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Thread: DirectIn Response boxes on Mac OS 10.5/10.6

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    4

    DirectIn Response boxes on Mac OS 10.5/10.6

    In 2008, we ordered DirectIN Precision Button-Boxes (High-Speed USB Response Boxes).
    Some of the response boxes are used with Windows (on a PC), some of them with Mac OS X (either with 10.5 or with Snow Leopard).
    We are very happy with the response boxes as long as they are operated under Windows (on a PC).
    With Mac OS X, however, we are faced with severe problems:
    Obviously, the boxes are not reliably detected as proper USB devices. Sometimes they work fine right from the moment they are plugged in, but sometimes, no response button signal can be detected at all. We never get an error message.

    Despite ample testing, we could not figure out the exact conditions leading to either success or failure:
    - The problem is not due to a broken USB port.
    - It is not a matter of plugging in the device before or after booting the system.
    - The problem appears with OS 10.5 and 10.6.
    - It is not a problem of computer type: The problem is observed with brand-new iMacs bot also with mac minis, MacBookPros etc.
    - It does not help to use an USB hub (with active power supply).
    - It is not a matter of whether there are other USB devices plugged in or not.
    - We also tried to boot an iMac (where the box was not working before) via firewire from a MacBookPro (where the box was working before). The response box was plugged into the iMac: As a result, the response box did not work - so, it seems to be rather a problem close to the hardware (USB ports) than to the operating system (?).

    It is also strange that the information listed in the system profiler is not indicative of proper functioning: The response boxes might appear there (as "DirectIN Responsebox" device) or not, this does not predict whether they function or not.

    As we need the boxes for our experimental work, we really appreciate any help. Thanks!
    Last edited by susa; 04-20-2010 at 04:05 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    294
    Thanks for the feedback. This is the first we've heard that there have been issues under OS X.

    Our lonely shop Mac is (sadly) still running OS 10.4. I'll see what we can do to solve this problem.

    As I recall, there were some changes made to Apple's USB stack between 10.2 and 10.3 which completely broke compatibility with our keyboards and button boxes. I suspect something similar has happened in this case as well.

    Just to confirm, the boxes work reliably under Mac OS builds previous to 10.5?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    4
    I don't know - sorry. We no longer use any versions other than 10.5 and 10.6.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2005
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    294
    Are you running Windows inside the 10.5 / 10.6 systems using Parallels or some other emulator? Or is this a purely Mac system?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    4
    We use Parallels on some of the Macs, but only occasionally.
    The problems described were all encountered when working on Mac OS (our experimental software is Mac-based).

    Just for trouble-shooting I tried to use the response box with Parallels. But it did not work either.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    3,318
    Just chiming in here.. do you happen to have any HP Printer drivers installed on these Macs? I ask because some other USB devices have lost their ability to be seen after OSX 10.4, in cases where certain HP printer drivers have been installed.

    e.g., http://discussions.apple.com/thread....readID=1250686

    In some initial googling, I've been able to find other USB devices that have suddenly stopped being recognized by the most recent versions of OSX. Perhaps as we continue to search we will turn up some common solutions. The link above is just a single example of a solution--I expect there are more and that most would not be immediately intuitive. Please let us know if you also are able to find any kind of solutions via other USB hardware problems on other forums.

    Also, if you haven't already, you could try updating or re-installing your computer's USB interface drivers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    4
    Thanks for your last comment.

    You recommended to re-install the USB interface drivers. However, I do not know how to do this on a Mac. I never intentionally installed any driver for using the DirectIN Responseboxes (?).

    However, I can provide some further information that might help in isolating the problem:

    - The DirectIN Responseboxes do not work reliably under Mac OS 10.4 either (the same problems appear as with 10.5 and Snow Leopard).

    - The boxes are not detected on a PC under Windows 2000.

    - Occasionally, the boxes are not detected on a PC under Windows XP. In this case, a diaolgue box appears telling you that the device is unknown to the system. However, the automatic search for a driver regularly fails.

