USB Borescope Lets Doctors Hone Intubation Skills On The Cheap

One of the most critical skills in emergency medicine is airway management. Without a patent airway, a patient has about four minutes to live, so doctors and paramedics put a huge amount of effort into honing their intubation skills. They have to be able to insert an endotracheal tube quickly and efficiently, without damaging sensitive structures like the vocal cords. It’s a tricky skill to master without a ton of practice.

The perfect tool to practice these skills is a video laryngoscope, but these are wildly expensive and reserved for clinical use. Luckily, with a little ingenuity and a cheap USB borescope, [Dr. Adam Blumenberg] and [Dr. Erin Falk] were able to come up with this low-cost video-assisted laryngoscopy setup to reach as many students as possible. The idea is to use a single-use laryngoscope blade, which replicates the usual tool used to visualize the patient’s vocal cords. The blade is made from clear plastic, which makes it perfect for the application. The borescope is passed through an opening in the blade and affixed to it with adhesives. A little Dremel work might be necessary to get the optical axes of the blade and the camera to line up; failing that, there’s always the option to disassemble the camera to get a better angle.

The chief advantage of this setup, aside from being cheap, is that it’s something that it’s not intended to be used on patients. Along with an airway manikin, the tricked-out borescope can sit in a conference room waiting for students to have a go. Using a large screen allows the whole group to watch the delicate procedure and learn from the mistakes of others. It may not be as detailed a simulation environment as some, but “blade time” is really what counts here.

Custom Prusa MK3 Fan Duct Gives Camera Perfect View

A growing trend is to mount a borescope “inspection camera” near a 3D printer’s nozzle to provide a unique up-close view of the action. Some argue that this perspective can provide valuable insight if you’re trying to fine tune your machine, but whether or not there’s a practical application for these sort of nozzle cams, certainly everyone can agree it makes for a pretty cool video.

[Caelestis Cosplay] recently decided to outfit his Prusa i3 MK3S+ with such a camera, and was kind enough to share the process in a write-up. The first step was to find a community-developed fan duct, which he then modified to hold the 7 mm camera module. Since the duct blows right on the printer’s nozzle, it provides an ideal vantage point.

The camera module included a few tiny SMD LEDs around the lens, but [Caelestis Cosplay] added holes to the fan duct to fit a pair of 3 mm white LEDs to really light things up. While modifying the printed parts took some effort, he says the hardest part of the whole build was salvaging a 5X lens from a handheld magnifier and filing it down so it would fit neatly over the camera. But judging by the sharp and bright demo video he’s provided, we’d say the extra effort was certainly worth it.

After covering how the camera rig was put together, [Caelestis Cosplay] then goes over how it was integrated into OctoPrint, including how the external LEDs are switched on and off. He’s running OctoPrint on a Raspberry Pi, though as we’ve covered recently, a small form factor desktop computer could just as easily run the show.

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Tricked-Out Tablet Becomes Workbench Tool

The workbench of the typical electronics hobbyist today would probably be largely recognizable by Heathkit builders back in the 60s and 70s. But where the techs and tinkerers of yesteryear would have had a real dead-tree SAMS Photofact schematic spread out on the bench, today you’ll get more use out of a flat-screen display for data sheets and schematics, and this handy shop Frankentablet might be just the thing to build.

Tablets like the older Nexus 9 that [enginoor] used as the basis for this build have a little bit of a form-factor problem because unlike a laptop, a tablet isn’t very good at standing up on its own. To fix that, they found a suitable silicone skin for the Nexus, and with some silicone adhesive began bedazzling the back of the tablet. A bendy tripod intended for phones was added, and with the tablet able to stand on its own they maximized the USB port with a right angle adapter and a hub. Now the tablet has a USB drive, a mouse, and a keyboard, ready for perusing data sheets online. And hackers of a certain age will appreciate the eyeball-enhancing potential of the attached USB microscope.

[enginoor]’s bench tablet is great, but we’ve seen full-fledged bench PCs before too. Take your pick — wall mounted and floating, or built right into the workbench.

Thanks to [ccvi] for the tip.

Low-Vision Reading Through A Camera’s Eye

Borescope cameras are great inspection tools. They’re flexible, they magnify on a variable scale, and they come with their own lighting. Oh, and they’re pretty cheap, too. Because of all this, these tiny cameras can serve a number of purposes. Doctors put them down your cake hole to look for ulcers and polyps, and mechanics probe pistons with them to check for buildup. [agulesin] used one to make a reading aid for his mom.

Mom suffers from macular degeneration, and can’t read print smaller than 1″ (2.5cm). This condition can cause issues ranging from blurred vision to complete loss of vision in the center of the visual field. Standard handheld magnifiers can work fairly well depending on a person’s condition, but they only provide a fixed magnification level and most offer no lighting.

[Agulesin] had the idea to make a reading magnifier by feeding video from a downward-facing borescope camera to an old netbook. The camera is mounted in a plywood arm that’s fixed to a bi-level platform made from scrap MDF. It’s a simple idea that’s well executed—just project flat, printed material on to a vertical screen. There’s nothing for the user to hold or mount, and no risk of neck strain from looking down over the material.

With any simple project comes limitations. The camera is fixed in place. This rig built to view sheets of A4 paper (between letter and legal size)  that are moved around by the user, and it can only handle a stack of so many sheets. If [agulesin]’s mom tried to read a thick novel this way, the camera would likely not focus.  Even so, it’s a great piece of assistive tech for people with low vision.