A Pill Dispenser For The Person With Everything

Sorting out pills is a mildly tedious task, and one that’s ripe for a bit of automation. It’s a task that [Mellow] has taken on enthusiastically, with the result of an extremely well-designed dispenser that has a stack of hoppers with servos controlled by an ESP8266 that dispense the pills required on time.

There are a series of videos of which we’ve put the latest below the break, showing the various iterations of this project. Earlier versions used multiple microcontrollers rather than the single ESP, and his sensor choice is both simple and ingenious. A single vibration sensor detects the pills falling upon it, resulting on an extremely compact electronics set-up and the base of the 3D printed stack.

We’re struck by this design, by its simplicity, ingenuity, and its pleasing aesthetics with the use of a piece of perfboard and a load of heatshrink to make an extremely tidy wiring loom. We’re not sure we’ll ever need a pill dispenser like it, but if we did we don’t think we could come up with a better design.

You might be surprised to find that pill dispensers have appeared here before.

15 thoughts on “A Pill Dispenser For The Person With Everything

  1. Why? (Ok, because they can.) Solutions with no problems making it worse and now needs a power supply.

    A 30 days pill box costs less than 10 €. It is a dead stupid concept, a trustable solution, no miss feeds, no malfunction, only 10 minutes effort once a month, works even if we are drunken (sailors).

        1. It’s often the journey one takes, that is the treasure, and not the destination. What we learn on the way, is the true value. We are human, which means we make and use tools. We have a tedious, unpleasant task, we design something to make it better.

    1. You would be surprised how challenging the ordinary multiday pill box can be for the elderly. Filling all the compartments correctly once a week with complex medication schedules, tiny pills, and limited dexterity is just the start. Extracting the pills without losing any on the floor is also a challenge. This type of system could be very helpful to many. Reliability and verifiability are super important, and liability for giving one to somebody else would be worrisome, but the concept and need is great.

      1. We think the same.

        Real world problem is that every time I get my quarterly pill dosage the pill size, form, color and shape differs. (Praise our German “aut idem” concept and health insurances changing their rebate contracts faster than light travels.) Pills formerly known as large are suddenly small, blue changes to green and rounds are oval now.

        This device needs to handle all this forms and make sure that we only get one pill (not more, not less) of any kind.

        And, speaking about the elderly, they often get a lot of pills over the day. So we need way more than three boxes. Looking at the +70 at our maker space I would suggest 6 to 8 at least. And while talking about those +70, please make it spill proof. And travel safe (We are on our way to look after our grandchildren…).

        Yeah. Way to go.

        Pill boxes are a plain stupid working concept.

        What the world really needs is a automated micro liquor dispenser!

        (This is way to much text for all of this… We are out.)

        1. Yah, just 2 pills on a twice a day and three times a day sched mean needing 5 compartments, and it gets worse from there, if some are with food, and some are empty stomach, then if any supplements are recommended but argue with certain pills… All of a sudden you’re up to a “week” worth of pill holes. That’s even when you don’t have 3 max size pills that need taken at once, so they don’t fit a single compartment and you have to spread them.

          Then if you’ve also got 3 different conditions waxing and waning, you’re on and off meds all the time, get a “perfect” pill box and a month later it’s wrong again.

          Not to mention these things are not in any way durable, the clips get loose in mere weeks of use and you upend it to get the last tiny “mid morning on an empty stomach” pill out and two compartments let go and dump…

          Then you’re also screwed if anything is particularly sensitive to light or humidity, because they are likely not dark enough or don’t actually seal very well.

          There’s nothing close to a reliable portable solution either, they just don’t close well enough, end up with multiple multicompartment containers mummified in rolled up ziplocks for a day out.

    2. I would love something like this. I take 126 pills a week and it takes me like 25 minutes every saturday to refill the weekly box, and frequently it feels like my hands are starting to cramp up when I’m done.

  2. I run tech support for a pharmacy automation company, and the rotating plates design he came up with is used in a lot of single dose packaging machines (each pill has a barcode and can fit in hospital carts) for multidose we use strip packs, which is like a strip of condoms, but each pouch has all the pills you’re supposed to take each time with instructions printed on each pack. It’s way easier than sorting them into a tray for old folks.

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