Picture of Create an Internet Connected Pill Dispenser
The P.I.L. Box - A Better Medication Reminder System
Studies show the consequences of patients not taking medications according to doctor's orders can be serious, especially in older patients.With today's low cost micro-controllers and sensors (and the incentive of the Radio Shack / Instructables Micro Controller Contest) I thought there must be a better way to ensure my elderly relatives are taking their medications on schedule. This Instructable describes how you can use a Parallax Propeller micro-controller to create the Propeller based Internet Logging Pill Dispenser...or the P.I.L Box for short.

What is the P.I.L. Box?
The P.I.L. Box is a modification to a standard pill dispenser, it uses a Parallax Propeller micro-controller to keep track of when a patient should take their medications. It displays a count down timer one hour before dosage time and then when the time arrives, it generates audible messages, LED 7 Segment messages and lights an LED under the correct compartment to be opened. When the patient opens a compartment, a sensor detects this and records the event to an internet accessible log file (thereby allowing relatives or health care providers to verify meds are being taken on time). More importantly the P.I.L Box logs the fact that a patient has missed their serving time and even sends a Twitter message to alert relatives and health care providers. 

Parts Needed
  • 1 Microcontroller - For this project I used a Parallax Propeller microcontroller (Board of Education model), but an Arduino would work as well.
  • 1 Pill Dispenser - an Ezy Dose XL 7 Day Pill Reminder with Push Button Pop-up Covers
  • 1 Project Box - I used a wooden ex-toolbox from a salvage store
  • 8 Micro-switches - one for each day of the week and one to detect the pill box is missing
  • 1 Momentary switch - used to answer prompts from the microcontroller
  • 1 4-digit seven-segment display - displays messages
  • 2 Shift registers or for easier wiring, I used a Shift-me! card from tymkrs.com 
  • 1 breadboard
  • wire
  • 1 speaker - the Propeller BOE has a 3.5mm headphone jack and voice synthesized messages are played through the speakers
  • 1 PC - a serial connection over USB is used to log events to the web server.
  • (optional) XBee modules - instead of a USB connection as shown in the attached video, you could optionally use XBee modules to send messages wirelessly from the PIL Box to the PC 
TylerTsero1 year ago
has a great potential. would make a all in one type box. would also try incorporating a alarm clock into it's design. would be a good replacement for a standard alarm clock on a nightstand or elsewhere.
mazzmn (author)  TylerTsero1 year ago
Thanks much. Good idea to add an alarm, it does already show the time of day when not in countdown mode, so that would be an easy thing to add...it could then do an voice to wake you up ....or flash the lights or play a sound...or all three :-). Maybe I should add internet radio too
You're welcome :) I figured the more uses that could be built Into a small unit would also help people remember :)
Best of luck on this project! Look forward to seeing more!
techbitar1 year ago
Great idea.
mazzmn (author)  techbitar1 year ago
Thanks techbitar!
hammer98761 year ago
This such a great idea for Mom. Heck, a great idea for me!

Congrats on getting Featured.
mazzmn (author)  hammer98761 year ago
Thank you!
Great job on this project ! Nice video as well to help describe operation .
mazzmn (author)  Build_it_Bob1 year ago
Thanks Bob, thanks for pointing that out, I guess I do explain the workings in the video more than the Instructable.
anode5051 year ago
longest path between 2 points?
janw1 year ago
Great project!
mazzmn (author)  janw1 year ago
lean041 year ago
great work!!, you could add a reservoir for "auto-refill" of the pills so there is always one dose on each slot to avoid overdose and/or empty slot.
Maybe you could (i don´t know if it´s possible) add also blood pressure and/or blood glucose meter logging for dosage adjust on patients with high blood pressure or diabetes.
keep it up!
mazzmn (author)  lean041 year ago
Thanks for your comments, good ideas! I have definitely thought about adding a blood pressure test into the picture. I know some drugstores already will optionally sell you meds pre-distributed into pill reminders like this, so on the video I suggest that the pill minder could simply be exchanged each week...take out the empty one and insert a new one.