The Subcutaneous Transmitter (A3028) is an implantable telemetric sensor that provides one or two biopotential inputs. The A3028A has volume 1.4 ml and provides two EEG channels with 160-Hz bandwidth at 512 SPS. The A3028 operates within our Subcutaneous Transmitter System and replaces the Subcutaneous Transmitter (A3019). Once implanted, we can turn the transmitter on and off with a magnet. For example recordings made by the A3028 and its predecessors, see our Example Recordings page.
The figure below is a close-up of the single-channel A3028, equipped with a 30-mm antenna. The smaller versions of the A3028 work just as well when implanted with a 30-mm or 50-mm antenna. The larger versions we equip with a 50-mm antenna.
The A3028A comes with three helical stainless-steel leads coated with silicone (see here for helical wires in clear silicone insulation). The three leads provide us with two biopotential inputs, X and Y, that share a common ground, C. The sensor measures the voltage difference X − C and Y − C. The electrodes at the end of the wires can be stainless steel screws, gold pins, or bare helical wire, as we discuss in Electrodes and The Source of EEG.
|Outer Dimensions||14 mm × 14 mm × 8 mm|
|Operating Life||360 hours|
|Shelf Life||27 months|
|Number of Inputs||2|
|Type of Input||Differential|
|Input Impedance||10 MΩ || 2 pF|
|Sample Rate (Each Input)||512 SPS|
|Input Dynamic Range||20 mV|
|Input Bandwidth||0.3 Hz − 160 Hz|
|Input Noise||≤12 μV rms|
|Input Mains Hum||<1 μV|
The A3028D is the same circuit with the same functionality as the A3028A, but with a 255 mA-hr battery instead of the A3028A's 48 mA-hr battery. The A3028D's volume is 3.0 ml and its operating life is 1900 hours.
All versions of the A3028 turn on and off with the application of a magnetic field. We like to use cow magnets. Component U2 is a micropower hall effect switch. When it detects a magnetic field, it asserts its output. When we remove the field, the transmitter changes state. If it is inactive, it activates. If it is active, it deactivates. The state change does not occur when we bring the magnet close to the transmitter, it occurs when we move the magnet away.
Warning: Check to make sure devices are inactive upon arrival at your facility. Do not store within 10 cm of iron tools, power transformers, computers, or external hard drives. During implantation, take note that stainless steel tools and work surfaces are often magnetic, and can activate and deactivate your transmitters.
We determine the version of a transmitter during assembly, programming, and encapsulation. We might change capacitors on the board to set the filter frequencies. We might change resistors to set the gain. We program the logic chip to set the sample rate for each channel. We can equip the circuit with various sizes of battery. The larger the battery, the longer the operating life.
The A3028 transmits either one or two signals. Each signal has its own channel number. Each sample of each signal is transmitter by the A3028 with a radio-frequency message. Each message contains a channel number, as we describe in Message Encoding. Channel numbers lie in the range 1-222. By default, when we make a two-channel transmitter, it transmits on channels n and n+1, where n is an odd number. We divide the channel numbers into sets. Set number zero (0) contains channel numbers 1-14. Set number one (1) contains 16-31, and set number thirteen (13) contains 208-223. By default, all A3028s will be shipped with channel numbers 1-14 from set number zero. When you order a batch of transmitters, you can specify set numbers other than 0 if you want them. Provided you have a data receiver with the correct firmware, you can configure it to receive from any single set number or from all sets simultaneously.
