I was already familiar with the Arduino microcontrollers, so I researched to see if there was a way to connect an Arduino to an Redpark serial cable and started playing around to see if this would serve my purpose. Creating the Arduino code was pretty simple; it read the sensor every five seconds and displayed the reading on the iPhone. To finish up my invention, I put the Arduino Nano, alcohol sensor, 9V battery and the RS232 to the TTL converter into a tin enclosure, (Altoids). The hardest part of the project was calibrating the alcohol sensor to display accurate results (and oh, the testing we did!).
Omar Arriaga attends Canada College in Redwood City, California and is pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering. If you have an electronics story you'd like to share, please send it to [email protected].


I then used a converter to convert serial RS-232 to TTL (transistor-transistor logic) so that the Arduino was able to process the signal. Since the Arduino reads the formula in PPM (parts per million), I need to find a way to convert the PPM to BAC. I tried to use different potentiometers to adjust the output of the sensor but it was still not accurate enough. His interests include building robots, learning about new electronic gadgets, dirt biking, long walks on the beach and drinks beer (only for research).
I was at the bar with some of my friends and we started discussing how great it would be if there was a breathalyzer application for the iPhone.
Even though it is not accurate, it is still tons of fun when I bring it to parties to show off my latest invention and see who is the most drunk.


I decided to use a traffic light image, so that when the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) was below 0.08% (the legal limit in California) a green light would turn on. It's not clear that anyone with that BAC reading over 0.25% would actually ever see the red light, because chances are that they would probably be dead. Just for fun, I also added another line that displays a different phrase with each of the levels.



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