$20 Sip-and-Puff Mouse From E-Cig And 3D Printing

At Hackaday, we think the highest form of hacking is hacking for good. Sure, it’s fun to build robots and gadgets, and universal remotes. But it is even better to create things that make people’s lives better. In that spirit, we enjoyed seeing the Assistive Tech Challenge over on Thingiverse that ended last month. The winner was [0_o] who used 3D printing and an Arduino to produce a mouth-operated mouse for under $20.

sip-sensor-from-ecigInstructions on Thingiverse can be spotty, but [0_o] did an excellent job of laying out what you need to buy and how to assemble it. One of the most interesting parts of the build is the blow sensor. [0_o] tore apart a $5 electronic cigarette and used the sensor within. The mouthpiece is moved like a joystick to actuate the cursor, and the user blows into it for the mouse clicks. Perhaps not a true sip-and-puff system but it made us wonder what other uses you might find for these sensors.

You can see a video about the mouse after the break. These kinds of projects have the power to make someone’s life better and what could be better than that?

There were plenty of assistive projects in the Hackaday Prize entries this year — like the gaze-controlled wheelchair mechanism that won the grand prize. Plus, we’ve seen plenty of assistive hacking in the past ranging from game controllers to robotic guide dogs.

23 thoughts on “$20 Sip-and-Puff Mouse From E-Cig And 3D Printing

  1. If you want to go a less smelly (and possibly avoid the profiling that purchasing an e-cig will impart on you search results in the future), pick up a pressure transducer from Digikey. There are sensors from Freescale for about $8 that have a barbed fitting and will run off 3.3v. They use a wheatstone bridge and put out around 60mv at full scale (1/2 atmosphere) http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/MPX53DP/MPX53DP-ND/951812

          1. Even 100% pure PG can produce formaldehyde in an e-cig. Lower grades of PG will result in a far greater array of toxic substances. Do you even know what grade of PG is used in what you are vaping?

            You should definitely do some research before accusing someone of stupid thinking.

          2. Eh, that’s not precisely true. While certainly less harmful than cigarettes, recent studies have demonstrated that there are health risks associated with e-cigarette use. For example, some of the flavorings used in the e-cig juice are known to be at least mildly toxic and/or corrosive. Furthermore, at elevated temperatures like those inside of an e-cig cartridge, the milieu of organic compounds that make up e-cig juice begin to react and form a variety of chemical compounds that are known to be at least mildly toxic. Formaldehyde springs to mind as one of the prime examples of these harmful compounds. I’m not saying e-cigs are anywhere near as horrible for your health as cigarettes. I am, however, saying that they’re potentially harmful. Also, nicotine consumption by itself has been associated with atherosclerosis and hypertension. So nicotine is not also completely harmless on its own.

          3. r4k: But it is a stupid way of thinking….

            “Buy this other device that is 60% more expensive so that Google doesn’t think you smoke e-vapes because smoking is bad.”

            Let the smokers smoke so that these manufacturers actually produce cheap little machines that we can use to hack.

          4. Research on e-cig ‘danger’ is not possible because the cult of anti-smoking fanatics are targeting the things, meaning you get complete utter bullshit from paid-for ‘scientist’ and ‘doctors’ filling the world with so much nonsense that it becomes impossible to determine the reality unless you are a damn researcher yourself and check each and every aspect. So they might be bad, they might be harmless, nobody can tell you but you yourself. Seriously, nobody.

            It’s a sad state of affairs in the world today, so many things are so politicized that science is virtually destroyed.

            And it’s even sadder if people are afraid to do things because of ‘what google might think’, fucking hell, the sadness of it all

          5. I agree with “Whatnot” on this. It is impossible to do a blind study on e-cig smoking, and the data people present is complete crap.
            I even remember some dumb-ass telling me that second hand smoking (tobacco) is actually just as dangerous as first hand smoking. I would love to see that “scientific” study.

      1. A whopping $3.69! And it even has a barb fitting so you don’t have to do all that stuff. Also, do you see “hacking an e-cig” as part of a widely implemented accessibility device, rather than “spend $8.69 on a Freescale MPX53DP”? I applaud his hacking/part reuse, but I don’t see an e-cig as a legitimate part of a BOM for an accessibility device.

        1. How about “If I can buy an entire e-cig for that price, I can also go to the manufacturer of the specific component I need and buy them separately in large volumes”. Do you really think he was planning on making these in large volumes by buying a bunch of e-cigs and disassembling them?

    1. Leave aside question whether such tinfoil hat is good or not, do you even private mode? When I browse not logged in any Google account, and block their Analytics in scriptsafe (perhaps you should add to list removing cookies and history as private mode is doing it for you), I don’t see any specific change in Google ads served to me

      Unless we asume they can see me hiding, and do that to leave me with false sense of privacy, of course ;)

      1. They can see you hiding. Your browser leaks all sorts of interesting data, and you are using the same IP, typing the same way, read the same things, from the same locations and generally are easy to spot. When a site uses google fonts, or google cdn hosted jquery, or you use as your dns, they know it’s you. Even the way you move the mouse is distinctive (that’s how the I’m not a robot button works). Your phone listens as you type, and the timing between the keys lets them know what you’re writing. The barometer detects your heart rate, the accelerometer your movements around the room (while the phone sits on the charger). The distortion of the wifi signal reads your thoughts, and all to show you a seemingly irrelevant ad for car insurance. Of course the first letters of each word in the ad actually tell you to subscribe to cat videos.

        Do you really think they would add private mode if it actually got in their way?

        1. I don’t know, if your comment is satirical or just paranoid. Of course the browser leaks some data, but the last sentences (movements, heart rate, wifi, cat videos) is impossible, perhaps except in some really, really controlled and shielded lab experiment.
          But if I am really too paranoid to google for e-cig replacement parts I also would not have to go to e.g. erowid.org etc. :-) And what about buying a hypodermic needle (to cut it down and use it for a vacuum suction pen for SMD placement)?

  2. It should be possible to use a cheap piezo disk with a simple buffer / pulse stretcher circuit. It would be a larger diameter, but because it is larger diameter it would be sensitive to smaller pressure changes. An adjustable comparator would allow the sensitivity to be adjusted.
    You could probably handle all that in code if you wanted.

  3. These smokers seem to use a modified electret microphone element, though I haven’t tore into one yet. They can be reversed so two can do suck and blow (no mamby pamby please) and drive any load like the heater inside the smoker. The fancy ones let you select the voltage, a boost over 1 cell Li. With a small hole as bleed you could make a two or more level state of action (elements in each bleed compartment). These things are disposable and are everywhere in the trash stream. Some have the sensor at the end, never gets anything but incoming fresh air on it.
    I have thought of a string of them being a mouth harp controller, but have not the time or quantity to hack.

  4. with all the respect to creativity and effort – i do recall having mouse move around pretty good by using some webcam and sw – – – – i think it was using face recognition and nose triangulation . . . . and worked just fine

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