One of the hardest parts of taking blood can be finding a suitable vein. Some patients are 'difficult sticks'; their veins are either very small, and/or deep, preventing health professionals from finding a site easily and quickly. Repetitive needle sticks are painful for the patient and may also lower their confidence in the ability of the phlebotomist performing the stick.

Many companies now market 'Vein Finder' products, but these products can cost over $5,000 (depending on quality and utility). That price tag is often outside the means of smaller clinics or facilities. This is a guide intended for hobbyists and DIY problem solvers -- not staff of a large hospital looking for high-end tech to aid in routine venipuncture. 

This tool works by using near-infrared wavelength LEDs to illuminate the flesh at the site. The veins will appear as dark bands because they are more absorbent of this spectrum of light than the surrounding tissue. It is similar in principle to holding your hand over a flashlight (something we all did as kids).

Estimated Time to Complete: 3-6 hours (depending on your plastic cutting and soldering ability)
Estimated Cost: ~15-50$ depending on shipping/availability of free samples/if you need to buy solder, spare wiring, misc.

Below is a quick video of it working, moving it up and down my forearm. It's hard to document how clearly the veins appear because of my camera's minimum focal distance, but this ought to give you an idea (imagine no blur!):

Step 1: Required materials and tools

Soldering Iron
Rotary tool, with attachments suitable for cutting through plastic
Safety Goggles
Respirator/dust mask
Needle Nose Pliers x2 (I found these useful)

Blank Circuit board
Rocker Switch, On/Off (I used)
Resistors, 56 OHM, 250mW, 1% (I used) x30
LED 3mm, 20mA, 1.9V, λ 628nm (I used) x30
Plastic Enclosure with battery contacts and PCB screw holes (I used OKW enclosures' Part# A9072129, with Part#s A9190002 and A0304031)
Friendly Plastic, Black/Black (I bought mine here)
Wire (less than 1' needed)
AA batteries x2