The following table presents the versions of the A3028 we have defined so far. Feel free to write to us and propose a new version, and we will see if it is practical.
|A3028A||20-mV, 0.3-160 Hz, 512 SPS||20-mV, 0.3-160 Hz, 512 SPS||48 (BR1225)||1.4||14||7||360||27|
|A3028B||20-mV, 0.3-160 Hz, 512 SPS||Disabled||48 (BR1225)||1.4||14||7||600||27|
|A3028C||Disabled||20-mV, 0.3-80 Hz, 256 SPS||48 (BR1225)||1.4||14||7||950||27|
|A3028D||20-mV, 0.3-160 Hz, 512 SPS||20-mV, 0.3-160 Hz, 512 SPS||255 (BR2330)||3.0||24||8||1900||140|
|A3028E||20-mV, 0.3-160 Hz, 512 SPS||Disabled||255 (BR2330)||3.0||24||8||3200||140|
|A3028F||20-mV, 0.3-320 Hz, 1024 SPS||20-mV, 0.3-320 Hz, 1024 SPS||48 (BR1225)||1.4||14||7||180||27|
|A3028G||20-mV, 0.3-320 Hz, 1024 SPS||Disabled||48 (BR1225)||1.4||14||7||360||27|
|A3028H||20-mV, 0.3-80 Hz, 256 SPS||20-mV, 0.3-80 Hz, 256 SPS||48 (BR1225)||1.4||14||7||600||27|
|A3028J||20-mV, 0.3-80 Hz, 256 SPS||20-mV, 0.3-80 Hz, 256 SPS||255 (BR2330)||3.0||24||8||3200||140|
|A3028K||Disabled||20-mV, 0.3-80 Hz, 256 SPS||255 (BR2330)||3.0||24||8||5000||140|
|A3028L||20-mV, 0.3-320 Hz, 1024 SPS||20-mV, 0.3-320 Hz, 1024 SPS||1000 (BR2477)||6.5||27||14||4000||550|
|A3028M||20-mV, 0.3-640 Hz, 2048 SPS||20-mV, 0.3-640 Hz, 2048 SPS||48* (BR1225)||2.0||16||10||100||27|
|A3028N||20-mV, 0.3-160 Hz, 512 SPS||Disabled||48* (BR1225)||2.0||16||10||7000||300|
|A3028Q||20-mV, 0.3-160 Hz, 512 SPS||Disabled||560 (CR2354)||5.0||24.0||12.0||600||27|
|A3028S||Disabled||20-mV, 0.3-40 Hz, 128 SPS||48 (BR1225)||1.4||14||7||1300||27|
|A3028T||20-mV, 0.3-40 Hz, 128 SPS||20-mV, 0.3-40 Hz, 128 SPS||48 (BR1225)||1.4||14||7||950||27|
Starting with transmitter batch number 111, all our transmitters provide stimulus protection on both inputs by means of three resistors and two capacitors. The resistors protect against applied voltages up to ±50 V. The capacitors attenuate radio-frequency noise that might otherwise be picked up from the antenna and demodulated in the amplifier inputs. Prior to batch 111, only the A3028R provided stimulus protection. Now that all versions provide this protection, the A3028E and A3028R are identical, and we have retired the A3028R version from our table.
The A3028 electrode leads are color-coded with colors that do not blend with the natural color of animal tissue. The X lead is red, Y is yellow, and C is blue. A dual-channel transmitter produces two radio-frequency message sequences with two separate channel numbers. The lower of the two is X and the higher is Y. A single-channel transmitter may be equipped with only X or only Y. If the single channel is X, the leads will be red and blue. If the single channel is Y, the leads will be yellow and blue.
Each lead of the transmitter has its own terminating electrode. Each electrode type has a one-letter name, as given in the table below. We specify these electrodes with two letters for a single-channel transmitter (X or Y, and C) and three letters for a dual-channel (X, Y, and C). Click on the letter for a data sheet or photograph.
|A||Bare wire, length 2 mm, stainless steel helix.|
|B||Screw, thread 0-80, length 3.2 mm.|
|C||Screw, thread M0.5, length 0.6 mm.|
|D||Pin, diameter 0.30 mm, length 3.1 mm, Mill-Max 4353-0-00-15-00-00-33-0|
|E||Socket, for pin diameters 0.20-0.33 mm, Mill-Max 4428-0-43-15-04-14-10-0|
|F||Pin, diameter 0.64 mm, length 4.1 mm, Mill-Max 5035-0-00-15-00-00-33-0.
