Reusing An Old Pacemaker As A Flash Timer


Most people use pacemakers to, you know, keep their heart pumping at a steady rhythm. [David Prutchi] on the other hand has found a pretty novel use for some of the old pacemakers he has in his collection.

We really had no idea that pacemakers had uses outside the world of medicine, but [David] has taken advantage of their reliability in one of his favorite hobbies – high speed photography. In a darkened room, he set up an infrared barrier which feeds its signal to the atrium input of an old pacemaker. The signal is relayed through the ventricular output, which then fires his camera’s flash.

The pacemaker allows [David] to set an “AV” delay, which is the interval between when the atrium input receives an electrical impulse and when that signal is repeated from the ventricular output. This allows him to finely tune how much time elapses from when a drop of milk breaks the IR barrier to when his flash actuates.

We think this is a pretty cool way to reuse an old pacemaker, but check out the shots he has captured and judge for yourself.

26 thoughts on “Reusing An Old Pacemaker As A Flash Timer

  1. Well, I can definitely say, that’s one item I have never considered hacking. But, I suppose if your dad is a cardiac surgeon, he might have a box of them lying around his office at work. I do know they have a limited life span and need to be replaced periodically, so it does make sense.

    Limited audience for this project, probably.

  2. I think they have to remove the pacemakers before cremating (presumably dead) people. Something about spreading radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere tends to get the environmental agencies all excited.

    1. Really? Because the EPA is doing nothing about radiation from Fukushima. Well, nothing except for:
      * Raising safety levels of acceptable radiation in food, air and water.
      * Withholding data from measuring stations.
      * Ordering universities to keep data secret.
      * Ignoring radiation in milk that is above safety levels.

      1. The EPA is hiding OUR data, adjusting OUR safety levels, and ignoring OUR milk which is above safety levels on the west coast. That’s all within their own jurisdiction. And why isn’t the EPA suing Tepco on our behalf?

        Anyway, if you want to see what the MSM is not covering about Fukushima, check out Some of the stuff the report will literally blow your mind, for example this head line:

        “Gov’t projections assumed ONE becquerel per hour was leaking from Fukushima — Actual rate reached at least 10 Quadrillion times higher”

    2. I wouldn’t perpetuate an OT comment, but I think many might find this interesting…

      I heard through the nuke industry (I’m a former operator at a power plant) that the US actually had to intervene to convince Japan it was as bad as it is…they were really downplaying the severity. In fact it’s sort of a cultural thing. The officials were not getting the full picture from the workers on the ground. Not hiding the truth, sort of just downplaying the problem.

      In any case US estimates of damage have always been higher than what the Japanese media reported. That said, independent researchers flocked to study the spread of radiation, so the reports are pretty accurate. We really don’t have anything to worry about in the US.

      1. I also apologize for being off topic, but this is important.

        Isotope, US officials have lied since the beginning too. First they said the radiation would never reach the US. Then when it came to the US, they said levels would be so low that it wouldn’t be dangerous. If that’s true, then why did the EPA raise safety level limits? And why did they quit publishing radiation logs across the country? Now they’ve detected radiation in milk in California, but of course it’s “not dangerous.”

        The safety limits for some isotopes are being raised up to 100,000 times the old limits. This is crazy! You can’t just raise limits and say everything is okay now.

  3. Yes, I’m just “dying” to rip my pacemaker out of me to make something like this. I have to wonder if this is a CRT-P (what I’ve got, keeping my heart ticking regularly) or a CRT-D, which can defribillate the heart by shocking it.

    1. Mabye you could just “borrow” one from a friend, “Hey Bryan, whatcha doin’ with the knife?” Anyway from the description above, AV delay and all I think its your model, not a jump starter.

    2. This is almost certainly not a CRTp of CRTd but a DDD.

      CRT or cardiac resynchronisation therapy (pacing or defibrillator) has three or four leads respectively, but by the sounds of the article only two leads Atria and Ventricle are used leading me to derive that it is a dual chamber pacemaker. These are used for conduction disturbances rather than for example heart failure improvement where both ventricles benefit from almost simultaneous depolarisation.

      With regards to why they are removed, they are either explanted when a new ‘box’ is required when the battery is drained or if the patient requires and upgrade of device eg a simple pacemaker to an implantable defibrillator or before cremation as with any battery they will explode upon heating.

      There is no risk from isotopes being released unless you have a plutonium powered device, all of which have been explanted (bar a few here or there, but VERY rare these days).

  4. Is there a way to make this work with CHDK? As replacing the Batteries with 3 1.5v batteries and no pacemaker, but just attach the circuit to the camera via USB, and as soon as the drop falls through the infrared beam/ lazer beam, it will send a current to click a picture? :S Or is the pacemaker for a delay?:S

    Please let me know :)

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