in academia

What can make open hardware more attractive in academia:

opportunity to:

reduce costs

  • if have limited resources, can accelerate research

increase innovation

  • ability to extend the machine, customise, push the limits
  • add mods to machines, make methods faster
  • fix small things
  • improve ergonomics
  • make machines changeable
  • reduced costs means squeeze things into grants

get a reward

  • publications
  • journal of hardware science: allows quantification of trainees work
  • take hardware with you


obstacles to making open hardware or making it available

  • having access to legal experitse
  • having reward for trainees that spend years doing this
  • is development of hardware science

using or buying open hardware

  • time vs money … if you can afford it, not as appealing. So more attractive to less well funded labs
  • need to be available for purchase
  • lab machine workshops at institutes… are these still a thing
  • need to have QA QC calibration

how to motivate labs to make open hardware:

  • obligation to funders to provide
  • has to come from funders, how do you get funders to think this is important

crowd funding to make hardware

how do we make them do it

  • freedom to follow curiosity , less beholden to grants

  • useful for training

  • world wide collaborations from labs with low resources


setting the research agenda

current agenda setting is by granting agencies

low cost allows setting agenda by curiosity

Quality monitroing and evaluation

when you make it yourself, how do you ensure quality
this has always been a problem

The third session was about ideas for hardware that could be opened up

Ideas for New Open Hardware Alternatives

  • Raspberry Pi-style low-cost computer
  • pipette and pipette tips (biodegradable? cleanable?)
    • paper pipette tips? plant polymer?
    • voice-controlled/speed-dial pipette volume control (“Pippa Pipette”)
  • Automated device for cell culture
    • system that can move cultures around
    • cells need to be fed, moved etc
    • way to automate this?
  • hand-held computing device for ultrasound
  • cheap alternatives for sequencing
  • diagnostic tools
  • robust collection of tools and protocols for synthesizing enzymes
    • this is really hard!
  • smartphone accessories for diagnostics
  • homemade gel chambers (custom sizes etc)
  • 3D-printed custom plate holders
  • reinventing/adapting existing but outdated hardware and getting it working again
    • amnesty and redistribution of old lab equipment (is this happening already)

The fourth and last topic was:

What (and where) to build in Heidelberg?
Ideas/Interest in building things

Place in Heidelberg where you can build things:

DAI Makerspace near Bismarplatz. Open evening Wedensdays 18h
Comarking Space negar main station. Open Wednesday evenings 18h?

Questions about membership in a makerspace

Ask people what they would like to build:

Building an E-Bike with a kit
Camera for long time exposure of sky
Model airplanes
Argument reality glases and ultrasound haptic device
Sample divider

Question on how to start DIY
From need to project
Explore what other people have done