X-Ray CT Scanners From EBay, Brought Back To Life

If you have ever wondered what goes into repairing and refurbishing an X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) scanner, then don’t miss [Ahron Wayne]’s comprehensive project page on doing exactly that. He has two small GE Explore Locus SP machines, and it’s a fantastic look into just what goes into these machines.

CT scan of papyrus roll in a bamboo sheath.

These devices use a combination of X-rays and computer software to reconstruct an internal view of an object. To bring these machines back into service means not only getting the hardware to work correctly, but the software end (including calibration and error correcting) is just as important.

That means a lot of research, testing, and making do. For example, instead of an expensive calibration grid made from an array of tiny tungsten carbide beads, [Ahron] made do with a PCB laden with a grid of copper pads. The fab house might have scratched their heads a little on that one, but it worked just fine for his purposes and price was certainly right.

Scan of a foil Pokémon card.

Tools like these enable all kinds of weird and wonderful projects of their own. So what can one do with such a machine? CT scanning can spot fake AirPods or enable deeper reverse engineering than a regular workshop is normally able to do.

What else? Shown here is an old foil Pokémon card from an unopened package! (Update: the scan is not from a card in a sealed package, it is just a scanned foil card. Thanks to Ahron for clarifying.) [Ahron] coyly denies having a pet project of building a large enough dataset to try to identify cards without opening the packs. (Incidentally, if you just happen to have experience with supervised convolutional neural networks for pix2pix, he asks that you please reach out to him.)

The real power of CT scanning becomes more apparent if you take a look at the videos embedded below the page break. One is a scan of an acorn, [Ahron]’s first successful scan. Another is an interesting scan of a papyrus roll in a bamboo sheath. Both of the videos are embedded below.

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The dosing spoon shown, with many round openings for medication pellets to go into

Medicine Dosing Spoon Discontinued, Made 3D Printable Instead

[Gregor Herz] caught wind of a problem that neuropediatric clinics in Germany have been facing recently. Orfiril, a seizure-preventing medication used in those clinics for treating children, is normally prescribed to adults, and the usual dosages are too high for kids. Orfiril comes in regular pill-shaped capsules, each capsule containing a bunch of small medication-soaked pellets, and you only need a certain amount of these pellets if you want to achieve a lower dose.

An Orfiril medication bottle is shown, with an Orfiril pill capsule next to it, showing the small pellets inside. Another pill capsule has been disassembled, with the pellets inside a teaspoon.It used to be that you could get a special spoon helping you to get a proper dosage — but sadly, the original supplier has quit making these. So, our hacker designed a 3D printable model instead.

[Gregor] tells us that a lot of clinics in Germany are facing this exact issue right now, so sharing this model may mean that more hospitals can work around the supply issue. Provided a friendly hobbyist has food-grade 3D printing conditions available, anyway. He tells about some suitable filaments models you can buy, as well as research on food-grade printing requirements — a topic we’ve talked about in detail, and just this month have seen someone revisit with reassuring results. Are you interested in printing some of these? If so, there might be a clinic nearby that’d be thankful.

We’ve seen a surge of 3D printing for medical uses two years ago, back when supply chain issues had doctors face PPE shortages, and some critical parts for equipment were in short supply. Before that, we’d sometimes see medical purpose 3D printing done in dire circumstances, when no other choices were available. Now 3D printing of medical devices is more accepted, and we can’t wait for more research and hacking on this front!

An Illuminating Look At A Wolf 5151 Light Source

While originally designed to put light where the sun don’t shine for medical purposes, [Nava Whiteford] says the Wolf 5151 Xenon endoscopic light source also works well for microscopy and general optical experiments, especially since you can get them fairly cheap on the second hand market. His cost just $50 USD, which is a steal when you consider a replacement for its 300 watt Olympus-made bulb will run you about 200 bucks alone.

That said, [Nava] recently moved on to a more compact light source, and figured that was a good enough excuse to crack open the Wolf 5151 and see what makes it tick. In this particular post he’s just looking at the optical side of things, which is arguably the most interesting aspect of the device. Helpfully, the whole assembly is mounted to its own sled of sorts that can be pulled from the light source for a closer examination.

A Steampunk dimmer switch.

Beyond that expensive bulb we mentioned earlier, there’s a thick piece of what appears to be standard plate glass being used as an IR and UV filter. [Nava] suspects this component is responsible for keeping the rest of the optics from overheating, which is backed up by the fact that the metal plate its mounted to appears to feature a K-type thermocouple to keep an eye on its operating temperature. Forward of that is a unique aspheric lens that features a rough spot to presumably scatter the light at the center of the beam.

Our vote for the most fascinating component has to go to the Neutral Density (ND) filter, which is used to control the intensity of the light. In a more pedestrian light source you could just dim the bulb, but in this case, the Wolf 5151 uses a metal disk with an array of holes drilled into it. By rotating the disc with a DC motor, the lens can be variably occluded to reduce the amount of light that reaches the aperture, which connects to the fiber cable.

While it’s perhaps no surprise the build quality of this medical gear is considerably beyond the commercial gadgets most of us get to play with, it still doesn’t hold a candle (no pun intended) to the laser module pulled from a Tornado jet fighter.

OpenFluid Warmer Aims To Get Medical Equipment Where It’s Needed

Intravenous fluids, or IV fluids, are a vital part of modern life-saving medicine. Depending on the fluids in question, they must often be stored at low temperatures, however, for delivery to a patient, it is beneficial to warm them to approximately 38 degrees to avoid causing hypothermia. To achieve this, an IV fluid warmer is used, but these are not readily available all over the world. To help rectify this shortcoming, [John Opsahl] started the OpenFluidWarmer project.

The goal of the project is to produce a safe, reliable IV fluid warmer that is also easily reproducible. Materials used must be cheap and readily available, and ideally should be easily substitutable where possible to maximise the design’s ability to be built anywhere it’s needed. The name of the project is a nod towards its open design – with the goal of the project to deliver medical equipment to those that don’t have it, there’s little benefit to keeping the design under wraps.

Development continues at a solid pace, with work to optimise the heater performance, firmware, and even the tools required for assembly all documented in the build logs. It’s a project that recalls the scramble earlier this year to create open source ventilators for COVID-19 patients. Ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s about getting medical hardware to where it’s needed most, and we applaud [John]’s efforts in this field! Video after the break.

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