[FieldTrip] support for Biosemi firmware 4.0?

Robert Oostenveld r.oostenveld at donders.ru.nl
Thu May 28 09:01:25 CEST 2020

Hi Loyd,

Welcome on the mailing list! 

The realtime interface to the Biosemi amplifiers was implemented and contributed by FieldTrip users, not by the core team. I recall that it had contributions from two separate groups. Also, we don’t have a Biosemi amplifier, so we don’t use it ourselves and cannot test ourselves.

If I look at the commit history at 
https://github.com/fieldtrip/fieldtrip/commits/master/realtime/src/acquisition/biosemi <https://github.com/fieldtrip/fieldtrip/commits/master/realtime/src/acquisition/biosemi>
https://github.com/fieldtrip/fieldtrip/commits/master/realtime/src/acquisition/biosemi/biosemi2ft.cc <https://github.com/fieldtrip/fieldtrip/commits/master/realtime/src/acquisition/biosemi/biosemi2ft.cc>

I see it dates back to 2012 and that later changes mainly relate to streamlining the build process and Makefile. Part of the history details appears to be missing, since it predates the moment when we switched over from an internal Subversion server to GitHub. But most of it seems to be pre-2015, which suggests that it was written for firmware 3.0. I also assume that at the time firmware 4.0 was introduced on new devices, it was still slow to get updated on existing devices, which means that the code changes in 2015 (done by people that were not likely to have a brand-new device) were not related to the new firmware. 

It would be good if the documentation on http://www.fieldtriptoolbox.org/development/realtime/biosemi/ <http://www.fieldtriptoolbox.org/development/realtime/biosemi/> (which is maintained here <https://github.com/fieldtrip/website/blob/master/development/realtime/biosemi.md>) would be updated to reflect this. E.g. add a section about the different firmware versions, how to determine yourself which one is installed on your amplifier, etc. Possibly also test it both with a 3.0 and a 4.0 version of the amplifier and report on the results. Editing that page on the website is as simple as clicking on the pencil button on the upper right. 

All contributions are reviewed and stylistically corrected by me or another team member, so don’t worry if the markdown formatting is not totally correct yet.

It would even be better if the source code of the Biosemi real-time interface was reviewed and would be updated to reflect the 4.0 firmware. Changes should be compatible with the 3.0 version, or a a copy of the exiting code should be kept to ensure that researchers with 3.0 version amplifiers can continue to use it.

I am looking forward to the contribution of Biosemi or Cortech Solutions to improve the researchers’ experience with this hardware.

best regards,

> On 26 May 2020, at 19:42, Lloyd Smith <lsmith at cortechsolutions.com> wrote:
> Hi, all. First time posting here, so please pardon any lack of default knowledge. My company handles US/Canada sales and support for the Biosemi ActiveTwo EEG system, and I know a lot of our customers use Fieldtrip. Until now I have never had a pre-sales question from a customer about Fieldtrip. I was unable to find an answer in your archives, so I am posting it here. 
> In mid-2015, Biosemi released firmware 4.0 for the optical receiver / USB interface. This eliminates the need to install a driver, instead utilizing a driver that ships with Windows 10. Most older ActiveTwo systems can be field-upgraded by end-users according to instructions at  https://www.biosemi.com/faq/install_USB.htm <https://www.biosemi.com/faq/install_USB.htm>. 
> Thie page at your site - http://www.fieldtriptoolbox.org/development/realtime/biosemi/ <http://www.fieldtriptoolbox.org/development/realtime/biosemi/> - does not mention which optical receiver / USB interface firmware versions are compatible, which leaves open the question of whether firmware 4.0 is supported. Firmware 3.0 shipped from sometime before Spring 2011 until Spring of 2015, but all systems shipped from about June 2015 forward have firmware 4.0, and many older systems have been field-upgraded. 
> Thanks in advance for any insight!
> Best regards, 
> Lloyd Smith 
> President 
> Cortech Solutions, Inc. 
> E-mail: LSmith at cortechsolutions.com <mailto:LSmith at cortechsolutions.com> 
> Tel: 910-362-1143 x202 
> Cell: 910-431-2811
> Cortech Solutions, Inc.
> 1409 Audubon Blvd, Suite B1
> Wilmington, NC 28403 USA
> Tel: 910-362-1143
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> https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002202

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