Portable Centrifuge System

This Portable Centrifuge System serves the purpose of separating cells in a fluid suspension. The Centrifuge can be made with easily accessible materials but has a very significant function, especially in the field of Biotechnology. Through the use of this portable centrifuge, very cellular level information can be discovered.


Juhi M

Area of Interest

Biomedical Engineering


Cupertino High School


Incoming Senior

BlueStamp Engineering 

BlueStamp Engineering exposed students to Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and was an experience which pushed us to find solutions for unexpected as well as expected issues.

Challenges I faced included precision while using a Hand Dremel, proper placement of the electrical wiring and secure positioning among the various materials used. However, these challenges allowed me to seek innovative solutions.

Build Plan- Portable Centrifuge System

Bill of Materials- Portable Centrifuge System

Final Milestone

Final Milestone- Complete Portable Centrifuge System

My Final Milestone is the fully functioning Portable Centrifuge System.

Materials Used In This Milestone: 

  1. Motor Structure attached to the upper half of the cookie tin
  2. DC motor speed controller attached to the bottom half of the cookie tin (main box)
  3. Soldering Iron
  4. 2 Positive and 2 Negative Electrical Wires
  5. Power Adapter


  1. Unscrew the screws on the DC motor speed controller (side opposite of the speed determining knob)
  2. Based on the +/-  indicating slots on the DC motor speed controller, screw the corresponding (red and black) electrical wires into the correct slots
  3. Unscrew the two slots on the power adapter extension seen in the second image under the “Final Milestone-Complete Portable Centrifuge System” image
    1. One pair of the +/- electrical wires will be screwed into this power adapter extension
    2. The other pair of +/- electrical wires will be soldered to the motor into their respective slots, in order to create a reliable connection with the motor
  4. Attach the power adapter extension to the actual power adapter cord
  5. Put the lid of the cookie tin (with the motor structure attached on top) on the cookie tin
  6. Plug the power adapter into an outlet
  7. Turning the knob of the DC motor speed controller, watch the PVC pipes spin due to the motor

Purpose of Final Milestone

The Portable Centrifuge System serves the purpose of separating fluids based on density. This separation is achieved by spinning a pipette-holder at a high speed. In this case, the motor provides the high-speed rotations.  The centrifugal force is known to push heavier material to the bottom of the pipette. The Portable Centrifuge System is especially beneficial in the field of Biotechnology. The most fascinating aspect of this creation is that it was made with simple materials. However, the set-up was difficult as it included maneuvering around various challenges, such as placement of wires and using the Hand Dremel.

Third Milestone

Third Milestone- Bottom half of Portable Centrifuge

My Third Milestone includes attaching the DC motor speed controller to the bottom half (the main box) of the cookie tin. 

Materials Used In This Milestone:

  1. The bottom half (main box) of a cookie tin
  2. DC motor speed controller
  3. Wooden Panel
  4. Duct Tape
  5. Hand Dremel


  1. Drill a hole in the side of the bottom half of the cookie tin
  2. Make sure the hole is large enough for the knob on the side of the DC motor speed controller to pressure fit through it
    1. If the hole is not large enough, use a Hand Dremel to make it larger
  3. Place a thick wooden panel on the bottom of the cookie tin, right below/next to the hole which was created by the Hand Dremel, allowing the speed controlling knob of the DC motor speed controller to appear through the cookie tin
    1. The purpose of creating this hole is so that the speed of the Portable Centrifuge can be controlled from the outside
    2. The panel should be thick enough for the motor speed controller to be placed on top and the knob of the controller should be able to go through the hole that was previously created using the Hand Dremel.
    3. To make sure the panel does not move, it can be hot glued down
    4. This structure can be seen in the third image under “Final Milestone- Complete Portable Centrifuge System”
  4. Place the DC motor speed controller on the wooden panel and make sure the knob can securely fit through the hole in the side of the cookie tin
  5. Once the placement of the speed controller has been finalized, duct tape the DC motor speed controller to the wooden panel to ensure that the controller will not move around.
  6. Using the Hand Dremel, create a “U” shape in the top/side of the cookie tin, out of which the wires screwed to the extension of the power adapter, can rest in while the lid of the cookie tin is attached.

Purpose of Third Milestone

The Third Milestone serves the purpose of nearly completing the building of the Portable Centrifuge system. This Milestone demonstrates the completion of the placement of all required materials as well the required use of the Hand Dremel.  The last aspect of the project is attaching the electrical wiring as well as using the power adapter to power the centrifuge.

Second Milestone

Second Milestone- Upper Half of the Centrifuge

My Second Milestone includes completing the entire upper half of the Portable Centrifuge system and this is done by attaching the structure made in the First Milestone to the top of the cookie tin lid. The structure from the First Milestone is nailed into the lid in order to remain sturdy and firm.

