EWB-USA Greater Austin Chapter

Official website of EWB-USA Greater Austin


One of the major goals within our organization is to ensure world access to safe drinking water. Methods to assess presence of pathogens in water generally require an incubation period (for example, Petrifilm™ E. Coli / Coliform plates require incubation for 48 hours at 37°C).


There is a lack of a satisfactory commercial incubation solution for assessing water quality in communities without reliable electricity. Traditionally, in-field incubation is done by taping Petrifilms™ against peoples’ skins and using body heat (internal body is 37°C) as a heat source. This is very uncomfortable, severely limits quantity of tests, and can compromise reliability and clarity of results. A variety of make-shift incubators used in the field which are assembled on-site using light-bulbs or boiling water requires constant monitoring and adjustments to maintain temperature. Typical commercial portable incubators are not robust or portable enough for in-field use in third world countries.

Solution: Incubator Maker 1 (Armadillo)qmvafmgWe have been driven by the gap in reliable field-use incubation instrumentation to create a portable incubator for bacterial analysis of water. Our current prototype, the Armadillo, is:

  • Inexpensive (can be made with materials for under $200)
  • Easy to assemble (under 2 hours, no soldering required)
  • Easy to use (just flip a switch to turn on, no monitoring needed)
  • Reliable (reliably holds at 37°C for up to 65 hours on one charge)
  • Robust (withstands rain, shocks, bumps, falls)
  • Portable (weights 5 lbs and measures less than 1 cubic feet)
  • Grid-independent (powered from a rechargeable battery)

We provide step-by-step photo instructions on how you can able to build your own Petrifilm™ Incubator for under $200. Whether you wish to look at your own drinking water, or provide information for community leaders in the developing world, this product will allow you to visualize information about drinking potentially contaminated water.

Recent news and updates regarding Armadillo can be found here.

YouTube: View our 3-minute video:
Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 9.12.52 PM

Please don’t hesitate to contact our team regarding your build.


The Instrumentation Team works to assemble the Armadillo prototype (March 2016)



Follow Us on Twitter

Upcoming Events

  • Chacaya Project Meeting January 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm AECOM, 9400 Amberglen Blvd # E, Austin, TX 78729, USA You can also call into the meeting using this number below: Teleconference: (844) 712-3247 Attendee access code: 594-165-670 https://aecom.webex.com/join/hoffmanm
  • EWB General Meetings January 23, 2018 at 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Weekly meeting for our Peru, Local, and Instrumentation groups
  • EWB Weekly General and Project Meetings January 30, 2018 at 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm House of Tutors Learning Centers, 2400 Pearl St, Austin, TX 78705, USA Weekly meeting for our Peru, Local, and Instrumentation groups