Another DIY tDCS Video

Hard to imagine how he’d have learned enough about tDCS to build a device, but have gotten the (typical) montage so wrong. Placing the cathode over left DLPFC and anode over right orbital is exactly the opposite of what you’ll find in most studies related to both depression and working memory. He doesn’t go into how he’s constructed his electrodes at all. Anecdotally, it is interesting that the reverse montage made him feel angry and depressed.


Weekend tDCS Insights – Chi & Snyder, SpeakWisdom, Carlo Miniussi

Some very excellent tDCS-related documents came to my attention over the weekend. I’m pretty sure I’d looked for at least one of them before, but that it was behind a paywall. I’ll provide links to the pdfs here, but suggest that (as has happened elsewhere on the blog) pdf links frequently go bad so ‘get em while they’re hot’.

Brain stimulation enables the solution of an inherently difficult problem (pdf)
This is the paper by Alan Snyder and Richard Chi that is frequently referenced in ‘unlock your inner savant’ articles on various pop-sci sites. (See also) Spoiler alert! Gives the answer to the ‘9 dot’ problem and once you’ve seen it it will be impossible to discover how ‘savant-like’ you are (at least according to this test).

ninedot …we applied cathodal tDCS (1.6mA) at the left anterior temporal lobe (ATL) together with anodal tDCS at the right ATL for approximately 10 min… None of the 22 participants in the main experiment solved the nine-dot problem before stimulation. But with 10 min of right lat- eralizing transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), we found that more than 40% of participants could do so.

speakWisdomTakeapartDr. Brent Williams, at his SpeakWisdom blog, published another excellent tDCS post updating his DIY device, and adding a .doc that outlines his recommended (For Discussion) protocols for depression, ‘Savant Learning’, memorization, and chronic pain.
His protocol describes directions for use with either his ‘User-Built tDCS Research Device’, or the ActivaDose II.

Transcranial Magnetic and Electric Stimulation in Perception and Cognition Research (pdf)
This is a fascinating paper (Carlo Miniussi et al) that brings us up to date (2012) on applications of tDCS, TMS tACS (transcranial alternating current), and tRNS (transcranial random noise stimulation), especially in relation to cognition and learning. What really caught my eye was this entry about tRNS…

 tRNS consists of the application of a random electrical oscillation spectrum over the cortex. tRNS can be applied at different frequency band ranges over the entire spectrum from 0.1 to 640 Hz…They applied tRNS to the visual cortices of healthy subjects and observed a significant improvement in the performance of healthy subjects in a visual perceptual learning task. This improvement was significantly higher than the improvement obtained with anodal tDCS…

And that folks, is how a weekend disappears down the rabbit hole!

The Open tDCS Project

Update 7/2/14 First of all, thanks Z for pointing out the two schematics that are now considered dangerous, in the sense that they could lead to an initial ‘zap’ and possible burn.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I myself am not an electronics person. The notion of ‘Open tDCS’ was to develop an excellent device through Upverter (or similar online platform), that anyone could then order directly from a Chinese manufacturer (thereby circumnavigating any regulation issues etc).
We have yet to find an engineer to lead and build the design team and my thoughts about why are simply that people are too busy, or that they see a possible financial gain for their own device somewhere down the road. Considering the original post/Upverter account is a year and a half old, it seems unlikely we’ll find someone, but you never know!
Upverter is an online platform that allows for electronics to be designed, parted, and built. As I understand it, once the design is fixed, you shop for parts – inside of Upverter, and then submit your project (to Upverter’s Chinese partners) to be built. I’d mentioned Upverter on the tDCS subReddit a few times. I was hoping to pique the curiosity of the engineer types that had designed and built their own tDCS devices… Crowdsource the design, and then anyone can order one!

What happened was I got an email from Eric Evenchick, a ‘customer success / hardware engineer person’ at Upverter! Eric had seen my post and written to help. He waived the team fee, set up the project and ported the OpenStim Arduino-based tDCS design, by ohsnapitsnathan (Reddit handle).

I hope I didn’t step on any toes by collecting these schematics to one place. I wanted engineers to be able to see quickly how other designers have thought about building their devices. If you’re an engineer type interested in tDCS please join our Upverter team.

