Measuring muscle activation via electric potential, referred to as electromyography (EMG) , has traditionally been used for medical research and diagnosis of neuromuscular disorders. However, with the advent of ever shrinking yet more powerful microcontrollers and integrated circuits, EMG circuits and sensors have found their way into prosthetics, robotics and other control systems. Yet, EMG systems remain expensive and mostly outside the grasp of modern hobbyist.

This instructable will teach you how to make your own muscle sensor / EMG circuit to incorporate into your next project. Use it to control video games, robot arms, exoskeletons, etc.

Click on the video below for a demonstrations on how to hook up and use your EMG circuit board!

You can now also purchase  EMG sensors, kits, cables and electrodes at www.AdvancerTechnologies.com!
Muscle Sensor Kit (now also on SparkFun)
Muscle Sensor Electrodes

Note: This sensor is not intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation treatment, or prevention of disease, in a man or other animals.

About Advancer Technologies 
Advancer Technologies is a company devoted to developing innovative game-changing biomedical and biomechanical technologies and applied sciences. Additionally, Advancer Technologies promotes all forms of interest and learning into biomedical technologies. To help culture and educate future great minds and concepts in the field, they frequently post informative instructions on some of their technologies. For more information, please visit www.AdvancerTechnologies.com .

Step 1: Materials

Click on the links to go to where you can buy items/order free samples.

Circuit Chips

3x TL072 IC Chip  - Free Samples
1x INA106 IC Chip  - Free Samples

Cables and Electrodes
1x EMG Cables   (set of 3)... Note: you could optionally connect the alligator clips directly to the electrodes.
3x EMG Electrodes  

2x 9V Battery
2x 9V battery clips  

• 2x 1.0 uF Tant 
• 1x 0.01 uF Ceramic Disc  
• 1x 1.0 uF Ceramic Disc   

• 3x 150 kOhm 1%  
• 2x 1 MOhm 1% 
• 2x 80.6 kOhm 1%  
• 6x 10 kOhm 1%
• 1x 100 kOhm Trimmer 
• 1x 1 kOhm 1%

• 2x 1N4148 Diode  
Jumper wires
• 3x Alligator clip cables

• 1x Oscilloscope
• 1x Multimeter


To start things off, you’ll need both a positive and negative voltage power supply. We will make these using two 9V batteries.

Now, everyone knows what a positive voltage power supply is, (e.g. common battery) but how do you go about making a negative voltage power supply?

Common electrical circuit rule of thumb is when you connect two batteries in series (eg positive terminal of battery 1 connected to the negative terminal of battery 2) then measure the voltage from the negative terminal of battery 1 and the positive terminal of battery 2, the measured voltage is equal to the summation of the voltages of battery 1 and battery 2.

For this circuit we want a +9V and a -9V power supplies. If we connect our two 9V batteries in series, we will get a power supply of +18V. So how do we get the -9V from these two?

It might help to think about what voltage actually means… voltage is an electrical potential difference. The keyword here is difference. Voltages are only meaningful in terms of the reference point (or more commonly referred to as ground). A voltage is the electrical potential between this reference point and the point you are measuring. Do you see the answer yet?

We do indeed get a +18V voltage reading if we use battery 1’s negative terminal as the reference point… but what if we choose the connection between battery 1’s positive terminal and battery 2’s negative terminal? If we use this point as our reference or ground, then battery 2’s positive terminals voltage will be +9V and battery 1’s negative terminal will be -9V!

Using your breadboard, 9V batteries and battery clips, connect the battery clip wires as shown. However, for the time being, disconnect the positive terminal of battery 2 and the negative terminal of battery 1. It is good practice to always disconnect your power while you assemble a circuit. At the end of the assembly we will reconnect these wires to power the circuit on. (You could also add switches to do this)



Next, we will work on the signal acquisition phase of your EMG circuit which we will use to measure your body’s nervous system’s electrical impulses used to activate muscle fibers.

First, get out your INA106 IC chip (chip A) and insert it into your breadboard as illustrated above. The INA106 is a difference amplifier which will measure and amplify (G=110) the very small voltage differences between the two electrodes you place on your muscle.

