Introduction: Remote Controlled Human (powered by Spark Core)

Picture of Remote Controlled Human (powered by Spark Core)

In this Instructable we'll use a Spark Core, a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit, and a simple relay to remotely control a human minion over WiFi. Mwuahahaha!

The Spark Core connects your minion to the Internet of Things. The TENS unit stimulates involuntary muscle movements, and the relay acts as a bridge between the two.

SAFETY ADVISORY: TENS is the use of electric current produced by a device to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes. We're gonna hack this for nefarious non-therapeutic purposes but remember that the comfort, health and safety of your cyborg minions always comes first. Follow all safety guidelines provided with your TENS unit and always start at a lower current and ramp up to avoid pain or discomfort. let's have some fun!

A remote control human can be built in about 10 minutes with the following ingredients:

1 Spark Core (

1 TENS unit (

1 GROVE relay unit (

1 GROVE breakout cable (

3 Male-to-Male jumper cables

2 Male headers

Wire cutters/strippers

Small slotted screwdriver

Step 1: Prepare the TENS Cable

Picture of Prepare the TENS Cable

You'll need to cut one lead of the TENS unit electrode lead cable. Cut the RED lead and install a Male pin on each of the severed ends. The length of the free wire will determine the distance between the relay and your minion, so make it long enough; you can pull the black and red wire apart further if you need a longer lead.

The picture shows what the electrode lead cable should look like before and after preparation.

Step 2: ​Wire Electrodes to Relay

Picture of ​Wire Electrodes to Relay

Take each of the male pins from the electrode lead cable and wire them into the screw terminal on the GROVE relay unit. It doesn't matter which end goes where, just make sure you screw them down tight.

Step 3: Connect Relay to the Spark Core

Picture of Connect Relay to the Spark Core

Use the GROVE breakout cable to connect the relay to some free rows on the breadboard holding the Spark Core. Then take three male-to-male jumper cables and wire them as follows: VCC on relay to VIN on Spark Core; GND on relay to GND on Spark Core; SIG on relay to any digital pin on Spark Core (here we use pin DO).

Step 4: Test Relay Function

Picture of Test Relay Function

Follow the instructions that came with your Spark Core to capture it with your wireless device (it should breathe blue like in the video if the process was successful). Once connected through the Spark Core App, tap D0 in the Tinker interface. Select option "digitalWrite". You should see a red circle and the word "LOW" on D0. Tap D0 to switch the pin to HIGH. At this point you should notice an audible click of the relay switching on, and the red indicator LED on the GROVE relay unit should turn on.

Make sure you switch pin D0 back to "LOW" before proceeding!

Step 5: Connect and Test the TENS Unit

Picture of Connect and Test the TENS Unit

Connect the electrode lead cable to the electrodes. It doesn't matter which lead is connected to which electrode. Connect the other end of the lead cable to either of the outputs on the TENS unit. Make sure the dials on top are dialed all the way down to the OFF position. Dial in the settings on the front of the unit (the picture shows a good safe place to start). Now turn the dial on top of the TENS unit up to a low level (1 or 2 is sufficient) and the light should start blinking, indicating when the unit is trying to send current through the electrodes. No current will actually reach the electrodes at this point because the relay pin is LOW and the relay is open.

Step 6: Wire Up Your Minion

Picture of Wire Up Your Minion

Connect the two TENS electrodes across the muscle group or nerve you want to stimulate. The ulnar nerve ( is really convenient for stimulating because it is the largest unprotected nerve in the human body. It runs right through your elbow and down your forearm, so place the electrodes as shown in the picture. The ulnar nerve is directly connected to the little finger, and the adjacent half of the ring finger, so you should expect one or both of these fingers to move when you turn on your cyborg minion.

Make sure you have the TENS unit dialed down to 1 before turning your minion on! You can always dial the power up slowly to a level that elicits muscle movement without causing pain or discomfort.

Now, press D0 in the Tinker interface of the Spark Core App. The pin should switch to HIGH, the relay should close, current should flow through the TENS electrodes and stimulate the ulnar nerve to involuntarily move your cyborg minion's finger(s)! It's alive. Now go take over the world.

Remember, you have a whopping 8 digital pins on the Spark Core, so with 4 TENS units and an 8 relay board you could independently control 8 different muscle groups in you cyborg minion. Mwuahaha (x8).

