Introduction: Build a TENS Machine to Remove Pain

Picture of Build a TENS Machine to Remove Pain

A Tens machine is used to provide a drug free way of removing pain from your body ( TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation )
.Here I will show you how to build your own Tens machine and reduce the amount of pills you use to stop pain .To Build this Tens unit, you will first need to buy a 555 timer IC . The 555 timer is very small about a quarter of the size of your finger nail .You can purchase one for about 25p from Maplins or Radio Shack etc .

There are 2 types of Tens machine. High Frequency Tens uses frequencies in the range of 80 to 100 Hz. This blocks the pain impulses going to the brain .

Low frequency Tens uses frequencies from 2 to 4 Hz . This will help the body produce its own endorphins and increase local blood flow to relieve pain ( this can last for hours ) .

Square waves are universally encountered in digital switching circuits and are naturally generated by binary (two-level) logic devices. They are used as timing references or "clock signals", because their fast transitions are suitable for triggering synchronous logic circuits at precisely determined intervals. However, as the frequency-domain graph shows, square waves contain a wide range of harmonics.

Step 1: Ooop's Statutory Warning

Picture of Ooop's Statutory Warning

WARNING: The device is not designed for use above the neck or for individuals who have a pacemaker or other heart defects .This device should not be used by pregnant women & Girls .

The “Square wave” permits the frequencies to penetrate the body more efficiently at any given Khz output. Square waves are considered the superior “frequency to wave” output for any Frequency generator device.

Step 2: 555 Timer IC

Picture of 555 Timer IC

I first started off placing the 555 timer in the center of the project and then build arround it .
A close up look of the Diagram will show you how the Pins from 1 to 8 on the 555 Timer is connected up . You can use this magnification to reference back to during your project .

Each pin is numbered from 1 to 8 .

Step 3: How the Square Wave Is Generated

Picture of How the Square Wave Is Generated

The ratio of the high period to the total period of a square wave is called the duty cycle. A true square wave has a 50% duty cycle - equal high and low periods. The average level of a square wave is also given by the duty cycle, so by varying the on and off periods and then averaging, it is possible to represent any value between the two limiting levels. This is the basis of pulse width modulation.

Parts List for a Low Frequency Tens Machine ( Generating the Square Wave ):

(1) 205 K ohm Resistor
(2) 233 ohm Resistor
(3) 5.01 M ohm Resistor
(4) 10 nF Capacitor
(5) 47 nF Capacitor
(6) 555 Timer IC
(7) 28.81ma Light Emitting Diode
(8) Rocker Switch
(9) 9 volt Battery
(10) Thin wire
(11) Solder ( and soldering iron ) or small bread board
(12) Home made conducting pads made with stiff copper wire covered with Foil .

Once all the parts are together you can start to wire up your project.

Step 4: Low Frequency Tens Machine Diagram ( Wave: Asymmetrical )

Picture of Low Frequency Tens Machine Diagram ( Wave: Asymmetrical )

We are building the Low Frequency Tens Machine at the moment .
Once all the parts are together they should be placed out and wired up shown in the diagram . You could either solder them together or connect them using a very small bread board .

If you find it difficult to see the values in the diagram, these are what they are :

(1) 205 K ohm Resistor
(2) 233 ohm Resistor
(3) 5.01 M ohm Resistor
(4) 10 nF Capacitor
(5) 47 nF Capacitor
(6) 555 Timer IC

When you wire up the the Light Emitting Diode, the resistor should be connected to the ( a or + ) Cathode ( the Long Lead ) side of the Light Emitting Diode .The short side connected to the negative or ground side .

Step 5: High Frequency Tens Machine ( Wave: Asymmetrical )

Picture of High Frequency Tens Machine ( Wave: Asymmetrical )

To change your device into a High Frequency Tens Machine, you only need to replace 2 resistors .

Replace the 205 K ohm resistor with a 6.8 K ohm resistor
Replace the 5.01 M ohm resistor with a 167 K ohm resistor

(1) 6.8 K ohm Resistor
(2) 167 K ohm Resistor

The 2 red conducting pads shown in the diagram are the silver Foil covered pads to be placed on the body . To increase conductivity you can use hair Jell on the pads . Although you will not cause any damage to the unit, the +/- conducting pads should be kept apart from each other.

Here's a link showing proper placement of electrodes.

