Mind Control Via Serial Port


[Zibri] found a very simple method for using brain waves as a controller via a DB9 serial port. He’s using Uncle Milton’s Force Trainer which we saw yesterday in the brain controlled Arduino. In that project the Arduino tapped into the LEDs and interfaced those signals with a computer via USB. This time the connection was made using an RS-232 transceiver to pass data from the programming header inside of the toy’s base unit to a computer over the serial port. Tapping into the programming header has a lot more potential and should be more reliable than sniffing logic out of LED connections. [Zibri] has written an application to display the received data but it doesn’t look like he’s made the code available for download.

Apparently he tipped us off about a week ago. We recall seeing this submission but as you can tell it’s a little bit light on the detail. So if you want your tips to be at the front of the line, make sure you do what you can to fill us in on all the details of your project. At our request [Zibri] provided a picture of the PCB from the Force Trainer’s base unit. See it after the break.force-trainer-base-unit-pcb

23 thoughts on “Mind Control Via Serial Port

  1. I have no problem releasing the code of that very lame app.. but as soon as you connect to the serial port you will see it’s not needed..
    It’s plain ASCII..
    It outputs values in this way:

    0 0 0
    40 40 0
    40 40 0
    40 40 0
    50 40 0
    50 29 0
    50 29 0
    30 29 0
    30 43 0
    30 43 0
    40 43 0
    40 47 0
    40 47 0
    41 47 0
    41 56 0
    41 56 0
    41 56 0
    29 69 0
    29 69 0
    29 69 0
    29 61 0
    29 61 0

    first digit is the Attention value.
    second digit is the meditation value.
    third digit is the connection quality.. 0 is OK any other value means the alectrodes are not properly set or you are moving too much.

    That’s all.

  2. @uC: You don’t need to see his identification. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…

    Very neat – I was pretty intrigued by the earlier post mentioning the force trainer, but this is excellent! Looks like the developers were anticipating us hackers. I was considering picking one up to hack at, now I almost have to. I’ve read some reviews, but I’d be curious to hear from the ever so critical HaD commenters. I’m pondering potential uses but…seems hard to think of anything practical. Sleep pattern analyzer? Though I can’t imagine actually sleeping with that thing on my head.

  3. Amazon.com comment suggests this doesnt actually read brainwave…

    “It does not truly measure your brain waves to control the air flow as the game indicates. The headset merely uses your skin surface to complete a circuit and then it controls the fan. Not sure if the headset has the preprogramed routine, or if the base does. I confirmed this function by completing the circuit with my hand (i.e. – Using one hand, I made contact with all three sensors to complete the circuit). Now unless brain waves travel through your hand as well, which they don’t, the fan in the base began to turn on and off as if though I had it on my head. Thus confirming that the forehead sensor and other two sensors are merely positive and negative connections, and once connected, they complete the circuit and the headset then transmits to the base. ”


    1. wrong. muscle movements are electric impulses and they are way stronger than received brinwaves. that’s why it works with your hand and that’s why for the game to work correctly you should keep your facial muscles as still as possible.

  4. Max:
    that’s not quite correct.
    The force trainer has internal gains so to get always a signal.
    brain signals and muscle signals interfere with each other so one can be misunderstood for the other.
    Remember this is just a kids game.
    It does a simple FFT transfor to get alpha and beta waves, but if you study the eeg basics you will find that muscle impulses (facial, eyes, your hand, whatever) can be interpreted in the same way.

    1. Thats correct there is raw EEG data available its in the headset available at a point marked T in the headset.

      Hook T to serial Rx and gnd to gnd

      The force trainer headset gives you 11 values in this order:
      Connection quality, Attention, Meditation, Delta, Theta, Low Alpha, High Alpha, Low Beta, High Beta, Low Gamma and High Gamma.

      1. Hi there Louis, its been sometime since ive experimented with the headset, but i do have it still on my electronics bench with the intention of picking it up again. Im trying to remember where i picked up the information about the other channels, Could it be a limitation in the Audino Software, Maybe take a look at the data coming out from the board direct in a Serial Terminal app, Please let me know how you go on, The Bluesky chip should allow you to access all the channels directly from the headset chip, But i do know that only the three channels are sent back to the base station as its all the forcetrainer makes use of. I would love to get my hand on Emotiv’s Epoc headset, with full SDK not the restricted SDK.. regards Richard

  5. This hack might require tech on the receiver side in order to rexcord anything significant. as is it might not amplify the signal enough to get the signal visualized in a program. But the thing is an electrode so the sky’s the limit. The question is, I’f there is a signnal to an led light, how much amplification does the signal get from the toy to light that thing? After that it,s like shoot…

  6. I have a force trainer star war

    that when I connect the headset TX and RX I put the arduino and the land of the crown to the other land arduino not read any data in the serial monitor

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