The Great Global Hackerspace Challenge was an amazing experience. We were thrilled to be able to participate — the wonderful ideas that our fellow hackers came up with and the ingenious ways they implemented them were a constant font of inspiration as we hacked away on our biosensor. It is a great honor to know that we have been selected, along with Build Brighton and Hackerspace Charlotte as semi-finalists. The team will be heading to San Fransisco on May 20 for Maker Faire for the final judging.
Whew! What a ride this past month and half has been! The last 48 hours especially have been one long blur of blinking lights, solder smoke, and beautiful biosignals, capped off of course, by a mad documentation dash.
Going into the final 24 hours we had a good handful of sensors working separately: EKG, pulse oxidation, GSR, CO2 and lung capacity. The only thing left to do was get them all working together. Oh, and off of breadboards. No big deal, right?
Well, not so much. While the sensors worked quite well on breadboards, moving them onto protoshields turned out to be more of a hassle than we anticipated. The signals we’re getting from the shields aren’t quite as accurate as the ones we got from the breadboards, though still well within acceptable limits for our purposes.
Anytime you’re hooking up an electrical device to a human being, it’s important to make sure that they’re not connected to the electrical grid (think about what an electrical surge can do to your computer, now imagine that your body is hooked up too). To achieve this separation our biosensor uses bluetooth to communicate with a computer to display the signals.
1) Get some sleep!
2) Improve the shield versions of our sensors.
3) Write our own display software, including applications for the N900 and Android.
4) Reach out to teachers and educators.
Finally, we’d like to thank Mitch Altman and everyone at Element14 for this awesome opportunity. Special thanks to Jordan Bunker who stayed up late with us to help get this finished (and documented) and everyone else at PS: One that helped out over the past six weeks.
For those of you who may not know, we at Pumping Station: One are participating in the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge organised by Mitch Altman and sponsored by Element14. They’re giving $900 to 30 hackerspaces around the world, and giving us 5 weeks to design something awesome for education. There are hackerspaces from five continents participating! (Scroll down on this page and check out this neat map with all the participants.)
Our project will be to create a biosensor array that will allow students to learn more about their bodies and do some DIY biology. We’re going to have heartbeat sensors, temperature, CO2 levels, EKG and more! I’ll be re-posting updates here, but we’ll be posting directly on the project blog on the element14 site. (Feel free to follow us there!)