Mates with Plastics One socket E363/0.
|G||Pin, diameter 0.51 mm, length 6.0 mm, Mill-Max 5063-0-00-15-00-00-33-0.
Mates with Plastics One socket MS303/6.
|H||Depth electrode, wire 125-μm dia Pt-Ir, insulation 200-μm dia teflon.
Locate with guide cannula, cut wire after cementing.
|J||Depth electrode, wire 125-μm dia 316SS, insulation 200-μm dia teflon.
Locate with guide cannula, cut wire after cementing.
The A3028A-DDC is a two-channel transmitter, sample rate 515 SPS on each channel, volume 1.4 ml, with 1.9-mm long pins on X and Y, and a 0.6-mm long screw on C. The A3028A-HFC has a depth electrode on X, a gold-plated pin on Y, and a screw on C.
We provide some on-line advice on implanting the transmitters here, but most of our advice on this subject we conduct by e-mail with our customers, with assistance between customers, including the exchange of implantation videos, being common.
The following files define the A3028 design. Note that we distribute all these files under the GNU Public License.S3028A_1.gif: 2 channels 0.3-160 Hz, A3028AV1 and AV2.
The A3028 provides two amplifiers for recording two channels of EEG, or simultaneous EEG/EMG recording.
When we load the battery, it remains isolated from the circuit until we apply a jumper to the programming extension or cut the programming extension off. This allows us to load leads, antenna, and battery using water-soluble fluxes, then wash the entire board in hot water, without worrying about damage to the circuit. The cleanliness of the circuit board prior to encapsulation is essential for reliable encapsulation.
The A3028 three input leads are X, Y, and C. They are red, yellow, and blue respectively. You can see all three declared with in the circuit diagram.
|X||X positive input||Connected to VC by 100 nF in series with 10 MΩ.|
|Y||Y positive input||Connected to VC by 100 nF in series with 10 MΩ.|
|C||shared negative input||Connected directly to VC.|
|OUT||radio-frequency antenna||a flexible stranded steel transmit antenna|
The A3028 amplifies and filters X and Y to produce XA and YA. The gain of the A3028A amplifier is 100. Its high-pass filter consists of a zero at 0.16 Hz and another at 0.32 Hz. Its low-pass filter is a three-pole, 3-dB ripple Chebyshev filter with 160-Hz cut-off frequency. Both XA and YA are applied to a two-channel sixteen-bit ADC. In the A3028A, the ADC samples the two channels alternately at 512 SPS per channel, for a combined sample rate of 1024 SPS. In the A3028B, sampling from YA is disabled, and XA is sampled at 512 SPS. (We note that the A3028B will replace the A3019A single-channel transmitter.)
The ADC produces sixteen-bit values between 0 and 65535. A value of 0 for X means XA = 0V, and 65535 means XA = VBAT. With a fresh battery, VBAT = 2.7 V. In the A3028A, with its gain of 100, each ADC count represents roughly 400 nV at the X and Y inputs. In the last few days of a transmitter's life, the VBAT drops to 2.2 V, at which point the transmitter fails. During this time, the voltage represented by each ADC count drops in proportion to the battery voltage. When VBAT is 2.2 V, one count represents roughly 350 nV. In theory, the dynamic range of the A3028A is 2.7 V ÷ 100 = 27 mV. But in practice, the amplifier is not able to drive XA all the way up to VBAT or all the way down to 0 V. So we quote the dynamic range as a more conservative 20 mV, or if we want to be more specific, −13 mV to +7 mV.
At each input, the A3028 provides a DC-blocking capacitor. These are C7 and C12 in the schematic. Together with input resistors R5 and R12, they form two single-pole high-pass filters with time constant 1.0 s. There is another high-pass filter in each amplifier, consisting of R6/C8 for X and R13/C13 for Y. These have time constant 0.5 s in the all current versions of the A3028. The figure below shows the theoretical step response of the A3028 input, and compares it to that of other devices we have manufactured.
