Low Cost DIY Healthcare Simulation Recording / Debriefing AV System

low cost av system

The “Low Cost Sim” Team that brought you “Free Vital Sign Simulator” also has a DIY buildout for an affordable A/V recording & debriefing system. If you have a bit of tech experience and looking for a low cost temporary, or pilot, A/V system then this might be the solution for you. Remember, tech support will be limited during your installation, operation, and repair so keep that in mind when experimenting with new technologies that are “DIY”.

About the System:

“If you don’t have the big money, but are not satisfied with just a video camera, here’s the solution for you: The LoCo-A/V system! For a total cost of about 1000-2000$ you will get a four angle “quad-split” video recording plus audio. You can even add your vital sign monitor to the quad-split. The system is built out of widely available hardware and free video capture software. In my experience it works very well without any glitches so far!”


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What you need:

  • Hardware:
    • A fast computer, preferably a multi-core processor
    • Up to four webcams (you should use different makes and models to avoid conflicts)
    • USB-extension cables
    • A microphone with extension cables (optional)
    • A video capture card (optional, should be supported by FFsplit)
  • Software
    • FFSplit for recording (free)
    • VLC Media Player for playback (free)

The page goes into detail with links to the components you need, and a tutorial on how to set it all up. Learn how to build this affordable AV setup today by visiting

The Low Cost Sim Website


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Free Vital Sign Simulator App Continues to Be Improved

vital sign simulator simwars remote

Back in 2013 we first shared about the Free Vital Sign Simulator from Florian Schwander (read that article here). Recently Jason Bowman at the ‘The Resuscitationist’ blog used the updated Vital Sign Simulator software to provide a long-distance SimWars competition.

Excerpt from Jason’s Use of Vital Sign Simulator:

Recently I was given the task of teaching an interactive EKG and ACLS review for our Emergency Medicine Interest Group. We wanted to make it entertaining so we planned a sort of mini simwars style event. I taught medic school and ACLS for some time so this should’ve been an easy topic. Bring in a rhythm generator, defibrillator and a cpr manakin and we should be good to go right? The only problem was that the Texas A&M College of Medicine consists of multiple remote campuses. This has made teaching skills labs like this difficult. So my first thought was to rig up a camera to broadcast my defibrillator screen and do it that way. But then I wouldn’t be able to introduce 12 lead’s or any other vitals without switching back to a different source. Plus, I didn’t have a camera like that anyways. The other option was to program everything into a powerpoint presentation. The problems with this is that not only is it a ton of work, it’s hard to control the information you’re providing as they ask for it. You always end up inadvertently leading the scenario with your slides rather than letting the students run it. The perfect solution would be to have some way to broadcast an ICU monitor display that you can control the numbers on. Enter the Vital Sign Simulator.

Vital Sign Simulator is a freeware program I came across on sourceforge.com that does exactly that. It’s designed for use in a dual monitor setup which just so happens to work perfectly for presentations and video conferences. VSS allows you control of the EKG rhythm, HR, RR, SPO2, and BP. It has most of the same controls as any good rhythm generator in that you can select the next rhythm after a shock, ignore a shock and it supports pacing as well. It’s designed to let you control it on one screen while projecting it onto your second screen. There are buttons on this screen for shocking, pacing and such. That is because this program is actually designed to run on a computer with two mice and keyboards so the students can control their own screen. We didn’t use it this way but if you want to that’s what it was made for. It even has a couple fun buttons on the operator screen like groan and vomit that made for some extra entertainment during the event! Another cool feature was the timer and timestamp feature. We didn’t end up using it the other night but it would definitely come in handy for a legitimate competition or serious training where seeing time to procedure might be helpful in comparing performance. All in all this was a pretty well featured and well designed little program for some freeware!

About Vital Sign Simulator

The vital sign simulator is intended for use in medical emergency training simulations. In combination with a (cheap) cpr-manikin, it offers a low-cost alternative to commercial high-tech patient simulation manikins. It is used with a dual monitor system, one monitor with controls for the operator and one providing the vital signs to the trainees. Heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, blood pressure and various moving ecg-samples can be set and changed at any time by the operator. The trainee-side interface allows automatic/manual defibrillation, cardioversion and pacing.

You can download Vital Sign Simulator here and read more about its use in long distance SimWars here.

Free Downloadable Vital Sign Simulator & Patient Monitor

Vital Sign Simulator

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Florian Schwander, ER-nurse and mega-code instructor from Switzerland wrote to HealthySimulation.com to share his new software for emergency medicine simulations: The Vital Sign Simulator. This downloadable program is an open-source project, free to use and modify!
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The vital sign simulator is intended for use in medical emergency training simulations. In combination with an affordable low-fidelity cpr-manikin, VSS offers a low-cost alternative to commercial high-fidelity patient simulation monitors. Vital Sign Simulator (VSS) acts as a vital sign monitor / defibrillation unit. The operator can change various values such as heartrate, blood pressure, ecg-rhythm etc; while the trainee can perform a defibrillation, pacing etc on a separate interface. VSS is used with a split-screen system, one monitor with controls for the operator and one providing the vital signs to the trainees. Heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, blood pressure and various moving ecg-samples can be set and changed at any time by the operator. Scenario log files can be exported to an .rtf file for documentation debriefing.
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Features
  • Low-cost solution for medical emergency simulation training
  • Displays vital signs on a additional monitor (extended desktop)
  • Adjustable heart rate, blood pressure, spO2 and resp.
  • Various moving ECG-Samples
  • Defibrillation and pacing
  • Automated documentation, saving scenario log file to .rtf
  • New! Wiki with manual, tipps and tricks
Vital Sign Simulator is available in English and German for download. The program has now been under heavy development for several months and is now entering the final beta-stage with all functions available. Florian asks the healthcare simulation community to test and provide feedback about this freeware program to help improve the final version!
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