Next, grab two 1 M ohm resistors, bend them and then plug them in to your breadboard like the two examples shown. One should connect pins 5 and 6 and the other should bridge pin 1 to your ground rail of your board.

Don’t worry about the other pins of the INA106 for now; we’ll come back to those later.

Step 4: SIGNAL CONDITIONING - Amplification

In this phase, we’re going to take those very small signals measured in the SIGNAL ACQUISITION phase and amplify them.

Let’s start first with two series of amplification; the first will be inverting amplifier with a gain of -15. An inverting amplifier does exactly what it sounds like. It amplifies your signal but also inverts it. You can find more info about inverting amplifiers here

We are going to first build an inverting amplifier with a gain of -15. To do this, we’ll need one of the TL072 chips (chip B), one 150 kOhm resistor and a 10 kOhm resistor. 

Place chip B as the picture indicates. Now use a jumper wire and connect pin 6 of chip A two rows past pin 8 of chip A. Grab one of the 10 kOhm resistors and plug one pin into this row as well. Connect the other pin to pin 6 of chip B. Bend a 150 kOhm resistor and connect one pin to chip B’s pin 6 and the other to pin 7. You can calculate the gain by G=-R2/R1 or in this case G=-150 kOhm / 10 kOhm. (See image 1)

Next, we are going to add a capacitor to AC couple the signal. AC coupling is useful in removing DC error offset in a signal. Read more about AC and DC coupling here

Continuing on, we are going to add an active high pass filter to get rid of any DC offset and low frequency noise. To do this you will need two 150 kOhm resistors and a 0.01uF capacitor. Use a jumper wire and the 0.01 uF capacitor to bridge the center gab of your breadboard as shown. (One end of the jumper wire should be connected to pin 7 of chip B). The 150 kOhm resistor will connect the capacitor you just placed to pin 2 of chip B. Now, bend the 150 kOhm resistor and push it into connect pins 1 & 2. (See image 2)

Also, go ahead and connect chip B’s pin 4 to your -9V rail, pin 8 to your +9V rail, and pins 3 & 5 to your GND rail.


Step 5: SIGNAL CONDITIONING - Rectification

In this phase, we will be rectifying the signal using an active full-wave rectifier . Our rectifier will take the negative portion of our signal and turn it positive so the entire signal falls within the positive voltage region. We will use this coupled with a low pass filter to turn our AC signal in to a DC voltage; readying the signal to be passed to a microcontroller.

You will need five of the 10 kOhm resistors, both 1N4148 diodes, and a second TL072 chip. Warning… this will be the most difficult phase to assemble! Pay close attention to the pictures!

First, plug in a TL072 chip (chip C) and connect -9V rail to pin 4, the +9V rail to pin 8 and GND to pin 3, as shown in the first image.

Next, place a 10 kOhm resistor (let’s call it resistor A) connecting pin 1 of the TL072 chip from the amplification phase and plug the other end into the row next to the 0.01uF capacitor’s row. Use a jumper wire to connect this row to pin 2 of the second TL072 chip. The next 10 kOhm resistor we’ll call resistor B. Resistor B’s first pin should be plugged into the row where resistor A’s second pin is plugged in and resistor B’s other pin should be plugged into the row two down. Another 10 kOhm resistor’s (resistor C) first pin should be plugged into the row where resistor A’s second pin terminated (same as resistor B) but the other pin should be plugged into the next immediate row over. (See image #2)

Now get out the two 1N4148 diodes. Diodes are polarized so be sure to pay attention what direction you plug them in! We’ll call these diodes A and B. Plug diode A’s positive end (end with black strip) into pin 1 of chip C and plug the negative end into the row of resistor C’s second pin. Get diode B and plug the NEGATIVE end into pin 1 of chip c and plug the POSITIVE end into the row of resistor B’s second pin. (See image #3)

Next, use two jumper wires to bridge the center gap for resistor C and B’s rows. Use another jumper wire to connect the jumper wire’s row connected to resistor B’s row to pin 5 of chip C. Use another 10 kOhm resistor to connect the jumper wire’s row connected to resistor C’s row to pin 6 of chip C. Finally, use the last 10 kOhm resistor to connect chip C’s pins 6 and 7. (See image #4).

