Brain control for the Arduino


When we hear about a brain controlled Arduino project we immediately think about a coding nightmare. As always, the simple hacks are the best hacks. [Joel] and [Akshay] used hardware from a kid’s game as a brain interface for an Arduino.

We came across the video (embedded after the break) of their work and asked for more info on what we thought was an incredibly difficult hack. It turns out they purchased Uncle Milton’s Force Trainer which uses a headset to measure brain waves and has a base unit that reacts to these measurements. Hacking into this device didn’t require reverse engineering of anything. They took the easy route, and tapped into the five LEDs on the base unit. As the game measures greater levels of concentration, it lights up more LEDs.

So far tapping into the game is just a proof of concept. It’s up to you to implement a brain controlled beer bot.

Above is the video of the Force Trainer interfaced with an Arduino and used to control the music based on your concentration.

Above is a video review of Uncle Milton’s Force Trainer at a toy trade show.


  1. monkeyslayer56 says:

    ahhh :( i was hoping they were hacking into the headset o well i guess first things first

  2. EdZ says:

    Obligatory OpenEEG link (because this toy, and the overpriced OCZ thing, are nothing more than an EEG with very few channels):

  3. bobob says:

    oh great,another arduino story,can’t get enough of those.


  4. monkeyslayer56 says:

    what does this toilet u mention do…

  5. hypatia says:

    @kirov and sprite_tm:

    Hackaday already covered the arduino-twittering-toilet at HackLab.TO: :)

  6. Zibri says:

    Hey!! Are you crazy??
    I sent you my blog link a few weeks ago!!
    No need to tap in the LEDs !

    Go read:

  7. octel says:

    Hackaday regularly ignores good submissions in favor of flashy-looking ones. Your writeup is excellent, thanks for posting the link. I wouldn’t have known that this toy even has a TTL serial port if you hadn’t posted.

  8. riazap says:

    @bobob: STFU and GTFO.

  9. sl says:

    whine whine about the Arduino all the time. It’s a powerful and easily accessible little platform that’s letting people put microcontrollers in all kinds of things. So what if a few people just use it to blink an LED? There are plenty of other people who are doing cool stuff with them (like running a whole segway) and who can actually do it now that they don’t have to buy an AVRISP and learn to write microcontroller C.

  10. jan says:

    excellent! thanks for the writeup! compared to your approach including the brain app the posted story is (quite) lame.
    i mean you should recognize a ttl when you see one…
    now control something with it…

  11. therian says:

    @Zibri good !

  12. Tux-fan says:


    thanks for your comment you make this post be a real hack ;)

  13. Zibri says:

    Thanks guys.. not even my hack was so ‘hacky’…
    If you notice on the youtube video there is a debug port.. and it’s on the same side of the internal ttl connector :)

    I am also trying to interface directly to the SPI port on the wireless module directly.. :)

  14. Zibri says:

    Oh well.. that port is not in the retail game.. The one in the video was a testing device I suppose. Anyhow the ttl port is easy to spot a big “CONSOLE/ICSP” label is printed on the PCB :)
    I really do wonder why they connected to the LEDs.

  15. Akshay says:

    Thanks hackaday for posting this!

    Just to give you some background, I’m a Stanford MS student, and this project was done as an assignment for my first ever Music class (

    Having recently learned about Arduino and PD, this was more of a Hello World project. But, ever since we put that video on YouTube, we’ve got very solid feedback and ideas.

    As we do a revision on this, we’d love to hear from you…
    i) What musical instrument would you like to control with your brain?
    ii) Since the brain signal is a bit noisy, how would you map it to control that instrument?

    Look fwd to your responses!
    Akshay Kothari

  16. Joel & Akshay says:

    @zibri thanks for sharing your info. We checked out your blog – that’s a fantastic hack!

    Joel & Akshay

  17. Zibri says:

    @Joel & Akshay:

    I tried contacting you.. maybe I got the wrong email. Drop me a mail if you like.

    “One is glad to be of service” ;)

  18. Michael says:

    Seems like this usb would be a bit easier to “hack”

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