Electrolytes, They’re What Dehydrated Hackaday Writers Crave!

The oddly prophetic 2006 comedy film Idiocracy features an isotonic drink called Brawndo, whose marketing continuously refers to its electrolytes as a miraculous property. Brawndo is revealed in the film to be useless for agricultural irrigation, but yesterday perhaps a couple of Hackaday writers could have used a bottle or two. At the MCH hacker camp, the record heat of a Dutch summer under the influence of global warming caused us to become dehydrated, and thus necessitated a trip to the first aid post for some treatment. We’d done all the right things, staying in the shade, keeping as cool as we could, eating salty foods like crisps, and drinking plenty of liquids, so what had gone wrong?

Perhaps Club-Mate Should Have An Isotonic Version

The answer will probably be obvious to trained observers, we’d become deficient in those electrolytes. Our bodily stocks of sodium and potassium salts had become exhausted by sweat and all that extra water requiring trips to the toilet, so while we weren’t dehydrated in liquid terms we had exhausted some of the essentials to our cellular function.

The symptoms would have been easy to spot given the right training, but at a hacker camp it was too easy to attribute a headache and tiredness to a late night. For me the point at which it became obvious something was significantly wrong came when my thought processes started to slow down and my movement became a lot less easy. I’m a long-distance walker and cyclist, yet here I was walking like an octogenarian. If I’d know what to spot I might also have noticed that I had stopped sweating despite the heat. I found a friend (Thanks Gasman!), and together we made our way to the first aid post. MCH2022 first aiders were very efficient, and I was given a cup of oral rehydration salts which restored me to health in a matter of minutes. Continue reading “Electrolytes, They’re What Dehydrated Hackaday Writers Crave!”

Hackaday Prize Entry: Fighting Dehydration One Sip At A Time

Humans don’t survive long without water, and most people walk around in a chronic state of mild dehydration even if they have access to plenty of drinking water. It’s hard to stay properly hydrated, and harder still to keep track of your intake, which is the idea behind this water-intake monitoring IoT drinking straw.

Dehydration is a particularly acute problem in the elderly, since the sense of thirst tends to diminish with age. [jflaschberger]’s Hackaday Prize entry seeks to automate the tedious and error-prone job of recording fluid intake, something that caregivers generally have to take care of by eyeballing that half-empty glass and guessing. The HydrObserve uses a tiny turbine flowmeter that can mount to a drinking straw or water bottle cap. A Hall sensor in the turbine sends flow data to a Cypress BLE SoC module, which totalizes the volume sipped and records a patient identifier. A caregiver can then scan the data from the HydrObserve at the end of the day for charting and to find out if anyone is behind on their fluids.

There are problems to solve, not least being the turbine, which doesn’t appear to be food safe. But that’s a small matter that shouldn’t stand in the way of an idea as good as this one. We’ve seen a lot of good entries in the Assistive Technology phase of the 2017 Hackaday Prize, like a walker that works on stairs or sonic glasses for the blind. There are only a couple of days left in this phase — got any bright ideas?

Infinite Water

It’s Independence Day, so if you have pets and planned a trip, chances are you wrangled a pet sitter to keep your pet from starving or dehydrating to death. Next time, consider letting this infinite water dispenser help you instead.

The dispenser is made of a Tupperware tub, a fish tank water filter, a float switch, and a water solenoid valve. It works essentially the same way as any toilet: the solenoid valve lets water into the filter where it is dispensed to the Tupperware container. The float switch is activated when the water in the container reaches a certain level. When the water level drops due to evaporation or thirsty pets, the float switch goes down and triggers the solenoid to let in more water. The whole works are powered by a GFI outlet for safety since this project involved water, electricity and pets.