The common-mode reference voltage in the amplifier is VC, and VC is derived from the battery voltage by a 1.8-V regulator. Thus VC is 1.8 V, and the average value of both XA and YA are also 1.8 V. Thus the average digital value of X and Y correspond to 1.8 V. This allows us to calculate the battery voltage from the average value of either channel. We have VBAT = 65535 / average(X) × 1.8 V. This relation applies to all versions of the A3028, and both inputs, regardless of the gain and frequency response of its amplifiers, and regardless of what battery we have installed.
The figure below shows the X signal from an un-encapsulated A3028R as we reduce VBAT from 4.2 V to 1.2 V over 300 s. Our formula for VBAT from the average value of X works down to VBAT = 1.9 V. After that, the X decreases, suggesting an increase in VBAT, when in fact the actual VBAT drops to 1.8 V and the transmitter turns off.
The analog input impedance of X and Y is 10 MΩ in series with 100 nF to C via VC (see schematic). Together these produce a high-pass filter with half-power frequency 0.16 Hz. In the amplifier, the combination of R6 and C8 for X, and R13 and C13 for Y, produce a second high-pass filter. In the A3028A, these components are 50 kΩ and 10 μF, so the half-power frequency is 0.32 Hz. Resistors R6 and R13 also set the gain of the amplifiers. With R6 = R13 = 50 kΩ, the gain is 100. With R6 = 100 kΩ, the gain is 50 and the high-pass filter frequency drops to 0.16 Hz.
We set the cut-off frequency of the A3028 three-pole, 3-dB ripple, Chebyshev, low-pass filters by our choice of filter capacitance, CF. There are three capacitors in each filter that must have the same value for the filter to function properly. They are C9, C10, and C11 for the X filter and C14, C15, and C16 for the Y filter. With CF = 1.0 nF, the cut-off frequency is 160 Hz. The following graph shows how the gain of the two inputs of an A3028A varies with frequency.
The frequency response in the pass-band shows a slight decrease in gain from 10 Hz to 80 Hz, followed by a bump up at 130 Hz. These two features are the 3-dB ripple of the three-pole Chebyshev filter. By tolerating this non-uniformity of gain in the pass-band, we obtain a far sharper cut-off at the top of the pass-band. Amplitude drops by a factor of ten, or 20 dB from 160 Hz to 256 Hz. Frequencies above 256 Hz when sampled at 512 SPS will produce artificial sin-waves of lower frequency, in a process called aliasing. The purpose of our low-pass filter is to prevent aliasing. (It is an anti-aliasing filter.) Even with the sharp cut-off of our Chebyshev filter, however, we might still see aliasing of high frequency components in EEG.
The plot above shows what the X and Y digitized signal looks like when we apply a powerful signal above 256 Hz to both inputs. The result is an artificial waveform of frequency 262 − 256 = 6 Hz. Its amplitude is around 700 counts rms, which is one tenth the amplitude it would produce if we reduced the frequency to 25 Hz. The mains hum in the signal is carried in by the signal source when we connect it to the transmitter.
We expect some variation between amplifiers, because the three-pole filter is sensitive to the exact component values. The plot below shows the frequency response of a batch of fourteen A3028E transmitters stimulated with a 30-mV sinusoid through a 20 MΩ resistor.
At 10 Hz, the fourteen channels agree to within ±0.5 dB. At 130 Hz, where we have the bump in the Chebyshev response, they agree to within ±1 dB. These variations are well within the range we expect with 5% capacitors and 1% resistors.
The figure below shows how the A3028R's 160-Hz low-pass filter responds to pulses applied to the X input.
The low-pass filter introduces the ringing after the pulse, which consists of three maxima and minima in damped harmonic oscillation after the pulse has ended. The figure below shows the response of the A3028R to perforant pathway discharge spikes of amplitude roughly 10 mV.
