Feb 28, 2013


If you, like so many other people in this day and age, arrive home from work stressed out and with the problems of the day still lingering,this simple little instrument will go a long way to relieving nervous tension. Of the various types of feedback devices, probably the best approach for the amateur experimenter is the Galvanograph, better known as the Galvanic Skin Response Monitor. The instrument described here relies for its operation on changes in skin resistance in sympathy with changes in emotional state. An increase in tension level reduces skin resistance and, conversely, a decrease in tension is accompanied by an increase in skin resistance.
The correlation between emotional stress and skin resistance is still not fully understood. What is known, though, is that minute changes in the permeability of the skin produce corresponding voltage variations across two electrode pads attached to two fingers on the same hand.

Tension Meter
Tension Monitor meter circuit

These signal fluctuations are amplified and fed to an oscillator to produce an audible tone. A decrease in pitch therefore signifies a decrease in tension, and vice-versa. A visual indicator in the form of a panel meter also aids the user in monitoring tension levels. The monitor is quite sensitive to fluctuations. During use, a sudden moment of stress, even a deep sigh, will increase the pitch and cause a shift of the meter needle. Circuit Details In the circuit diagram of Fig.1, IC1 is configured as an astable multivibrator to drive an 8-ohm miniature speaker LS1 via capacitor C3, resistor R6 and volume control potentiometer VR2. The latter allows users to set a desired level and avoid it becoming a distraction.
Whereas the trigger input of IC1 is normally connected to the positive rail via a resistor in a conventional 555 oscillator, here it is connected via resistor R4 to the emitter of transistor TR1. The base of TR1 is connected between one electrode pad and the voltage divider formed by potentiometer VR1 and resistor R1. It will be seen that with the pads fitted to the fingers, the tone level will be dependent on the setting of VR1 and skin resistance. Resistor R2 in the transistor base is necessary should the pads be accidentally touched together. A 1mA meter is fitted in the collector line, along with R3, as a visual indicator. Although not essential or intended to measure current levels, it does help to emphasize fluctuations in emotional level.

The design of the pads is not critical. For the prototype, stripboard was used. The tracks were wired together at one end and connected to a 30cm length of twin lighting flex. The pads were then glued to Velcro straps. When the unit is first switched on, a highpitched tone should be heard, rapidly diminishing and ceasing. Turn the Sensitivity control VR1 to the minimum setting. Attach the electrodes to the fleshy pads of the first two fingers on the less-dominant hand with the Velcro straps, firmly but not tight. Rest the hand comfortably and keep it reasonably still, allowing half a minute for the pads to “bond”. Normally, at the minimum setting, the oscillator will hardly tick over, unless the user is in a high state of anxiety. Keep in mind that any form of stimulant, and that includes tea, coffee, alcohol and cigarettes, will reduce one’s capacity to relax. Rotate the control until a medium pitched tone is obtained and apply your relaxation technique. The monitor does not teach any method of meditation or relaxation; it only monitors the effectiveness of the technique applied. The tone should slowly diminish, with fluctuations as unconscious thoughts flit across the mind.When the sound ceases altogether, repeat the above procedure by increasing VR1. Twenty minutes is considered by therapists to be an adequate relaxation session.

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