Table of Contents

Acquisition and Tracking

Video Acquisition

Bonsai can be used to acquire and record data from many different devices. The exercises below will make you comfortable with the most common Bonsai data types. The first data type we will discuss is an image, which is represented as a 2D matrix of pixels. Each pixel represents either a brightness value in a grayscale image, or a BGR colour value in a colour image.

Exercise 1: Saving a video

Saving a video

  • Insert a CameraCapture source.
  • Insert a VideoWriter sink.
  • Configure the FileName property of the VideoWriter operator with a file name ending in .avi.
  • Run the workflow and check that it generates a valid video file.

Exercise 2: Saving a grayscale video

Saving a grayscale video

  • Insert a Grayscale transform between CameraCapture and VideoWriter.
  • Run the workflow. The output should now be a grayscale movie.
  • How would you modify the workflow to record both a colour and a grayscale movie?

Audio Acquisition

Audio data is captured at much higher temporal sampling frequencies than video. However, the data is typically buffered into chunks of multiple samples before being sent to the computer. Also, multi-channel data can be acquired simultaneously in the case of a stereo microphone, or high-density ephys probes. Such multi-sample, multi-channel data is typically represented as a 2D matrix, where rows represent channels, and columns represent time.

Exercise 3: Saving a WAV file

Saving a WAV file

  • Insert an AudioCapture source.
  • Insert an AudioWriter sink.
  • Configure the FileName property of the AudioWriter operator with a file name ending in .wav.
  • Make sure that the SampleRate property of the AudioWriter matches the frequency of audio capture.
  • Run the workflow for some seconds. Playback the file in your favorite media player to check that it is a valid audio file.

Exercise 4: Saving raw binary waveform data

Saving raw binary waveform data

  • Replace the AudioWriter operator with a MatrixWriter sink.
  • Configure the Path property of the MatrixWriter operator with a file name ending in .bin.
  • Run the workflow for some seconds.
  • Open the resulting binary file in MATLAB/Python/R and make a time series plot of the raw waveform samples.
    • MATLAB: Use the fread function to read the binary file. The source data must be set to int16.
    • Python: Use the fromfile in the numpy package to read the binary file. The dtype option must be set to np.int16.

Exercise 5: Trigger an auditory stimulus

Playback an audio file

  • Insert an AudioReader source.
  • Configure the FileName property to point to the audio file you recorded in Exercise 3.
  • Insert an AudioPlayback sink.
  • Run the workflow and check the sound is played correctly.

Trigger an auditory stimulus

  • Insert a KeyDown source.
  • Set the BufferLength property of the AudioReader to zero, so that all audio data is read into a single buffer.
  • Combine the key press with the audio data using the WithLatestFrom combinator.
  • Right-click the WithLatestFrom operator. Select the Tuple > Item2 member from the context menu.
  • Move the AudioPlayback sink so that it follows the selected Item2 member.
  • Run the workflow and press a key. What happens if you press the key several times?

Arduino Acquisition

In order to communicate and interact with an Arduino using Bonsai, you must program the microcontroller to send and receive binary data from the computer via the USB cable. Fortunately, the Arduino environment already comes with a standard implementation of an efficient binary protocol called Firmata which can be used for serial communication with external applications such as Bonsai.

Configure Arduino for real-time communication

  • Open the Arduino IDE.
  • Upload StandardFirmata to your Arduino. The code can be found in File > Examples > Firmata.

Exercise 6: Saving analog data

Saving analog data

  • Insert an AnalogInput source.
  • Configure the PortName property to point to the correct serial port where the Arduino is connected.
  • Run the workflow and visualize the output of the analog source. What do you see?
  • Optional: Connect a sensor to the analog input pin, e.g. a potentiometer or a button.
  • Insert a CsvWriter sink. This operator records input data into a text file.
  • Configure the FileName property of the CsvWriter operator with a file name ending in .csv.
  • Run the workflow, record some interesting signal, and then open the result text data file.

