Posts with «covid-19» label

Automatic Sanitizer for Your Cupholder

Why is it so hard to remember to use hand sanitizer between going into the store and driving back home? We tried hanging a bottle off the windshield wiper stalk, but it gets in the way and is hard to use and share with passengers. The ideal thing would be to have a hands-free pump in the car that reminds you to use it.

You don’t have to wire this to the ignition or anything — all you have to do is power it with the cigarette lighter (or straight-up outlet, if you’re lucky). Every time you turn the key, this pump powers up and performs a little song to remind you to use it. Electronically speaking, it couldn’t be simpler — an Arduino UNO reads your hand from the distance sensor and activates a servo that dispenses three short pumps of isopropyl alcohol. Check it out in action after the break.

Want a hands-free solution for the house? Just build something you can step on.

Hackaday Links: April 26, 2020

Gosh, what a shame: it turns out that perhaps 2 billion phones won’t be capable of COVID-19 contact-tracing using the API that Google and Apple are jointly developing. The problem is that the scheme the two tech giants have concocted, which Elliot Williams expertly dissected recently, is based on Bluetooth LE. If a phone lacks a BLE chipset, then it won’t work with apps built on the contact-tracing API, which uses the limited range of BLE signals as a proxy for the physical proximity of any two people. If a user is reported to be COVID-19 positive, all the people whose BLE beacons were received by the infected user’s phone within a defined time period can be anonymously notified of their contact. As Elliot points out, numerous questions loom around this scheme, not least of which is privacy, but for now, something like a third of phones in mature smartphone markets won’t be able to participate, and perhaps two-thirds of the phones in developing markets are not compatible. For those who don’t like the privacy-threatening aspects of this scheme, pulling an old phone out and dusting it off might not be a bad idea.

We occasionally cover stories where engineers in industrial settings use an Arduino for a quick-and-dirty automation solution. This is uniformly met with much teeth-gnashing and hair-rending in the comments asserting that Arduinos are not appropriate for industrial use. Whether true or not, such comments miss the point that the Arduino solution is usually a stop-gap or proof-of-concept deal. But now the purists and pedants can relax, because Automation Direct is offering Arduino-compatible, industrial-grade programmable controllers. Their ProductivityOpen line is compatible with the Arduino IDE while having industrial certifications and hardening against harsh conditions, with a rich line of shields available to piece together complete automation controllers. For the home-gamer, an Arduino in an enclosure that can withstand harsh conditions and only cost $49 might fill a niche.

Speaking of Arduinos and Arduino accessories, better watch out if you’ve got any modules and you come under the scrutiny of an authoritarian regime, because you could be accused of being a bomb maker. Police in Hong Kong allegedly arrested a 20-year-old student and posted a picture of parts he used to manufacture a “remote detonated bomb”. The BOM for the bomb was strangely devoid of anything with wireless capabilities or, you know, actual explosives, and instead looks pretty much like the stuff found on any of our workbenches or junk bins. Pretty scary stuff.

If you’ve run through every binge-worthy series on Netflix and are looking for a bit of space-nerd entertainment, have we got one for you. Scott Manley has a new video that goes into detail on the four different computers used for each Apollo mission. We knew about the Apollo Guidance Computers that guided the Command Module and the Lunar Module, and the Launch Vehicle Digital Computer that got the whole stack into orbit and on the way to the Moon, but we’d never heard of the Abort Guidance System, a backup to the Lunar Module AGC intended to get the astronauts back into lunar orbit in the event of an emergency. And we’d also never heard that there wasn’t a common architecture for these machines, to the point where each had its own word length. The bit about infighting between MIT and IBM was entertaining too.

And finally, if you still find yourself with time on your hands, why not try your hand at pen-testing a military satellite in orbit? That’s the offer on the table to hackers from the US Air Force, proprietor of some of the tippy-toppest secret hardware in orbit. The Hack-A-Sat Space Security Challenge is aimed at exposing weaknesses that have been inadvertantly baked into space hardware during decades of closed development and secrecy, vulnerabilities that may pose risks to billions of dollars worth of irreplaceable assets. The qualification round requires teams to hack a grounded test satellite before moving on to attacking an orbiting platform during DEFCON in August, with prizes going to the winning teams. Get paid to hack government assets and not get arrested? Maybe 2020 isn’t so bad after all.

Making an Arduino Ventilator? Read This First

Thanks to the virus crisis, lots of people are designing makeshift ventilator designs in the hopes of saving people’s lives. Many of these are based around some sort of Arduino-powered CPU. [Armstrong Subero] things that’s a great idea, but cautions that making an electronic pair of dice is a different proposition than creating a machine to breathe for someone. But he isn’t just complaining. He talks about considerations when building a real-time and safety-critical system.

[Armstrong] has a lot of good points, although we aren’t sure you need the complexity of a real-time operating system just to squeeze a bag. If anything, that seems like it might make it more susceptible to unexpected operation. However, we agree with his comments that you should have closed-loop control to make sure the device is working, alarming when the device isn’t working, and watchdog timers to guard against lockup.

