PsyScope X Button Box Info Page



The ioLab USB Button Box

One of the fundamental requirements to do successful experimentation is a reliable button box, able to collect responses and interact with several experimental devices. When we began the project to port PsyScope to Os X, no button box working with USB ports and the USB protocol existed. This was a serious drawback. ioLab Systems filled this gap by designing a new response device, a fully USB Button Box. By "fully USB" I mean a button box which communicates with the computer via USB protocols, and not just a bbox which has an USB port but still works in the serial mode internally.

The new Button Box is available. Please refer to ioLab Systems to order it if you need it.

The new BBox can time stamp events to increase timing resolution to < 1 millisecond. It has 10 interrupt driven inputs, 16 configurable input/output lines, optical sensor for detecting screen change and uses a sound to pass-through for direct recording (which we will add in PsyScope X). It also has a voice key, which has been designed to optimize spoken word detection. A serial RS232 port allows it to communicate with external devices. The Button Box hardware is designed to be a fully functional "base board" into which further modules can be added if required. You can see the full list of features or address your queries by visiting the ioLab Systems web page.

At Sissa, we designed the code to support the ioLabs Usb BBox within PsyScope X. Actually, we first asked Robosoft to do it. They took 2 years, and they delivered a code that was so pitiful that we decided to throw it away completely and re-write it. This caused many delays, and we apologize for them.

We finished a draft of the software manual. You can download it in PDF here.

We also wrote a couple of scripts that you may want to study if you plan to use the BBox intensively. They are here. But you should also check the other scripts on the Other Goodies page if you want to work with PsyScope X.

The Current Design USB Button Box

Current Design, inc. offers an USB button box, which acts as an pure input device. It does not support the functionalities of the old PsyScope CMU Button Box, nor those of offered by ioLab Systems USB bBox -- no clock, no vocal key.

We have not tested the Current Design Button Box. The company offered to send us a BBox to test, but never did. However, in principle it should work as any USB keyboard with similar precision. We cannot say if this is sufficient for experimental needs.

What happens with the CMU Button Box?

The CMU Button Box that PsyScopers are used to work with communicates with the computer via an old serial port. This port does not exist any more on Macs. In general, people have used a serial-to-USB converter to maintain the Bbox functionalities with newer machines under Os 9.

While porting the program, it appeared difficult to fully support the CMU button box, even by using a serial-to-USB adaptor. This is due to the fact that Os X has no real support for serial devices at the user level. However, in PsyScope X, Build 36, we have improved the responsiveness of the CMU BBox. Possibly, the old BBox is adequate for your experimental needs, although its response is still slower than under Os 9. We suggest you to check its responsiveness for your experiments before using it, in case time accuracy is a serious issue for your design. Possibly, you will find it adequate.

On the positive side: we have written the code in such a way that the old BBox and the new BBox are two separate modules. Thus, both bboxes can be used at the same time in the same experimental design. So you might still find a use for your old bbox.