Hacking A Reader For Medical Test Strips


[Rahul] works at a startup that produces cutting edge diagnostic test cards. These simple cards can test for enzymes, antibodies, and diseases quickly and easily. For one test, this greatly speeds up the process of testing and diagnosis, but since these tests can now be administered en masse, health services the world over now have the problem of reading, categorizing, and logging thousands of these diagnostic test cards.

The normal solution to this problem is a dedicated card scanner, but these cost tens of thousands of dollars. At a 24-hour hackathon, [Rahul] decided to bring down the cost of the card scanners by whipping up his own, built from a CD drive and an Arduino.

The card [Rahul] used, an A1c card that tests for glucose bound to hemoglobin, has a few lines on the card that fluoresce with different intensify depending on the test results. This can be easily read with a photodiode connected to an Arduino. The mechanical part of the build consisted of an old CD drive with a 3D printed test strip adapter. Operation is very simple – just put the test strip in the test strip holder, press a button, and the results of the test are transmitted over Bluetooth.

Not only is [Rahul]’s build extremely simple, it’s also extremely useful and was enough to net him the ‘Most Innovative Project’ prize at the hackathon in his native Singapore.

7 thoughts on “Hacking A Reader For Medical Test Strips

  1. Go Rahul! It’s nice to see medical folks doing things like this. So many devices are highly overpriced (*cough* “special lights for jaundice” *cough*) and not within reach in poorer parts of the world.

  2. This is very cool. Being a diabetic myself I’ve been thinking of ways of hacking around with my glucose testers, there so many around(cause they give them away) but I have yet to crack one open and see what its doing.

  3. Cant you just take a photograph with a CMOS sensor? You will need a box where you stick your strip in to give a sensor some distance to be in focus and have enough POV. Box can also contain LEDs for different wavelengths.

    These devices could be mass produced with very little cost and without mechanical parts, they would be very reliable.

  4. I’m guessing the reason they are so expensive is because they’re sold in low numbers, require FDA approval, require insurance policies in case you are ever sued, etc. Maybe they dont have all these regulatory/legal problems in Colombia.

  5. I had a thought to use UV LEDs for this (jaundice lights) as these aren’t as expensive.
    Also possible is to make your own using some very simple hacking, it seems that the SrS based colour shifting EL will reliably emit NUV if driven at >2kHz with decent current.
    Add a large lens harvested from say a dead xenon HID lamp, glue onto EL panel and voila!

    Labour is cheap so DIY soldering a 100 LED UV lamp is feasible and the diodes are available cheaply by the thousand.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.