Let’s face it… not every day’s the greatest. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing much of anything. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to change your brain waves at the push of a button?
We’ve all heard about TMS — transcranial magnetic stimulation. With TMS, doctors and brain-hackers use a very strong magnetic field to instantly produce huge changes in the brain. It turns out the inverse may also be true.
A very weak magnetic field, pulsing at the same frequency for period of time, may cause the brain to “sync” to the pulsing frequency. (http://www.elfis.net/elfol8/e8elfeeg2.htm)
That means there’s a way to overclock your mind without needing blinky-light goggles or loud pulsing tones in your ears… and all it takes is a ten-minute 555 project with a relay coil (or any other electromagnet) and a potentiometer.
The schematic is not the usual way of wiring a 555… it’s a bit simpler. You can even leave out S1 and R2 if you only care about one setting. All it does is produce a perfectly symmetric square wave into L1, a coil wound on an iron core. Ideally L1 has a DC resistance of about 15K: the magnetic field can be incredibly weak and still produce an effect, so using a lower-resistance coil just wastes battery power.
(If you end up using a lower-resistance coil, remember the 555 can only put out 20mA.)
There’s also a Zener-biased BC547 in the schematic, with the base connected to the case around the project, or, if you’re using a plastic case, a length of wire as an antenna. This part is totally optional: if you accept the research that suggests other forms of electromagnetic radiation can affect the mind, it might help to jam any “interference.”
Some researchers find the brain responds best to magnetic pulses, not continuous waves. If you want a more effective version, try changing the coil!
Instead of using an iron-core relay coil with the 555, get a piece of ferrite rod and wind your coil around it. Using a magnet, bias the ferrite rod just below the saturation point. This creates a “magnetic pulse compressor.” A bit too complex to explain here, the result is a magnetic pulse with a lighting-fast rise time.
You can also use a few strips of Mu-Metal sheet as a core, and get even more impressive effects. Why? The Mu-Metal’s tremendous permeability makes a very strong pulse, while the material’s low saturation point creates the pulse compression effect.
If you want to go even further, try making a relaxation oscillator instead of using the 555. You can do this with a single unijunction or programmable unijunction transistor and a tiny handful of external components.
Set up the relaxation oscillator so it dumps its charge through the coil around the core. This will produce a “flyback” effect once the transistor turns off again… an incredibly fast-rising (but still very low power) magnetic pulse around the coil.