At last weeks SB5.0 conference, Siyuan Chen, an engineer from Agilent Technologies, remarked during his talk that one “shouldn’t try to get DNA synthesis to work with a home computer because it wouldn’t work”. This is a gauntlet thrown if ever I did see one. And I promptly accepted said gauntlet over twitter. Yet it would seem that someone has actually beat me to the punch. In 2004, Christoper Lausted et al. out of The Institute for Systems Biology published a wonderful paper titled “POSaM: a fast, flexible, open-source, inkjet oligonucleotide synthesizer and microarrayer” complete with all the necessary schematics and assembly instructions(pdf linked). The design is quite impressive and extremely low cost using mostly off the shelf components. I have a feeling it was a bit ahead of its time and that with the advent of DIYbio could find new life as an active Open Source project.
Original Paper: http://genomebiology.com/2004/5/8/R58