The bottom half of the system includes the bottom half of the cookie tin (main box), the DC motor speed controller, wires and the power adapter.

Materials Used In This Milestone:

  1. Cookie Tin Lid
  2. Structure made from the First Milestone
  3. Nails/Screws


  1. Use the largest drill bit available to drill a hole through the cookie tin lid
  2. Using a Hand Dremel to make this hole even larger (Goal: to put the bottom half of the DC 12-24 flat mount motor- the part which went through the wooden panel- through this hole in the lid so that the wooden panel rests on the cookie tin lid)
  3. Nail the corners of the wooden panel to the cookie tin lid

Purpose of Second Milestone

After completing the upper half of the cookie tin lid, the aspect of the Centrifuge system which is actively involved in spinning the pipettes is complete.

First Milestone

First Milestone- Motor Structure

My first milestone consists of the main structure which includes the component that controls the spinning of the centrifuge and the structure which holds the pipette in order for them to be spun safely.

Materials Used In This Milestone:

  1. 3×3 inch Wood panel
  2. DC 12-24 Flat Mount Motor
  3. Paper Clips
  4. 2 1/2 inch long PVC pipes
  5. Hot Glue
  6. Circular wooden attachment to the top of the motor (similar to a plastic motor packing)
  7. Two washer rings


  1. Using the Handsaw to make a 3×3 inch square wooden panel
  2. Drill a hole through the center of the wooden panel
  3. Using a Hand Dremel to make the drilled hole large enough for the DC 12-24 flat mount motor to pressure fit through
  4. Handsaw two PVC pipes to the length of 2 1/2 inches each
  5. Drill a hole near one end of each of the PVC pipes
  6. Create a circular wooden copy of a plastic head for the motor
  7. Drill a hole through the center of the circular wooden motor packing that is large enough for the motor to  be stuck through
  8. Drill two holes in line with the large hole from step #6 however, these holes should be farthest from the center
  9. Bend two paperclips into a specific shape to connect them into the wooden motor packing on one end and through the PVC pipe on the other
  10. Attach the washer rings to the bottom of the PVC pipes, by using a good amount of hot glue to secure them, to allow the pipettes to rest in the holder

Purpose of First Milestone

This entire structure serves the purpose of holding the pipette which will be rotated once the motor is powered. The PVC pipes act as pipette holders and once the DC 12-24 flat mount motor is powered, the PVCS’s are spun around at a high speed, allowing various and specific material in the fluid to separate based on density and then be examined and identified.

Starter Project

Starter Project Video

Light Organ Display and Schematics

The Starter Project which I completed is called the Exploding Star Light Organ. This display results in Red, Yellow and Green LED lights lighting up based on the sound and music which the ultra-sensitive microphone catches. This microphone is attached to the Printed Circuit Board and has a wide frequency. The display of lighting up the LED lights is in sync with any music or sounds caught by the microphone. Any noise serves as a stimulus for the lights to light up.

Materials Used In Starter Project:

  • Printed Circuit Board
  • Red, Green and Yellow LED lights
  • An electret microphone
  • Jumper wires
  • Transistors
  • Resistors
  • Integrated Circuits
  • Electrolytic Capacitors
  • Battery Snap
  • 9 Volt Battery

Process, Challenges, and Results

In order to be able to understand how the circuit board functions, I researched the components required in the assembly of this project. I learned that the Printed Circuit Board consists of numerous connections which allow for an electric current to flow through to various components attached to the board after being powered by a battery. Additionally, the electric current flows through with the help of jumper wires as these wires serve the purpose of connecting two points. The significance of the transistors is that they regulate voltage or current flow by acting as a switch or gate for electric signals. Similarly, resistors also control the flow of current to other components through the circuit board. The Integrated Circuits are the main aspect of the circuit board because they contain numerous more integrated/internal connections and the circuits also play a large role in the powering of this display. Capacitors store electric charge and finally, the entire project is powered by a 9 Volt battery.

After researching the function of the following components, I was able to better understand the schematic and follow the connections on the circuit board. This starter project was a great experience as it was a complete hands-on experience that was challenging but fascinating. Being able to participate in this project gave me the opportunity to learn the process of soldering.

Some of the challenges I faced included getting all of the LED lights to light up at the same time. However, this issue was fixed after I desoldered some of the areas (as some of the solderings was interfering with connections) and also after realizing that the Integrated Circuits were placed in backward.

This display is powered by a 9 Volt battery attached to the battery snap. Once attached, the LED’s light up based on the sounds the electret microphone catches.

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