Using a USB laptop with the Lumina response pad

We’re using the Lumina response pad for fMRI experiments with Presentation and E-Prime. Currently a desktop PC is connected via serial port to the Lumina controller (LSC 400B) and a parallel port is used for detecting the scanner trigger.

We want to set things up so that researchers can run their fMRI experiments using laptops which just have USB ports. We’d like to use the Lumina controller to detect both the scanner trigger and the button presses, and we’d like to somehow convert the output from the Lumina controller to a signal that Presentation and E-Prime can use.

The NBS website says that Presentation can use National Instruments NI-DAQmx Devices. We’re considering buying the National Instruments USB-6501 digital I/O device and connecting it to the Lumina’s Accessory Connecter. The idea is that TTL pulses corresponding to button presses and the scanner trigger will be sent from the Lumina to the NI device, and then sent to the computer via USB.

Does anyone know if this will work, or if there is a better solution?


Using a National Instruments I/O device would require building a custom cable, hardly a fun endeavor.

An alternative would be to use two separate adapters. My understanding is that Presentation works well with parallel ports. For that, I’d use a USB-to-parallel port converter. I’d ask NBS or users on their forum if there is a particular model that they recommend. You will also find the web page Connecting the Accessory Connector to a Parallel Port very handy.

For E-Prime, I suggest using a USB-to-serial port converter. It is the path of least resistance because no custom cable would be necessary, and you can tell E-Prime that you are using a real PST SRB box. From my limited knowledge of E-Prime, if you use a National Instruments device, you’ll likely need to write a few lines of E-Basic code. (For the benefit of other forum visitors, please correct me if I’m wrong).

Our experience with USB-to-serial port converters has been that the USB driver is what makes or breaks the device. For this reason, I recommend this FTDI-based converter. In the past, we have also used a Kensington Mini Port Replicator. It combines a serial and parallel port converter into a single device, but we’ve only used the serial port portion on a Mac; it worked well.