One of our customers requested us to set up a laboratory incubator device composed of 16 tubes under research. The test was aimed at simultaneous measuring the increase in the number of bacteria in each test tube using color sensors. Before the start of the experiment, a substance was added to each tube, and in the event of an increase in the number of bacteria, the color of the material inside the test tubes was changed. The laboratory incubator device had to be capable of shaking test tubes for 60 hours. The timing was to be set both manually and automatically.
So this way we entered another great mechatronics engineering project.
- The device had to be fully automatic without any need for an operator to constantly monitor the tubes
- The device had to simultaneously monitor 16 test tubes with different diameters
- The device had to be controllable through the internet
- A web application was to be made as the GUI for displaying such parameters as the color of each tube, time,….
- The device was to provide progress report in doc format
The inclusion of all above features in a single device made it a unique system among many other similar products.
This is a mechatronics engineering project including mechanical engineering as well as electrical and electronics engineering.
In order to meet all the requirements the following steps were taken:
For the continuous monitoring of the tubes progress without any need for an operator, color sensors were used. The sensors were put below each tube for any change of color.
A web application was made as the GUI for displaying the test results. The use of color sensors made the color changes inside the tubes into understandable symbols for the computer.
In order to resolve the internet connection of the device, a raspberry pi board was used. This design incorporated the following options.
- Providing the option to the user to output test progress reports in a word document.
- Making it capable of setting all device controls including temperature control, vibration speed control, and controlling the operating time of the device.
- Online managing all other features of the machine by the user, including turning off and on the device, management of the time and temperature via the Internet.
- Providing a touch LCD board for applying all controllers and commands
Also, to provide the remote user with the option of having full online monitoring of the system, a webcam was used in the design that had the ability to connect to the internet.
To resolve the use of tubes with different diameters, a simple mechanism was used to allow the device to accommodate different test tubes.
Watch the process:
Results and impacts
Designing and prototyping the laboratory incubator device took about 6 months including mechanical engineering and electrical and electronics engineering, and the final design met all requirements as set by the client.