Phew… that is for the rectifying phase! Next is the filter phase.

Step 6: SIGNAL CONDITIONING - Smoothing + Amplification

In this last phase of circuit assembly, we will be using an active low-pass filter to filter out the humps of our signal to produce a smooth signal for our microcontroller.

You will need the last TL072 chip (chip D), the two 80.8 kOhm resistors, the 100 kOhm trimmer, the 1 kOhm resistor and the 1.0 uF ceramic disc capacitor.

First, plug in chip D and connect +9V to pin 8, -9V to pin 4, and GND to pins 3 & 5. (image #1).

Now, grab one of the 80.6 kOhm resistors and connect one end to chip C’s pin 7. Connect the other end to chip D’s pin 6. Next grab the other 80.6 kOhm resistor use it to connect chip D’s pin 6 and 7. Do the same thing for the 1.0 uF capacitor. (image #2)

That’s the end of the filter circuit. However, since this is an active filter, there is a side effect of inverting the signal. We will need to invert the signal one more time (and have the ability to amplify it more if desired) using another inverting amplifier circuit with a trimmer configured as a variable resistor.

Use a jumper wire, connected to chip D’s pin 7, and the 1 kOhm resistor to bridge the board’s center gap. Use another jumper wire and connect the 1 kOhm resistor to chip D’s pin 2. Next, place the trimmer one row over with the pins laid out and a jumper wire connecting two of the pins as pictured. Finally, place the last two jumper wires as indicated. (image #3)

By using a screw driver and turning the trimmer, you will be able to adjust the gain of your signal to account for different signal strengths from different muscle groups. Start out with it set pretty low and go up from there (~20 kOhms).

Step 7: Circuit Review

(Optional) If you have an oscilloscope and a wave generator handy, now would be a good time to step through the circuit and test each phase.

If you do not have an oscilloscope handy, go back and review your circuit connections step by step to make sure you have place each component correctly. Pay close attention to the power pins and connections of your chips. If you have these incorrect, you could burn out your chips!

Step 8: Electrode Cables

Next, you'll need to make some changes to the EMG electrode cables since I have been unable to find a vendor who sells the cable's style DIN connector's female compliment.  (if any one has a suggestion please let me know!)

Grab a pair of scissors, wire cutters, wire strippers, pocket knife, etc.... basically anything sharp and strip about a 1/4" of the end of the DIN plug on all three cables (the plug end not the snap end).

Next, clip an alligator cable to each of the wires. We will use these to connect the electrode cables to our breadboard with some jumper wire. You could do as I have done and strip the wire and then solder on terminal pins but it is not necessary and the alligator clips will do fine.

Step 9: Surface Electrodes

For the electrode placement, you will need three surface electrodes.

After determining which muscle group you want to target (for example I will be using my right bicep) and cleaning the skin thoroughly, place one electrode on your skin above the middle of the length of the desired muscle. Let's call this the mid muscle electrode.

Next, place a second electrode at one end of the muscle. We'll call this the end muscle electrode.

Last, place the third electrode on a bony part of your body nearby the muscle group. We'll call this the reference electrode. For example, for the biceps, I am placing the reference electrode on the bony end of my forearm close to my elbow.

Using the snap connections of the electrode cables, snap each cable to each electrode. Make a mental note of which color cable is attached to which electrode.

Step 10: Connecting Electrode Cables

Now you are ready to connect your electrode cables to your circuit. Remember those pins on chip A that we put aside till later?

Connect the reference electrode to the GND rail of your circuit.
Connect the mid muscle electrode to chip A's pin 2
Connect the end electrode to chip A's pin 3

Lastly, we need to add some circuit protection via capacitors. Tanthium capacitors are polarized like the diodes we used earlier. These are easier to tell which is the positive pin and negative pin since one is always marked with a + sign indicating positive pin. Connect one 1.0 uF tant. capacitor between the +9V rail and GND rail, with the positive end connected to the +9V rail. Connect the other 1.0 uF capacitor to the -9V and GND rails, with the positive end connected to the GND rail.

Now you'll ready to power on your circuit!