The ringing we see after the discharge spikes is not generated by the brain itself, but rather by our low-pass filter. The slow, positive pulse following the negative spike is, however, produced by the brain, and the ringing is overlayed on top of this pulse.
[20-SEP-13] Input noise on an un-encapsulated A3028A with no input leads is 20 counts rms on each channel, or 8 μV. This is lower than the 12 μV of the A3019. The decrease is a result of superior distribution of power and decoupling in the A3028.
[08-OCT-13] We look for noise generated by the Hall Effect Switch. This noise existed in the A3019, as we describe here. We have a new Hall Effect Switch, the SL353LT. We find that it, too, generates noise in the 10-30 Hz range in an encapsulated transmitter.
We see the same 20.75 Hz noise in both channels. The amplitude is around 7 counts, or 7 × 0.4 μV = 2.8 μV.
[11-MAR-14] When the A3028 is encapsulated and equipped with leads, these leads pick up radio-frequency power from the antenna. If the C lead is left open-circuit and the X and Y leads are connected to some solid body, the C lead acts like an antenna. The radio-frequency power is demodulated by parasitic diodes in the circuit, and the result is noise visible on the EEG, as shown here. Its amplitude is roughly 100 μV rms. If you see such noise in an implanted transmitter, your C lead has a broken conductor.
[01-DEC-16] We take a two-channel A3028D and put it in water at 40°C. We use 8-s recording intervals to measure the amplitude and frequency of the switching noise in each of the two input channels No3 and No4 as the water cooled to 19°C.
We would like to eradicate this noise, but so long as it is present, it appears that its frequency could be used to measure animal body temperature. We perform the same experiment with four transmitters at once, using this processor to calculate the rms amplitude of the fundamental harmonic of the switching noise.
In No13/14 the noise is far greater in X than in Y. But in No10 the noise is as large as any we have seen, and appears on the Y input. We touch the tip of a ×1 probe to the package of the Hall Effect Switch on a battery-powered, un-encapsulated transmitter. We see no signe of 20 Hz, certainly less than 200 μV.
[29-MAR-16] We calibrate the A3028 center frequency to lie in the range 913-918 MHz at room temperature, which is around 22°C. The MAX2624 oscillator that provides the radio-frequency signal has a temperature coefficient of −0.2 MHz/°C. In an animal body at 37°C, the center frequency will drop to 910-915 MHz. Our Octal Data Receivers (A3027) and the older Data Receiver (A3018) are designed to provide reliable message reception in for center frequencies in the range 908-918 MHz. The spectrum of the entire signal spans a ±5 MHz range about the center.
[05-MAR-16] Until May 2015, all A3028s were equipped with a 50-mm antenna. The 50-mm antenna makes a loop roughly 20-mm long. This loop fits easily into a rat, but takes some care to implant in a mouse. In April 2015 we compared 50-mm and 30-mm antennas in a simulated moving animal, and found that the 30-mm antenna performed at least as well as the 50-mm. By the end of May, further tests confirmed this observation, and we decided to equip all our 1.4-ml devices with 30-mm antennas. The 30-mm antenna makes a loop only 13 mm long.
The antenna is the loop of stranded steel wire insulated with silicone that is attached at one end to the input leads. The antenna connection is marked OUT on the schematic. The antenna transmits the values of X and Y with 7-μs bursts of 902-928 MHz radio waves. The power transmitted during these bursts is roughly 300 μW (−5 dBm). The receiving antenna, which is usually a Loop Antenna (A3015C) connected to an Octal Data Receiver (A3027), must pick up at least 25 pW (−76 dBm) to overcome noise in the receiving antenna amplifiers, and at least four times (12 dB) more than the 902-928 MHz interference power picked up by the receive antenna. In our office, interference power ranges from 100 pW to 100 nW. In order to guarantee reception outside a faraday enclosure, we must receive 1 μW (−30 dBm). Inside an FE2F faraday enclosure, which offers at least ×1000 (30 dB) isolation from interference, we must receive 1 nW (−60 dBm).
