Picture of Brain-Controlled RC Helicopter
This Instructable will show you how take a Radio Controller Helicopter and modify the remote control hardware such that it can be operated by free, open source computer software and flown based on brainwave measurements of concentration and relaxation taken by consumer-grade EEG headsets.

The software used in this Instructable consists of two applications, Puzzlebox Synapse and Puzzlebox Brainstorms. The former connects to commercially available consumer-grade EEG headsets, such as the NeuroSky MindSet or Emotiv EPOC. The latter connects to the transmitter chip extracted from the RC Helicopter's remote control and issues flight commands and settings based on detections received from Puzzlebox Synapse. Software (including source code) is available for download from the project website:

Required Materials
- Radio Controlled Helicopter
- EEG headset such as the NeuroSky MindSet or Emotiv EPOC
- USB-to-Serial converter cable, capable of being set at an arbitrary baud rate
- An oscilloscope
- A logic analyzer
- Soldering Iron and Solder (optional)
- Connection cables and prototyping board (optional)
- Puzzlebox Synapse and Puzzlebox Brainstorms software

Note: Items in bold can be found in the Glossary and Link Index listed the final step of this Instructable.

Before beginning, unpack the helicopter, charge and install the batteries, and make sure everything is in good working order before beginning to examine or disassemble any individual components.

You should also familiarize yourself with the basic controls of your helicopter, including how trim settings operate and basic flying characteristics.

Note: The RC Helicopter used in this Instructable is a Blade mCX2 :

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MasoodA2 months ago

This is epic what you've got here. Im gonna make it for my high school exhibition and i live in the united arab emirates. Please can you suggest me the specific name of the eeg headset by neurosky.. because online there are many and i am not sure which to buy specifically. Please reply to this asap.
Looking forward to your co-ordination

puzzlebox (author)  MasoodA2 months ago
Hello MasoodA, we currently use the MindWave Mobile EEG headset by NeuroSky. I believe the bundle it with different software packages but it is the same headset inside.

You can find more details on our website, as this project has evolved quite a bit in the years since this Instructable was posted:

MasoodA puzzlebox2 months ago

Thanks a ton x)

scavenger5147 months ago

thank you awesome projec

scavenger5147 months ago

can you use a mind flex headset

for the neurosky mindset

puzzlebox (author)  scavenger5147 months ago
Yes, the Mind Flex will work though some hacking will be required.

Please refer to these websites for more detail:
Montrel8 months ago
dope yo
madson8121 year ago
I should have read through it before I commented, sorry! I see that I would need a far more powerful EEG than what I'm willing to spend on in order to do that. Thx for the instructions!
madson8121 year ago

do you only need the eeg headset? and is it possible to program it to go forward when you think "forward" and turn right when you think "turn right"? if so could you post instructions on how to do so? sorry if I'm asking stupid questions, I don't build stuff very often.

acontenti1 year ago
Thank you very much for your reply!
This is what I'm trying all the time, to change the '--command=', the blue LED turns on at the helicopter, the antenna achievement synchronize with the helicopter, but I get ERROR.
An example of this you can see in the following pictures that i add.
What should I do or Which part of the code I need to change to make the helicopter fly?

Thank you very much for your help.

nhormell1 year ago
could you use a hacked mindflex headset instead of the mindwave?
puzzlebox (author)  nhormell1 year ago

Sorry for the delayed response, but yes absolutely that would work. The only thing you are missing when you used a hacked mindflex is the Raw EEG wave. You still get the Attention and Meditation algorithms.

acontenti1 year ago

Hello all there! I'm still trying but I fail to fly my helicopter (Blade mCX2 RTF) directly with on Windows 8

This is what I get:

INFO: [Brainstorms:Helicopter_Control] Using PySide module

<---- [Helicopter Remote] Main thread running

data_payload: 0000005e05ff0a4b0e17135414aa

data_payload: 0000005e05ff0a4b0e17135414aa

data_payload: 0000005e05ff0a4b0e17135414aa

data_payload: 0000005e05ff0a4b0e17135414aa

data_payload: 0000005e05ff0a4b0e17135414aa

Then i understood that these are the codes that perform this:

data_payload: 0000005e05ff0a4b0e17135414aa (neutral)

data_payload: 0000035405ff0a4b0e17135414aa (hover)

data_payload: 0000035405ff0b540e17135414aa (fly_forward)

data_payload: 0000005e05ff08aa0e17135414aa (fly_back)

Someone can help me please?

What should I do or Which part of the code I need to change to make the helicopter fly?

Thank you!


puzzlebox (author)  acontenti1 year ago

Answered in the Puzzlebox Brainstorms forums:

Judes D1 year ago

Hey Steve,

Is there any problem if I use an USB Oscilloscope and Logic Analyzer instead of separate analogue model?

