(GREAT pics at bottom)
We had an interesting team meeting. Mike Setzer brought a "mud logger", an online (onstream) gas chromatograph. It needs some work if I were to try to get it running, but that's not the goal. But to see it's simplicity (based on it's age) opened our eyes to many possibilities. My original plan was to have columns students could pack themselves, further educating themselves on every aspect on every component in a GC. This is how I was taught on the ancient instrument we were forced to use in the lab at school in the late '80s. This is the whole idea. But other team members originally planned on building a DIY instrument around columns purchased from GC column manufacturers. The mud logger is using 1/8" SS tubing packed with simple molecular sieves coated with liquid (stationary) phase. We all now see that self-packed columns is attainable. We gained insight on the ability to just analyze gases at first using tanks of butane and propane to fill balloons to make mixtures. But the ultimate goal will be liquid hydrocarbons as well. Our first focus tends to be to supply colleges with simple GCs and support education. But this will evolve to more technical and small business/emerging markets applications. The focus on colleges is basic education and training which will evolve into validation studies into more technical applications.
Mark Sullivan has great ideas on the Thermal Conductivity Detector (TCD) and has agreed to take this on personally. This is an example of the fine makerspace/co-working/hackerspace atmosphere found here at TX/Rx Labs in Houston where everything is being done so far and I spend all my days. And nights. He is also gaining extreme interest in the controller board itself that will finally be designed after we learn our controlling and monitoring and code based off Arduino boards and shields.
I have been overwhelmed with what it takes for a successful crowd-fund. I spend just as much time on twitter, blogs, meetup.com events, and reading articles than I was previously spending just slaving over Arduino boards and breadboards and code. But yesterday I officially passed my $1200 goal at experiment.com/chromatograDIY and am considered 'successfully funded'.