Building A Heavy Duty Open Source Ventilator

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we’ve seen several attempts to create homebrew ventilators designed to address the shortage of these lifesaving machines. Unfortunately, most hackers aren’t terribly experienced when it comes to designing practical medical equipment. So while many of the designs might have appeared functional on the workbench, there’s little chance they’d get used in any official capacity.

The open source DP Ventilator is still clearly the product of a couple plucky hackers, but we think it shows a level of design maturity that’s been missing in many of the earlier attempts. Made primarily with 3D printed components, this mechanical device is designed to operate a hand-held manual resuscitator; essentially standing in for a human operator. This makes the design far less complex than if it had to actually pump air itself, not to mention safer for the patient since the resuscitator (often referred to as an Ambu Bag) installed in it would be a sterile pre-packaged item.

In the video after the break, you can see just how much thought and effort has been put into the device’s touch screen interface. With a few quick taps the medical professional operating the DP Ventilator can dial in variables such as breathing rate, pressure, and volume to match the patient’s needs. While the Arduino Mega 2560 at the machine’s heart wouldn’t pass muster for any regulating body in charge of medical devices, we think with a few more tweaks, this design is getting close to something that might actually be able to save lives.

12 thoughts on “Building A Heavy Duty Open Source Ventilator

  1. A lung ventilator needs to be much more subtle and nuanced than blowing up and deflating patients.

    As one simple example hints, what should the ventilator do when the patient tries to take a breath, and partially succeeds one time in 10? Ignore those attempts and the patient may be damaged.

  2. I think this is pretty neat.
    And pray I never need one!
    I’m all for open source medical equipment. Yes, there is a risk of it not being built correctly, but if it is, why be forced to pay the MASSIVE prices for a “real” device when this one could work just as well.
    My take on this is it is part of the health industry, where as the over priced commercial units are part of the sickness industry.

  3. I’m hoping this was just a hacker’s experiment done as a personal hobby project with no real expectation of being applied to human use.

    Having served several years as a Technical Advisor for the world’s largest Anesthesia mfg, and several years before that as their manufacturing engineer supporting the assembly floor on the ventilator and anesthesia production line, and the bulk of my unmentioned career life as a biomed supporting multiple hospitals, this is NOT an area for hobbyists.

  4. In short… Ambu-bags are bona fide medical equipment when operated by an ambulance crew member (by hand) But suddenly, they are dangerous when mechanical means is found to replace the ‘human’ operator? Even when it can be demonstrated that a high degree of ‘control’ can be programmed into the same system? ’tis poppycock I say and eelitism at its very best forcing huge profits unto themselves alone.

    I wonder how many iterations of the ‘professional’ ventilator came and went before the whatever ‘perfect’ or more like preferred, goto and of course closed source machine made whatever gold standard for medical use?

    As I understand things. Patients are heavily sedated prior to being hooled up to a ventilator and one of the main reasons, is to suppress natural breathing so there is no resistance to the mechanical process involved. Possibly leading to over inflated or collapsed lungs at the other extreeme, either of which, does not bode well for a given patient. So, those who imo, poo-poop open sourced efforts based on often spurious reasoning whilst in the middle of a pandemic shortage, would not seem to have my best interests in mind, if there was a choice between something like this available or nothing? These, are the same people who will ask us to line up to test ‘their’ new untested (certainly over time and numbers etc.) vaccine. If and/as when they become available. A very warped science mindset, to say the very least.

    At the end of the day. lots of peopledon’t survive ventillator treatment and who knows if they died from the disease or the ventillation process? I was scared by this: UNTIL I got to where the ‘nurse’ started promoting hydroxychloroquin and zinc but hell, what do I know? I’m neither a pulmonologist nor virologist. Just someone who thinks the truth, whatever it is, is out there somewhere? I just haven’t come across it yet! In the meantime, bravo to those who against all odds, try to solve immediate and ongoing problems via their endeavours.

  5. +1. Yeah, death stats they throw around these days are pretty much crap, in my personal, unprofessional opinion – you’re welcome to take it or leave it. When you promise government $$$ to places with covid deaths by death count, and set the bar for it as low as an asymptomatic positive test or ‘matching symptoms’ to be counted as a covid death, what do you think is going to happen… Why do you think coroners have come out together whistle-blowing on cause of death reporting in some areas on this… Yeah, it sucks, but life comes with a 100% chance of death, at least currently, and somewhere in the ballpark of 8K deaths a DAY is usual for the US. It doesn’t take attributing many of these to covid, which would usually be attributed to another cause under ‘normal circumstances’, to create some nice scare tactics and media fodder.

  6. Absolute bullshit. Death rate is still around 1%. Guess some people just don’t count in your world view?

    People are less likely to die on vents because we’ve determined that ventilators don’t improve your survival chances – once you’re sick enough from covid to require a ventilator, you’re almost certainly going to die regardless of any intervention. Covid’s no longer considered just a respiratory disease, we now know it can do major damage to many other organs as well.

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