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Designing and Building a UV Sanitizer

The Invisible Enemy
“Pandemic,” it’s a scary word to hear. Especially when it’s accompanied by panic-buying of canned goods, pasta, and the disappearance of most disinfecting products from stores. As soon as various media outlets started filling up their news cycles with stories about the coronavirus, alcohol, hand sanitizer, and other disinfectants flew off the shelves. Panic-buying left the most vulnerable without essential goods needed to protect themselves, with little recourse available. Facing such a bleak scenario, one such person turned to their son, Md, a BotFactory applications engineer for help.

“Hey son, when you’re done removing the viruses from my computer, can you remove the viruses from my phone too?” Asked Md’s father. “Sure dad, gimme a few minutes, this will take a little time since we don’t have any disinfectant left,” responded Md. Both of them looked at each other quizzically. Then Md was struck with a brilliant idea; a bright idea, if you will. Ultraviolet light, in particular UVC light, is a shortwave ultraviolet light which can kill germs. Md thought to himself, “This would be a great way to clean items without any disinfectants.” The added benefit to using UV light instead of the highly sought-after cleaners, was that there was no need to go to the store or to lessen the availability of such products for others. Md was approached with a problem and delivered a very efficient and socially responsible (thinking of you Grandma!) solution.

Electronics from Home
Md has a number of tools at home that would make him the envy of many engineers during the COVID-19 lockdown: a 3D printer, an adjustable DC power supply, a soldering station, and a BotFactory SV2 desktop PCB printer. Utilizing their HomeLabs allows hardware and applications engineers like Md to prototype and assemble Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) automatically while at home. Employing the tools he had close at hand, he was able to turn his idea into an actual device in record time to keep his things germ-free.

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Redesign on the Fly
As anyone with first hand experience will tell you, the only thing more dangerous than a bored engineer is a bored engineer with an idea. Md had a big idea, making him dangerous indeed, especially since he has a well-equipped lab next to his nightstand. Md started building his UV sanitizer in KiCAD where he designed the circuit and the PCB. After laying out his PCB he was able to print it out with his BotFactory SV2 and test it, troubleshooting any problems that arose. Md placed all the components he had bought online from electronic component distributors, who were still fulfilling orders, and powered his board. He turned it on and NOTHING happened. Md muttered something under his breath, cursing the electronics gods. ”Yet why do I say this? I have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed,” said Md as he went to consult with Carlos, CTO of BotFactory and fellow engineer. After talking with Carlos (or affectionately called Hardware Gandalf), Md re-worked his board and printed out another version of his design, all within the span of a few hours.

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After redesigning his PCB, this iteration of the circuit board allowed him to spot a change that would make his design both simpler and more robust. He re-worked his design and printed out another version, this time using the footprint of a smaller microcontroller. See below for the equivalent of a CompactFlash memory card getting replaced by a MicroSD card, one step closer to Skynet-level germ eradication.”

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