Very excited to have this project be featured as a finalist in the UP! contest. Thank you everyone for your continued support and feedback on this project -- It was fun to build, and I hope to keep writing instructables that give others even better ideas. <br> <br>Best, <br>Dan
<p>costum made case in catia by myself , 660nm - 10 LED , 625 - 3 LED , 640 - 3 LED<br>battery of 2.4 V , 16 resistors of 50ohm</p>
<p>Hey, Alex. Again: really nice job. I'm trying to achieve similar results for a school project. Could you send me the case 3d model? I'm struggling to &quot;build&quot; it.... It would be really helpfull if you do.... Thanks!!! (rmjgoncalves@gmail.com)</p>
<p>Nice job! Where did you buy leds with these specifications?</p>
<p>tme.eu. i prefer now leds that have 3000mcd ( units of brightness ) any brighter and it annoys the eyes , lower and it wont be too effective</p>
Alex would you consider making me one for reimbursement?
<p>i could , but i cannot ship outside european union ( very high taxes )</p>
<p>alex ur very gud.plz send ur address and mail is I am A.R.Narender bio medical engineer. My mail id arnrbme @gmail.com</p>
<p>alex ur very gud.plz send ur address and mail is I am A.R.Narender bio medical engineer. My mail id arnrbme @gmail.com</p>
<p>alex ur very gud.plz send ur address and mail is I am A.R.Narender bio medical engineer. My mail id arnrbme @gmail.com</p>
<p>Can You guide us little closely, chematics, which LED goes where, montage order of elements, etc....</p><p>Thanks in advance!</p>
<p>you can use <a href="http://ledcalculator.net/" rel="nofollow">http://ledcalculator.net/ </a> to calculate your resistors ( use what battery you have available and what LEDs you want , i used LEDs above 625 nm for the reason because that's the wavelength that can penetrate skin but under 700nm because that is not visible for human eye<br><br><a href="http://cdn.spectrumbrands.com/~/media/iLightPro/Images/Main%20Images/BenefitsofIPL_Wavelength.ashx?w=340&h=215&as=1" rel="nofollow">http://cdn.spectrumbrands.com/~/media/iLightPro/Im...</a><br><br></p>
<p>@AlexS154</p><p>Thanks for you for reply and advice about LED`s wavelength. Like your case design!</p>
<p>the leds go round around the lower part which has a groove . and the scheme for connecting the leds , i used it from here . the only difference is that i used leds of different wavelengths ( for different skin tones ) and i used a costum-made case. use tme.eu for LED's , the cost , including case , is about 35-40$ with shipments of parts </p>
<p>Many thanks for your reply! Can you explain to us, what is your mounting order of led`s by wawe lenth. What type of lead`s goes frst, starting from the one end of (circle gap). Example: first 3 x 625 nm LED than 2x 520nm LED, then 5x 625nm, then 3x 625nm LED etc.......to the other end of circle.....</p>
<p>also , 520 nm won't penetrate the skin that good. </p>
<p>it does not matter how you arrange them ( functionally ) , i just put them random ( mine all looked the same , transparent bulb ) , be careful to match + and - because LED's won't light up if they aren't properly connected . </p>
<p>Alex, how many have you made?</p>
<p>about 10 that use batteries AA , 8 that use rechargeable battery pack , that recharge to a nokia charger without the need to open the device , and 15 that look similar to flashlight for small children ( they have small arms and the leds are too far off </p>
<p>Thanks first of all the wonderful idea. I was wondering if you could help me out I am made the vein finder so I can enter a high school science competition however I have a problem. It works and I bought the same exact material as you except mine cannot locate any veins. Like when I project it on an arm there are no black lines or anything!! Can you please suggest how I can fix it!!!</p>
<p>and also , you do not have a view port . i have a 12 mm diameter hole in the middle<br>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaK9M3PqqzY</p>
<p>Thanks a bunch!!!!!!</p>
<p><a href="http://cdn.instructables.com/FN9/R8GX/HELXCJJV/FN9R8GXHELXCJJV.LARGE.jpg" rel="nofollow">http://cdn.instructables.com/FN9/R8GX/HELXCJJV/FN9...</a></p><p>block the light on one side like in the picture</p>
Would you be able to email me please? godfrey.tuitama@gmail.com
Could you email me please, godfrey.tuitama@gmail.com
<p>version with rechargeable battery pack</p>
<p>I need help I have made one for a science competition and it hasn't worked can you please give me a solution!</p>
<p>be carfull to match the +/- of the LED with that of the battery because leds will light up only when they are conected properly </p>
<p>it has fewer leds but more powerfull ( at 2500-3000 mcd ) </p>
<p>I need some help i made it but it isn't working help!!!!! AlexS154</p>
<p>Dear Alex,</p><p>Thanks first of all the wonderful idea. I was wondering if you could help me out I am made the vein finder so I can enter a high school science competition however I have a problem. It works and I bought the same exact material as you except mine cannot locate any veins. Like when I project it on an arm there are no black lines or anything!! Can you please suggest how I can fix it!!!</p>
Well done! Thanks for sharing. Going to make one for my wife since she has difficulty with her veins rolling.
<p>hii.....i want to build a gadget which can find a missing object using infrared light...</p><p>please guide me on this</p>
hi guys <br>you can use super led - 1w.3w.5w - 620 nm(red) . 650 nm . 730 nm(deep red) - and use pcb for each led . <br>i use 3 super led - 1w - 620 nm - 350 ma - 2.2 v - and it just show my hand veins very well so i want use 650 nm and 730 nm -3w .5w <br>if you have some idea or you can help my or i can help you please Contact me . <br>mail : pbra1993@gmail.com <br>thanks
Hello , I really need help I want to make one so I will contact you and I wish you could help me .. thank you
<p>hi</p><p>who i can help ?</p>
Hi tried to contact you but there is a problem in the server so plz contact me : imenepapillion17@gmail.com
<p>Hi danbemp !</p><p>I tried making this but it does not work it seems. I used a normal Red LED for it and powered them on a 9V battery. I used ledcalc to use 82 Ohm resistance. RED LED's are 1.5v Forward Voltage and 20 mA. </p><p>Thanks. :) </p><p>Kind regards from India.</p>
<p>Great work danbemp!<br><br>Before deciding the the wavelength of the LEDs, did you consider the transmission, absorption and reflection properties of the different skin layers? Is 628nm based on a real study or estimation? I just want to be able to chose the right LEDs before I order them :)</p>
<p>clarify the weld layout of resistors and LEDs</p>
Unfortunately, I used heroin (i-v) for 7 years, and almost bleed out after being shot in the stomach with a .357, due to the paramedics not being able to get an iv in to give my life saving blood. I'm sober now, but all of my &quot;main&quot; veins in my whole body are trashed and have too much scar tissue, the phemoral, berakial, EJ, IJ, etc you get the picture. The last hand full of times, it has taken the phlebotamis several hours just to get a miniscule blood draw, will something like this work on the smallest of surface veins or just the main ones? Tia
<p>I was trying to build this with a 920nm infrared from radioshack. I have learned that the LEDs I bought from radioshack probably have a wide beam and hence you need to enclose them in black goop on the sides. All I see is a blur on an IR camera. There are places online where you can purchase narrow beam LEDs of 10-20 degrees to focus the light. I intend to pursue that.</p>
<p>plz give me detailed explanation about it...plzzz which components can we use</p>
<p>waw itz amazing idea....i like it verry much....i want to add more specifications in it....</p><p>it is very nice..</p>
<p>Brilliant idea and exactly what I was looking for; I simply can't justify spending the amounts of money they're asking of a Veinlite. ...with that being said, I've spent a considerable amount of time and money on making incarnations of it below trying different things. My experiences are, use good quality LEDs, my first attempt has 22x10MCD 635nm LEDs and an open slot at the top. Passable, but only in a dark, dark room. My second and third attempts I'm not sure of the exact wavelengths but they're BRIGHT. My advice is to NOT open up the top to be crescent; exactly like you were saying, it lets too much natural light in and you lose the vein as soon as you turn it parallel to insert the cannula. I haven't figured out exactly how to get around this yet for my fourth (and final) attempt (final because I've just finished the third and I'm tired and frustrated that what was my best attempt, I ruined by opening it up to be a crescent) but I think it's just the way it has to be; leave it closed, find the vein and watch it like a hawk when you remove the light. Or you could mark it, and THEN swab it with alcohol??</p>
Can we buy one online?
<p>what can i use as an alternative for the friendly plastic ?</p>
<p>Can i use LED 630 nm?</p>
<p>Seems like this might be easier to build using common bus resistor network SIPs inplace of the individual resistors.</p>
<p>hi brother, I am surprised at the great project that helps patients Varjua that the information sent by the most beautiful on the project in order to apply it in the national</p>

About This Instructable


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Bio: Med student and DIY'er
More by danbemp: How to make an affordable 'Vein Finder', for use during venipuncture
Tags: LED medical vein
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