QWOP Made Real: Control a Person (poorly) with Arduino

By The Hacksmith

Remember QWOP? If you’ve never heard of it, QWOP is a flash game where you control a runner’s individual thigh and calf muscles with the Q,W,O, and P keys with the goal of running 100 meters. The game was incredibly hard and created a lot of weird game play where the runner would make it a few meters and fall over mostly. The game was so difficult that despite its simplicity, it became very popular a few years ago. The Hacksmith team decided to make a live-action version of QWOP for their “Make it Real Series”, where James and the gang recreate gadgets from movies, comic books, and video games. This project was made with some electrodes, an Arduino, and a keyboard. Check it out in the video below.


How Does it Work?

At the heart of this project is electroshock therapy. Originally, the plan was to hack some TENS units (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), but they used a battery instead. They made a circuit with an Arduino to distribute electricity to each electrode.

Using a USB host shield, a keyboard is hooked up to the USB input on the Arduino’s host shield. The Arduino then controls four MOSFETs that use pulse width modulation to regulate the power to the electrodes. The circuit is powered by a 24V battery. This doesn’t have enough voltage to be fatal, but as always, be careful when applying electricity to humans! This project can go up to 48V, but it isn’t recommended because 24V hurts plenty already!

The QWOP Unit Circuit

The QWOP Unit Circuit

Schematic and BOM


The USB host shield allows the Arduino to take input from the keyboard, which allows for the QWOP game to be controlled in real time. Otherwise, the game would have to preprogrammed into the Arduino allowing it to only be ran as a script (Where’s the fun that?). Plus, the preprogrammed version would mostly just consist of James lying on the ground and being shocked a lot. Constructing the project is relatively simple, it’s basically transferring electricity to different channels. If you’d like to make your own QWOP unit, please contact the Hacksmith Team, they’re always happy to help!

Enclosure for the QWOP Circuit

Enclosure for the QWOP Circuit

Components Used

This project takes gaming back to analog in a somewhat painful manner.

More Hacksmith Projects

If you enjoyed this project, be sure to check out Torbjörn's Turret From Overwatch Made Real and Climb Like Spider-Man with Electromagnetic Climbing Clamps! You can also watch new videos each week on their Youtube Channel.

Key Parts and Components

Add all Digi-Key Parts to Cart
  • 1050-1001-ND
  • IRL540PBF-ND
  • CF14JT10K0CT-ND