Although the goal was to get a conventional thermal cycler for PCR, this unique machine was too interesting to pass up doing a little more detective work on. After reading a bit more about the RapidCycler system designed by Idaho Technology, it seemed to perfectly match what we wanted to do, amplify target sequences of under 1,000 base-pairs. The machine is supposed to be able to do a 30 cycle amplification in about 15 minutes, pretty fast when compared to the hour or more a conventional machine might take.
The difference is, this machine uses a high power halogen lamp and a fan for rapid temperature ramping and cooling. It can drop from a 94C denature temperature down to a 55C annealing temperature in about three seconds. Pretty fast!
It sounds good on paper, and seems to cycle well after a basic test, but it won’t be until we actually run some samples then visualize them on a gel that we can know for sure it works.
If anyone has any experience using a rapid cycler, or experience using glass/plastic capillary tubes to hold samples instead of the traditional plastic PCR tubes, let us know! The one thing I am still a little unsure on is…how exactly to get our PCR mixes and reagents into the little capillary tubes. I asked an Idaho Tech rep and they mentioned there is an “aspirator”, or the equivalent of a mini micro-pipettor, specifically designed to add and remove things to the capillary tubes.
We managed to snag this off ebay, so always be on the lookout for cool machines you can get to add to your lab for a decent price!
Here is a video of it in action right out of the box, we’ll keep you updated as we get some capillary tubes and an aspirator and can actually test it.
Video can go up to 720p, so change the resolution if you want a little clearer image.