It feels silly to put it this way, when the very nature of Open implies extreme democracy, but here goes… Here’s my vision of an Open tDCS project.

  • Build an Upverter team
  • Design, part, and prototype a minimum viable tDCS device
  • Working with an online ‘cognitive test’ site, build a protocol for measuring the effectiveness of tDCS

Later on we could develop a multi-channel device, and maybe this is just a fantasy, but if it could interact with the internet, researchers could design tests and collect data non-locally. How cool would that be?

The rest of this post will attempt to collect in one place the various schematics I’ve seen for DIY tDCS devices.

I called this one Imgur earlier on the blog. It comes from 55tfg7879fe42e345 (Reddit handle)

tDCS by 55tfg7879fe42e345

tDCS by 55tfg7879fe42e345


brmlab our Czech friends


The Focus device.

Focus V 1

Focus V 1

And then the more advanced, programmable tDCS devices. OpenStim



Open Stim Multi-Channel

OpenStim Multi-Channel

OpenStim Multi-Channel

Shawn Nock Version 2

Shawn Nock Version 2

Shawn Nock Version 2

If you know of a schematic I missed please let me know, and even if you’re not an engineer, consider joining Upverter and ‘Following’ our project.




tDCS – Building Research tDCS Units « SpeakWisdom

This bubbled up today. He explores some choices he made in building his DIY kit in a series of blog posts on tDCS.

Just to see how easily it could be done, I built a couple of tDCS units for about $30 each using common parts. The meters were purchased from EBay for about $7 each and all the remaining components came from a local Radio Shack, including the case, voltage regulator, resistors, etc. The tDCS units feature a potentiometer to make it possible to adjust current for treatment specifics or pad variations.

(Two tDCS units built in about 3 hours for well less than $100)


via tDCS – Building Research tDCS Units « SpeakWisdom.


Update 7/25/2018 Reddit user quicksilv3rflash just posted a DIY TMS how-to on Instructables!

Most of us are attracted to the idea of DIY tDCS because of the low entry barrier – a nine volt battery and a simple circuit (at least in theroy). But also because so much of the science literature coming out around tDCS hints at exciting possibilities for enhancing our cognitive abilities. The thought of DIY TMS, with it’s high voltages never occurred to me. I was shocked! to find these videos of DIYer Ben Krasnow on Youtube.
HatTip to Marom Bikson, this came to me by way of his Twitter @MaromBikson


Anthony Lee Update

Anthony Lee shared the results of his most recent tDCS experiments on Reddit the other night (9/8/12). Using the Cambridge Brain Science Challenge (a set of four tests), he charted his scores over a two month period, comparing results with and without tDCS applied. Check out the video, and if you have questions for Anthony, post them to his Reddit thread.

Where Do The Electrodes Go?

Update 9/6/12: Found for the first time, a study which equates electrode placement directly with the 10/20 positioning system. The study, Modulating activity in the motor cortex affects performance for the two hands differently depending upon which hemisphere is stimulated, was published in the European Journal of Neuroscience in 2008 and is available to download as a pdf or read in Quick View.

On each day, there was one session for anodal and one for cathodal tDCS, administered while the participants sat in an office chair. On the first day, participants also underwent one session of sham tDCS. For the anodal and cathodal sessions, 1 mA tDCS was applied for 20 min. On one of the testing days, the active electrode was positioned over the participant’s left- hemisphere motor region, centered on C3 of the 10–20 international electroencephalogram system; on the other day, the active electrode was positioned over the motor region of the right hemisphere (centered on C4 of the 10–20 electroencephalogram system). The correspon- dence between C3, C4 and the primary motor cortices of the left and right hemispheres, respectively, has been confirmed by neuroimaging studies (Homan et al., 1987; Herwig et al., 2003; Okamoto et al., 2004)

[Source of the above image is probably
where it’s referred to as “Location and nomenclature of the intermediate 10% electrodes, as standardized by the American Electroencephalographic Society. (Redrawn from Sharbrough, 1991).” The author seems to also have it available on ResearchGate ]

While the 10/20 positioning system (wikipedia, pdf) does seem straight-forward and easy to understand, most of the electrode sites mentioned in the publications I’m reading don’t refer to it in describing where electrodes are being placed. You’re more likely to see something like: “…after bifrontal tDCS with the anode over the right and the cathode over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC).”

