Young Scientists

Doing experimental science in Africa : how to ? - 12. François Piuzzi: Four tools invented less than ten years ago

Inexpensive and open-source computer and electronic tools are available to create all kinds of practical work instruments.

"Here I put four new developments that did not exist 10 years ago.

There is the Arduino electronic platform, which allows to make small instruments, or to control small instruments. It was originally done for artists, so that they would not have to get into electronics. And then the scientific world took over, and even the industrial world now. And it's also open source, and you can find programs already made for many applications. Starting from scratch is not needed.

Then you have Raspberry Pi. It is a microcomputer that has been made by an English charity for 35 €. Of course, there is no keyboard, there is no power supply, but these are not the most expensive. And many applications are also available on Raspberry Pi, which can be coded in Python.

A third element is the webcam. It is a good stuff because it's just a lens and a light detector. But you can take pictures of anything you want and it doesn't cost much. Many systems include a webcam for instrumentation.

The last element here is a stethoscope that has been printed in 3D. To show what can be done with 3D printing.

Other important things are the miniaturized light sources called LEDs, which are now found at all wavelengths, from infrared to ultraviolet. Laser pointers that are very inexpensive and can be used in practical work at university.

For 3D printing, we also have many digital tools that are open source for modeling. And with the internet a lot of information can be shared. All this allows for a very high degree of multidisciplinarity that is necessary to develop this instrumentation.

And we also have all the software that is freely accessible. I'll just take the example of Image J, a freeware that allows to process all images: nowadays, everyone uses only that, and no longer paid software."


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