You could place your finished project inside its own case . Remember to remove the batteries when not in use.

You can simulate this circuit by downloading some software on a free trial . Choose Electronics because the software has a number of Scientific options . Go to :



To change your device into a medical device to cure diseases, you only need to replace 2 resistors and 1 Capacitor .

Replace the 6.8 K ohm resistor with a 9.6 K ohm resistor.
Replace the 47 nF Capacitor with 100 pF Capacitor
Replace the 167 K ohm resistor with a 236 K ohm resistor

Parts List

(1) 9.6 K ohm Resistor
(2) 236 K ohm Resistor
(3) 100 pF Capacitor

This would give an out put of 30 k Hz , to kill parasites in the body, raise the ph to remove acidic environments in the blood . Allow healing Lymphocytes to do their job properly .
The Square wave formula for all square waves is below . You can also visit this website for more information about what your device can achieve . Although their device is out of range of the Low Frequency TENS that you will be building .

Step 7: Lymphocytes

Picture of Lymphocytes

Lymphocytes are improved to Kill bad Bacteria within the body , by using electrical stimulation with square waves .


BillB242 (author)2017-03-25

I built one of these yesterday. When I place the electrodes on my wrist as a test and then turn on the switch, I got a 2nd degree burn in two small spots from the positive electrode. What can I do to NOT get burned when using this device?

GregV20 (author)2017-02-27

How do you generate the high voltage?

dheerajg1 (author)2016-09-23

not getting output with either low frequency or high frequency device at 9V. What to do?

aphasic (author)2016-05-02

My commercial TENS unit is max 5V RMS, 100Hz, 100us pulse width. Which means the pulses are up to 500V, if I'm not mistaken. However, your device produces only 9V pulses. That's a big difference! I think this circuit diagram looks a bit more promising:

But thank you for telling us how to cure all diseases! I should try that too...

aphasic (author)aphasic2016-05-02

Actually I think I *was* mistaken, 5V RMS with a 1% duty cycle should translate to 50V peak voltage, since we divide by the square root of the duty cycle. Still a bit bigger than 9V.

clothier_bruce (author)2016-01-31

This Instructable is garbage: here you simply repeat ideas not your own ( low f stimulates release of endorphins and high f blocks signals to the brain ) The evidence for any of this is wafty - what frequencies; what power output; what waveform. Worse, you drag out that nonsense about a 'cure for all disease', first propounded a hundred years ago by a crank called Rife. It was nonsense then and it's nonsense now.

Stefniamoo (author)2013-07-24

"This device should not be used by pregnant women & Girls ."
I get the pregnant women thing. but why not used by girls? why?

otherwise i like the instructables :)

saumipan (author)Stefniamoo2015-12-07

Not to be used by pregnant (women and girls), that is pregnant women and pregnant girls.

Haulk2 (author)2015-07-15

preethibalaji13 (author)2014-12-23

y do v need a software ???

stimmy65 (author)2012-01-17

Can I add additional leads from the unit, so that I have 4 pads to apply to the areas instead of just 2 ? And will the electrical impulses be cut in half ?

madmaxx32 (author)2010-11-22

Ok, where to begin. First, getting to step 6 reveals this is a commercial for a completely bogus product (Hulda Clark's Zappers). Running this circuit attached to your body does nothing but cause a tissue burn and possibly damages the deeper tissue with prolonged use. I refuse to call Mrs. Clark a Doctor because her "product" is a classic case of junk science. It promises to cure all diseases. Does that not set off alarm bells for anyone?

Next, not to be super critical, but this 555 circuit is not TENS simply because of the frequency output. You need to step the voltage up to at least 80-150 volts and introduce current limiting to no more than 80mA. Warning: simply stepping up the voltage from this device will give you a hell of a shock and can be lethal (10-15mA of current from arm to arm will stop your heart). Working with voltages higher than 40-50 volts can be very dangerous if you are not careful.