Exercise 7: Control an LED

Control an LED

  • Insert a Boolean source.
  • Insert a DigitalOutput sink.
  • Set the Pin property of the DigitalOutput operator to 13.
  • Configure the PortName property.
  • Run the workflow and change the Value property of the Boolean operator.
  • Optional: Use your mouse to control the LED! Replace the Boolean operator by a MouseMove source (hint: use GreaterThan, LessThan, or equivalent operators to connect one of the mouse axis to DigitalOutput).

Exercise 8: Control a servo motor

Control a servo motor

  • Insert a Timer source. Set its Period property to 500 ms.
  • Insert a Take operator. Set its Count property to 10.
  • Insert a Rescale operator. Set its Max property to 10, and its RangeMax property to 180.
  • Insert a Repeat operator.
  • Insert a ServoOutput sink.
  • Set the Pin property of the ServoOutput operator to 9.
  • Configure the PortName property.
  • Connect a servo motor to the Arduino pin 9 and run the workflow. Can you explain the behaviour of the servo?
  • Optional: Make the servo sweep back and forth.

Video Tracking

Bonsai allows processing captured raw video data to extract real-time measures of behaviour or other derived quantities. The exercises below will introduce you to some of its online video processing capabilities.

Exercise 9: Segmentation of a coloured object

Segmentation of a coloured object

  • Insert a CameraCapture source.
  • Insert a RangeThreshold transform.
  • Open the visualizer for the RangeThreshold operator.
  • Configure the Lower and Upper properties of the RangeThreshold to isolate your coloured object (hint: click the small arrow to the left of each property to expand their individual values).

This method segments coloured objects by setting boundaries directly on the BGR colour space. This colour space is considered a poor choice for colour segmentation. Can you see why?

Segmentation of a coloured object

Exercise 10: Real-time position tracking

Real-time position tracking

  • Starting with the workflow from the previous exercise, insert a FindContours transform. This operator traces the contours of all the objects in a black-and-white image. An object is defined as a region of connected white pixels.
  • Insert a BinaryRegionAnalysis transform. This node calculates the area, center of mass, and orientation for all the detected contours.
  • Insert a LargestBinaryRegion transform to extract the largest detected object in the image.
  • Select the ConnectedComponent > Centroid field of the largest binary region using the context menu.
  • Record the position of the centroid using a CsvWriter sink.
  • Optional: Open the CSV file in Excel/Python/MATLAB/R and plot the trajectory of the object.

Exercise 11: Background subtraction and motion segmentation

Background subtraction

  • Create a grayscale video workflow similar to Exercise 2.
  • Insert a Skip operator. Set its Count property to 1.
  • In a new branch, insert a Take operator. Set its Count property to 1.
  • Combine the images from both branches using the CombineLatest combinator.
  • Insert the AbsoluteDifference transform after CombineLatest.
  • Insert a Threshold transform. Visualize the node output and adjust the ThresholdValue property.

Describe in your own words what the above workflow is doing.

Motion segmentation

  • Replace the CombineLatest operator with the Zip combinator.
  • Delete the Take operator.

Describe in your own words what the above modified workflow is doing.

Exercise 12: Measuring motion

Measuring motion

  • Create a grayscale video stream similar to Exercise 2.
  • Insert a BackgroundSubtraction transform. Set its AdaptationRate property to 1.
  • Insert a Sum operator. This operator will sum the values of all the pixels in the image.
  • Run the workflow, point the camera at a moving object and visualize the output of the Sum operator. Compare small movements to big movements. What happens to the signal when the object holds perfectly still?
  • Right-click the Sum operator. Select the Scalar > Val0 member from the context menu.

The Sum operator sums the pixel values across all image colour channels. However, in the case of grayscale binary images, there is only one active channel and its sum is stored in the Val0 field.

  • Record the motion of an object using a CsvWriter sink.