The tingle-tron

The tingle-tron

Read all the warnings, don’t do this unless you know what you’re doing… And if you know what you’re doing you won’t want to do this –

The tingle-tron was the result of a discussion between electricians about the effects of various levels of current through the body. Being electricians we are no strangers to the odd electric shock now and then, so for fun we decided to see what sort of current could be handled comfortably. The unit was built and then used on everyone in the team to ascertain who could handle the most current. Obviously for macho reasons we all eventually took it to the “max” (8mA) despite it being a rather intense experience! (4mA was quite nice though)

Current flow through a human body has an effect that is proportional to the level of current flowing, and the area of flesh it is flowing through. This means that for a specific current a larger person will get less of a shock than a smaller person. In general a current range of 1mA to 8mA is detectable as a tingling that affects a single finger at 1mA to most of an arm at 8mA.

Although the level of current required to cause adverse effects in an average adult is 30mA (where the diaphram contracts and prevents breathing), the current limit I chose for this circuit is 8mA which should pose a low hazard while providing plenty of tingle-tastic fun (or pain!).

The tingle-tron – Link.

42 thoughts on “The tingle-tron

  1. texastiger says:

    Excellent way for someone to win a Darwin Award.

  2. HFU says:

    Next week news…. someone killed from reading makezine’s blog.

  3. pt says:

    @HFU – there are warnings all over our site and all over the site we linked to – and in the post.

  4. PattiS says:

    Some people use TENS units for this kind of, um, experience.

  5. alan sailer says:

    Reminds me of something I read back in 1979.

    “Tarry not among those who engage in intentional electric shocks, for they are not long to this world”

    Wouldn’t do this if you paid me to. Shudder.

  6. Dax says:

    Reminds me of a device that someone in my high school electronics course cooked up. Basically he took an audio signal from a discman (this was in the pre-ipod era) amplified it through a 5W audio amp, then upped the voltage by running the signal backwards through a 120v-12v step down transformer. You hooked up one electrode to each side of your body/head/arms and played the discman. There was no “sound” but you could feel the music, and tell what portion of the song you were on by the tingling. Ahh the stupidity of youth.

  7. ryan says:

    @HFU – Yeah, i was thinking about TENS when I saw this also :-)

    Anyways, how is this any different from past links about pyrotechnic type fun? Use common sense.

  8. Andy Berdan says:

    I built something similar for a high school science fair once upon a time. It involved a couple of contact points for one hand, and for the other, a mounted hand crank generator from a disassembled field radio. Turn it faster, you get more juice. You wouldn’t believe how much fun it is watching people willingly electrocute themselves. “I can’t feel my arm” was a common comment.

    Ahh, good times.

  9. Dan says:

    To me it doesn’t matter if you have all the warnings in place – if one person with an undetected heart condition tries this they could die very easily. If it were me running this site I’d rather not ever have to say ‘well, they should have heeded the warnings. Sorry (he/she) died.’.

  10. pt says:

    @dan – keep in mind we’re only linking to a project – we’re not suggesting anything more than looking at it. if we were to filter everything on the basis on what “could” happen we wouldn’t have a site. craft projects use needles… car projects involve cars…

  11. Dan says:


    I respect what you’re saying, but people are generally aware of the problems that a needle or car or explosives present. The trouble with electricity is that it can exploit a condition you may not even know you have, like an underlying heart condition. Your friends did it and they’re all fine, but the same may not hold true for you. I admit that as a journeyman electrician I am a little sensitive to the topic – lost a friend from high school on the job to electricity. He was an electrician himself and knew the risks – but it got him anyway.

    Anyway folks – don’t try it. Take it from me, it’s really not that much fun being electrocuted. Why do you suppose they invented the ‘electric chair’, anyway?

  12. pt says:

    @dan – good discussion. i suppose the other thing i’d like to mention, by seeing it here, makers, who are smart will be aware of dangers — i’d rather see people smarter with all the information than not.

    but all that being said, people will the comments and likely steer clear of this. if everyone did everything they saw on the internet — we’re doomed.

  13. HFU says:

    There isn’t a ‘neat’ way of playing with electrical shock.

    In stead of having the electricity go from arm to arm (whole body / heart), it should have been to finger to finger on one hand at least this way you will have a much better chance of survival if your burn/electrocute your hand/fingers to a crisp as it wont go via your heart and its definitely not a trick you want to do alone.. Who else will call for an ambulance….

  14. Austringer says:

    Given the number of times I discovered things that were in spectacular violation of any reasonable building code (usually stuff added on to what was a well done knob and tube system in the 50’s or 60’s) while rehabbing my house I’d be stunned to lean that this device is nearly as dangerous as what millions of people cheerfully using every day.

  15. Bob Munck says:

    Have we learned nothing from what happened to Bender?

  16. Modgod says:

    The one flaw that I see in Evolution is that man has walked the Earth for several hundred thousand years, but there are still so so so many stupid people around.

    But, personally, I’d rather have the knowledge of how to make the shocker and not use it then to hear about one and spend time trying to figure it out.
    Like when I watch Myth Buster and they have to beep or edit out half of what they mix. Then it is off to the net for me to find out what would be used to make their secret Formula (usually an explosive.) But I’m guessing that if the ingrediants are as hard to get as a nasal decongestant, you could forget making it.

    On a big plus side, I think that someone should do a instructable on hooking it to your X-Box 360 controller instead of using the “rumble pack” that is built in. Then when you get SHOT or whatever, ZAP! Much better then a rumble. Might improve your game play.

  17. Simon says:

    I have a device I built I should really post up here. Basically it’s an anti-drinking device. A little box with a small screen on it and a control. Attached to it a wrist strap with two small electrical contacts on it that touch the skin on the wrist. You set the number of drinks you’re allowed to have (0-9) then start the unit. Each time you have a drink you increment a counter on the device. It tells you how many you’ve had and how many you have left. Every 5 minutes or so it gives you a number of small shocks equal to how many drinks you’ve had as a reminder. If you go over your limit however it give you continuous shocks as a punishment! Very unpleasant.

    It uses a PIC processor, a little 8 character by 2 line LCD screen, two motherboard rechargeable memory backup batteries for power and a modified HV unit from a disposable flash camera to provide the buzz!

    Great fun at parties :)

  18. TD says:

    You are insane. That thing is NOT SAFE. There are many ways it can lead to your death.

    In one of my dental school classes, the medical examiner for a large US city presented photos and described some cases he has worked on. One of them was a middle aged man found dead in his Lazy-Boy with wires attached to his scrotum. The med examiner had to tell the man’s wife, who was out of town on a business trip, that he was found dead, and the circumstances. Instead of screaming in shock and horror at the news of her husband’s death she said “I told him he was going to kill himself with that thing.”


  19. Mike says:

    Bad design. Even if these current levels can be considered relatively safe — I would say that for across-the-chest, they are NOT — plug it into a miswired outlet or something and you have no resistance between you and the high voltage.

    Note that most ground-fault interrupters shut off at the 1 mA level.

  20. computerwiz_222 says:

    GFI’s are a great invention especially for those outlets located on the outside of buildings.

  21. Tom says:

    I notice the device was designed for the European standard of 240V 50Hz. What would happen if it was plugged in to a US outlet of 120V 60Hz? Would there be more current?

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