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July 8th, 2013 by Lauren

Soldering, electricity, and the Buzzbox

After long weeks of preparation and anticipation, our very own made-from-scratch “buzzbox” is nearing completion!

The Meyer lab buzzbox, mostly complete

The Meyer lab buzzbox, mostly complete

The “buzzbox” is an original piece of machinery developed by a colleague of Professor Meyer. The buzzbox is essentially a simple circuit capable of generating a mild electric pulse. The two ends of the circuit are bare electrode wires. When these two wires are placed in a conductive material (e.g. sea water), the circuit is completed and an electric current can travel between the wires.

Our buzzbox will be used for staining animals for live imaging. Up until now, we’ve stained the animals by soaking them in a seawater/dye solution and allowing the cells to indiscriminately absorb the dye. While this technique has been easy to do and useful for certain experiments, it doesn’t allow for any amount of precision. With the buzzbox, we can use brief electric pulses to discriminately draw the dye into the cells. Based on the positioning of the wires, we can accomplish extremely precise staining. We can stain a small region of cells, a broad surface layer of cells, or even individual cells. Utilizing the buzzbox for staining will enable us to conduct a wider variety of experiments, generate fine-tuned, crisp images, and allow us to use different types of dyes.

Of course having the buzzbox itself exciting, but I’m extra excited to announce that I built the entire buzzbox with my own two hands (with an enormous amount of help from Professor Agosta and Clark’s Physics department)! Despite having never set foot in a workshop prior to that day, I managed to assemble, connect, and solder the box’s entire plethora of wires, dials, lights, and switches. I’m very proud of myself, to say the least.

The front of the buzzbox with all components labeled

The front of the buzzbox with all components labeled

The buzzbox's wiry metal innards

The buzzbox’s wiry metal innards

Although it doesn’t fully work yet (we’ve yet to attach the electrode wires), the core circuitry itself is completed. Switching on the toggle and seeing the little red indicator light turn on was a small but thoroughly relished victory. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to complete construction and use it very soon!

Til next week,

Lauren

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