Teacher creates experimentel ventilator prototype

A York Region high school teacher has developed a prototype for a ventilator using materials he had at home, including a windshield wiper motor, to help developing countries with the fight against COVID-19.

Computer Science teacher Gordon Payne was inspired by the frontline healthcare workers in his family and reports of ventilator shortages around the world, including in Ontario and severe shortages in developing countries.

“My wife is a family physician and I have nurses in my family,” Payne said. “They’re the frontline people in this battle. This is my way of contributing and helping us to overcome this pandemic.”

After seeing calls for open source ventilator projects, he wanted to create a prototype that could be manufactured by someone with average technical skills, common tools, and using materials that are easily accessible. He built the prototype using materials and tools he had at home, including the motor from a windshield wiper and an Arduino microcontroller.

“I thought I could design something inexpensive, fast and simple,” he explained.

Payne’s ventilator took him nine hours to make and costs less than $70. He plans to enter his design, called the Village Vent, in the United Nations COVID-19 Detect and Protect Challenge.
Even if his design is not selected, he hopes it will benefit his students in their learning. He teaches his students many of the techniques used in the prototype.

“I want students to see how we can use our creativity, problem-solving and technical skills to help better the world,” he said. “At the very least, this ventilator project will continue to live on as an instructional tool in my courses.”


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