Spinal Cord Research Centre

SCRC Data Capture and Analysis Software
New Features in Capture Software

The biggest new developments in the SCRC Capture and Analysis software in the past several years have been focused on data capture. We have added some important new features and capabilities that you may not be aware of. We present the highlights of these here, starting with the most recent additions.

Support for stimulator triggering

The 2015 release of the capture software adds support for stimulator triggering in cap and chanmon. The software can now track the amplitude of a selected waveform and trigger an output pulse (for stimulation) based on a set threshold crossing. This feature has been developed to replace the use of the "Trigstim" system (for those whom are familiar with the old system options in the labs at SCRC). For those who are new to the SCRC software, this feature is essential for the ability to generate conditional pulses based on on-line data readings.

This feature has been implemented in the networked capture server for National Instruments devices. This software monitors the captured signals, and delivers pulses on the DAQ device's digital output which is used to trigger a stimulator. The NI USB devices are the only supported A/D devices that currently can do this without excessive lag due to A/D buffering (approx. 5-20 ms).

Recording date/time of start of capture

The 2015 release of the capture software also now records the time at which data capture started for each run. The start time is recorded and saved in the run file descriptor. Previously, users had to estimate capture time based on the file modification time for the frame file or waveform files, but this was unreliable as the modification time could change after capture, when filtering waveforms, changing calibration, or making any other changes to a run. The new version records it more permanently, and it can be displayed by analysis, frmsel or dumprun. This capture time can be used to refer to entries in the protocol, e.g. to see what drugs were administered prior to a particular run of captured data.

See Tutorial 20: Online Protocol Collection using OpenOffice to Increase Efficiency for more information on how this new feature can be used in conjunction with online protocol notation to more efficiently and accurately associate events recorded in the protocol with runs of captured data.

Evolution of "chanmon" into a full-featured signal monitor and recorder

Many improvements were made to chanmon's display capabilities to make it more flexible and reliable. More importantly, chanmon can now record data while displaying it, so it can replace the cap program in most cases. You no longer need to capture blindly.

The intent of many of these changes was to replace many of the aging systems at the SCRC with a more capable single system that can do it all. Rather than requiring the use of Axoscope or older systems for monitoring signals while recording with cap, the new chanmon can do both. Also, just as we've recently added capabilities to replace our old DOS-based Trigstim systems, we've also incorporated some of the features of the DOS-based "Camera" systems as well. We intend to continue enhancing these new capabilities in the future so our labs are not so reliant on many incompatible and aging or obsolete hardware devices.

Support for new data capture devices and systems

The move to a networked client/server model for the data capture software has allowed greater flexibility in the types of systems our data capture can support. With the core of the device-specific capabilities isolated into one server module, we can more easily adapt that server module to other operating systems and DAQ devices. Now, rather than being limited to data capture on Linux systems with the UEI PowerDAQ line of A/D boards, we have added support for the following DAQ devices and systems:

  • NI USB-6210 DAQ device under Linux
  • NI USB-6210 DAQ device under Windows with Cygwin/X
  • NI PCI-6251 DAQ device under Linux

Although not tested yet, the NI Windows driver should support National Instruments' full product line of A/D and multifunction DAQ devices under Windows 7, 8 or 10. The Linux version of our capture server works with the Comedi driver, which supports DAQ devices from many manufacturers. As a result, we have many more options available to us for A/D devices we can use.

Where do we go from here?

Please let us know which new directions we should pursue in the development of our capture software. Do you need support for a new DAQ device? Is there another device in your lab that you'd like to see replaced with new capabilities in cap or chanmon? Are we missing important features from Axoscope, Trigstim or Camera? Let us know what you need.

See also: SCRC Software On-line Documentation, SCRC Software Tutorials, Change Log for SCRC beta release, What's New in beta release

© Copyright 2015 G. R. Detillieux, Spinal Cord Research Centre, University of Manitoba. All Rights Reserved. Contact Us for more information.
Revised July 30, 2015.