Heart-shaped heart simulator

Heart

A few years ago, [Addie] over at Tymkrs put together a spooky little Halloween project: a small Propeller board that emulates the electrical signals in a heart. As a cardiac nurse, she thought her project could use a little improvement, and after two years she’s finally done. It’s a heart-shaped board that simulates electrical signals moving through the heart.

There are several key areas that conduct electrical signals through the heart – the sinoatrial node, atrioventricular node, and bundle branches all work like players in an orchestra to keep a heart beating like it should. If something goes wrong with one of these, the heart goes into tachycardia or fibrillation – not good, by any measure. [Addie]‘s board simulates all the different ways a heart can go wrong with LEDs standing in for the electrical signals in a real heart. The name of the game here is to look at the LEDs and tell what state the heart is in.

The PCB heart is just one part of [Addie]‘s heart simulator. The simulated heart can also plug into a neat little heart-shaped project box wired up with a solenoid, LCD display, headphone jack, and other electronics to turn this electronic heart into a complete study tool for heart rhythms. The nurses in [Addie]‘s unit love the thing, and it looks like [Addie] might have a real cardiac training tool on here hands here.

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Heart-shaped project takes no shortcuts

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If all [Blake] wanted to do is scroll “Blake loves Kim” on some LEDs he could have stopped with the breadboard version of the project. Or hastily craft a cardboard heart around the marquee. But he really just used this heart-shaped electronics project as an excuse to get his feet wet with several different types of manufacturing.

The project started as a simple scrolling message pendant. Something along these lines. His very small LED module was being driven by an ATtiny85. He planned to run it from battery which is a perfect excuse to learn how to use the sleep functions built into the chip.

The initial design worked so well he decided to lay out his own circuit board. This made it quite simple to add in a side-positioned button to wake from sleep, and a coin cell battery holder on the back. He used OSH Park for board manufacturing — good thing they allow creative board outlines. To protect the circuitry he also ordered laser-cut acrylic plates that work in conjunction with stand offs to form a case.

He mentions he missed his Valentine’s Day delivery date by a long shot. But that’s how these sort of things go, right?

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Hackaday Links: Valentine’s Day, 2013

It’s not too late to hack your own Valentine’s day gifts. Here’s four projects to get you headed in the right direction.

Heart-shaped box

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[Ian] built what he calls the Valentine’s gift bomb. It’s a cigar box with this LED heart on the top. A servo motor latches the lid from the inside and won’t open until the thing goes off on the big day. (sorry, no link to this one as he just sent us the pictures found after the break).

A Blinky Bouquet

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[Ryan] shows us how to make a felt bouquet and then light things up with some LEDs.

Pictures in a bottle

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Reuse that old incandescent bulb by adding LEDs and heart-shaped pictures inside the glass enclosure.

Robot love

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This cocoa container turned robot cat calls, raises its eyebrows, and blinks the LEDs eyes when she presses the button on top.

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Mother’s Day heart chaser

[Robert Mibus] took on a project which his kids could present to Mom on Mother’s Day. It’s an LED heart built into a ring or necklace box. The series of white LEDs are animated in a chase pattern. The project let [Robert] push his comfort boundaries by moving past a stock Arduino board.

Inside you’ll find an ATtiny85. He picked up the chip to try running Arduino sketches on smaller hardware. But the total of five available I/O pins presented an issue with driving the LEDs. Ten LEDs are used here and even a standard multiplex display would need no less than seven to control them without additional chips or the need for Charlieplexing. His solution was to drive two opposite LEDs at once, which cuts the need down to his five available pins.

Once he got it all soldered together he realized that he had made a coding error. But a few soldered wires let him reflash it in place using ISP.

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Building an artificial heart with ferrofluids

Here’s something we thought we’d never see on Hackaday. [Chris Suprock] is developing an artificial heart he calls Steel Heart. It’s an artificial heart powered by electromagnets and ferrofluids.

The idea behind [Chris]‘ artificial heart is ingenious in its simplicity. An elastic membrane is stretched across a frame and a magnetic liquid (or ferrofluid, if you prefer) is poured across the membrane. An electromagnet is activated and the membrane stretches out, simulating the beating of a heart. Put a few of these together and you’ve got a compact, biologically inert pump that’s perfect for replacing an aging ticker.

[Chris]‘ plan to use ferrofluids and electromagnets as an artificial heart give us pause to actually think about what he’s done here. Previously, artificial hearts used either pneumatics or motors to pump blood throughout the body. Pneumatic pumps required plastic tubes coming out of the body – not a satisfactory long-term solution. Motor-driven pumps can rupture red blood cells leading to hemolysis. Using ferrofluids and an elastic membrane allows for the best of both worlds – undamaged blood cells and transdermal induction charging.

Not only is [Chris] designing a freaking artificial heart, he also came up with a useful application of ferrofluids. We were nearly ready to write off magnetic particles suspended in a liquid as a cool science toy or artistic inspiration. You can check out [Chris]‘ indiegogo video with a demo of the ferrofluid pump in action after the break.

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Mimicing a heartbeat in sound and electrical pathways

If you set a cardiac nurse loose on a Propeller microcontroller and some parts you might not know what to expect. But we’re intrigued by the outcome of this project which looks to mimic a heartbeat’s audible and electrical traits. The post about the project is in four parts which are not linked to each other, but you can find them all, as well as a video segment demonstrating the rig after the break.

It seems that this was intended as a Halloween project, but we don’t see why it wouldn’t be interesting any time of year. The Propeller demo board is used to mimic a heartbeat with a pulsing LED. But that doesn’t seem all that awesome, so the sounds of a heartbeat were added to the program to coincide with the blinky light. Here’s where the medical training comes in: the next phase of the process was to lay out an array of LEDs on a breadboard in the shape of the human heart’s electrical system. Now you’ve got a pulsing LED, heart sounds, and a lighted animation showing how the electricity travels through the organ.

To add a little [Poe] to the project there’s also a CdS light sensor. As you approach the project you block some light from getting to the sensor and the heart rate increases.

We think the next logical step is to add a heart rate sensor, so that this can illustrate what your own heart is doing. Boom! Another project ready for the Children’s museum.

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