Of all the electrical signals generated by the human body, those coming from the heart are probably the most familiar to the average person. And because it’s also quite simple to implement the required sensors, it makes sense that electrocardiogram (ECG) machines are a popular choice among introductory medical electronics projects. [Dániel Buga], for instance, designed a compact ECG system the size of a credit card, cleverly dubbed Card/IO, that clearly demonstrates how to implement a single-lead ECG.
Although obviously not a medical-grade instrument, it still contains all the basic components that make up a proper biosignal sensing system. First, there are the sensing pads, which sense the voltage difference between the user’s two thumbs and simultaneously cancel their common-mode voltage with a technique called Right Leg Driving (RLD). The differential signal then goes through a low-pass filter to remove high-frequency noise, after which it enters an ADS1291 ECG analog front-end chip.
The ADS1291 contains a delta-sigma analog-to-digital converter as well as an SPI bus to communicate with the main processor. [Dániel] chose an ESP32-S3, programmed in Rust, to interface with the SPI bus and drive a 1″ OLED display that shows the digitized ECG signal. It also runs the user interface, which is operated using the ECG sensing pads: if you touch them for less than five seconds, the device goes into menu mode and the two pads become buttons to scroll through the different options.
All source code, as well as KiCad files for the board, can be found on the project’s GitHub page. If you’re just getting started in the biosensing field, you might also want check out this slightly more advanced project that includes lots of relevant safety information.
Continue reading “Card/IO Is A Credit Card-Sized, Open Source ECG Monitor”
In a straight fight between a houseplant and a human, you might expect the plant to be at a significant disadvantage. So [David Bowen] has decided to even the odds a little by arming this philodendron with a robot arm and a machete.
The build is a little short on details but, from the video, it appears that adhesive electrodes have been attached to the leaves of the recently-empowered plant and connected directly to analog inputs of an Arduino Uno. From there, the text tells us that the signals are mapped to movements of the industrial robot arm that holds the blade.
It’s not clear if the choice of plant is significant, but an unarmed philodendron appears to be otherwise largely innocuous, unless you happen to be a hungry rodent. We hope that there is also a means of disconnecting the power remotely, else this art installation could defend itself indefinitely! (or until it gets thirsty, at least.) We at Hackaday welcome our new leafy overlords.
We have covered the capabilities of plants before, and they can represent a rich seam of research for the home hacker. They can tell you when they’re thirsty, but can they bend light to their will? We even held a Plant Communication Hack Chat in 2021.
Continue reading “(Mostly) Harmless Houseplant Wields Machete”
The electrical signals emitted by the human body tell us a lot about what’s going on inside. But getting those signals inside your microcontroller is not straightforward: the voltages are too small for most ADCs, and the ever-present 50 or 60 Hz mains frequency makes it hard to discern subtle changes. Over at Upside Down Labs, [Deepak Kathri] developed a universal biosensor interface called the BioAmp EXG Pill to make all this a lot easier.
Its name refers to the fact that it can be used for several different bio-electrical sensing applications: ECG, EMG, EOG and EEG, which deal with signals coming from the heart, muscles, eyes and brain, respectively. To enable such flexibility, the board has connectors for two or three electrodes, as well as solder pads to mount resistors and capacitors to adjust the gain and bandwidth. An instrumentation amplifier increases the strength of the desired signal while rejecting noise and interference.
The form factor allows easy connection to electrodes on one side and a data acquisition system on the other. Measuring just 25.4 mm long and 10 mm wide, it should be easy to integrate into any type of biosensing gizmo you can come up with. [Deepak] has made several demo setups, showing him using the Pill with an Arduino to measure his heart rate, detect eye blinks, and even control a robot arm using his own arm muscles!
The EXG Pill is an evolution of an earlier EMG-only project. We’ve seen several great ECG and EEG projects before, but is the first time we’ve seen one amplifier that can do them all.
[Ultimate Robotics] has been working on designing and producing an extremely small ECG that can stream data real time.
