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Make a Mind-Controlled Arduino Robot: Use Your Brain as a Remote

Make a Mind-Controlled Arduino Robot: Use Your Brain as a Remote

by Tero Karvinen, Kimmo Karvinen


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Build a robot that responds to electrical activity in your brain—it’s easy and fun. If you’re familiar with Arduino and have basic mechanical building skills, this book will show you how to construct a robot that plays sounds, blinks lights, and reacts to signals from an affordable electroencephalography (EEG) headband. Concentrate and the robot will move. Focus more and it will go faster. Let your mind wander and the robot will slow down.

You’ll find complete instructions for building a simple robot chassis with servos, wheels, sensors, LEDs, and a speaker. You also get the code to program the Arduino microcontroller to receive wireless signals from the EEG. Your robot will astound anyone who wears the EEG headband.

This book will help you:

  • Connect an inexpensive EEG device to Arduino
  • Build a robot platform on wheels
  • Calculate a percentage value from a potentiometer reading
  • Mix colors with an RGB LED
  • Play tones with a piezo speaker
  • Write a program that makes the robot avoid boundaries
  • Create simple movement routines

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781449311544
Publisher: Make Community, LLC
Publication date: 12/27/2011
Pages: 98
Sales rank: 816,819
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Tero Karvinen teaches Linux and embedded systems in Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, where his work has also included curriculum development and research in wireless networking. He previously worked as a CEO of a small advertisement agency. Tero's education includes a Masters of Science in Economics.

Kimmo Karvinen works as a CTO in hardware manufacturer that specializes in integrated AV and security systems. Before that he worked as a marketing communications project leader and as a creative director and partner in advertisement agency. Kimmo's education includes a Masters of Art.

Table of Contents

From Helsinki to San Francisco;
EEG in Your Living Room;
What Do You Need to Know?;
Conventions Used in This Book;
Using Code Examples;
Safari® Books Online;
How to Contact Us;
Chapter 1: Building the Chassis;
1.1 Tools and Parts;
1.2 Servo Motors;
1.3 Chassis;
1.4 Painting the Chassis;
1.5 Attaching Servos to the Chassis;
1.6 Attaching the Line-Detecting Sensor;
1.7 Wheels;
1.8 Attaching the RGB LED to Chassis;
1.9 Attaching the Power Switch to the Chassis;
1.10 Attaching Arduino;
1.11 Battery Holder;
1.12 Attaching Solderless Breadboard;
1.13 ScrewShield Holds Wires in Place;
Chapter 2: Coding;
2.1 Moving;
2.2 Line Avoidance;
2.3 Battery, No Strings Attached;
2.4 Bells and Whistles;
2.5 Everything But Your Mind;
2.6 Measuring Your Brains with MindWave;
2.7 Complete Mind-Controlled Robot;
Building the ScrewShield;


Have you always been "makers"?
We've always been interested in tinkering, but with Arduino (and it's predecessors like Basic Samp), making things is faster.

With Arduino, we can concentrate on what we want to make. We can build the first prototype without spending a lot of time with datasheets and waiting for components.

How did you come up with the idea to create a mind-controlled Arduino robot?
We needed a gimmick for Maker Faire Bay Area 2011. Some of Tero's students played with cheap EEG devices at Haaga-Helia. One of Kimmo's friends at work, Valtokari Ville, had a suitable EEG device. Kimmo and Ville made the first prototype to try out how would Mindwave work with an Arduino robot. It proved to be a viable concept so we polished it into a Faire-worthy device. At the Faire, people were quite amazed to see they could control the speed of the robot with their mind.

What do the readers need in order to build their own? (besides the book, of course!)
A NeuroSky EEG headband (100 USD) and Arduino (25 USD) are the most important components. A strong lithium battery powers the bot, and two servos turn the wheels. The rest of the supplies are support components, like screws, plastic, wire, resistors and leds.

How has this project changed the way you interact with Arduino, or how has it affected your future projects?
Now that the price of EEG devices have come down from $10,000 to $100, we will definitely play more with our brains. We have a lot of ideas for mind controlled Arduino projects. Some of those will likely see the light of day as soon as we have some free time.

For example, we found a really nice way to connect external devices, like NeuroSky. Usually, converting the voltage difference uses a special circuit—a circuit that's not easy to find in Finland. But it's also possible to convert level with just two resistors.

What did you learn from your experience at Maker Faire Bay Area 2011?
It was amazing to see how many young hackers there were. Also, the range of stuff that people are building in their garages is overwhelming. It was a surprise that professional embedded developers like to play with Arduino. Even though they could just do serious work projects, they want to do experimental rapid prototyping, too. We highly recommend that everyone who's interested in building things would visit the Faire.

How do you think projects like this will change the future of the Make community?
This is the tomorrow of yesterday. Sci-fi devices are getting commonplace and cheap: EEG, 3D printing, biohacking...

More makers playing with these technologies will mean interesting projects and innovations in the days to come.

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