But if laypeople are going to be experimenting on themselves, wouldn’t they need some sort of standard reference to enable sharing of specific electrode sites? Wouldn’t you like to be able to say something like, I placed the anode over the right dorsolateral prefronal cortex at F3 and the cathode over the left at F7? In that way it would be easy for someone else to replicate. I was looking for a diagram that would map the 10/20 system over brain regions, but didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. If you have any ideas about this please share in the comments.

In the meantime here are a couple of basic brain info sites I found. These tend toward more basic information.
Healthline Brain Map
Cold Springs Harbor 3d Brain Map

GoFlow Update!

Just to reiterate, I have no association with GoFlow, just sharing the news.

Hey All,

Sorry for the long hiatus, we know we’ve been quite way too long.

We wanted to let you know that we are still working on the GoFlow project, and give you a hint or two of whats coming next.

We’ve been taking the last two months to “science up” and run more extended self tests. Any risk we can mitigate by taking the time to become more informed and test our device thoroughly is more than worth the delay from our end.

We have been getting tons of feedback to the contrary from some of you, and trust us we empathize. We did build one and use it on ourselves with very minimal research and testing. We can’t in good faith do that to our community. We say that fully appreciating the irony there..

We are continuing the development process as fast as our limited resources and time allow, and we will be much more communicative as we continue.

Stay tuned for updates and always feel free to email us with questions!

The GoFlow Team

Open Source Hardware TDCS

[Update 3/4/17 Looks like Shawn pulled the tDCS pages from his website. Though it’s still available via WebArchive. But the GitHub link is good.] A DIY tDCS project from Shawn Nock [Update 8/12/12 Shawn has updated his project to derive power via USB!]

The whole project (including all source files) was created with gEDA and friends and is published on github under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Practically speaking, this means that anyone interested in tdcs may (at their own risk): Download the designs, edit or modify them, fork their own design, and sell a product based on this design all without any proprietary (expensive) software.

Those who aren’t inclined to make changes, but want to experiment, can use the pcb design and the bill of materials to make small batches of devices for testing or personal use.

Effects of inhibiting and exciting the left DLPFC–an experiment : tDCS

Exciting! Reports from self-experimenting starting to come in! In this case the author used the Cambridge Brain Challenge suite of tests to guage the effect of tDCS.

Observations The most immediatley obvious and striking effect of tDCS is the modest but significant increase in Paired Associates score during excitatory tDCS. This score, which measures the ability to remember the locations of objects on a screen, likely correlates with overall working memory, which has been previously shown to be improved by exciting the left DLPFC.

Another striking effect is that of excitatory tDCS on the Odd One Out test, a general test of fluid intelligence. Although it only reached a significance level of 0.41, the 1.6667 point average improvement is this task represents a very large gain in performance…

via Effects of inhibiting and exciting the left DLPFC–an experiment : tDCS.

TDCS-Transcranial-Direct-Current: My TDCs Experiment

Gareth is experimenting with his own device and measuring protocol. This was his first post he recently completed his 4th experiment.

My name is Gareth Morgan Thomas. I am an electronics engineer amongst many things and am interested in cognitive enhancement.
To this end I have built a TDCs device and am awaiting my disposable electrodes which I will have in 2 days.
I will initially use the protocols for math improvement and working memory.
I also want to use drawing and art to improve my visual memory and imagination so I will use TDCs to this end also.
My objective is general intelligence enhancement.
At some point I will test my IQ and then again after various protocols.
I will utilize the curve of forgetting to reinforce the TDCs rather than just using a protocol once.
This blog is to be the journal of my experimentation.

via TDCS-Transcranial-Direct-Current: My TDCs Experiment.

Joel and John Thread July 17, 2012

Joel Portzer on July 17, 2012 at 10:20 am said:

Hi John,
This maybe isnt the normal theoretical question that you usually get, but you seem to know a LOT about this so i am hoping you can help and i dont know where else to turn.

