How to improve millisecond timing in your psychology experiments
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At the Black Box ToolKit we believe that you, the researcher, are the one best placed to detect and correct any timing errors in your own studies prior to publication. To enable you to accomplish this we have developed a range of easy to use hardware and software products that let you quickly improve your timing accuracy and consistency.

Our ethos is that researchers should reduce millisecond presentation, synchronization and response timing error to as near zero as possible. To do this you need tools that let you establish your current levels of timing error and hardware that lets you keep levels low.

Black Box ToolKit v2
Our key product that helps you evaluate millisecond timing accuracy is the Black Box ToolKit v2 (BBTK v2). This is a hardware independent device that checks timing accuracy in your experiments when running on your own hardware in three easy steps:

  1. Set-up – Hook up external stimulus sensors (opto-detectors, mics, TTL) and a response device (response pad, robotic key actuator, sounder, TTL)
  2. Test – Use a wizard to select a stimulus pattern to automatically respond to/event mark. Then choose the exact response time, response device and duration
  3. Analyze – Check your stimulus, response and synchronization timings across up to 36 channels. Compare what your experiment recorded with what the BBTK saw

Once you determine levels of timing accuracy you can take steps to correct any issues, e.g. moving stimuli temporally forward or backward in the presentation timeline so that they align in the real world when they physically appear.

The BBTK v2 hardware and software is used in labs across the world and encompasses Cognitive Psychology, Neuroscience, Language and Vision research amongst others. It is the gold standard for assessing millisecond timing accuracy, event marking and self-validation. Be sure of your research results prior to publication.

BBTK 1-8 button USB response pad
Our USB response pad and response pad with voice key enable you to reduce variation in your response times and increase accuracy. They check for a button press 50,000 times per second and transmit a standard keystroke to your experimental PC in around 60 millionths of a seconds (50kHz and 60µs respectively). This helps ensure that you can be sure that your response device is not adding to response inaccuracy. On the voice key model a vocal response sends a standard keystroke to your PC.

Both types of response pad are fit and forget replacements and appear to your experiment as a standard keyboard where button presses appear as if a key had been pressed. Up to 9x TTL signals can be used for event marking button and voice key activity.

Remember although our USB response pads are millisecond accurate and help reduce response time variability in your psychology experiments they can't automatically correct for any mistimings that are inherent within the experiment generator you use. If you wish to check the accuracy and consistency of your experiment generator, or system as a whole, you are advised to use a Black Box ToolKit v2 together with a BBTK USB response pad.


USB TTL event marking module
Often it is useful to send a TTL event mark from your experiment generator when a stimulus is shown or other event occurs, e.g. in EEG studies. With the demise of the parallel port on PCs this has become increasingly problematic. Our USB to TTL event marking module enables you to event mark with ease. Designed as a parallel port replacement and with 16 event marking lines/channels you can send TTL events quickly and easily from the majority of experiment generators and your own software.

Remember although our USB TTL event marking modules are millisecond accurate internally they can't automatically correct for any mistimings that are inherent within the experiment generator you use. If you wish to check the accuracy and consistency of your experiment generator, or system as a whole, you are advised to use a Black Box ToolKit v2 together with a BBTK USB TTL event marking module.

USB response box
The response box is designed for use in custom applications where our 1-8 button USB response pads cannot be used. It emulates a standard keyboard and allows you to plug-in 1-4 high quality external push-to-make buttons. When pushed a standard keystroke is sent to the computer as though a key on a keyboard had been pressed. It enables you to build your own custom input solutions safe in the knowledge your accuracy isn't compromised. A TTL signal port can also be used for event marking.

Remember although our USB response boxes are millisecond accurate and help reduce response time variability in your psychology experiments they can't automatically correct for any mistimings that are inherent within the experiment generator you use. If you wish to check the accuracy and consistency of your experiment generator, or system as a whole, you are advised to use a Black Box ToolKit v2 together with a BBTK USB response box.


Custom built devices and consultancy
As the Black Box ToolKit employs Psychologists, Electronic Engineers and Programmers we can offer a wide range of bespoke services. We have the design and manufacturing capabilities to produce one-off custom built devices for a reasonable cost or to customise one of our existing products for you. Need more production volume – we can help here too. Why not ask us for a quote for custom hardware design and manufacture or about our consultancy services in order to take your project to the next level.