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Replies re: Inexpensive EMG systems

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  • Replies re: Inexpensive EMG systems

    As promised, here are the responses I have recieved to date:

    ************************************************** ****************

    >>> Dear BIOMCH-L Readers,
    >>> Our laboratory has just received a donation of CAN$5,500.00
    >>> (US$4,300.00) to be put towards an EMG system. From what I understand
    >>> about the pricing of "commercial systems", I doubt very much if this
    >>> amount would be enough to buy more than one or two channels.
    >>> I have the details for an interesting system which I could arrange to
    >>> have custom-built for our laboratory (8 channels = approx. CAN$4,000).
    >>> I do have a couple of questions for interested readers:
    >>> 1. Are there any good-quality, inexpensive EMG systems available
    >>> commercially that would fit our budget (we d like at least 4-channels)?
    >>> 2. If you were to have a system custom-built (or have done so
    >>> recently), what features would you consider to be essential?
    >>> If I receive any responses, I will post a synopsis.
    >>> Thank you,
    >>> Drew Smith, PhD
    >>> ************************************************** **********************

    Date: Tue, 3 May 1994

    We built ourselves several 16 ch. W EMG systems five years ago for
    about $3,500 ea. The specs for each were that it had to be
    portable (12"8*"*5"), be powered by rechargeable batteries (NiCad),
    have variable gain, output raw or RMS, have low noise (1-2uV), etc.
    We have used them successfully for several years. The last series
    of papers in which they were used are by Thelen G.T., Schultz, A.B.
    and myself and are coming out in J. Biomech., J. Orthop. Res., etc
    at the present time. These emanate from Darryl Thelen's thesis
    on using system identification techniques to predict lumbar trunk
    muscle activity in dynamic tasks.
    James Ashton-Miller

    From: "Mark D. Grabiner"
    Date: Mon, 2 May 1994

    I have been using EMG amplifiers manufactured by a company named data,
    Incorporated for about 12 years. The amplifier we use (their model 2124)
    has performed very well and I would recommend that you investigate them for
    your use. The company is located in Fort Collins Colorado (303) 493-1222
    (don't give up on the phone number, eventually somebody does answer!). At
    the time of our last purchase, the amps were about $600 US.


    Date: Mon, 2 May 1994
    From: (Dan Baker)
    Subject: Re: Inexpensive EMG System Enquiry
    Status: R


    Try contacting Chuck Wooley at the Center for Ergonomics at the University
    of Michigan. He has built many and they are of good quality (I have had
    very good luck w/ them as have several other researchers I know of). He
    may be able to help you or at least point you in a good direction. His
    phone number (actually the Center's phone number) is: (313) 763-2243.

    Good luck,

    Dan Baker, Ph.D.

    Musculoskeletal Research Center
    Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery
    University of Pittsburgh

    Date: Mon, 2 May 1994

    There is a company that makes a very small 8 channel emg system
    for use in dentists office. It is designed for the study of temporal
    mandibular joint disfunction. But we have used it successfully for
    general emg use. It consists of an 8 channel external preamp box and
    an 8 bit A/D board for and IBM PC /386 computer. It comes with some
    good software but we have used the Preamp part and our own 12 bit A/d
    boards and software for FFT and power analysis.

    4113 North Port Washington Road
    Milwaukee WI, 53212-1029

    ************************************************** ********************
    Clifford L. Beckett MAIL ID:
    System Designer
    Material Science and Mechanics Department
    Michigan State University VOICE: (517) 355-4659
    E. Lansing, MI 48824 FAX: (517) 353-0789
    ************************************************** ********************

    Date: Mon, 2 May 1994
    From: Philip Schot

    Dear Dr. Smith:

    In response to your posting for cheap EMG support, I may have some info
    you would find interesting.

    We have 2 custom-built analog to digital devices with dedicated EMG channels
    that might fall within your budget constraints. Here are some of the details:

    It's called the DAS-416 (the FAA has purchased some upgraded systems based on
    the units we currently use, and are very satisfied with the extremely low
    cost and high performance).
    1. Thru-put of 100 mHz (I believe), directly to hard disk,
    so there is basically unlimited sampling time potential.
    2. The 8 dedicated EMG channels are optically isolated for
    subject safety, have very good impedence characteristics,
    have additional programmable gains, and can be configured
    for any physcial connections you may already use.
    3. Ours also have 2 dedicated strain gauge channels and 5 raw
    inputs (ie; no gains).
    4. The system also provides an array of analysis software
    (FFT, autocorr, derivatives).
    5. The only drawback to the system is the manual labor
    "intensiveness" to extract certain types of variables
    (I forgot to mention some integral functions are also

    The system is very well engineered, has some idiosyncracies, and does require
    an IBM-compatible PC. I've been quite impressed with the device (and some
    biomedical/industrial engineering-types have been very impressed). It is
    menu driven, but definitely not "Windowsy"-- the developer likes Windows even
    less than DOS!

    Our complete units came in about $5000 (US), but there may be some savings
    available if you were to limit the number of channels (and eliminating the
    strain gauges might also cut some costs). If any of this sounds interesting,
    please contact me and I'll put you in touch with the developer.


