Nursing homes and hospitals are in need of a machine that automatically packages the residents’ weekly medications. The automated pill packaging machine will enable nurses to prepare patients’ weekly medications autonomously through an accurate and easy to use interface that requires less than a minute of setup time and will complete each patient’s box within three minutes. Furthermore, the usage of the pill boxing machine will allow nurses to spend less time packaging medication and more time with patients. The machine, ‘Pill Me, Please’, is able to sort round pills, flat pills, and long pills into a 14 compartment (7 days, morning/afternoon) pill box, to aid nursing home staff with the distribution of patients’ weekly medications.
This automation machine was made by a team of three 2nd year engineering students from the University of Toronto.
Note: For the prototype, marbles and beads are used instead of actual pills for safety purposes and ease of demonstration.
Due to the lengthy nature of this project, step by step instructions are unable (and would be unhelpful) to be provided. All the necessary CAD files, models, code, and parts lists will be shared. Some fundamental knowledge of electronics and circuits, electromechanics, and programming is necessary.
The electromechanical component of this project consists of building the frame, designing the moving mechanisms, and interfacing with circuits and motors to perform the desired movements. The frame is built from MakerBeam's 1cmx1cm aluminum extrusion, with some additional aluminum sheets, wood, acrylic, and 3D printed parts. See the additional materials for all the CAD files and drawings.
The goal of the circuits is to connect the software with the hardware subsystems, and is key in all automated machines. The circuit flow chart for this project is shown below.
All circuit diagrams are provided in fritzing format, and available as PNGs in the additional attachments section.
The microcontroller subsystem is responsible for creating an easy and intuitive UI and directing various mechanical components based on an entered prescription. All the code for this project can be found in the linked Github repo. The PIC18F was programmed with the MPLabX IDE and the Arduino Nano with the Arduino IDE. The communication protocol used is UART, between the microcontrollers. The PC interface downloads information stored in the EEPROM of the PIC18F via a Serial USB connection, and Alexa can communicate to the PIC via a Raspberry Pi running Flask and an Ngrok tunnel, and interact via serial with the Arduino to perform the desired tasks.
Full Detailed Report
A comprehensive report (more details about each subsystem and how it is built) is available for viewing at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-3M7ghMq74RB7eJkU3lpCnFKsT5OEOnL/view?usp=sharing
We do not recommend, however, for anyone to follow in our footsteps line by line. The whole point of the maker community is to adopt, adapt, and improve! We hope that our project and the resources we have shared can act as a baseline for future iterations, and for those who are interested to make it simpler, easier, and less costly to reproduce!
Complete Budget/Parts List