GetRekt's EMG / EEG Controlled RC Car

Let's move something with mind and body!

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Allow me to introduce GetRekt, the team I participated in during the 2016 BCI Hackathon at Temple University in Philadelphia PA, running from Friday evening ( 9/23 ) to Sunday morning ( 9/25 ). And, during the given amount of time, we --- Christian Ward, James Kollmer, Robert Irwin, and of course myself, Andrew Powell --- managed to put together a RC car controlled with a combination of and electromyography ( EMG ) and electroencephalogram ( EEG ) signals! The EMG signals from both arms were used to change the car’s direction, whereas the EEG signals were used to either enable or disable movement! Check out the demonstration video and project details!

But, the question everyone should be asking is “how’d the hackathon go?” Well, seeing as got FIRST PLACE…

I’d say we Rekt.

Annnd, this project is also submitted to the HackadayPrize2016 for Assistive Technologies competition! Judges, please look at the Project Details, as well as the Log

I should point out, all of the seven other teams who actually participated were given one or more Muscle SpikerShields ( Spikers ) for acquiring EMG, and either a OpenBCI headset or a Emotiv Insight headset for acquiring EEG. For our implementation, we utilized two Spikers and the Emotiv. More implementation details are found under the The Implementation section.

The Idea: Implement a RC Car controlled with EMG / EEG signals

So, the two main ideas we had prior to the hackathon were either to create a drawing application or the car. The drawing application would have basically been a software application similar Microsoft Paint, but simpler and controlled with the provided tools.

The general idea we had for the car was to first get the car working as a regular RC car, something we knew we could do during the event, and then figure out how to apply the data we would get from just a single Spiker to control the car. Initially, we thought we weren’t going to get anything else but a Spiker. Thankfully, we got more than expected!

Both projects would have been feasible given the team’s skillset and schedule. In the end, though, we opted for the car because the team’s skillset was excellent for BOTH hardware and software!

The Team: Meet GetRekt!

The following are short descriptions on each member’s main contributions to the project. Keep in mind, we all contributed in various aspects of the project, not just those described here. So certain responsibilities, such as a connecting the hardware of the car itself, was done by the team as a whole.

Christian Ward - Developed Python Class for interfacing with / getting data from Emotiv Insight. This included testing and determining how to best interpret the data ( power averages ) from the Emotiv.

James Kollmer - Built and configured Spikers. This included writing a large portion of the bare metal C code that runs on a Arduino UNO development board to acquire the EMG samples. Was also the “test dummy” in the video.

Robert Irwin - Wrote the bare metal, embedded software to control the car’s Arduino UNO. With James, also responsible for acquiring EMG samples with UNO paired with the two Spikers.

Andrew Powell - Created C Python / classes for wirelessly communicating between host computer and car’s UNO, and host computer and Spiker’s UNO. Wrote Python application for running system from a host computer.

The Implementation: Making it work!

The block diagram quickly describes all the major components of the project! Why these components? Well, a HUGE limitation to our project was the time we had to complete it. Since in reality we only had a day and a half to finish the entire project, we mostly relied on tools we were familiar with and/or could get for free! We already had the Xbee transceivers for wireless communication between the car’s UNO and the host computer. We already had the UNOs, one for the car and the other for the Spikers. Obviously we had computers, one of which was chosen to act as the host computer. The Parallax stuff for the car was lent to us by a professor from our college ( Thanks Dr. Helferty! ). The only tools we were totally inexperienced with were the Spikers and Emotiv.

Arguably the most challenging aspect of the project was interpreting the data from the Emotiv Insight. Sure, it took some effort to put the other components together, but we made sure to choose something we knew we could do quickly ( i.e. in little over a day’s time ). But, the EMG signals were incredibly easy to work with, especially compared to the EEG signals! Initially, we toyed with the idea of using specific body movements --- such as eye movements or tapping our feet --- as controlling mechanisms. However, we later realized the results were just too inconsistent.

In spite of this setback, we managed to implement the Emotiv as an “on and off” sort of switch! Not as grandiose as our original plans, but it gets the job done!

Well, that is! If this project interested you, check out...

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  • 2 × Arduino UNO One for the Car, and the other for getting data from the Muscle SpikerShield
  • 2 × Muscle SpikerShield For acquiring EMG signals from forearm muscles.
  • 1 × Emotiv Insight For acquiring EEG Average Power signals
  • 1 × Host Laptop Computer Ran the project's main application
  • 1 × Parallax Board of Education Car Kit ( minus BASIC Stamp ) The chassis, servos, and wheels of the Car

View all 6 components

  • HackadayPrize2016 Entry P4: ???

    andrew.powell10/03/2016 at 00:21 0 comments

    Not even sure what to even add in this log. Just trying to get some points in the "Are there four project logs?" category. The rules never said substantial information is needed in all four logs!

    ( And, I know for a fact the project won't win many points in the "Is the project well documented?" cateogry. )

    To make up for a terrible, final log, here's a picture of Kollmer trying to go Super Saiyan during the Hackathon! Christian is also intrigued by this!

  • HackadayPrize2016 Entry P3: Discuss how this challenge will work to alleviate or solve the problem.

    andrew.powell10/03/2016 at 00:06 0 comments

    Well, this project heavily relies on the flexing of muscles for human-computer interaction, instead of fingers. Say a child is handicapped in that they don't have functioning hands or even legs. Well, why not construct controllers such that ANYONE can use them? The cool aspect of the EMG/EEG car is that the car can easily be controlled, with little effort, and without the need to press a button or have a lot of dexterity! In fact, the idea of the project can be expanded to include other muscles in the body ( and perhaps better methods for interpreting EEGs ) in order to implement other buttons!

  • HackadayPrize2016 Entry P2: Discuss the challenge which has been chosen as the subject of the project.

    andrew.powell10/03/2016 at 00:04 0 comments

    The original objective of the Brain-Computer Interface ( BCI ) Hackathon was to create something cool with the tools provided at the Hackathon. However, during a discussion with a few of the judges, the team realized the project can be applied in many useful scenarios, for instance the EMG/EEG Car could be used as a cool toy. Another useful example, which was briefly discussed, was to assist handicapped people, particularly people who to enjoy fun activities as much as someone who isn't handicapped!

  • HackadayPrize2016 Entry P1: Assistive Technologies

    andrew.powell10/03/2016 at 00:03 0 comments

    Honestly, I don't think this project has a chance of winning, considering it was a last minute decision to submit and the original objective of the project was to compete in a Hackathon. But, what the heck! Team GetRekt has agreed to at least try, so here goes nothing!...

    So after actually reading through the rules, it turns out there needs to be at least four different logs! In an effort to comply with that rule, this log will now be split into four separate logs!

View all 4 project logs

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Isuru Thiwanka wrote 03/23/2018 at 10:26 point

Dear Sir,
I hope to do my final year research with mind wave signals (EEG) and I wanna to know how EEG head set works,   how  to get signals (how to get digital outputs from eeg head-set) and connect them with any micro-controller.. etc... And also 
I wanna to know what are good eeg head set available in market...Could you please help me.. This is my email :

  Are you sure? yes | no

Robert wrote 04/29/2018 at 15:25 point

It really depends on what your goal is, I recommend actually going from the ground up cause that will build the most thorough understanding of EEG. 

Prepare to do a lot of research and a couple all nighters in front of a Spectrum Analyzer, and Oscilloscope.

Some good websites:

  Are you sure? yes | no

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