    - We also have some old Empirisoft responseboxes. They appear in the System Profiler on a Mac as "Empirisoft BB-10". We never had the described problems with these old boxes!? Plug and play always works. (Unfortunately, the life cycle of these boxes does not seem to be long: several of them have broken down - suddenly. Therefore, we are really in need of the new boxes.)
    I assume that the two types of devices (DirectIN Responseboxes vs. Empirisoft BB-10) contain different microchips? Does this information help in constraining troubleshooting?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    4

    Mac OS 10.5 problems as well

    I just received my DirectIn Response boxes. When I plug them in, the Mac immediately asks about this new keyboard that it cannot identify (seems to be going through the system preferences "Keyboard & Mouse" item). When you continue on, it asks you to press the key immediately to the right of the left shift key (which you of course can't do). Two choices now:
    1) If you ignore what is happening, the response box does produce 1-9 as appropriate in all software - except where I need it most - using Psychophysics Toolbox's "KbName" command within Matlab.
    2) If you continue on with the "Keyboard & Mouse" item, then you can choose a Japanese, U.S., or European - none result in behavior different than #1 above.

    Any help?

  9. #9
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    Nov 2005
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    294
    What happens if you press the 'Z' key on your regular keyboard during the initialization process?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    4

    Z key

    If I press the 'z' key on the regular keyboard, it tells me to press that I have pressed the 'z' key on the regular keyboard and to please press the z key on the "external keyboard."

    Eric

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    4

    Clearer description of issue

    If I type KbName in Matlab, pressing the DirectIn Response box causes 1-9 to appear in the Matlab window, but has no effect on the KbName function in Psychophysics toolbox (pressing a key on the regular keyboard immediately causes KbName to return with the correct information). This of course makes DirectIn Response box useless for doing experiments with Psychophysics Toolbox!

    I suspect the problem occurs because the system software doesn't officially recognize the keyboard, so KbName can't use it. I have posted to the Psychophysics Toolbox forum as well to see if anyone has dealt with this.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    4

    DirectIN Response Box with Psychophysics Toolbox on a MAc

    Just a quick note that changing my code from KbCheck (which checks the primary keyboard) to KbCheck(-1) (which checks all keyboards) was the rather obvious answer to the problem.

    This isn't necessary on a Windows machine when using Psychophysics toolbox (according to my colleague down the hall). Probably necessary with Mac OS X because the system software does not recognize the DirectIN box as a keyboard - everything works fine though!

    Eric

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    294
    We've just released v2010 firmware for the DirectIN boxes and keyboards. It appears that this firmware is compatible with all modern operating systems (specifically XP, Windows 7, Mac OX 10.6, etc).

    This firmware includes a 'field update' utility, which allows us to email new firmware for the keyboards and boxes, if ever required. The update takes place over the existing USB interface, no screwdrivers required.

    Contact us for details.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    1

    How can I get that update?

    Hi,

    I just found that my MacBook Pro has the same problem: it cannot reliably recognize "DirectIn Button Box." Meanwhile a new MacBook Air appears to recognize the box reliably. As someone pointed out in the list, the problem of my MacBook Pro might be attributed to the printer driver, which I recently installed.

    Anyway, it is good news that the new firmware update is released. How can I get it? I cannot find it on the website yet.

    Thank you.
    Dojoon

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1

    Same problem here

    Hello,
    We're experiencing the same problems as described in this thread when using our button boxes on a Mac. How can we get this new firmware for our button boxes?
    It'll be great if you could send me this firmware update. Please contact me so that we can update our button boxes.
    Thanks,
    Markus

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    294
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyc View Post
    Hello,
    We're experiencing the same problems as described in this thread when using our button boxes on a Mac. How can we get this new firmware for our button boxes?
    It'll be great if you could send me this firmware update. Please contact me so that we can update our button boxes.
    Thanks,
    Markus
    Thanks - email has been sent. Let me know if you don't receive it.

    John

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