For a discusion of body capacitance, see Body Capacitance in the A3019 manual.
[29-SEP-16] The A3028 can run down its battery in two ways. It can sit on the shelf in its inactive state, or it can digitize and transmit its input signals in its active state. In practice, the battery will be consumed by some combination of inactive and active periods.
The inactive current of the A3028 consists of the current consumption its magnetic sensor (U2) and its logic switch (U3). The average inactive current is around 2.0 μA. The shelf life of the transmitter is the time it takes the inactive current to drain the battery. For the 48 mA-hr battery, the shelf life is over two years. For the 255 mA-hr battery, the shelf life is over ten years.
The active current of the A3028 is its current consumption in the active state. This current depends upon the number of samples the transmitter takes per second. The A3028B provides one channel with 512 SPS. The active current consists of the quiescent current of the logic chip, which is independent of sample rate, and the consumption of the sample and transmit process, which increases linearly with sample rate. The figure below shows active current versus the total sample rate. To obtain the total sample rate, we add the sample rates of both channels.
The linear trend fitted to the data provides us with the following empirical formula for expected active current, Ia, as a function of the total sample rate, R.
Ia = 21 μA + (R × 0.11 μA)
The operating life of the transmitter is the time it takes the active current to exhaust a fresh battery. As the battery is exhausted, the average value of the analog inputs increases, like this. The A3028B single-channel, mouse-sized transmitter has nominal battery capacity 48 mA-hr. According to the above formula, its expected active current is 77 μA. Its expected operating life is 620 hours. The A3028E dual-channel, rat-sized transmitter has a 255 mA-hr battery. Its expected operating life is 1900 hours.
The standard deviation of the active current is 5% of its expected value. But the standard deviation of the battery capacity is closer to 10% the nominal capacity. The operating life is, on average, equal to its expected value, but varies from one transmitter to the next with a standard deviation that is 10% of the expected operating life. Assuming a normal distribution of operating life, we can be 82% certain that the operating life will be >90% of the expected value, and 97% certain it will be >80% of the expected value. In the case of the A3028R single-channel 512 SPS transmitter, we can be 97% sure that it will operate for longer than 2560 hrs, and 18% of the time it will run for longer than 3500 hrs.
[29-SEP-16] We encapsulate the A3028 in black epoxy, then coat the epoxy with a 1-mm layer of clear silicone. The leads are stainless steel springs coated with dyed silicone. We remove one in ten transmitters from our production line for accelerated aging. These transmitters run until they exhaust their batteries while fully immersed in water at 60°C.
Corrosion is a likely cause of failure in electronic devices in warm, humid environments. Both silicone and epoxy are permeable to water vapor, so that the implanted transmitter's encapsulation becomes saturated with water vapr. Changes in the transmitter temperature provoke condensation in any cavities within the electronic circuit, such as might exist within a cracked ceramic capacitor or beneath a small surface-mount component. Our epoxy encapsulation procedure seeks to eliminate such cavities, but if they exist within the components, the condensed water, combined with the warmth of the animal body and the electrical potential presented by the circuit, result in corrosion that leads to failure of the EEG amplifier and ultimately to premature draining of the battery. At 60°C, corrosion occurs over ten times faster than at 37°C in an animal body.
The expected operting life of the A3028 in 100% humidity at 60°C is over 100 days, with the first artifacts of corrosion appearing in the EEG signal after about 50 days. Implanted in an animal, we expect no sign of corrosion in the EEG until 500 days, and no failure through corrosion until 1000 days. None of the popular versions of the A3028A run for anywhere approaching 500 days, so we claim that our transmitters will not fail due to corrosion while implanted.
We have moved our development to a separate page, Subcutaneous Transmitter Development.