HEY, if you are interested in beta testing one of these systems, I am looking for users. I will supply the box, the transluminator, and 100v variable power supply for $150. Fill out this form if you are interested. I expect to ship by mid august.
There have been several attempts to build and sell gel boxes to DIY biologists. As far as I am concerned, they are all too expensive and too complicated. Lets look at the two products aimed and produced by diy folks: the Iorodeo kit and the no longer available pearl biotech box.
The iorodeo box is a conventional shaped gel box with two deep buffer wells. It costs $93 for the kit, plus about $10 (and $5 shipping) for the acrylic glue, coming to a total of 108, or you get have it shipped to you assembled for $123. It does not come with cables, and the assembly can be tricky if you have never welded acrylic before.
The Pearl box, which I no longer see listed on their website, is also a conventional design, but if I recall correctly, it came assembled and was north of $190. I do like their box, and I use it in the lab, but it is kind of pricey for someone who just wants to try some electrophoresis!
Neither of these kits provide a power supply, although Iorodeo sells one based on what looks to be a boost converter for $65, unassembled. $95 will get you an assembled power supply, and for $110 you can even get the 15V power supply to the power supply, which is necessary to make it work.
Both companies sell transluminators, with the Pearl product ringing in at a whopping $299 (read: $300 + s/h) for 64 led array. To give you an idea of how crazy that is, 64 VERY bright LEDs from digikey come out to $23, or you can go on ebay and get a couple RGB panels of the same size for $5 a pop. The IORODEO kit is a much more reasonable $80 for the bare-bones no-power supply or assembly kit, or $95 for an assembled LED board, or $112 for assembly and power supply. This means that if you had bought a pearl box, you would have spent about $500 and still needed a power supply, and if you go with the IORODEO box, you are going to spend $345 for a fully assembled kit, or $285 if you do all the assembly yourself (I included buying the power adapters from iorodeo, but not any assembly options).
Both of these options are pricey, and while the iorodeo kits are encouraging, I think assembly stands in the way of people really doing biology. Not only do you spend a lot of money on the kit, but there is the daunting task of assembly before you can do what you wanted to do when you spent all that money: run a gel.
My goal is to develop a gel box, transluminator, and power supply that people can buy for $150, assembled. You buy it, it gets shipped to you for $5 in a flat rate box, and then you open it and do some ikea assembly (put some nuts on some screws) and you are done. Thats it. Now you can run a gel. Today I finished the first major piece of that system- the box.