You can also hook up sensors and write your own sketches via the Spark IDE to control your minion based on all kinds of conditions. For example, is one of your cyborg minions rhythmically challenged? Hook up a sound sensor to your Spark Core and make sure they never dance off beat again. The possibilities are endless!


milomir (author)2017-07-20

i can not download images of this instructables ,i have parts but i do not know how to put it together ,can somebody help me?

OlgaM12 (author)2016-10-18

Can we use Arduino uno instead of spark core?

BallscrewBob (author)OlgaM122017-01-08

I know its a late reply but YES you can hes only using it to control a relay at the end of the day.

happyhippy1 (author)2015-12-16

can you add a video

toby7 (author)2015-01-16

How about showing the FULL link's to the hardware!

garriaga (author)toby72015-01-16

Sorry. It appears they got cut off. I'll give them the tinyURL treatment.

krahd (author)garriaga2015-06-04


kalluri vinay kumar (author)2015-02-07

Barbara Pevafersa (author)2015-01-19

very clever design, can you make it grab something?

marshall.rowe.9 (author)2015-01-18

and the purpose of this? just attach the unit to your arm.

Robibame (author)2015-01-18

disturbing and awesome, all at once

Starsword7 (author)2015-01-15

Really cool, but could you post a video of it?

garriaga (author)Starsword72015-01-16

Video is included on the final step.

bondmatt (author)2015-01-15

Has anyone explored electrically stimulating the brain to enhance mental performance?

I seem to recall reading of poor electrode design causing skin to come off in large chunks. Without a better understanding of this topic I'm hesitant to try any of this.

garriaga (author)bondmatt2015-01-15

I'm actually a neurobiologist and have experimented with transcranial magnetic stimulation. It works. You can also use electricity instead of magnetism to stimulate brain regions through your skull. Whether any of this stuff actually enhances mental performance is still a matter of huge debate. At this point I'm inclined to say it's mostly quackery. But still a lot of fun!

pallc (author)garriaga2015-01-16

I believe you can use an acoustic heterodyne ( type stereo system (this is ultrasonic version to create the frequencies desired for the brainwave entrainment.

pallc (author)garriaga2015-01-16

These are interesting remote systems (see link below). I want to say the Army has their own "performance degeneration" systems that have been deployed though I do not have references to their PSYOPS systems. I dated a gal whose father works at Edwards AFB Lockheed/NASA and wish I did not. :-|) Strange what is public and what is top secret. Nice to see the declassification happening, though extremely muddled.

pallc (author)garriaga2015-01-16

pallc (author)garriaga2015-01-16

Are there not studies that have used eeg signals or brainwave pattern recognition for performance enhancing. I saw a show one time where expert and laymen archers brain waves were studied. There was a rather clear difference in how calm and collective they were and that had to do with one of the signals being more predominant. I want to say the theta waves, though I forget and will have to read up.

sharifzadehsharif (author)2015-01-15

I was done it in 2009 ;)
here it's video

pallc (author)sharifzadehsharif2015-01-15

Awesome, thanks for the link! What is your take on remote controlled wireless stimulation of the nervous system? I have not read any books on the subjects of V2K and silent sound spread spectrum like the conspiracy theorists document so I do not know the level of detail to discuss... however, I did read Dr. Robert O' Becker's "The Body Electric" and really am amazed at the level of detail he went into for attempting and demonstrating the potential for tissue (even limb) regeneration naturally with some current of injury input. Seem's advanced synthetic aperture radar type transmission systems that could remotely focus the energy could do the remote control seems. I theorize the liberal spies can somehow do this with the combination of frequencies using interferometers and producing the desired frequency and energy like ultrasonic unidirectional speakers. I suppose would be easier also with lasers at certian frequencies that penetrate materials and atmosphere best.

pjhrtr (author)pallc2015-01-15

Robert O Becker.. what a guy. Way before his time! Didn't read the book you cited, but it's on my list. Try Electromagnetism & Life. This will blow you away. .. about 5x's. I'd hate to ruin the suspense, but to edify the crew here, he covers the process of salamanders limb regrowth thru brain signals & distinguishes this ability in simpler animals by the larger, less differentiated (specialized) nucleus (as compared to a frog that has a smaller nucleus/more specialized). This amazing doc proceeds to measure the nervous re- growth signal from the amputation thru complete restoration. Things that defy logic include one salamander specimen on ice actually re-grew it's heart!
He demonstrated using powerful magnets on either side of the head & reversing polarity causing unconsciousness.
Showed how bones can be made to fluoresce like LEDs, and experimented with electrically stimulated bone /limb regrowth in humans.