    :: Philip Schot, Ph.D. ::
    :: Biomechanics Lab Director ::
    :: Department of Human Kinetics ::
    :: University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee ::
    :: P.O. Box 413 ::
    :: Milwaukee, WI 53201 ::
    :: Phone: (414) 229-6080 ::
    :: Fax: (414) 229-5100 ::
    :: Email: ::

    Date: Mon, 2 May 1994
    From: "Ronald Fredrick Zernicke"

    Dear Dr. Smith,

    You may wish to contact Boris Kacmar at

    Bortec Electronics Inc.
    P. O. Box 34147 #19
    1200, 37th Street S.W.
    Calgary, AB, T3C 1S2

    PH: (403) 220-6275
    FAX: (403) 283-8770

    I just recently received a quote (and have ordered) the following
    8-channel EMG system:

    main receiving unit (19" standard rack mount unit)
    patient unit
    interconnection cable (35' long)
    7 amplified electrodes
    1 amplified electrode (with ground clip)
    battery holder for two 9-volt batteries
    belt with a pack for patient unit and battery holder
    user's manual
    (system comes with 1-yr warranty + CSA approval)

    The price in CDN$ was $6380 (excl. GST). This is an excellent
    system, yet relatively low-cost (it is currently being used in
    Winnipeg for research and patient assessments).

    Thus, for about $1000 more than you have (always the problem...),
    you could get a very good 8-channel system. The 8-channel system
    allows for future expansion to 16 channels.

    Hope this information helps. Good EMG hunting...


    Ron Zernicke
    (403) 220-8666
    (403) 283-5666 (fax)
    Date: Mon, 2 May 1994
    From: Graeme Wood

    Hi Drew,

    A couple of "leads" you might follow up on.

    1) Moshe Solomonow's Biomedical Engineering Dept. at Loisianna State
    University put together a 4 channel systme for me a couple of years ago.
    I believe the going price is around $US5,000. It's a four channel
    hard-wired system, but with miniaturized amplifiers which are located
    immediately ajacent to the pick-up site.

    2) Kit Vaughn told me not so long ago that he had a lead on a Californian
    company that was custom producing cheap EMG telemetry systems. I believe
    that Perry's group were using them as well, but Kit could tell you much more.

    I'd be interested in the details of the Canadian system you have
    unearthed. Is it the system being produced by one of Dave Winter's
    ex-Technicians ? (If not, that's another lead for you).

    All the best.

    Graeme Wood

    From: "Michel Ladouceur"
    Organization: McGill University - P&OT
    To: "A.W. Smith"
    Date: Mon, 2 May 1994

    :-)1. Are there any good-quality, inexpensive EMG systems available
    :-)commercially that would fit our budget (we d like at least 4-channels)?
    I think the system from the Boston Neuromuscular Foundation comes
    very close to this price for an 8 channel system. However, the last
    quotation I had in my hands were from at least 2 years ago.

    :-)2. If you were to have a system custom- built (or have done so
    :-) recently), what features would you consider to be essential?

    I think it will depend on what movement and population you will be
    doing EMG. But certainly, having pre-amps at the electrode site is a
    must. When we took a look at other electrodes and compared them. We
    got the impression that the ones from the Boston Neuromuscular
    Foundation were the best electrodes available. We coupled them with
    our own amplifiers. I think that was the cheapest solution.

    I hope this will help you and if you have any questions on our setup
    I will be glad to explain it in more details.

    Have a nice day
    ************************************************** *******************
    |Michel Ladouceur, MSc * Dans l'esprit humain, ainsi que dans |
    |McGill University * l'univers, rien n'est en haut ni en bas; |
    |School of P.& O.T. * tout se reclame egalement d'un centre |
    |3630 Drummond, Room 105* commun qui manifeste une mysterieuse |
    |Montreal (Quebec) * presence grace a l'harmonieux rapport de |
    |H3G 1Y5 * toutes les parties a ce centre. |
    | * |
    |Tel: 514.398.4519 * J. W. von Goethe |
    |Fax: 514.398.8193 ********************************************|
    |e-mail: |
    ************************************************** *******************

    Date: Wed, 4 May 1994
    From: (Richard Reilly)

    Dear Drew,

    I have put together EMG systems in the past, so the same reason that you are
    considering doing so...cost.

    What are you going to investigate, and on which muscle group...this will have
    a bearing on the cost of the electrodes and also on the input stage of the

    Do you require this to interface with any particular device ie PC etc ?
    What sampling rate do you require for each channel ?

    Perhaps you could send me mail on these queries, as we may have developed a
    system here at UCD.

    Dr Richard Reilly
    Dept of Electronic and Electrical Engineering,
    University College Dublin,
    Dublin 4, IRELAND

    FAX : +353-1-2830921
    TEL : +353-1-7061909

    e-mail :


    The National Medical Rehabilitation Centre,
    Lourdes Hospital
    Dun Laoighaire,
    Co. Dublin, IRELAND

    Date: Wed, 4 May 1994
    From: "Gary D. Heise"

    Some may disagree, but I have found Therapeutics Unlimited in Iowa City,
    Iowa to have the most reasonably priced, quality EMG equipment that is
    commercially available. You must buy a power supply (1100 US$) and then
    each EMG module (channel) is 900 US$ (includes amp and electrode). The
    pre-amp is located in a housing with the electrode, so movement artifact
    in wiring is minimized.

    The phone number of Therapeutics Unlimited in Iowa is (319) 351-2435.
    We have 6 channels of EMG from them and are impressed with the quality of
    the equipment and the signal.

    Good luck.
    Gary Heise LSU

    To: awsmith@UTCC.UTORONTO.CA
    Date: Wed, 4 May 1994

    Hi Drew
    I have recently purchased a custom made system with 16 channels
    for approximately $3,600 CND. The company that makes them is run by a
    Waterloo Kin Grad. I will be happy to give you his name and some

    Jim Potvin
    School of Human Biology
    University of Guelph
    1-519-824-4120 ext. 4589

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