Thermal Grill Illusion, ie, Dune Pain Box, ie, Pain for science and profit!

So this was a thing on the internet some time ago, I was inspired to make one, and eventually found that this is a necessary tool for those studying pain in the human body, as well as those working in pain management clinics.

I created a website (down at the moment, but will reappear soonish), promoted it around the intertubes, but didn’t get enough response to suggest that I should make a business out of it.

Eventually I was contacted by a neuroscience post-doc, working with a neurosurgeon on how the body interprets pain with the goal of figuring out ways to reduce pain.

I don’t have a video, but here’s a picture of the device I created. The thermal grill area is only 40x40mm on the end of a cable so it can be placed anywhere on the patient. The temperature controllers are standard off-the-shelf PID controllers (client didn’t want an embedded custom design, thinking this would be more easily maintained should I get hit by a bus ) and it has medical grade isolation (4,000V), passed the medical device board at University of Michigan medical center, and was used for research starting last week.

The blue head is 3D printed in ABS using a lulzbot mini. It’s in three pieces, the fan cover, the grill cover, and the center section. The center section is large because the grill itself is sprung and can move a little within the head so during testing the amount of force used to press the grill against skin can be measured and accounted for. The 3D design was in OpenSCAD because at heart I’m a programmer. I keep telling myself I’ll learn Fusion 360 one day, and have done some small projects in it, but haven’t yet taken the dive for any of my 3D printed projects.


That’s not only really cool, it’s a very stylish build!

The feed box looks like the chassis from a SOLA brand isolation transformer.

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