building stuff, more stuff, and a little bit of… stuff
A reader weighs in with the following, and a new schematic for a DIY Neuro-clone. This approach is a bit more complicated.
I *FINALLY* got “Project Time-Suck” — which is to say my attempt at a DIY Neurophone — to do something really actually useful. Phew!
The secret turned out to be brain-smashingly simple. Take two big-diameter piezo elements. Smush the brass base plates up against your forehead. Now, connect the one crystal to (system) ground and the other to some electronic components.
Charge up the piezo elements (which are capacitors) and then DISCHARGE them within a few tens of nanoseconds. Repeat 40,000 times per seconds. Charging time is irrelevant, so a class-A output stage works nicely here.
Yeah, that’s all there is to it.
This having been accomplished, I can equally satisfyingly answer for myself what the heck this thing (so long shrouded in conspiracy voodoo and hyperbolic claims) actually does. Long story short…
It improves concentration.
Subjectively, of course, and no double-blind tests have been done by me, nor am I set up to do any kind of clinical trials. To be sure it also may do other things if you modulate the signal but — I’m gonna keep this one as simple as can be.
It is quite effective at doing the concentration thing. The downside is the effect works both ways. While I find I’m much more able to concentrate on things I don’t particularly want to do (an effect which has noticeably improved my income-per-hour-of-work!)… if I get distracted then I end up focusing on the distractions. Oops.
Messing around with various things in the self-hypnosis/meditation/autosuggestion field, the Neurophone also has some noticeable effects.
As widely claimed, I find it does indeed make meditation and the like easier. At the same time it seems to decrease the “stickiness” of suggestions. In short, the Neurophone seems to do to consciousness what vigorous shaking does to a bottle of ketchup… it makes things more fluid and less viscous.
Applied to learning and the like, sure, I find it does improve learning. But, I don’t use audiobooks or strap it on when I sleep. Just slapping the piezos on my forehead and turning on the signal seems to noticeably increase reading speed. Again, concentration.
So… worth it? Let me put it this way… I’ve got a rats’ nest of wires, three superfluous op-amps and many more dozens of components on this breadboard.
They’re all still wired in and drawing power, but most of these components don’t do anything.
And… I am not… going.. to… touch… a… thing.
Because it works, and I am not gonna break it until I’ve amortized and depreciated the blood, sweat, and WTF is going on here? that I put into building it.
(I should note that, if you build one, make sure your output MOSFET is beefy and that you do not use a bare driver chip, no matter the temptation… I went through several driver chips before I figured out the Neurophone demonstrates some not-taught-in-schools “Tesla electrical physics” that will wreak havoc on lesser silicon. Heatsink your driver chip, too, just in case.)
The following schematic is what the above writeup was inspired by, but does NOT implement what’s described above. Rather, this diagram is an op-amp implementation of the Flanagan patent circuit (US patent 3647970).
The above writeup is based on a very different circuit: a 40kHz oscillator connected to a MOSFET driver chip (see http://homepages.which.net/~paul.hills/SpeedControl/MosfetBody.html#4) which turns on and off a MOSFET connected in class-A mode (http://www.electronics-tutorials.ws/amplifier/amp_5.html). This makes it possible to charge and discharge the piezo transducers in “square wave” mode very very fast, which is apparently key to the effect.