Focus Posts ‘Before You Get Started’ Page For DIYers

tdcs20160512-2Focustry-tdcs-largeFocus has posted a new page on their site which directs new users to show caution in their use of DIY tDCS. Focus goes so far as to caution people under the age of 18 not to try it.

If you are under 18 you should stop here. tDCS is not suitable for children and should not be used. This is because your brain is still developing and you don’t need to mess with its neuroplasticity.

The page goes on to list the known risks and a few benefits. Interestingly, it does not mention depression. I would have to imagine due to the possibility of crossing that nebulous regulatory line around ‘medical devices’.

Focus is, as I understand it, in the midst of fulfilling orders for their GoFlow device. You can read a full review of the GoFlow on SpeakWisdom, the (primarily) tDCS-related site authored by Dr. Brent Williams. Go Flow Pro, Nice Brain Stimulation Kit! 

New Go Flow Pro package.

New Go Flow Pro package.


tDCS For The Masses – ‘Go Flow’

Update 2/29/16 Some details of operation I borrowed from the rep on the tDCS subReddit.

Yes, you can do any combination of time and current between the minimum and maximum limits.

The current level can be set from 0.5mA to 2mA, and is indicated with ORANGE lights. Pushing up or down the rocker will change the value in 0.25mA steps. e.g. 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2mA.

Once the current is set the lights change to GREEN. This is to set the time and pushing the rocker up or down will change in increments of 5 mins e..g. 5, 10, etc.. to a maximum of 35 mins.

Once you press to confirm the time the session will start. There is a slow ramp-up of current at session start for comfort. The gauge will now change from ORANGE to GREEN every 5 seconds.

During an active session the lights will show you the actual current value or approximate time remaining. Using the same Orange for current and green for duration scales.

If you find the current level too low or too high, you can change it during an active session. Simply press the rocker up or down – but please note the current will be ramped for comfort, so wait for each change to take effect. The lights will instantly change to orange to show you your changed level.

Changing current during active sessions is in 0.125mA steps for fine grained control and accuracy. You can see these hard steps by half lit lights. The current level shown on the ORANGE display is the actual, accurate current.

You can click the rocker during an active session to stop and the current will ramp down and off.

“Does it taper down the current over time, or will it be at a constant current over time?” no, this device will not give you incorrect current, neither too low, nor too high. It will be accurate from start to stop. It will not fail just because you have used the wrong amount of salt or your own choice of electrodes or any of the other things that trip up other devices. If for any reason the device detects it cannot maintain the target current, the LEDs will flash green/orange and the session will be stopped.

At focus we believe that the first job of a current stimulator is to produce an accurate safe current. It is staggering that this is considered optional by other manufacturers.

I think you’ll find its a really simple device to use and operate.
If it flashes orange and green – that means the headset is not connected. If it flashes just orange, that means it cannot reach even 0.5mA. This means the resistance somewhere is too high, usually the pads. Please try with fresh pads and problem should be gone.

Update 1/22/16: Part ll of Brent Williams GoFlow review focuses on choosing electrodes.
Update 1/21/16:  Brent Williams has just published a review of the GoFlow with how-to details The Brain Hacking Revolution Continues: Introducing the Go Flow – Part 1

Not shipping until March but now taking pre-orders, Now shipping. ‘Go Flow’ tDCS device comes in at under $30 including cables and electrodes (hydrogel only for now). But you can purchase the device itself (and use your own electrodes) for less than $15.

Read the ‘Go Flow’ story here: The Story of Focus Go Flow or order one for yourself here: FOCUS Go Flow tDCS Brain Stimulator


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.