Stefan sent in this Maker challenge, seems like there’s an opportunity to do something here…“in a dentist’s office waiting room [reading in a] copy of TIME, that a full-blown Avian Flu pandemic would seriously stress the nation’s supply of ventilators . . . those bellow-and-tube gadgets that keep your chest going up and down when you can’t breath on your own. This suggests a topic for a MAKE Challenge: A DIY ventilator! Only for use in serious, horrible, unthinkable circumstances, but [stuff] happens and it would make for an interesting project. Extra credit if it runs off of a 12 V battery. (Or maybe not…a possible design I’m thinking of right now would use a windshield wiper motor set to intermittent).

6 thoughts on “MAKER CHALLENGE: DIY ventilators?

  1. williamboardman says:

    Wow!! this is a tough one. You will need to know the Venturi principle, peak pressures for the lungs, adjustable volumes, you’ll need to clean the equipment to a sterile level so as to not infect the lungs and kill the patient quick as a wink. You will need to know the inspiration/expiration ratio.

    To tell you the truth it might be a better idea to reconstruct the iron lung. It won’t require you to get a tube with a balloon down the trachea, (intubations can be tricky) or a tracheotomy, still you will need an airtight seal to inflate the lungs. Yes, the iron lung would be the way to avert introducing infection or high pressure trauma or breath stacking.

    When the power goes in a hospital and back-up fails, the answer is the AMBU bag.

    I would love to see the plans for an iron lung.
    Good Luck!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This would be the definitive “do not try at home” project. I have obstructive sleep apnoea that is easy to treat by laying on my side. But I _did_ make an experimental CPAP that worked. Using a small blower, it was too loud for an apartment dweller. If I lay on my back I get the OSA if I relax but still awake, allowing the easy titration of the pressure. One night I tested it after pre-testing full awake. I fell asleep on my back with it for the first time in MANY years.

  3. Dreamer says:

    This project is being worked on. The Pandemic Ventilator Project ( ) has already produced a workable prototype that can be made from readily available parts in an emergency. A second more sophisticated design that can meet the acquisition guidelines of the AARC (American Association of Respiratory Care) is currently being developed.

    This is not the first time homebuilt ventilators have been required to save lives in an epidemic. Look here to see examples of home built ventilators made in the 1940s and 50s to combat the polio epidemic.

    The Pandemic Ventilator Project

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