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The Open Ephys acquisition board is the heart of the neural data acquisition system. It provides a convenient USB interface between up to eight headstages and a computer. It also allows you to connect with I/O boards, each of which can provide up to 8 channels of digital input or output. You could use these additional channels to measure other, non-neural signals, or to trigger optogenetic stimulation or behavioral feedback.


A complete data acquisition system consists of the following components:

  • An acquisition board, which you can either order or build (see below). In either case, you'll need to provide your own FPGA and case.
  • At least one Intan RHD-series headstage, which you can order directly from Intan. Each headstage can handle 32 channels of neural input. You can connect up to 4 headstages to each acquisition board. We recommend part #C3324 (32 channels with accelerometer), but any of the "RHD" headstages will work with our board.
  • One SPI cable to connect each headstage to the acquistion board, which you can order from Intan or build yourself. We recommend the "Ultra-Thin" variety for freely-moving applications.
  • (Optional) At least one I/O board for other (non-neural) signals, which you can build yourself. Each I/O board has 8 channels and can be used for one of the following at a time: digital input, digital output, analog input, or analog output.
  • (Optional) One HDMI cable to connect each I/O board to the acquisition board.
  • A computer to run the software and interface with the rest of the system.


How to obtain an acquisition board

  • Option 1: If you build one yourself, we estimate you'll spend about 2-3 days of work and about $1000. This includes the cost of the FPGA, the most expensive component. Follow the instructions here to build your own board and then continue to the User Guide.
  • Option 2: You can order the assembled board from CircuitHub, for about $2200 (as of October 2014). You also need to purchase an FPGA (~$400) and a case. After purchasing the board and FPGA, continue to the User Guide.
  • Option 3: Order a complete board from the Open Ephys store (coming late 2014).

Regardless of which option you take, you'll also need to build or purchase your own headstages, I/O boards, and cables, as described above.

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