I fully support the clever people making open source syringe pumps. But I don’t support some of their outrageous claims. Worse still nobody ever seems to challenge them.
None of this page is intended to be an attack on any person or project – but some of these claims – WOW! If you wish to take issue with what I have written here please contact me – for a friendly discussion.
The world needs cheap pumps to help where there isn’t the funding to support the purchase of commercially available pumps. I do have a used pumps page – where I try to help you purchase a commercial vendors pump that has been pre-owned.
I have a post listing the skill set you will need to make a DIY pump that some one has designed.
I write and sell SyringePumpPro for a range of commercial vendors of syringe pumps. This is not a sales page for the pump mentioned here, if this page led to an massive increase in pump sales – I wont get a cent. If all those new pump owners purchased my software – then I would get rewarded.
Apples VS Oranges
We really need to carefully consider the comparison between DIY syringe pumps and a commercial pump. Commercial pumps seldom just pump when they are powered up. Most of them offer sophisticated control from front panels and/or via serial connections to a computer. The computer connected ones offer monitoring which leads to data collection for control decisions.
The biggest things I notice is that commercial pumps:
- Come in a box or chassis
- Don’t rely on cables laying around – which is a hazard if it entangles in the syringe drive mechanism.
- Don’t have totally exposed electronics assemblies laying on the bench next to where spills may occur.
- Have sophisticated controls for their pumps – you don’t need to work out to pump 23ml will take 43256 steps, and then issue the pump command d43256 or the like.
- repeat-ability and reliability – they do the same thing every day they are used. Essential for maintaining trust that an experiment was scientifically valid.
- accuracy – they pump what you ask for.
Some of the claims I have read
A syringe pump of this quality costs over $1000, and isn’t made to be hacked.
New syringe pumps such as the NE-500 pictured can be purchased for $500. The Open Syringe Pump will cost in the order of $200 plus your time finding/buying the parts, assembling, debugging.
The NE-500 comes with a solid chassis, and software which implements a ton of sophisticated pump commands and features. Features like digital inputs and outputs, much higher pumping force available, much finer fluid control due to the far superior mechanical design. The build is that of a professional electronic device. It cannot be hacked – but it can be programmed and remotely controlled.
When it comes to range of flows and pressures – there simply couldn’t be any comparison to between the two.
The Open Syringe Pump is great if it meets your requirements.
Yesterday, I had about an hour before I was going to use the Open Syringe Pump for an experiment. I realized I could do something interesting by adding an additional trigger line from one of our sensors into the syringe pump. That little interesting thing turned out to be a major win. I wish I could go into more specifics, but we might be onto something very cool here, so I’ll keep quiet for now.
There is no way I could have done that using a commercial syringe pump. Hackable hardware is the best way to do research!
Hate to break it to you – external inputs have been supported in pumps like the NE-500 for more than 10 years. The pump commands to use these inputs use the concept trigger. You can trigger by level, rise or falling level and so on. Old news – not a new invention.
Gone are the good old days when most of the lab equipment came with service manuals, essentially making them open source (at least, very hack-able).
Exactly when were those days? Here’s the manual for the NE-500 for you to take a look at. A manual being available does not make something open source – it makes it well documented and suitable for scientific endeavors.
I will add more outrageous claims when I see them. Hey help me – send me any outrageous claims you see.