Open-Source Lab

1st Edition

How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Costs

Authors: Joshua Pearce
Print ISBN: 9780124104624
eBook ISBN: 9780124104860
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 7th November 2013
Page Count: 240
38.95 + applicable tax
30.99 + applicable tax
49.95 + applicable tax
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Institutional Access


Open-Source Lab: How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Scientific Research Costs details the development of the free and open-source hardware revolution. The combination of open-source 3D printing and microcontrollers running on free software enables scientists, engineers, and lab personnel in every discipline to develop powerful research tools at unprecedented low costs.

After reading Open-Source Lab, you will be able to:

  • Lower equipment costs by making your own hardware
  • Build open-source hardware for scientific research
  • Actively participate in a community in which scientific results are more easily replicated and cited

Key Features

  • Numerous examples of technologies and the open-source user and developer communities that support them
  • Instructions on how to take advantage of digital design sharing
  • Explanations of Arduinos and RepRaps for scientific use
  • A detailed guide to open-source hardware licenses and basic principles of intellectual property


All laboratory personnel- everyone involved with science and technology research in academia, industry, and government. Specific audiences include chemists/chemical engineers; biologists/biomedical engineers; physicists; mechanical, and civil and electrical engineers.

Table of Contents



1.1 Standard Disclaimer



Chapter 1. Introduction to Open-Source Hardware for Science


1.1 Introduction

1.2 What is Open Source?

1.3 Free and Open-Source Hardware


Chapter 2. The Benefits of Sharing—Nice Guys and Girls do Finish First


2.1 Advantages of Aggressive Sharing for the Academic

2.2 Overcoming Challenges of Open-Source Research

2.3 Why Should You Share and Be Nice Anyway—The Theory

2.4 Industrial Strength Sharing

2.5 The Fate of Hardware Vendors: Innovate or Die

2.6 Concluding Thoughts


Chapter 3. Open Licensing—Advanced Sharing


3.1 Introduction

3.2 Learning from Software: Software Rights

3.3 OSHW Licenses

3.4 Open Source Hardware Association Definition

3.5 Best Practices and Etiquette for Using OSHW

3.6 Continued IP Challenges

3.7 Summary and Conclusions


Chapter 4. Open-Source Microcontrollers for Science: How to Use, Design Automated Equipment With and Troubleshoot


4.1 Introduction

4.2 The Open-Source Microcontroller Family

4.3 Getting Started with an Arduino Microcontroller

4.4 Working with the Arduino

4.5 Example: The “Polar Bear” Open-Source Environmental Chamber

4.6 Concluding Thoughts and Additional Reading


Chapter 5. RepRap for Science—How to Use, Design, and Troubleshoot the Self-Replicating 3-D Printer


5.1 Introduction to REPRAPS

5.2 Building a REPRAP

5.3 Software

5.4 Printing for the First Time


Chapter 6. Digital Designs and Scientific Hardware


6.1 OpenSCAD, RepRap and Arduino Microcont


No. of pages:
© Elsevier 2014
eBook ISBN:
Hardcover ISBN:

About the Author

Joshua Pearce

Dr. Joshua M. Pearce received his Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. He then developed the first Sustainability program in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education as an assistant professor of Physics at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and helped develop the Applied Sustainability graduate engineering program while at Queen's University, Canada. He currently is an Associate Professor cross-appointed in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the Michigan Technological University where he runs the Open Sustainability Technology Research Group. His research concentrates on the use of open source appropriate technology to find collaborative solutions to problems in sustainability and poverty reduction. His research spans areas of electronic device physics and materials engineering of solar photovoltaic cells, and RepRap 3-D printing, but also includes applied sustainability and energy policy. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and is the author of the Open-Source Lab:How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Costs.

Affiliations and Expertise

Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA


"…details the development of the free and open-source hardware revolution. The combination of open-source 3D printing and microcontrollers running on free software enables scientists, engineers, and lab personnel in every discipline to develop powerful research tools at unprecedented low costs.", May 2, 2014
"Imagine that a country like Ecuador, would systematically follow the advice of Joshua Pearce in his book, Open Source Lab (Pearce, Joshua M. Open-Source Lab. Elsevier, 2013), which shows how scientific labs can be built at about 10% of the cost, by systematically opting for open scientific instruments?", April 23, 2014
"Overall this is a book which is focused on the development of Laboratory equipment, mainly using open-source hardware such as RepRap 3D printers and Arduino microcontrollers. It will guide the inexperienced reader making him comfortable to embrace this technological and social advances in a very practical way, resulting in very significant cost reductions for researchers and teachers."--RepRap Magazine, March 2014
"Research projects can benefit from do it yourself (DIY) techniques to design and build open-source hardware…The book is intended as an introductory guide on how to take advantage of the benefits of open-source hardware for science-related projects… In particular, this book focuses on the combination of open-source microcontrollers covered in Chapter 4 and open-source 3-D printing reviewed in Chapter 5.", December 19, 2013
"The open hardware movement aims to reclaim our freedom to work on, and build, the things around us by making source files available, free and modifiable…Dr. Joshua Pearce details how the manufacturing revolution, which puts 3-D printing, open-source microcontrollers and free software into the hands of th