Lastly, I figure this post will probably get me banned from this site. I have no problem with someone attempting to build their own TENS unit. I do have a problem with junk science and viral marketing via sites like this. If you want to build a real TENS unit have a look at this article (unfortunately it's now behind a pay-wall):

This is a re-release of the same device Silicone Chips made in the 80's. If you search around there are scanned images from an older print-article covering the exact same circuit in an older style case. Schematic is here:

Nicepolicy16 (author)madmaxx322011-05-27

Mrs Hulda Clark is now Dead of Blood and Bone Cancer , hahahahahaha . In 2009

ptorelli (author)madmaxx322011-02-08

This is just an LED flasher, not even close to a TENS unit. ~9V square wave output (unregulated!) can't be felt, in fact the input voltage will fry the 555 (since most have a vmax of 5V). Just joined Quickly learning that there is no peer review here. :-)

nakarti (author)ptorelli2011-05-26

I think the lack of peer review is because the "be nice" policy is counter to the ability to refute and reject a design.
It may not be an advertisement, but it is the same sort of garbage medical woo that 'Dr' Hulda is promoting....
Oh wait, look down in the comments, it's a link to Hulda's Zapper. Woo! I'mma go buy one!

meztek (author)madmaxx322011-01-19

It doesn't seem to be an advertisement. Otherwise, "Dr" Hulda's front account that you claim this is would not have created so many 'ibles and been so active.

However, I agree with what you say about this not being TENS. Keeping in mind what little I know about electronics, what you said makes sense. In fact, I just bought a basic unit online for ~$10. Although thats EMS... but still, it's far safer that tin foil.

Also, I found a scanned copy of the article a while back. Haven't gotten around to it but I might make an 'ible some day.

SarahBioeng (author)2011-04-03

Hi, I'm doing a project with Electrical muscle stimulation and can't find anything on the net really. I don't come from an electronics background, so was just wondering how you calculated the values for the resistors? Thank you

Nicepolicy16 (author)SarahBioeng2011-04-03

You can get information on the link below

You can download software to work out the resistors for any frequency you would like to produce by clicking the link below.

You can find how to work out the resistors for light emitting from the instructable below.

SarahBioeng (author)Nicepolicy162011-04-04

Thank you so much. This is a massive help. =)

meztek (author)2010-10-05

So, can you feel anything from this using real electrodes?

I have used TENS before and was happy with the results, but that was with a physical therapist.

This is far cheaper than TENS. I am hoping it can give the same results. What frequency (of the three mentioned) would be best for pain relief?

spiderfurby (author)2010-02-07

brilliant work dude. Considering that they cost so much to purchase. I know that the commercial ones also use a saw wave pulse not sure why. I suffer from sciatica and I am of to build it now.

DeusXMachina (author)2009-08-13

Someone explain to me how this could potentially kill bacteria and parasites at 30kHz? Or is it merely modulation of the delta opioid receptors which improves immune response?

The original Zapper had a fixed frequency of 30 K Hz, that became successful during its time . They are now building more advanced zappers that has a frequency range from 10 Hz to 100 K Hz to deal with diseases and parasites that can only be delt with, within their own particular frequency range of disintegration . They have also don clinical trials on diseases and the immune system .

dung0beetle (author)2009-08-08

Here's a link showing proper placement of electrodes.

Nicepolicy16 (author)dung0beetle2009-08-08

Thank's for that I will place the Link in the Instructable .

Kiteman (author)2009-08-07

"This device should not be used by pregnant women"

On the contrary, it should.

Kitewife used a tens machine to ease the pain of the contractions she felt with Roger-X. The electrodes were placed roughly over acupuncture points on her leg, and she used it through most of the 29 hours of labour. Voltage and frequency were adjustable with two small dials, and she did so as pain required.

When she took it off for a bath, and had a contraction, the discomfort was significantly worse.

The device was only rendered useless when the epidural kicked in.

karossii (author)2009-08-06

TENS can also be used for muscle development of atrophied muscles (or just to define existing muscle mass) - I have been receiving TENS treatment for two decades or so from various chiropractic doctors due to incurable back problems - and while it is a great feeling, and it does serve as good or better than a massage to provide relaxation and relief from some muscle pains, it has also built a huge mass of muscle on my back; ironically making me that much more difficult for the chiropractors to adjust!

I don't look like a freak or anything; in fact you wouldn't know my back is muscular and hyper-defined unless I choose to flex it; and given that the rest of me is in dire need of a gym... well it is a surprise when anyone finds out, lol!

And by the way, it would probably be a very good idea to clarify that TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation - literally shocking* muscles into action through the skin.