One excellent point from the post:

For example a high availability system real time system may be specified as having an up time of around 99% in a 24 hour period. Which 1% of the day is it acceptable to have the ventilator not operational? Since we have 1440 minutes in a day, which 14.4 minutes of the day should the patient not be allowed to breathe?

However, he does have some solid suggestions such as using an IDE with debugging and adhering to a coding standard such as MISRA. Of course, he also points out you might choose a different CPU that has safety-critical certifications and corresponding libraries. One suggestion is to have multiple CPUs, and this is a common enough solution in many safety-critical systems. For example, imagine 3 CPUs driving a switching circuit that requires a low logic level to turn on.

You could make the outputs go to inputs if the CPU wants to not drive the switch, or pull the output to ground if it does. Then a pull-up resistor holds the state high if no CPU pulls it to ground. All CPUs could sense the state of the line and if they don’t think it looks right they sound their own alarm. Some systems vote so that two of three CPUs must agree (at least) or, in some cases, three out of five.

We’ve been talking about ventilators quite a bit lately. The kind of mechanical design [Armstrong] is probably thinking of is like the MIT design we talked about last week.

Together, Let’s Make COVID-19 History

Combating COVID-19 Conference: A Collaborative Arduino Community Initiative 
to take place on April 2nd at 5pm CET

Humanity is facing one of the most trying events in its history and as technologists, makers and designers we are asking ourselves how can we help. 

How can we contribute to the efforts to save lives, to help our fellow human beings?

All of us have been thinking about this and observing what was going on in the world.

We have seen communities, including the Arduino community, trying to design devices that would help hospitals cope with the lack of equipment; we’ve seen people firing up their imagination and their 3d printers in an effort to build something that could save even a single human life.

Having noticed that a large number of these efforts are using Arduino technology we reached out to a number of these communities to offer our help, donate some hardware, provide engineering support and do whatever we can considering that we are a small company.

One thing that was striking to us is the large amount of duplication in the work people are doing – many people are spending valuable time trying to overcome similar challenges in their design, rather than sharing their solution to the benefit of all and moving on to the next hurdle. Also that there are different teams with different strengths and skill sets that would be better working together than apart.

We must do better, be more effective, work together and merge efforts to solve these problems and reach our common goal quicker and more efficiently.

Because of all of this we want to invite as many of these projects as possible to an online gathering, to get people talking, to offer help on how to design and make hardware, how to think about the software, and how to scale manufacturing (we would like to share our knowledge in making tens of thousands of open source boards per week). Finally and most importantly we must take guidance from  medical professionals so that they can steer requirements and validate the designs so our efforts have the most positive impact. 

Join us online on April, 2nd to understand how we can work together to do better together, and Together – Let’s Make Covid-19 History

David Cuartielles, Massimo Banzi co-founders of Arduino (on behalf of Arduino)

Combating COVID-19 Conference: A Collaborative Arduino Community Initiative
will take place on April 2nd at 17.00 CET.

This is an open invitation to anyone currently using Arduino compatible devices within a project to design and manufacture ventilators, respirators or other devices to combat COVID-19. Be you a doctor, an academic, a professional company/researcher or an innovator you are more than welcome to join the conference. 

The conference will be hosted in Zoom (link available soon), with the ability to interact with Arduino and other members on the conference via Discord (free download here). 

There are different ways to participate in the conference; you can present your Arduino based project to combat COVID-19, support other community projects or provide expert advice – we are all stronger together.

(N.B. if you want to present and share your project, please complete this form by 12.00 (noon) CET on April 2nd)

More information on the conference will be available soon, in the meantime you can learn more about Arduino’s overall response to COVID-19 emergency here.

Automating Hand Sanitizer — If You Can Find Any

We once saw a Romeo and Juliet production where the two families were modern-day mob families with 3-piece suits and pistols. If they made King Richard III set in this week, the famous line might be: “Hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer, my kingdom for hand sanitizer!” Even if you have a supply stashed in your prepper cache, you have to touch the bottle so you could cross-contaminate with other users. Public places often have automatic dispensers to combat this, and now you can too. [Just Barran] shows the device in a video, you can see below.

Sourcing parts for projects is sometimes a problem, but right now we are betting the hand sanitizer will be the hardest component. Of course, the Internet is ripe with homemade brews that may or may not be effective based on beer, grain alcohol, or a variety of other base materials.

[Barran] has a big junk box. so he snagged an Arduino and an ultrasonic sensor. The part that is a little tricky is pulling down the pump. The basic idea is to use a servo motor to pull some fishing line. To engage the bottle, there is a small bit of plastic from a notebook cover and the fishing line goes to both sides of it. One side of the fishing line is fixed and the other is what the servo pulls.

We might have used a solenoid to push the button, but we like the servo method for its simplicity. In the end, it does look like it works well. Changing the bottle out probably requires a little surgery since there is a screw holding the plastic bracket in and you might have to update the fishing line lengths. That might be an impediment for a commercial project, but for your own use, it doesn’t seem like it would be a problem.

Fishing line is more useful than you might think. We’ve even seen it used as belts in 3D printers.