The dawn of the artificial pancreas

Within weeks of writing that first post in 2017 I realised everything had changed. Medtronic had launched their 670G hybrid closed loop system in the US and pivotal trials were underway for systems by Bigfoot Biomedical, Beta Bionics, Insulet, Diabeloop and TypeZero/Tandem/Dexcom.

The dawn of the artificial pancreas had well and truly begun. It was as though I’d been underground for the past fifteen years and hadn’t realised a revolution was happening around me.



It turned out that a group of super-smart and dedicated DIY engineers and programmers had been working nights and weekends for years to reverse-engineer old insulin pump protocols and create open source software that anyone could use to get their CGMs and pumps to talk to each other via the cloud.

These were people with type one diabetes themselves or people who had kids with type one. People who got it.


Thanks to my tech savvy partner Michael I was able to start using OpenAPS in May 2018. My predicted HbA1C based on Dexcom readings went from 8.2 to 6.8 in the first six weeks of using the system. My time in range went from 43% to 70%. Hypos were minimal.

My 82 year old mother had tears in her eyes when I told her on Mothers Day that I had an artificial pancreas. It had been a long wait for her too!

I will always be grateful to the pioneers of this technology and the quiet army of people testing, advancing and supporting this incredible DIY community. They have made their technology available to everyone who wants and is able to use it, including medical technology companies. There is no doubt in my mind that their efforts have ramped up the speed up of development of commercial products as well as fast-tracked the approval of new products through the FDA.

For me it’s been nothing short of a miracle.

This blog is an attempt to capture what’s led me to this point. Some of the steps I’ve taken so far on the journey. What has worked for me. And what I’m still trying to achieve.

Useful links

AndroidAPS  This is the system I currently use and love, which incorporates the OpenAPS algorithm

OpenAPS  I think of this as the bible of DIYAPS documentation. OpenAPS was the original hybrid closed loop system developed by Dana Lewis and Scott Leibrand in collaboration with Ben West and Nightscout. The details here helped me get a deep understanding of the way my system worked.

Loop  Hybrid closed loop system for iOS developed by Nate Racklyeft using the Rileylink developed by Pete Schwamb. Very user friendly documentation. This is the only system I was able to set up entirely on my own, largely thanks to the wonderful documentation of Katie DiSimone.


Looptips Fantastic information on how to optimise your blood glucose once you start using Loop. Very helpful for people using other looping systems as well.

DIYPS blog by Dana Lewis with fabulous insights into OpenAPS and living with T1D tech

seemycgm blog by Katie DiSimone with all sorts of useful tips on DIY especially Loop

diabettech Where diabetes and technology meet, great website by Tim Street

Loop and Learn A very helpful step by step guide for people using Loop AB branch and FreeAPS.

Loop and Learn also has a wonderful Youtube channel with guest presenters talking about all things D tech, from smart insulins to the latest commercial closed loop systems.

bionicwookie David Burren’s Aussie looping blog. Lots of fantastic tips and information

The $250 Biohack That’s Revolutionizing Life with Diabetes Bloomberg’s August 2018 article with an excellent overview of DIY artificial pancreas technology

KCGM TV Weston Nordgren’s fascinating 2016 Nightscout Skype interview with Ben West about his fundamental contribution to the DIY artificial pancreas

Next … Getting ready to loop

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