*It can shock you and be painful if misapplied or done improperly; so as another comment sai, doctor or physical therapist supervision is preferred; though not legally required. However the shocking of the muscles is not usually a painful experience - when done right it feels like a good massage!

Nicepolicy16 (author)karossii2009-08-07

To help your back pain you should buy some " Impact Gel Plus Insoles " from a sports shop . This has heel and ball of foot Gelshock absorption pads . High shock absorption helps to prevent injury and protects heel, lower leg, knee joints and back against harmful shock - waves from running and jumping . Should protect you from normal use as well, just walking around .

High Impact insoles to prevent back injury .

karossii (author)Nicepolicy162009-08-07

My back pains come from scoliosis and disc damage in my spine; it is minor enough I could (and often do) ignore it - but I still go to regular chiropractic treatments to keep it from getting worse as much as anything else. I have used similar products, and some help, some don't - but none will change my need for ongoing treatment the rest of my life.

Nicepolicy16 (author)karossii2009-08-06

The Tens machine your using sounds very powerful .It remindes me of another product I used for a different purpose .The machine was manufactured and sold as a muscle builder .They provided 8 conductive pads placed on various places of the body . The device was also plugged into the mains . It had dial settings to increase or decrease the muscle contractions . The device also had safety built in so that you could not switch it on if it was still set at its highest setting .

I found this device very uncomfortable to use for body building . Although it had other health benefits, by also detoxifying the body and increasing blood circulation, it would be best, to use it just for that . It would also kill parasites and other un-invited guest in the body . If you visit this website you would get an idea of other benefits .

Their frequency out put for the ZAPER is 30 K Hz to Kill paracites and disease in the body . If you would like to build a device for that output you would only need to replace 205 K ohm resistor with a 9.6 K ohm resistor and the 5.01 M ohm resistor replaced with a 236 K ohm resistor . Also replace the 47 nF Capacitor with a 100 pF Capacitor .

karossii (author)Nicepolicy162009-08-07

The TENS devices I have had used on me were all 'medical grade' and used by professionals... I have been to a half dozen different chiropractors since my spinal condition manifested, as I moved around and whatnot. I have seen the muscle building variants sold on late-night TV and think of them as a joke. With average use, all a TENS device will do is improve the tone of existing muscle mass. My back has seen a lot more than 'average' use, and it was over the course of more than two decades that my back became a wall of muscle. Plus, I have been known (in my distant past) to work out regularly, and at one time (again, distant past) had the build of a professional weight lifter. I look back on those days with memories as fond as my memories of the Army... in other words more glad I am not still like that, lol. But the point is, the TENS had an effect on my back, but it was mostly a combination of toning and a retention of muscle mass there, that the rest of my body has converted into fat.

karossii (author)karossii2009-08-06

Oh, and another point that needs to be made... those conducting pads will make it a LOT more easy to misapply the device and cause painful stimulation instead of pleasant stimulation.

Buying a small pack of 4 or 8 reusable electrodes online for about $5 is a heck of a lot smarter than kludging together those homemade ones!

And buying some conductivity gel like for under $10 is another very smart use of money - it ensures that the electricity is conducted through your skin to the muscles below, instead of shocking you!

vincent hua (author)2009-08-06

Why don't you use microcontroller to output the frequency? Just add two button to change low or high frequency.

Nicepolicy16 (author)vincent hua2009-08-07

What I did to solve the problem was to connect a switch, to switch the connection from the Low frequency resistors to the High frequency resistors . Seeing that there is only 2 resistors to be connected and disconnected the switch can be easily implemented .

randofo (author)2009-08-06

What does this feel like?

Nicepolicy16 (author)randofo2009-08-06

You will feel nothing with this device your building , but be warned ! . Prolonged use in one spot for a number of hours might generate a small lump ( with conducting jell ) . It is best to use it for only 15 minutes a day . This is because the aluminum foil is very conductive but you will feel nothing . I noticed this using it on myself ( I could have sensitive skin ) .

At the time I was using a Zaper with a frequency of 30 K Hz that produced the lump . It also kills parasites and diseases . I think with a lower frequency you are using would be a lot safer and you might be able to leave it on longer than 15 minutes .

beta1072 (author)2009-08-06

Just a "so you know", This should not be used by pregnant women and ought to be used under the supervision of a doctor or physical therapist.

Nicepolicy16 (author)beta10722009-08-06

Thank's for reminding me ! .

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