Thank you and Good Luck!
This Instructable will show how to make a Brain-Controlled Electric Wheelchair, so that a person can become mobile without moving their body.
This could be useful for people who are paralysed, and are unable to control parts of their body enough to physically activate the joystick of an electric wheelchair. Many people may be able to use this technology to gain some independence, and to take a break from needing an attendant to push their wheelchair so they can get some fresh air.
The parts of this system include an electric wheelchair, a laptop computer, an Arduino, an interface circuit, an EEG headset, and a collection of ready-made and custom software.
The software which was written specifically for this project (including the GUI and Arduino sketch) has been bundled with Puzzlebox Brainstorms, and is released freely under an Open Source license.
The EEG headset, which connects wirelessly to the laptop, allows the operator to simply think "forward" or "left" or "right" to cause the wheelchair to move. Performance is related to practice by the user, proper configuration of the software, and good contact made by the EEG electrodes on the scalp of the operator.
The interface circuit connects between the Arduino's digital pins and the joystick of the wheelchair. When the Arduino receives a command from the computer, it causes the circuit to "fool" the wheelchair into thinking that the operator has moved the joystick.
WARNING: Electric wheelchairs are designed for trained operators who have practised manoeuvring safely. Electric wheelchairs can weigh upwards of 200 pounds EMPTY! They have no mechanism to stop when they hit a human or an animal, or go off a curb or down stairs or right through a bannister. Make sure no one is in the path of a wheelchair which is not being operated by a human who can operate the OFF switch. Make sure everyone in the vicinity of this Instructable realizes what may happen if they don't get out of the way.
Do not attempt to stop an electric wheelchair with your body.
Step 1: Acquire materials
The Electric Wheelchair was acquired as an unwanted extra from a local repair shop. It was not considered serviceable for disabled persons because its condition was below standard. If you hear of someone in need of an electric wheelchair who is low on funds, encourage them to ask repair shops for unwanted chairs.
The EEG Headset is an EPOC acquired from Emotiv. Their site is here:
The Laptop Computer was Steve's but any laptop will do, it only needs to have two USB ports - one to connect to the Arduino, and the other for the EEG headset's Wireless receiver.
An Arduino is a small microcontroller platform with a USB serial interface. In this case, it serves as a bridge between the laptop computer and the interface circuit (see steps 5 and 6).
Originally, the Arduino was not used, and the interface circuit was connected directly to the parallel port of the computer. The computer we eventually used does not have a parallel port, so the Arduino performs the function of providing eight on/off signals based on a packet of serial data sent through its USB interface. So if your laptop has a parallel port but is new enough to run the Emotiv software, you might be able to skip the Arduino.