open-source electrophysiology

June 2014 Newsletter

Added on by Open Ephys.

Successful Distribution of 100 Additional Acquisition Boards

In the summer of 2013, Open Ephys kicked off its beta testing program by paying Advanced Circuits to assemble 50 of our acquisition boards. Generous donations allowed us to distribute most of these boards for free, which lowered the barrier to entry for those interested in trying out our platform. Based on the feedback we got from our beta testers, we made some improvements to the boards, then initiated a second round of manufacturing in spring 2014. Advanced Circuits produced 100 more boards for us, to meet the increased demand following our presentation at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego. As of last week, all of these boards have been sent to their final destinations.

Assembling 100 boards cost approximately $32,000, which included the price of the completed circuit boards, cases, and power supplies. Thanks to a donation of key components from Texas Instruments, we saved around $14,000 on parts.

We shipped these boards to over 50 labs around the world, adding China, Korea, Belgium, Switzerland, and Finland to the list of countries using Open Ephys. In this round of distribution, there were three institutes that requested 10 or more acquisition boards each: University College London, the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, and the Donders Institute in Nijmegen. Along with MIT, where Open Ephys was launched, there are now four "hubs" in which our acquisition systems are concentrated. Having hubs like these will be important for increasing adoption, since scientists are more likely to try out new hardware that their neighbors are already familiar with.

In total, we have now delivered over 38,000 channels of ephys recording capacity to the field. The first two basic science publications that include data collected with our platform are now in submission. We're looking forward to seeing many more in the future!

Open Ephys Hires Its First Support Person

When choosing an ephys system to buy, the availability of support is a crucial factor. Having a guarantee that faulty hardware will be replaced, or that someone will be available to help troubleshoot problems, often makes it worth the price of investing in a commercial platform. Since its inception, Open Ephys has successfully served its small user base entirely through volunteer efforts. But with the number of new systems about to come online, we decided it was time to hire an official support person.

Leftover donations from the last round of manufacturing will fund a contract with Miguel Hernández University in Alicante, Spain to provide technical support for Open Ephys. The point person will be Aarón Cuevas López, a PhD student who has already contributed substantially to developing and testing our platform. Having Aarón as an official support person will make it easier for everyone to use our system. We'll continue to rely on the constantly growing community for adding new features, but it will be hugely helpful to have Aarón available for fixing bugs and responding to technical questions.

Manufacturing Partnerships

We recently established an official partnership with the Champalimaud Neuroscience Program in Lisbon to manufacture Open Ephys acquisition hardware. This is the first time anyone outside of MIT will build our designs for distribution. Investigators at the Champalimaud—including Alfonso Renart, Adam Kampff, Leopoldo Petreanu, Megan Carey, and Zach Mainen—have been some of the most enthusiastic supporters of Open Ephys. We plan to produce 100 boards in Portugal in the next few months. Once these become available, we'll send out a newsletter with detailed information about how to purchase them.

Another avenue for getting your hands on an Open Ephys acquisition board is through CircuitHub, a startup aimed at lowering the barrier to entry for obtaining custom hardware. If you order a board using this link, CircuitHub will purchase all the parts and assemble the circuit board for you. You'll still have to find a way to 3D print or machine the case; instructions for that can be found on our wiki. We haven't ordered anything from CircuitHub yet, but it could become the easiest way to order acquisition boards in the future. If you're interested in testing this out, please get in touch with us—we may be able to coordinate a group order.

Stay tuned for more information about updates to the wiki and website, as well as the launch of the official Open Ephys store!