Pls reply soon. It's very urgent


puzzlebox (author)  Judes D1 year ago

That should work just fine. We use a Saleae Logic analyzer ourselves (which is also USB). The oscilloscope in the video is only being used to confirm that the control signal is digital instead of analog.

wow... when i see things like this, I realize how limited my little brain is, LOL
Great build, really cool
iScience3 years ago
This is awsome!!
But with some EEG paste and more electrodes, we can make this go
Forward, Backward, LAnd, Right, Left
I think we have to amplify the signal and decode it with a formula and program it

I think im gonna do this :)
Cool, how did you makeout with this?
Jett Green1 year ago
How much does this cost?
michael32 years ago
Hi sir:
I am michael,a university student from China.Actually,i made a control for a aircraft (not a RC Helicopter like yours )by using a Mindwave after reading your artical.The software is written by myself,it is Labview and they are connencted by bluetooth.My question is since we just can get two datas:attention and meditation,how can we control our aircraft to a correct direction by Mindwave.For example,if i want the aircraft to go left,what should i do by dealing with the two datas?
fatihah882 years ago
Hye sir...

This technology is really new for us..even there is no implementation and development have been made in our country..

I am a student and would like to do this for my final year project..

So here,

I have questions to ask you..

1) If i don't have logic analyzer, can still proceed the project?

2) Why using serial usb converter instead of parellel?

3) Is there any different if I use cheap helicopter in term of the microcontroller?
Still using the Serial-usb converter?

Hope to here the answer from you a.s.a.p or can reply to my email..
Thank you.
puzzlebox (author)  fatihah882 years ago
Hello there, thanks for writing.

Before proceeding, you should be aware that you should assume every model helicopter will use a different microcontroller and/or transmitter chip and potentially an entirely different control mechanism, even when working with two models from the same manufacturer. Its even possible two helicopters which are listed as the same model will have different chips inside over time due to differences in production runs! There are no guarantees.

That said, our helicopter used a "Spektrum DSM2" transmitter chip, which was printed on the side of the box. So its fairly reasonable to assume anything else with that same brand and logo will have a similar configuration. But again, no promises.

To answer your questions more fully:

1) We used a logic analyzer to figure out what was going on with our circuit. The oscilloscope was a more important first step though as it helped us to learn about our circuit - specifically that there was a digital signal between the microcontroller and transmitter chip. If this wasn't the case we would not have had any use for a logic analyzer. If you are affiliated with a university they should have an oscilloscope and someone capable of educating you in its use.

2) Most digital devices speak to one another using some serial protocol. That's a good thing. Just as it is easier for you to read this message one word at a time (letter by letter in fact) than trying to read multiple lines all at once (ergo in parallel). Anyway you are probably thinking of the type of parallel port printers used to use but I think you'll find it is nearly impossible to locate a modern computer which still has one.

3) A "cheap" helicopter is likely to use less complex parts and likely different control mechanisms, such as IR. It would be easier to hack the joystick potentiometers for such a device.

Finally, one last word - if you do not have a solid foundation in electronics you're going to want to find and work directly in person with someone who does. Most of what I have learned personally was from working on projects such as this alongside much more experienced individuals. Trying to ask complex questions over an internet forum will quickly become an exercise in frustration - not the least of which for the person trying to answer them!


Steve Castellotti
Mind controlled helicopters may or may not get you laid, but I think you are a cool person for sharing knowledge and answering this person's questions in such detail.
who says mind controlled helis won't get you laid? =P

I am from India

i want to build this project. I have neurosky mind set..

So i want to ask few questions regarding other parts of that project ..

Q-1. can i use another company's RC helicopter. I didn't find the same company's helicopter or if that helicopter company supplying their product in india then where should i buy?

Q 2- can u tell me full specification of usb to serial cable that used by u and where can i buy is it available in india....?

Q3- i didn't understands that why u by passing all the circuit and components and connceting only the transmitter chip to usb to serial cable .....can u please expalin it ...

fatihah882 years ago
Hi.. one more thing to ask you.. can i use Arduino usb yo serial converter board or just build the simple board like what you have done? pls advise me.. thanks..
samando2 years ago
Here's a thought: Thought-controlled slot cars. The harder you concentrate, the faster the car goes. When you need to brake, however, you have to relax. Which is difficult, 'cause your car is hurtling towards a bend at far too high a speed. It'd be engaging, difficult and fun. I see a profit in this.
shijau2 years ago

I would like to ask few things..

1) Can we just use USB to parallel?why and why not?
2) Why you choose to use USB to serial?any advantages of using this kind of board?

That's all ..

puzzlebox (author)  shijau2 years ago
Hello shijau, thanks for writing.

In this project we encountered a Spektrum DSM2 transmitter chip, which receives as its input a serial protocol from the remote's microcontroller. The chip does not, to my knowledge have a parallel interface.

In any case we modified an existing hardware device, so our equipment had to match.


Steve Castellotti
Dude thats so cool.
I have some doubts. So please me explain these...
Your project explanations are very nice...I can understand your explanations. But I can’t able to understand your proto type board connections, because it is quite different from my text book explanations. So please explain me about “there are four wires one is +ve, -ve, Gnd, and data sending connections in data cable and remote control and also why you are using Blade mCX2 model helicopter to control the MLP4DSM type of remote control...why not the same model helicopter... and after finishing connections, you have shown another one 55 seconds video, why you are using here same 2laptops and what are all the software installed in it”...

puzzlebox (author)  Bionic Chandru3 years ago

    Thank you for writing.