Step 11: Connecting to a Microcontroller

Before connect your circuit to your microcontroller, you should power on your circuit (by connecting the battery wire's we disconnected earlier) and check the output voltage with a multimeter to make sure it is within your microcontroller's analog input pin's tolerances. To do this, connect the negative multimeter probe to your GND rail and connect the positive probe to pin 1 of chip D. Make sure the voltage measured is less than the max voltage of your input pin!

If you've done that check and everything thing looks fine, use jumper wires to connect pin 1 of chip D to an analog input pin of your microcontroller and your GND rail to the GND pin of your microcontroller.

Congratulations you're done!

Step 12: Arduino Demo

For this demo, we used an Arduino Duemilanove microcontroller hooked up to a PC running Processing visualization software. 

Remember to visit us at www.AdvancerTechnologies.com for kits and fully assembled sensors!

Step 13: EMG Circuit Schematic

Click the i box in the top left to see a larger version... or go to our website and click on the EMG schematic image .
<p>How much do the meterials fot this cost in total? Is it cheaper than the pre-build myoware muscle sensors?</p>
Well it's not really apples to apples. The MyoWare sensor uses much more advanced circuitry, has built in protection against burning out the ICs, can be powered directly by an Arduino, and the embedded snaps eliminate cables. Electrode cables alone for this tutorial will cost you $5-15 depending on where you order it from. The electrical components cost about $20 from Digikey. However, it would cost you way more to build your own MyoWare than it is to purchase it. That's one reason we started selling the fully assembled versions instead of the kits with just the components packaged together... we were able to get the price of the fully assembled sensors well below the cost of the the component kits.&nbsp;<br> <br> So my two cents is... <ul> <li> <strong>If you want to explore how an EMG circuit works and intend on tweaking/playing around with the internal circuitry</strong>, then you would probably want to build your own using this tutorial. <li> <strong>If you just want a reliable sensor that requires little to no setup and you are more interested in its applications than the circuitry itself,</strong> you're much better off purchasing the MyoWare. </ul>
<p>hello sir </p><p>can i use electrolyte 1 uf 50v capacitor instead of tantalum and ceramic disk capacitor because in our country 1 uf tantalum and ceramic disk capacitor are not available.plz sir reply me fast</p>
<p>what programs and code for arduino you used for the data acquisition and the visual representation of the emg signals?, thanks for your time and for your project (:</p>
Hi The sample code can be found on our website: http://www.advancertechnologies.com/p/muscle-sensor-v3.html
<p>Does the circuit that filter out the 60Hz/50Hz noise? If so, which portion of the circuit does that?</p><p>From what I understand, there will be an ambient wall outlet noise, due to electromagnetic fields, even if the circuit is powered from a battery</p>
The 60/50 Hz noise gets removed by the high common mode rejection ratio (CMRR) of the instrumentation amplifier. A high CMRR basically removes all signals common to both input lines. This is why braiding the cables is very important; it ensures the 60/50 Hz noise is in the same phase across both input lines.
<p>Hi!</p><p>What apps did you use for mac?</p>
www.processing.org<br><br>You can find the code we used on our Git Hub repository https://github.com/AdvancerTechnologies/MyoWare_MuscleSensor/tree/master/Example%20Code/BarGraph
<p>Hi, Gundanium! First of all, thank's a lot for this tutorial! My output looks like 0.62, 0.0, 0.0, 0.63, 0.61, 0.0... etc. So... it's clear that I missed something. I don't have tantalum capacitors. They're pretty hard to find. Are they so important to the circuit? Can they change the output values? Thanks for your time!</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>I am trying to build a human to human interface wherein i control someonelse hand movement by moving my own. Part of it requires making the EMG. I am very poor at electronics.so could you pls clarify some doubts of mine.</p><p>1)with respect to my project, i can stop before the rectification right? cause i am guessing we need the complete signal .</p><p>2)I can use any wires with alligator clips attached to the electrode patch?What exactly is the role of emg recording role.</p><p>the above qs may seem repetitive, but ill be glad if you could clear it</p>
