Journey to the “Almost Center” of Africa


During the month of June, SeqGen was hired to send an engineer to Uganda.  While we are an international company, this is our first experience dispatching onto the African continent.  Aaron checked and rechecked what he planned to bring with him, knowing that he would have less than a week to complete the tasks at hand and no time to have additional parts shipped to him. 

He had to wait 10 days for the yellow fever vaccine to become effective and also needed to obtain the appropriate visa. “Why?”  you may ask, were we going to Uganda?  Interestingly enough, we were hired to repair four ABI Prism 377 DNA Sequencers.  While at first glance this seems like a daunting task, it is all in a day’s work for one of SeqGen’s engineers.


The evening arrived for the flight to Kampala and Aaron had all the parts that he believed were necessary.   Travel went off without a hitch and early the next morning Aaron arrived at the laboratory ready for work.  Over the course of the next four days, Aaron was able to take four machines that were basically boat anchors and turn them into working DNA sequencers.  He worked in excess of 12 hour days, but had the satisfaction of knowing he had completed what he came to do.  Then, on the fifth day, the unimaginable happened!  With Aaron’s departure scheduled for late in the evening, the one computer that the lab had available to run four 377 machines crashed!  Everything came to a screeching halt and I received a discouraging Skype call very early that morning.  Where would we locate a 20-year-old G3 Mac computer to keep the lab operational?  After a quick check of our inventory, it turned out we had over 20 of these computers and we were able to offer the customer a very inexpensive solution to what appeared to be an insurmountable problem.

Now you may wonder why I am even telling you this story.  Not many of us use 377s in our daily lab lives and have no intention of ever using a 20-year-old computer!  The answer is simple.   In the not too distant future, the very same thing is going to happen to your beloved 3130/3130xl and your 7900HT.  While we all love new gadgets (I simply could not live without my new iPhone 6 Plus), many times upgrading is neither cost effective, nor even desired.  When in this predicament, give us a call!  As with 377 dinosaurs, we will continue to repair all your aging machines for years to come.  We remain well stocked on parts the manufacturer has obsoleted and even offer service contracts on machines you might only see in a museum!

Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend!

Written by Susan Henry

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