NeuroDAC: An open-source arbitrary biosignal waveform generator

M. P. Powell, J. Anso, R. Gilron, N. R. Provenza, A. B. Allawala, D. D. Sliva, K. R. Bijanki, D. Oswalt, J. Adkinson, N. Pouratian, S. A. Sheth, W. K. Goodman, S. R. Jones, P. A. Starr, D. A. Borton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective. Researchers are developing biomedical devices with embedded closed-loop algorithms for providing advanced adaptive therapies. As these devices become more capable and algorithms become more complex, tasked with integrating and interpreting multi-channel, multi-modal electrophysiological signals, there is a need for flexible bench-top testing and prototyping. We present a methodology for leveraging off-the-shelf audio equipment to construct a biosignal waveform generator capable of streaming pre-recorded biosignals from a host computer. By re-playing known, well-characterized, but physiologically relevant real-world biosignals into a device under test, researchers can evaluate their systems without the need for expensive in vivo experiments. Approach. An open-source design based on the proposed methodology is described and validated, the NeuroDAC. NeuroDAC allows for 8 independent channels of biosignal playback using a simple, custom designed attenuation and buffering circuit. Applications can communicate with the device over a USB interface using standard audio drivers. On-board analog amplitude adjustment is used to maximize the dynamic range for a given signal and can be independently tuned for each channel. Main results. Low noise component selection yields a no-signal noise floor of just 5.35 ± 0.063. NeuroDAC's frequency response is characterized with a high pass -3 dB rolloff at 0.57 Hz, and is capable of accurately reproducing a wide assortment of biosignals ranging from EMG, EEG, and ECG to extracellularly recorded neural activity. We also present an application example using the device to test embedded algorithms on a closed-loop neural modulation device, the Medtronic RC+S. Significance. By making the design of NeuroDAC open-source we aim to present an accessible tool for rapidly prototyping new biomedical devices and algorithms than can be easily modified based on individual testing needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number016010
JournalJournal of neural engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • biomedical devices
  • biosignal playback
  • closed-loop neuromodulation
  • neural interface
  • waveform generator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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