SO YEAH, they're basically making money by misleading customers into thinking the digital model is better at 3.50$/test when it's just the 0.20$/test strips plus a dollar or two of electronics to read it for you
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I dunked one in water (PLAIN WATER! I DIDN'T PEE ON IT, I PROMISE) and this is how it looks after about 5 minutes. A little more transparent, and with a single blue line.
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BTW, to answer a suggestion no one has made yet: Yes, I could replace the microcontroller with an alternative one that CAN run doom, but: 1. it has to run on 3v, which is tricky 2. it has no inputs but "pee on it" 3. the LCD can only show "pregnant","not","manual","wait"
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I should mod this into a flash drive. I wanna hand someone some Important Work Files on a 128gb USB Pregnancy Test.
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it has been [0] days since I stuck a metal tool into a device to trick it into thinking I peed on it
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Yeah, I can't get it to read anything but MANUAL. (which I don't have: I already tossed it) Maybe just using water means it didn't light up enough places on the indicator paper? or maybe I damaged it while opening it...
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and yes, it's surprisingly hard to read. You'd think if they were sticking LEDs in the thing, they could have stuck one near the screen and given it a backlight. That'd at least help you read it.
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in any case, the final tl;dr: don't waste your time and money on the digital readers. Just get the cheap analog ones, specifically the kind that are just a box of test strips. For the price of this device you can get like 25 test strips, and it'll create less e-waste.
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uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
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Easy to use! Find out if your glass of water is pregnant in only 20 seconds!
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walmart also sells this box, which has two tests (one analog and one digital) in the same box, and they suggest you confirm with the digital one. That's kinda insultingly pointless if it's the same test strips in both of them...

Sep 4, 2020 · 4:16 AM UTC

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Anyway, if you want to support me buying stupid things like pregnancy tests just to take them apart, feel free to send me a dollar or two on ko-fi! ko-fi.com/fooneturing
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I don't have a full list yet, but you can see a bunch of my previous teardown threads here: floppy.foone.org/w/Reverse_E…
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BTW, one thing that should be said about the argument that this is actually easier to read: You could totally design this in a reusable way to use the cheap test strips. You'd just use them and insert them into the device to have it read them.
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that'd give you all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. It just wouldn't make Walmart as much money.
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ok this was definitely not the thread to post and then go to sleep on. Some updates: Naomi Wu makes the very good point that the accuracy of tests in the lab is way higher than in the field, due to misreading tests:
Pregnancy tests are 99% accurate in the lab, 75% accurate in the wild due to misreads- mistakes which are highly dependant on education and socioeconomic status. No, it is not stupid or wasteful to use a hardware interface to help women with this. archive.is/20081206110632/ar…
Show this thread
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So while this type of digital test may be exactly as sensitive as the non-digital kind (because they're the same test strips), by having the computer do the reading, you can take out a lot of that user error, as well as eliminating issues like different lighting conditions
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So calling it "exactly as sensitive" was a bad way for me to phrase it: it's technically "as sensitive" because it's the same strips... but it implies the whole system is just as accurate, which is not true. It's going to be far easier to misread a analog test than a digital one.
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I also didn't really mention the accessibility issues: A digital test is likely to be easier to read if you have limited vision. This particular one is hard to read because of the design, but would still be easier to read if you're color blind, for example.
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I definitely didn't intend to say NO ONE NEEDS THIS, but I think I went overboard in my annoyance and made it sound like I discounted the idea that anyone would find this more useful.
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Accessibility is important and I didn't mean to support that anti-accessibility-for-environmental-reasons narrative that gets spread around a lot of places. That's bullshit.
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Anyway, one other thing that was pointed out in a reply: The test strips probably have to go through a length FDA certification process, so it probably made sense to build the device around a standard test strip, as it'd be prohibitively expensive to certify a separate device
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And as wasteful as this device seems (I still really don't like the battery being integrated!), there's definitely a purpose for it existing, even if it's just an aid to reading a standard test strip.
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Not everyone reading the strip is going to be an adult in a sensible frame of mind, with perfect vision. You could easily be a panicked teenager in a public restroom, and having some of the uncertainty and possible user error taken out is quite helpful.
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But yeah. The way I wrote this came off as misogynist to a lot of people... I'm sorry about that. It definitely wasn't my intent but I can certainly see where I overlooked aspects and phrased things badly.
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Oh and one neat thing in the Naomi Wu thread that was interesting: How the indicator paper works, and why they can't just make it say "YES" when you pee on it:
This tweet is unavailable
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Another thing I wanted to mention but was too tired: There's actually precedent for environmental damage from pregnancy tests! Back in the 30s through the 60s, the go-to pregnancy test was African clawed frogs.
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You could inject urine into them (into their leg, weirdly) and within 24 hours they'd lay eggs if there was hCG in the urine. This was a cheaper test than earlier tests based on mice or rabbits, because those required killing the animal.
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This one didn't, and the frogs could live quite a long while in captivity, allowing them to be used over and over. The direct hCG-based tests were developed in the 60s, and these replaced the frogs.
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But the issue is that these are an african frog species, and they were being used all over europe and the americas. Even if they're supposed to be contained in labs, there's going to be escapes and accidentally contact with native species
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and apparently some labs just released their testing frogs into the wild. This was a bad idea for two reasons: 1. You now have a invasive species introduced into the areas they were being used in tests 2. They spread diseases to the local frogs
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One example of the latter is the disease chytridiomycosis, spread by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. It was only found in africa, and then spread to north america through the pregnancy test frogs. nature.com/news/pregnancy-te…
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And other than the disease, they're an invasive predator that are now competing with native species. So there's been a bunch of ecological damage from pregnancy-test-frogs. So this digital test isn't exactly unprecedented!
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but yeah. The final summation is probably: Get this digital version of the test if you need it, it's fine. If you're worried you won't read it correctly, if you have vision problems, if you're just scared... go ahead! Just please recycle the battery.
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but if you don't need the accessibility features and you're going to be doing a bunch of tests (like if you're trying to get pregnant), you'll save money and generate less waste by getting the test strips. They're like 15$ for 50 of them.
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And you can always get a digital one (or go to a doctor for a professional test) if you need confirmation of an uncertain result.
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BTW, one thing I didn't mention because I didn't know about it: There's a tiktok meme going around that the "pill" I mentioned is a morning-after pill. Since this got big, lemme just confirm: NO IT IS NOT, PLEASE DON'T EAT IT
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not only will it not WORK, it's a moisture-absorbing material to keep the test from being thrown off by too much liquid. So it's basically the same as those desiccant packets you get in a lot of electronics, the ones that are covered in "DO NOT EAT".
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when I called it a "pill" I mean "pill-shaped", but that was some bad phrasing given that hoax meme.
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Anyway there's an alternate universe where I tear down one of these and find, instead of a test strip, a tiny frog in a little self-contained aquarium, and I think that's the image we should all take away from this.
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