Initial report by Younghyun Chung, 09, May, 2007

The OpenEEG project is about low cost hardware and software of brainwave detection and analyzation. ModularEEG is a cheap and open schematic hardware project of OpenEEG. However, building the hardware is not easy so this report arranges and condenses the instructions. (EEG: Electro-Encephalo-Gram, that is Electronic-Brain-Record)


Printed circuit boards(PCB's) or pre-built boards by Olimex, $162.00

 - Ordering Code: AR180903A/ASM - Set of analog and digital assembled boards)
 - Process: 
  1. Send request email. (they have email filter for yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc. use accounts or others)
  2. Receive PO form
  3. Fax the PO form


1. Clinical use - monitoring and diagnose

 epilepsy, syncope(fainting), sleep disorder, eating disorder, coma, brain death,

2. Research use

 Theories to explain sleep

3. Neurofeedback - Brain Computer Interface

 - psybridge
 - Mindball EEG Game
 - Some article about projects of 

4. Assistive Technology

 - Brain-fed switch
 - By pass physical disabilities with nerve-based signals

Characteristics of Brainwaves

  • Major types
 - Delta (~ 4 Hz): very young, brain disease, stage 3 and 4 sleep
 - Theta (4 ~ 8 Hz): drowsiness, childhood
 - Alpha (8 ~ 12 Hz): relaxed
 - Beta (12 ~ 25 Hz): active, busy, anxious
 - Gamma (26  100 Hz): higher mental activity - perception, problem solving, fear, consciousness
  • Signal contains noise
  • 1-2 mV on the surface of brain, 100 V on the scalp

Electrical Characteristics

- Modular Design Document - 2.2 Technical specifications

Example EEG graph (courtesy of Nelo).

- General specification

Number of channels2 - 6
Resolutionfour 10 bits, two 8 bits
Input Voltage Resolution0.5 uV
Input Voltage Full Scale+/-256 uV
Wideband noise~ 1 uVp-p
Supply Current(5V or 9 - 12V supply) 70 mA (2 channels)
Isolation voltage2500V (1 minute)
Continuous isolation voltage480V

- Supply Current

Digital board52 mA
Digital board + serial cable connected56 mA
Total current (including 2 channel amp)73 mA
Estimated total for 4 channel setup77 mA
DC/DC converter efficiency~78% ( =>15mA, 2 ch)

- EEG Amplifier specification

Gain7812.5 (nominally)
Offset handling capabilityTBD > 200 mVdc
Low frequency CMRRTBD > 100 dB (?)
Highpass filter2nd order, fc = 0.4Hz
Extra features250 uV(+/-10%) test signal.
.DRL circuit - adds > 40dB CMRR at 50/60Hz.

- AD-converter specification (AT90S4433)

Number of channels6
Resolution10 bits
Effective number of bits9.1 bits (< 100Hz)
Signal to Noise Ratio58.7dB (max possible 60dB)
Integral Nonlinearity+/- 0.5 LSB (typ)
Differential Nonlinearity+/- 0.5 LSB (typ)
Offset Error1 LSB (typ)
Absolute Accuracy (ADC clock = 200kHz)1 LSB (typ), 2 LSB max
Gain error (Voltage reference error)1% (typ), 2.25% max

Component of hardware


1. Electrode

 - 2 electrode for 1 signal
 - To avoid drowning in noise

2. Protection Circuit

 - Protects circuit from electrostatic discharge(ESD)
 - Protects user from failing circuitary

3. Instrumentation amplifier

 - Measures V-diff btw two location on the scalp
 - Common-mode signal from inputs = ( (+)input + (-)input ) /2

4. Amplifier + high pass filter

 - Amplify about 40 times
 - Removes DC-voltage offsets: polarizable electrode can accumulate electric charge

5. DRL circuit (Driven Right Leg)

 - Reduce common-mode noise by canceling it out
 - Attenuates mains hum up to 100 times

6. Low pass filter

 - Prevents aliasing effects when signal is digitezed


 - Electrically isolated from PC and external power


1. Detects electrical current

2. Place them on your head

 - Passive Electrode
  = Just wire and electrode
  = Need skin preparation conductive gel 
 - Active Electrode
  = Built-in circuitry which amplifies the electrical current
  = Improves signal quality and No skin preparation

Microcontroller Connections

Preparing parts

(Serial cable for connecting to a PC, 9V battery holder, RCA sockets for connecting the electrodes, respectively)

(above parts and DRL(Driven Right Leg; Reduce common-mode noise by canceling it out, Attenuates mains hum up to 100 times), etc)

Give a list of the pins, and a pin diagram as appropriate. Detail the function of each pin in a short paragraph following the list.


 - plastic housing for the whole unit
 - metal housing for the analog board
 - Connect two boards with 34-pin IDC cable (PCB-to-PCB cable)
 - serial cable socket for connecting the cabel to the unit
 - RCA socket for connecting the electrodes
 - socket for connecting DRL

Code Sample

Signal Testing using Hyperterminal

 - check the USB port first
 - setting: 57600 baud, 8 data bits, No parity, 1 stop bit, Flow control off

Typical Behavior

Test result using BioExplorer - more software available in this page

 - left: nervous status. Beta wave(12~25 Hz, reddish) is dominant. 
 - right: after some meditation. Since not sleeping, beta wave is still high, but Alpha wave(8~12 Hz, blueish) is growing

Application Notes

- psybridge: An adventure game that is played while sleeping by using the player's brainwaves as input. (on progress)


Some pictures are from OpenEEG website.