PocketPCR - low cost, USB powered, open source PCR

With all the experience from openPCR, gaudiPCR, PicoPCR, miniPCR I spent the last 6 months developing the PocketPCR, a simpler, smaller and more affordable thermocycler ( http://gaudi.ch/PocketPCR/ ) . The whole design is optimized for low cost and desk top mass production. It runs from a regular USB port, power adapter or battery pack. I produced a small batch of kits that I sell at 99 euro on GaudiShop (https://gaudishop.ch/index.php/product/pocketpcr-kit/) - free shipping worldwide. And of course it is open source science hardware, all files available on GitHub ( https://github.com/GaudiLabs/PocketPCR ).

After the launch I was overwhelmed with the positive adoption by the community (134 likes, 45 comments and 61 shares on facebook). And I am now in talks with Alessandro Yaw Crimi about bringing 1000 PocketPCR to Ghana, with Yanwu Guo about bringing it to schools in China and with Josiah Zayner about offering the PocketPCR through The ODIN.

Let me know what you think and how to develop the project further.



Congrat. let me know if u need any help.
Co-founder Opentrons

Thank you Chiu. Appreciate a lot. Thinking about coming back to Shenzhen :wink: .

Oh wow! Looks great!

Already ordered one :wink:

Hi Gaudi. I come to know about this great project recently during this corona epidemic. I am an electronics engineer. Can this pocketpcr used for corona virus test?. I imagine a portable pocket pcr to conduct corona virus test instantly at the spot. I may be wrong. But trying to help our local government during this emergency.


Welcome to the GOSH Forum @asprakash - great to have you here :slightly_smiling_face:
@gaudi gave a very useful summary of Pocket PCR and COVID detection on the Pocket PCR website: http://gaudi.ch/PocketPCR/index.php/faq/

Can the PocketPCR be used to test for corona virus at home? No. Why:

  • Handling Coronavirus (COVID-19) material requires a bio safety lab (BSL2)
  • Even trained people need some effort to go though this process and the sample preparation properly.
  • The PocketPCR has no quantitative or real-time fluorescence reading needed for reliable testing
  • Tests to diagnose diseases with clinical significance need official approval (testing and government approval). Any false test results can have severe consequences.

A little shout out from our side, with the first result using pocket PCR here in Brighton UK



Very exciting @amchagas! On that note is there open source hardware for gel electrophoresis and taking pictures of it? I know this is a very basic question, but despite my experience running countless PCRs I still don’t know if there is a full open source hardware toolchain for it!

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I think @Tobey developed a parametric electrophoresis chamber and @ffederici had a LED array/matrix?


Hey, thanks for flagging it. Yes, there is a full open source toolchain :partying_face:

IORodeo Sells open source high-voltage supplies, gel-chambers and transilluminators: https://iorodeo.com/collections/gel-electrophoresis-and-imaging

Beyond that, as @amchagas pointed out, there is a parametric gel-box designed by me (can be adjusted to any size you want, some day I should make a “pocket sized” version :slight_smile: ) here on DocuBricks with instructions how to modify the design: https://www.docubricks.com/viewer.jsp?id=3540694571097352192 Has been replicated by several people in Europe, Australia, Africa.

And the transilluminator from @ffederici @Tim and team, also on DocuBricks: https://www.docubricks.com/viewer.jsp?id=7449430440606889984,
published here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0187163
The main advantage of this system is the rasperi pi camera integration for digital picture taking and the capability to use many fluorescent stains in parallel, not just one blue-to-orange filter set.

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Awesome, thanks for sharing @amchagas, we are about to start a course that involves practical work at home based on:

  1. RT-PCR of RNA: with pocketPCR + OBL/FreeGenes/ReClone home-made enzymes (pfu, MMLV)
  2. LAMP of genomic DNA: with GMO detective kits from Guy Aidelberg, (hopefully, also with some other reactions using locally produced BstLF enzyme) and low cost blue/orange visualization.

For imaging the RT-PCR products on gels, we are thinking on adaptations of @Tobey gel elec. system, minipcr gel system (not open) and some combinations of the above with the acrylic filters from IOrodeo that we used in FluoPI. Since acrylic suppliers have changed over the years (and orange/blue filter combinations really matters), we collected some notes:

McMaster is no longer making the Amber acrylic, we have been advised by IOrodeo that the new amber McMaster sells doesn´t work that well.1/8" thick amber # 2422 should work well (it has been recommended by IOrodeo). As it is standardized, you can buy it directly online or from a local supplier.

Here is the characterization performed by IO rodeo:

GMOdetective projects uses this amber filter, we havent tried it but it looks good.

The Blue filter was 5C028 GT from ACRYLITE

But ACRYLITE no longer produces this item in low volume (only available as a make to order of 3-5 pallets). We have been advised to get the #2424 blue that it seems to be the same as the 5C028 blue we originally used from ACRYLITE.

We added a chart for acrylics from ACRYLITE here

More notes about LEDs, diffuser (important) and other follow up uses (e.g. ELISA) here

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