I have a tDCS device and am not completely sure what montage to use for my purposes. I am learning to trade and specifically need tDCS to boost my pattern recognition skills. It seems this would be the primary, secondary, and associative visual cortex. So, these areas on the 10/20 are O1, OZ and O2 [given pages 26-30 here and ] …. So should i place one electrode right above these areas and then one on my shoulder so that i know it covers these areas (i think i read that on fisher wallace website maybe?)

I really appreciate ANY help you can give. finding info for my purposes has been difficult and even if you can point me in the right direction it would be a great help.


John on July 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm said:

Hi Joel,
Fact is I don’t know that much about tDCS yet. I don’t own a device and I’m not a scientist, just very curious and in the information gathering stage. Probably the closest thing to an active tDCS board is this SubReddit I’ll follow-up when I’ve read the manuals you linked to. Off hand though, I wonder how you’d know if tDCS was helping with your pattern recognition. Is there something you already have a lot of experience with that, were tDCS working for you, you’d be able to recognize the difference? I’m going to forward you comment to Petr at brmlab as well. He has more hands on experience.

Joel Portzer on July 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm said:

Great! Thanks for forwarding my question on and the forum idea. Thats a very good question about knowing if its working- especially because i dont think there is a study that dealt with pattern recognition. Aside from paying upwards of 50 grand to fund a study i dont know what else to do to be absolutely sure, although i am fairly confident given all the other studies positive results. I will be doing the studying anyway, so i figure its a minor cost in time and money and a “probable?” huge benefit.

Thanks again!

John on July 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm said:

Hey Joel,
The top spot on the tDCS SubReddit right now is a guy who is doing self-experiments with the Cambridge Brain Science Challenge. They have tests that seem about perfect for our experiments in that many of them are generated by an algorithm, so they’re always different. I’m going to get a blog post up later this evening.

Joel Portzer on July 18, 2012 at 9:50 pm said:

Yeah i saw that- thanks! Im sure you saw i made my own post. Hopefully someone has some more knowedge on this than i do. Did you get a hold of the guy, Petr, you were talking about? He has some experience with this stuff?

John on July 18, 2012 at 10:09 pm said:

I sent him your comment so he may reply to you directly. Or you could email him directly. His is the first comment on this page with the address at
I may fold our conversation into a single comment. Good luck with your experiments and keep us posted.

Thanks John,

BTW, are you interested in getting a tDCS device?

I could get in touch with a guy who will make you one (thats safe) and inexpensive but I will have to introduce you (he’s touchy about who he sells to due to regulations etc.).

I think i got mine for $70 without the pads.

John on July 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm said:

I am definitely interested in a device. Right now I’m holding out for a GoFlow, or something like it. The reason being, I think it will be easier to build a solid body of data if most of us are using the same device. I’ll give GoFlow another month or so and if nothing emerges it’s good to know about your friend. Thanks

Joel Portzer on July 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm said:

yeah i was thinking the same thing but i finally gave in a month ago when they were denied by kickstarter. I dont think go flow is going to do it for legal reasons- they are in over their heads.

Do you think the results will be different though? The only variables i see 1) current flow – my ammeter shows the current flow on my device and its pretty steady 2) the type of electrodes people use which can vary greatly because goflow showed sticky TENS pads which dont work on a hairy scalp, and then if people buy sponge electrode pads there the big variable of 3) How wet they keep them with a saline solution and what type of saline solution they use.

Im kinda thinking out loud but in my mind it seems go flow is not going to provide a consistent tDCS experience.

Id like to hear your thoughts.

John on July 25, 2012 at 12:53 am said: Edit

We’re thinking along the same lines. And I agree, as I’m learning more about it, the electrodes are turning out to be more complicated than I thought at first. If not GoFlow, maybe a kit of some kind, or even a list of specific Radio Shack parts. I don’t think the results will be that different, but it would be great if we were all on the same page, exactly. Same device, same electrodes, same montage (I guess that’s what it’s called – where the electrodes are placed), and same tests. It would be amazing if we could get some oversight from a lab that wanted the data. Hey you’re welcome to contribute to this blog if you feel like sharing some of your experiences some time.
Best, JH