    To quickly answer your questions:

- The MLP4DSM is the controller provided with the Blade mCX2, so that was the most obvious choice to use.

- The USB-to-Serial adapter cable we used provides 4 pins: Power, Ground/Negative (they are the same wire), Rx and Tx. We first needed to receive data (Rx) from the remote control's circuit board microprocessor to read the commands it would send to the transmitter chip. Later we needed to transmit that same data (Tx) to the transmitter chip. In our example we used Red for positive power, black for ground/negative, yellow for Rx and orange for Tx.

- Only one laptop is necessary. We used two during our development for our own convenience. The only software you need to control the helicopters is Puzzlebox Brainstorms. If you want to use mind-control from a NeuroSky headset (or similar) you will also need Puzzlebox Synapse. In the course of the modification we used special software for the software-based Logic Analyzer. All required materials are listed on the first page of the instructions and links to all manufacturers and relevant software is provided in the Glossary:

    I hope this helps.

    If you complete the project, please send us photos so we can add them to our website!

Thank you.

Steve Castellotti
Thank for your kind response, definitely I' ll finish this project and send you a photographs, and I can't able to sing up your official site, some more doubts also I have for neurosky headset I have o install drivers provided with headset and puzzle box synapse, and thoshiba blue tooth software also is it... nerosky head set connected with PC via blue tooth is it sir, and after wearing headset how to think a commands.
Thanking you,
One more doubt also sir,
In prototype board two terminals is connected to the RC one is black and another one is orange and that orange and yellow wire connections are connected random in connections...this is what I am getting confusion...
puzzlebox (author)  Bionic Chandru3 years ago

I think the word you mean to use is "question" not "doubt" (c:

Happy to help.

The official site for the software is

If you are running Windows XP, then the recommended Bluetooth stack to use with with the NeuroSky MindSet is from Toshiba. It should be included on the installation CD which comes with the MindSet. The default Microsoft Bluetooth stack should work but many users have experienced connections hanging and frequently timing out while using it.

Besides being able to establish the Bluetooth Serial connection, no other drivers or software should be necessary. Specifically, Puzzlebox Synapse is a replacement for NeuroSky's ThinkGear server, so you don't want to run both at the same time. Puzzlebox Brainstorms can talk to either NeuroSky ThinkGear or Puzzlebox Synapse as they both provide the same protocol.

The NeuroSky MindSet measures levels of attention and relaxation. Some suggestions for achieving and maintaining a high level of focus include performing mathematics in your head, reciting song lyrics, or naming each street from one part of a familiar city to another. To achieve high levels of relaxation it helps to close one's eyes and meditate. Everyone is a little different so perhaps you will find what works best for you by experimenting.

Finally to answer your question about the wires, the connections are not random. If you are using the exact transmitter chip described in this document with a USB serial cable, you don't need to worry about reading values from the microcontroller because we have already traced them out for you in the source code.

You will only need to connect the positive (red) and ground (black) cables from the USB serial adapter to the positive and ground pins of the transmitter chip. Then you will need to connect the "transmit" (Tx) wire from the USB serial adapter to the "receive" (Rx) pin of the transmitter chip -- because your computer will be transmitting commands to the chip, the chip will receive those commands, and re-transmit them through the radio signal.

A prototype board with several wires are shown in the video so that we could easily change between reading values from the microcontroller to writing values to the transmitter. If all you want to do is fly the helicopter form computer software you don't need to reproduce all of that work and you will only ever need three wires to connect the transmitter chip to the USB-to-Serial adapter.

I hope this helps.


Steve Castellotti
When I wearing a mind set, what are the words I have to think to fly helicopter.
puzzlebox (author)  Bionic Chandru3 years ago
You don't think a specific word or command, the EEG simply measures your brainwaves and compares characteristics to those of a known baseline (composited from a large pool of test subjects during a scientific study).

In other words, if you ever play sports such as basketball, while on the court taking foul shots one after another, you have to block the noise and distraction of people around you in order to focus on making the shots. In that moment, if you were doing well, you would tend to measure a high level of focus. If on the other hand you were shooting poorly because of someone shouting or the sun in your eyes, then you would tend to measure low focus.

Its the same if you are watching a boring television show (low focus) versus your favourite movie (high focus).

If you are trying to write a paper for class and you're not making any progress, you would tend to measure low focus, but if you knew everything you wanted to say and were typing it out as fast as your fingers would let you, you would tend to measure with high focus.

We use those high-focus-tendencies to make the helicopter fly. Whether you happen to be playing basketball, watching a movie, or writing a paper at the time you are wearing the headset doesn't affect the software - only how focused or engaged you are at the time.

I am waiting for your reply, Puzzle box synapse will work for radio frequency mind wave, else shall I buy mindband, Mindset is not possible because it is outdated manufacturing.....

Thanking you,

M.Hariram Chandar
Thank You so much sir,
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