The Story of My ECG 

Episode 2 - The Pack Rat

One man's's still trash

Electrodes - Yeah, I could look like that...if I wanted to

So now I have some constraints on what I want and what I'm willing to spend on it.  Luckily, I had a pretty good stash of old electronic parts.  Some resistors, some capacitors, a few op-amps, etc.  What I didn't have lying around the house were electrodes to attach to my chest, some shielded wire for connecting the electrodes, nor any means to view the waveform.

No waveform viewer?  Okay, you're screwed!

One item I forgot to mention I had available was my good old computer.  This faithful device adds, subtracts, and even divides!  It is even more accurate than a slide rule.  (I may be 23 years old, but I'm proud to say that I know how to use a slide rule!)  I won't go into the details about using the computer as the waveform viewer now.  This will have to wait for the digital section.

Electrode wires....where oh where?

This one was easy.  I just stopped off at the good old Home Depot and purchased 5 feet of two-conductor shielded wire.  At $0.11 a foot, I was spending too much.

Electrodes for a penny!

You may call me cheap at this point, but I like this idea.  Pennies contain copper.  Copper conducts electricity.  In addition, the copper in the pennies make it easier to solder to.  Thus, it's a win-win situation.  Of course, I could go out and buy the electrodes.  But that would break the bank.  There was only one problem with this idea.  Just placing a piece of metal on the skin won't make a low resistance connection.  That's why in "proper" electrodes, they use a gel to reduce the resistance from the electrode to the skin.  I looked near and far, but could not find a local store that sold electrode gel.  I was also impatient, so didn't want to buy it on the internet.  So, after trying out vaseline, water, soap, peanut butter, and a whole bunch of other household items, I found that lotion was the best conductor.  You heard me correctly.  Simple, every day lotion.  A product that almost everyone has.  And if you don't have any, then just go to a neighbor, because I bet that they have some.  One more tidbit of information: lotion is more conductive than this Anti-Oxidant Joint Compound stuff I bought.  Who would have guessed?  (And NO!  I did not choose the lotion just so I would have an excuse to rub lotion all over my chest.  Although, I must say, my chest has never been so soft and smooth).   

After I got some feedback from users, I found out that 1) shampoo is even better than lotion.  2) KY Jelly is actually the same stuff they use in electrode gel.  I still like my lotion idea because it leaves a nice smooth circle on an otherwise dry skinned chest.  But feel free to use any of these other fine products.

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