We've reported previously on ham involvement in designing a "MacGyver" type ventilator using an Arduino microcontroller and parts from local hardware stores. Now, hams in New England are helping the University of Massachusetts at Amherst improve the flexibility of ventilators already in use by BayState Health. Those ventilators used short control cables and ran on D-cell batteries that needed to be replaced every 48 hours. The hospital wanted longer control cables to allow personnel to safely control the ventilators without needing to wear personal protective equipment, and a wall-power solution to eliminate the need for frequent battery changes.
The university's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department determined that cables as long as 50 feet would work in theory, then fabricated a test cable that worked properly. The university then worked with the control cable manufacturer to design and produce the longer cables.
For the power solution, the department reached out to one of its former professors – and CQ author – Robert Glorioso, W1IS, who now runs The Battery Eliminator Store with his son, Scott, K1SRG. Bob and Scott found an off-the-shelf battery eliminator that met the unit's needs and, after successfully testing it on a portable ventilator, filled the hospital's order for 50 of the units. The combination of the longer cable and the ability to run off of wall power makes it safer for the hospital staff to use and control the ventilators.