A teenager looking to answer the age-old question of what makes a ginger a ginger has invented a DNA testing machine in his bedroom.

Fred Turner, 17, whipped up the device from things he found lying around the house, including an old video recorder, the Daily Mail reports.

His motivation? His brother Gus' striking red hair.

"I wanted to look at the genetic code that makes me human and specifically one of the genes I wanted to look at was the ginger gene," he told ITV.

"My mom and my brother both have ginger hair. And I wanted to look at the gene that makes them ginger. "The only way to do it was to build the machine because there was no way I could buy it."

Indeed, Turner's creation, known as a Polymerase Chain Reaction machine, or PCR, cost him about US$250 to build, compared to the thousands it would cost to make a commercial device.

"Sequencing machines and reagents are expensive so at the moment, " Turner told The Huffington Post Canada. "After PCR I send the samples off to a lab for sequencing. I'm looking into also doing this at home but the reagents are prohibitively expensive.

"I can use my machine to test for many genes other than just the ginger gene and for some genes I can actually do the analysis at home without sending it off to a lab... but the ginger gene is a single point mutation (or SNP) so sequencing is the best option."

Naturally, his invention raised a few eyebrows in the scientific community, scoring the young scientist one of the UK's most prestigious accolades — the Young Engineer of the Year Award.

"This outstanding project by Fred shows how bright that future is in the UK and I can't wait to see what he does with his highly promising career," celebrity judge Ben Miller said of the honour. "I hope young people everywhere feel inspired to follow in his footsteps.

You can read more about Turner's DNA machine on his blog.

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