pallc (author)pjhrtr2015-01-16

pallc (author)pjhrtr2015-01-16

pjhrtr: "The Body Electric" is the 1985 edition to "Electromagnetism & Life." Amazing and yes, wow... what a man. Amazing the detail of the analog and digital signals in the nervous system as well as the schwann cells abilities. Now, imaging doing what he is doing with highly advance remote sensing active and passive systems. Theoretically, emf medicine can be performed without the use of drugs from what I can tell. Surgeons would be required for more morbid events issues. Still... regenerative medicine and the potential that he didn't note for remote emf medicine.

sharifzadehsharif (author)pallc2015-01-15

Sorry my english not good,I am 23 years old now and done it when I had
19,In Iran I could't find reference for this,but I research and test on a
rabbit and I invent wheel again! :)
I use passive electrode,I want design a device that person that paralysis wear it and walking,sitting,with a remote control.

yellowcatt (author)2015-01-15

You could have sensors on your own arm to control the shocks from the TENS unit. See if you could get your minion to replicate your movements.

A professor of cybernetics at Reading University did a similar thing, only he had the components surgically implanted into nerve bundles his arm and the arm of a volunteer.

He was able to partially take over control of the volunteers arm as well as controling a robot arm.

garriaga (author)yellowcatt2015-01-15

That sounds awesome and ethically questionable.

yellowcatt (author)garriaga2015-01-16

The professors name is Kevin Warwick he wrote a book about his experiments "I, Cyborg". He is in the 2013 edition of the Guiness World Records
Book for achieving the first direct electronic communication between two human nervous systems.

SimonP3 (author)garriaga2015-01-16

you want ethically questionable check out a guy called sterlarc, leave your ethics at the door!

jamilkow made it! (author)2015-01-15

Cool, looks like our project here:

RocketPenguin (author)2015-01-15

I was actually looking for a way of doing something similar to this...

Though, because i am too lazy, and would never go into figuring out how to make it, might as well give a free idea for whoever wants to try.

The idea is, use a TENS unit as a driver, and your body as the speaker, if you get what i mean. Basically, you would have audio input to the TENS unit, which would then be converted to a higher voltage (By the TENS) which would then be sent through your muscles. One time i was messing with an identical TENS unit, and was changing the frequency of it. This got me to thinking, what would happen if i would have music control the frequency, just as a speaker is controlled by the frequency of sound? I even asked a question about this here on Instructables, but i never did get a valid answer. If someone makes a tutorial on doing this, i would definitely invest in making one.

Your body would quite literally move to the beat of the music.

pallc (author)RocketPenguin2015-01-15

Read up some more on how speakers work and how the electrical signal is transmitted (speaker signal output to speaker). Also, I'd consider health concerns with the music controlling something your body has not been conditioned to do. Finally, consider health risks regarding emf pollution. Sound is a form of pollution alone in certian frequencies and amplitudes.

RocketPenguin (author)pallc2015-01-15

I still think it can be done. And screw the health risks, its all for science! (Just kidding, i enjoy my life) I know they sell TENS units that have massage settings, and will simulate a back rub and stuff. With that, i still think you could have some sort of control of what voltage/frequency the TENS unit operates...

Here was the question i asked a while ago:

iceng kind of makes sense, but i still am confused of what he is saying (I get it, just don't have the know how to do it without someone who knows what he/she is doing to do it first.)

BnryZombie (author)2015-01-15

ONE THING YOU MISSED. BIG TIME. OPTOCOUPLERS. Always use them with digital electronics when switching higher voltages than 5 volts.

gogoguy (author)2015-01-14

A bit freaky, but still cool.

gogoguy (author)2015-01-14

A bit freaky, but still cool.

overcomer8 (author)2015-01-13

That's crazy! Dude that is what my husband is doing these days after hand surgery! On the same nerves and yes the pinky and second finger do move..confirmation! Ha! Cool I can finally control my husband!Ha!

curly gurly (author)2015-01-13


Rajat Cool (author)2015-01-13

Nice idea

CJA3D (author)2015-01-12

this is cool, human minion !! great idea..

Sasando_Rote (author)2015-01-12

mantaps om

so you're zapping them?

Carleyy (author)2015-01-12

Cool project!

About This Instructable




Bio: i'm losing my the kids with borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered 80's
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