ECG Project With All the Messy Safety Details

ECG Project With All the Messy Safety Details

We’ve seen a number of heart rate monitoring projects on Hackaday, but [Peter’s] electrocardiography (ECG) Instructable really caught out attention.


If you’ve followed Hackaday for any period of time, you’re probably already somewhat familiar with the hardware needed to record the ECG. First, you need a high input impedance instrumentation amplifier to pick up the millivolt signal from electrical leads carefully placed on the willing subject’s body. To accomplish this, he used an AD8232 single-lead ECG module (we’ve actually seen this part used to make a soundcard-based ECG). This chip has a built-in instrumentation amplifier as well as an optional secondary amplifier for additional gain and low-pass filtering. The ECG signal is riddled with noise from mains that can be partially attenuated with a simple low-pass filter. Then, [Peter] uses an Arduino Nano to sample the output of the AD8232, implement a digital notch filter for added mains noise reduction, and display the output on a 2.8″ TFT display.



Other than the circuit itself, two things about his project really caught our attention. [Peter] walks the reader through all the different safety considerations for a commercial ECG device and applies these principles to his simple DIY setup to ensure his own safety. As [Peter] put it, professional medical electronics should follow IEC 60601. It’s a pretty bulky document, but the main tenets quoted from [Peter’s] write-up are:


limiting how much current can pass through the patient
how much current can I pass through the patient?
what electrical isolation is required?
what happens if a “component” fails?
how much electromagnetic interference can I produce?
what about a defibrillator?

[Peter] mentions tha ..