Typical electrocardiogram equipment is bulky: miniaturization doesn’t do much for a hospital where optimizations tend to lean towards, durability, longevity, and ease of use. Usually a bunch of leads are strung between a conductive pad and an analog front end and display which interprets the data; very clearly identifying the patient as a subject for measurement.
uECG puts all this in a finger sized package. It’s no surprise that this got our attention at Maker Faire Rome and that they’re one of the Hackaday Prize Finalists. The battery, micro controller, and sampling circuitry are all nearly packed onto the board. The user has the option of streaming through BLE at 125 Hz or using a radio transceiver for 1 kHz of data. Even transmitting at these sample rates and filtering the signal of unwanted noise the device draws less than 10 mA.
The files to make the device are all on their page. Though they are planning to produce the boards in a small run which should be the best way to acquire one and start experimenting with this interesting data.
Hackers from all over Europe descended upon Rome last weekend for the Maker Faire that calls itself the “European Edition”. This three-day event is one of the largest Maker Faires in the world — they had 27,000 school students from all over Italy and Europe attend on Friday alone.
This was held at Fiera Roma, a gigantic conference complex two train stops south of the Rome airport — kind of in the middle of nowhere. I was told anecdotally that this is the largest event the complex hosts but have no data to back up that claim. One thing’s for certain, three days just wasn’t enough for me to enjoy everything at the show. There was a huge concentration of really talented hardware hackers on hand, many who you’ll recognize as creators of awesome projects regularly seen around Hackaday.
Here’s a whirlwind tour of some of my favorites. On that list are a POV holographic display, giant cast-resin LEDs, an optical-pump ruby laser built out of parts from AliExpress, blinky goodness in cube-form, and the Italian audience’s appreciation for science lectures (in this case space-related). Let’s take a look.
Continue reading “Giant LEDs, Ruby Lasers, Hologram Displays, And Other Cool Stuff Seen At Maker Faire Rome”
Last weekend 5,000 people congregated in a field north of Berlin to camp in a meticulously-organized, hot and dusty wonderland. The optional, yet official, badge for the 2019 Chaos Communication Camp was a bit tardy to proliferate through the masses as the badge team continued assembly while the camp raged around them. But as each badge came to life, the blinkies that blossomed each dusk became even more joyful as thousands strapped on their card10s.
Yet you shouldn’t be fooled, that’s no watch… in fact the timekeeping is a tacked-on afterthought. Sure you wear it on your wrist, but two electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors for monitoring heart health are your first hint at the snoring dragon packed inside this mild-mannered form-factor. The chips in question are the MAX30001 and the MAX86150 (whose primary role is as a pulse sensor but also does ECG). We have high-res ADCs just waiting to be misused and the developers ran with that, reserving some of the extra pins on the USB-C connector for external devices.
There was a 10€ kit on offer that let you solder up some electrode pads (those white circles with gel and a snap for a solid interface with your body’s electrical signals) to a sacrificial USB-C cable. Remember, all an ECG is doing is measuring electrical impulses, and you can choose how to react to them. During the workshop, one of the badge devs placed the pads on his temples and used the card10 badge to sense left/right eye movement. Wicked! But there are a lot more sensors waiting for you on these two little PCBs.
Continue reading “Hands-On: CCCamp2019 Badge Is A Sensor Playground Not To Be Mistaken For A Watch”
Every few years, or so we’re told, [Scott] revisits the idea of building an electrocardiogram machine. This is just a small box with three electrodes. Attach them to your chest, and you get a neat readout of your heartbeat. This is a project that has been done to death, but [Scott]’s most recent implementation is fantastic. It’s cheap, relying on the almost absurd capability for analog to digital conversion found in every sound card, and the software is great. It’s the fit and finish that makes this project shine.
The hardware for this build is simply an AD8232, a chip designed to be the front end of any electrocardiogram. This is then simply connected to the microphone port of a sound card through a 1/8″ cable. For the exceptionally clever, there’s a version based on an op-amp. It’s an extraordinarily simple build, but as with all simple builds the real trick is in the software. That’s where this project really shines, with custom software with graphics, and enough information being displayed to actually tell you something.
We’ve seen a number of sound card ADCs being used for electrocardiograms in the past, including some from the Before Times; it makes sense, sound cards are the cheapest way to get a lot of analog data very quickly. You can check out [Scott]’s demo video out below.
Continue reading “Sound Card ADCs For Electrocardiograms”