<p>Hi, Can you share your work till now as how you are doing this?</p>
Hi Sarega!<br> <br> 1) It depends on how you are planning to use the EMG. The rectified and integrated signal (envelope) is useful for determining the force the muscle is exerting but you lose the frequency characteristics of the raw signal. The frequency characteristics can tell you what type of muscle fibers are firing but I don't see why you wouldn't be OK using the EMG envelope. The envelope would probably be preferable because it is more easily read by a microcontroller.<br> <br> 2) Yes alligator clips will work fine. What do you mean when you say &quot;role of emg recording role&quot;? I do not understand that part of your question.<br> <br>
<p>Hi Gundanium, im working with the INA106U wich is a SOIC size, so i solder it on an adapter and the plug it in the circuito, my question is, how can i know if i burned it? or damage it, etc, my final voltage is around 7.5 ~ 7.7v, </p><p>Using an O-scope is the only way to know this?</p><p>Thanks and awesome job man</p>
<p>Hi Gundanium,<br></p><p>I am in the middle of making this circuit. I have<br> just made Stage 1 (Differential amplification using INA106) and Stage 2<br> (15x amplification WITHOUT AC coupling). I tried analyzing the output <br>of these stages using oscilloscope.</p><p>I am seeing that <br>stage 2 output is going to about +-9V. It's like a square wave with some<br> distortion. I am unable to understand this output. As per my <br>understanding, the max output should go to 750mV (muscle output is +-5mV<br> and total amplification in circuit is 150x).<br></p><p>Is <br>the circuit / chip flawed or will AC coupling or the next stages bring <br>the output down ? Do you know what should the output of this stage look <br>like ?</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>Hey Gundanium, thanks for the amazing DIY.</p><p>I could not find any 1uF Tantalum or 1uF Ceramic Capacitors, my question is pretty dumb, i`m a newbie.</p><p>So could i use 1uF Electrolytic capacitors instead of the Tantalum and Ceramic Capacitors in this circuit ?</p>
<p>Hi i am using IC 741 instead of INA 106. Where do i connect the reference electrode to the circuit. since there is no ground in the circuit.</p>
<p>This is something you're going to have to figure out yourself. Good luck!</p>
<p>hello sir, thank you so much for this tutorial....if we use 6 mid muscle sensors with a mux...the muscle end and body reference sensors will be common to single o/p of mux is this idea works??</p>
<p>Are you trying to measure 6 different muscles with 1 circuit and a mux? It's hard to follow what you're proposing to do. If you are indeed trying this, then my recommended approach would be to put the mux between the signal acquisition phase (step 3) and the Signal Conditioning - Amplification phase (step 4) and you will need a signal acquisition phase for each muscle. The reason for this is that your skin has an extremely high impedance and will cause ghosting effects (aka a trace of the previous input will appear when you switch the mux inputs). The opamp of the signal acquisition phase will act as an impedance buffer and eliminate all ghosting effects.</p>
<p>is it ok sir??</p>
<p>and can u please tell me how much amount of i/p power is required for that??</p><p>like 4 batteries are enough?</p>
<p>can i remove R3 10k? due to internal impedance present in mux?</p>
<p>how to replace the INA106 with INA129-EP since it has no ref pin like connecting to gnd....please help me sir...</p>
<p>This is something you're going to have to figure out yourself. Good luck!</p>
<p>No R3 is part of the first gain phase</p>
<p>I don't think I ever measured how much current this circuit draws but our MyoWare sensor only draws around 12mA. I wouldn't expect this circuit to draw much higher.</p>
<p>Yup pretty much</p>
<p>Hi Gundanium,</p><p>and first of all thank you very much for you great tutorial!! <br>I was wondering if there are any other solutions for the power supply problem (refering to a negativ voltage-supply), as two 9V blocks are really oversized for my project..</p><p>Since i was planing to use a Arduino-Nano/node-MCU i thought of using something similiar to the LM324-IC (as recommended in this tut <a href="http://gureckislab.org/blog/?p=3027" rel="nofollow"> http://gureckislab.org/blog/?p=3027 </a> ) or a setup as described in this link:</p><p><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-create-voltage-using-one-power-supply/" rel="nofollow">www.instructables.com/id/How-to-create-voltage-usi...</a></p><p>With the Arduino only supplying 5V i will get around -5V from both setups; will this be enough to power the system you created or will i run into problems (e.g. amplification of the signal not high enough)?! </p><p>Looking forward for a supply!</p><p>Cheers </p><p>JI</p>
