650A: Real-Time Muscle Data Acquisition and Analysis Software

The 650A software was designed to enable physiology researchers to study the dynamic mechanical characteristics of muscle tissue. The software seamlessly integrates with all Aurora hardware products including: 315D/322D high-speed length controllers, 400C force transducers, 700A stimulators, 800 series apparatus and 900 series sarcomere length and calcium fluorescence systems. The 650A software can also be used with other manufacturer’s instruments. A unique feature of the software is its force and sarcomere length control capability. This unique control mode can generate critically damped step changes in force or sarcomere length in as little as 1.0 millisecond.

The software has an easy-to-use graphical user interface and is written using the C programming language. The software collects high-resolution length and force data while controlling the length and force of the muscle tissue under test. Collected data can then be plotted and analyzed within the program. The 650A software also includes a real-time scrolling display of the current length and force. This scrolling display can be frozen at any time and then up to four hours of data can be reviewed.

The 650A software is a real-time program, meaning it can act as the master timer for entire muscle physiology experiments. This ensures that data acquisition and control tasks can be done with a timing accuracy of better than 10µs (regardless of what other programs and processes are being run on the computer at the same time). This is not the case with other operating systems such as Windows or Apple.

650A software includes a powerful protocol editor which allows the researcher to easily control and acquire data during the simplest experiments or the most complicated ones. The included sequencer allows multiple protocols to be easily chained together with powerful timing controls creating automated experiments. Automation ensures the experiment is run correctly every time, freeing up lab personnel to perform analysis while the experiment is running.

  • complete data acquisition, control and analysis system

  • flexible data acquisition with sampling rates from 1 Hz to 20 kHz

  • provides force control using software proportional-derivative control algorithm

  • provides SL control using software proportional-derivative control algorithm (requires HVSL sarcomere length system for SL measurement)

  • controls all Aurora Scientific lever systems, force transducers, stimulators and apparatus

  • provides software control of stimulation parameters: pulse width, pulse frequency, frequency duration, train frequency and train duration

  • master timer for the experiment – real-time program controls timing to 10µs

  • powerful protocol editor allows the user to create custom experimental protocols

  • scope module – real-time scrolling data display that stores up to 4 hours of data, can also log data to disk

  • analysis module – provides plotting, zooming and analysis of collected signals

Stories of Success

650A – Software and Support Enables Smooth Muscle Fiber Research


In 2012 Dr. Robert Moreland and his lab were studying smooth muscle and how its dynamic contractile properties are regulated. The lab had planned a number of experiments to study vascular and bladder smooth muscle fibers and were familiar with Aurora Scientific equipment. However, the function of smooth muscle is quite unique and it became apparent very quickly that to measure contraction velocity of the fibers, a powerful software with complex protocols would need to be written.


The Aurora Scientific 650A proved to be the answer. The system acts as a digital controller to acquire data from a number of instruments, but also serves as a way to control the force and length of the tissue being tested. Due to the phasic nature of the tissue, indicated by unpredictable changes in resting tension, a control system and software capable of controlling force in real time was absolutely essential. After writing custom protocols and providing remote and on-site support, these complex experiments became possible to perform.


Dr. Moreland’s graduate student was able to complete her thesis work on time and the data obtained with the test system factored greatly in her work. The system is still an integral part of the lab and Aurora Scientific continues to work closely with Dr. Moreland and his students. The support staff also learned a great deal about smooth muscle and enjoyed the challenges of writing protocols that would result in consistent and  reliable measurement data.

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Software Specifications 650A
Operating System Linux – RTAI, real-time
Companion Software 602A, 802D, 820A, 901D, 950A
Data Channels Recorded Length, Force, Sarcomere Length, Stimulation Timing, Auxiliary 1, Auxiliary 21
Aurora Scientific Instruments
300 series length controllers, 400 series force  transducers, 700 series stimulators, 800 series apparatus, 901D HVSL sarcomere length
Main Window Elapsed Time, Time since Last Stimulus, Length and Force Readouts.
Display: graph of test results as they are collected.
Buttons for: Start Sequence, Start Test, Next Test, Stop Test and Zero Lout.
Dropdown menus: File, Edit, Calibrate, Setup, Protocol, Analysis, Scope, Burst and Help.
Protocol Functions Length: Step, Ramp, Square, Sine, Sweep, Sample, Hold
Force: Step, Ramp, Square, Sine, Sweep, Sample, Hold, Clamp
Sarcomere Length: Step, Ramp, Sample, Hold, Trigger, Track
Stimulation: Stimulus, Trigger 1, Trigger 2
Control: Sync Stimulus, Data Enable, Data Disable, Data Burst, Trigger FLA, Bath, Repeat, Stop
Stimulation Control Automatic stimulation control – frequency (Hz. or BPM), pulse width, pulse duration
Sequencer Allows protocols to be run in a pre-determined manner with control of time between each protocol
Scope Data Display Real-time data output of chosen channels. Displays up to 4 hours of data – zoom function, time base control, pause function
Analysis Load last data or saved data
Display: Length, Force, Velocity, dF/dt, SL, Aux1, Aux2
Set Display Units: Length [um, mm, cm, Lo, Lf, volts], Force [mN, N, gm, kg, Fmax, Pa, kPa, volts], Time [ms, s] Plot Zoom Controls: enter start and end time or use cursor to click zoom
Data Filter: Savitsky-Golay smoothing filter, length (1-16)
Export Analysis Creates ASCII data files of the data presented on the Analysis window

1 = Auxiliary Channels: can be configured to suit, common usages are: Experimental monitors: Temperature, pH, Fluorescence: Numerator, Denominator


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