Hi JI!<br><br>This is a very old tutorial and our new sensors don't require the positive/negative power supply and can be powered directly from an Arduino. http://www.advancertechnologies.com/p/shop_3.html<br><br>Setup 1: Voltage inverter<br>The INA106 and TL072 chips need a minimum of +/-5V so you should be fine using an inverter powered via an Arduino 5V supply.<br><br>Setup 2: Voltage divider<br>If you want to use the schematic/chips from this tutorial and a voltage divider, you're going to need at least a 10V power supply to get the minimum required voltage. The INA106 and TL072 chips need a minimum of +/-5V so you can't use a single 9V battery and a voltage divider to do this. <br><br>Setup 3: Use Muscle Sensor v3 schematic<br>You could also build your circuit using our Muscle Sensor v3 schematic. While it is still an older design than the MyoWare, the minimum power supply is +/-3.5V so you would easily be able to make a +/-4.5V supply using a single 9V battery and a voltage divider.
Wanted to know why you used an inverting op amp in step 4 instead of a non inverting one, as well as why you used an inverting lpf instead of a non inverting one?
<p>Please ,I wanna to test the sensor using PC is there any programs I could get </p><p>Thanks again </p>
<p>sir why my sensor value on serial monitor arduino not changed? i dnt know what should i do to fix that ? change position of electrode not effect for me, before electrode i use, sensor value is 150-160, if i place on my muscle just got 180 and not change anymore. </p>
<p>why did we use the 1Mohm resistances, c1 and c2 capacitors and full wave rectifier? I tried to take EMG with INA125 in another circuit without use this parts and it worked(I used only high and low filters). so what is the their profit if i use them too in the circuit?</p>
The full wave rectifier plus the integration circuit is what produce the EMG envelope. If you want the RAW EMG signal you really just need the first phase of this circuit like you said.
<p>Hello</p><p>It's amazing what you done </p><p>It's open the way to alot of projects to be established</p><p>Thanks alot for you and your team</p><p>By the way</p><p>Please, I want the circuit if I used the ad620 instead of ina106</p><p>Cause I haven't any about electronics and I can't find ina106 in my country</p><p>Thanks alot again .</p>
<p>Hi, I would encourage you to try to figure this out on your own first. It shouldn't be too difficult to puzzle out if you read through the AD620 datasheet.</p>
It's complicated :(<br>i haven't any knowledge
<p>the legs are <a href="https://www.google.com.eg/search?q=different&spell=1&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjw17i7k8PMAhVIGZoKHdLnC3kQvwUIGCgA" rel="nofollow"><strong><em>different<br><br></em></strong></a></p>
<p>i figured it out bro</p><p>i think this is right </p><p>i am probably wrong</p>
<p>this is what i have done with the AD620 ic</p>
<p>Legs are different but it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which pins to connect to which legs on the new chip. I'm confident you can figure this one out without my help.</p>
which software?
<p>hi i really appreciate your job. i build sensor and everythings works fine, but i need raw emg signal. i can't see negative portion of signal. Recently i find out that you build sensor with raw signal option. However i would like to finish my job:)</p><p>i saw that you write that is needed to add DC offset, i m not sure how to change project to obtain such result. I'm not very good at electronics but i need this sensor for bigger project, so sorry if it's some trivial job:)</p>
<p>Thanks for showing us how to build an emg, I tried to buy INA106 but as many others, it isn&acute;t available in my country, instead I bought INA126. Do you think it is a good replacement? I already saw both datasheets and the internal resistances in both IC are quite different....</p>
<p>i tried to do as u said but i was not able to make head or tail of it</p>
<p>i have built thid circuit, but i have a problme that the signal it simulate are too small is there any other way to get the signal to be biggger, can i change the low pass filter into a high pass filter?</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: Brian Kaminski Owner - Advancer Technologies Brian graduated from North Carolina State University with a BS in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Biomechanics in May ... More »
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