Bertec Force Plate Setup

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This page provides instructions on integrating a Bertec Force plate system in Motive.

When a motion capture system is used in conjunction with force plates, they work together as a powerful tool for various research applications including biomechanical analysis, clinical gait analysis, physiology research, sports performance research, and much more. An OptiTrack motion capture system can synchronize with force plates to obtain both kinematic and kinetic measurements. Note that force plate integration is supported only with a Prime camera system using the eSync synchronization hub. For Bertec force plate integration support, you must use Motive 1.10 or above. This page provides quick guidelines to setting up and configuring Bertec force plates — with digital outputs — along with the OptiTrack motion capture system.

For detailed information on specifications and configurations on the force plates, refer to the documentation provided by the force plate manufacturer.

  • Supported Amplifier Models: AM6800
  • For synchronization support, firmwares on Bertec amplifiers must be updated to its most recent version (above June 2016 release).

Hardware Setup

Component Wiring (Free-Run)

  • Refer to the respective Bertec system user documentation for detailed information on setting up the force plate system and connecting to the host PC.
  • Set up an OptiTrack system. Connect the camera system to the same host PC. For more information, refer to the Quick Start Guide: Getting Started page or the Hardware Setup pages.
  • Bertec AM 6800 amplifiers: Use the provided female 15-pin D-Sub connector to get the ZERO signal and the SYNC signal from the ANALOG OUTPUT port of the amplifier.
  • The ZERO cable from the amplifier needs to be connected to the output port of the eSync for synchronization with the camera system.
  • The SYNC cable from the amplifier needs to be interconnected between the force plate amplifiers for their internal sync.

  • Bertec force plate + Prime system setup diagram.
  • Zero cable from the amplifier
  • Software Setup

    OptiTrack Peripheral Module

    In order to integrate force plate systems with Motive, you will need to setup the drivers and plugins for the force plates. For Motive 1.10 and above, Motive installer is packaged with OptiTrack Peripheral Module (OPM) which installed during the Motive installation process. The OPM includes all necessary drivers and plugins for integrating external devices including force plates (AMTI and Bertec). During the Motive installation process (1.10 and above), a list of program features will be shown in the Custom Setup section. Here, change the setting for the OptiTrack Peripherals Module, as shown in the below image, so that the module is installed along with Motive Files.

    Note : Even if you are not using NI-DAQ, it is still necessary to install NI-DAQmx drivers that come up next in the installer.

    Installing OptiTrack Peripheral Module. DAQmxInstall.gif

    Bertec Customers

    In addition to the OptiTrack Peripheral Module, you also need to install the Digital Acquire™ from Bertec. Visit the below webpage to download the software, and follow the respective instructions to install. This software installs remaining resources for connecting the Bertec force plates.

    Note: You cannot run Digital Acquire and Motive together and have them connected to the plate(s) at the same time.

    Force Plate Setup in Motive

    1. Start Motive. If the hardware and software for the force plates are configured and recognized properly, Motive will display the detected force plates with number labels (1, 2, etc..). Motive will notify you of incorrect or nonexistent force plate calibration files. When the devices are properly recognized and instantiated in Motive, the following status messages will be shown under that Status Log.

    • Initial view in Motive after setting up force plates.
      Motive with force plates.
    • Status Log pane in Motive.

    2. Calibrate cameras. Calibrate the capture volume as normal to get the orientation of the cameras (see the Quick Start Guide or Calibration page for more information). The position of the force plate is about the center of the volume, and when you recalibrate or reset the ground plane, you will need to also realign the position of your force plates for best results.

    Motive after setting up force plates and calibration.
    Motive with force plates and camera calibration.

    3. Setup CS-400. On the CS-400 calibration square, pull the force plate alignment tabs out and put the force plate leveling jigs at the bottom. The leveling jigs align the calibration square to the surface of your force plate. The alignment tabs allow you to put the CS-400 flush against the sides of your force plate giving the most accurate alignment.

    CS-400 calibration square with force plate force plate parts.
    CS-400 calibration square with force plate force plate parts.

    4. Place CS-400 on force plate. Place the calibration wand on the force plate so that the wand vertex is located at the right-hand corner of the side where the cable input is located (shown in the image below). A correct placement of the calibration square is important because it determines the orientation of the force plate and its local coordinate axis within the global system. The coordinate systems for force plates are independent of the system used Motive. Bertec force plates use the right-hand system. The longer arm of CS-400 will define the Y axis, and the shorter arm will define the X axis of the force plate. Accordingly, Z axis is directed downwards for measuring the vertical force.

    Bertec force plate with CS-400 aligned properly.

    Calibrated force plate position and orientation. X and Y axis is shown.

    5. Set force plate position in Motive. After placing the calibration square on the force plate, select the CS-400 markers in Motive. Right click on the force plate you want to locate, and click Set Position. When there are multiple force plates in a volume, you may need to step on the force plate to find which platform the calibration square is on. In Motive, uncalibrated force plates will light up in green and a force vector will appear when you step on the plate. Repeat step 4 and 5 for other force plates as necessary.

    Referencing to the markers on the calibration square, Motive defines the location of the force plate axis within the global coordinate system. When setting the position, the previously defined force plate dimension values and mechanical-to-electrical center offset values will be applied and reflected in the Perspective View pane.

    Tip: To double check that the dimensions are modified properly, you can place extra retroreflective markers on each corner of the platform and monitor the coincidence of the markers position with the force plate assets from the perspective view.

    Setting the position of a force plate in Motive.
    Setting the position of a force plate in Motive. The number label on the force plate is inverted because the force plate position and orientation has not been calibrated yet.

    6. Zero force plates. After you have calibrated each of your force plates, remove the CS-400 from the volume. Right click one of your force plates in Motive and click Zero (all). This will tare the scale and set the current force on the plate data to 0. This will account for a small constant amount of measurement offset from the force plate. Remember that it zeros all of the force plates at once. So make sure there are no objects on the force plates.

    Note: Zeroed scales of Bertec force plates are saved within their software driver, and each time the driver restarts, these settings are refreshed. This means that the force plate zero setting will be refreshed each time you start Motive, or each time the device is disabled and enabled back again in Motive. Please be aware of this behavior and zero your plates when necessary. In Motive, there is a Zero On Enable property setting for Bertec force plates under the Devices pane, and enabling this setting will automatically zero your plate each time the device is enabled or when Motive restarts. The Zero On Enable setting is enabled by default.

    Set the force plate data to zero for more accurate data.
    Set the force plate data to zero for more accurate data.

    Synchronization Configuration

    When synchronizing through the eSync, use the following steps for configuring the sync settings in Motive. This will allow both systems to be triggered simultaneously with reference to the master synchronization device.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: For this synchronization setup to work properly, the Bertec amplifier firmware must be updated to its most recent version (above June 2016 release). Contact Bertec for instructions on updating the firmware.

    eSync synchronization settings.

    Prime Series Force Plate Sync Configuration

    1. Open the Cameras Pane and the Synchronization pane.
    2. In the Synchronization pane, select the Custom Synchronization mode from the dropdown menu.
    3. Set the Sync Input → Source to Internal Clock.
    4. Set the Sync Input → Clock Freq to 1000 Hz, and set the Sync Input → Input divider to 10.
    5. Set the Sync Output 1-4 → Type to Recording Gate triggered sync.
    6. Click Apply from the Synchronization pane.
    7. In the Cameras Pane, select the force plates group and double check that the Sync Source is set to Free Run for the force plates.

    Validating your Synchronization

    Before you start recording, you may want to validate that the camera and force plate data are in sync. There are some tests you can do to examine this.

    The first method is to record dropping a retroreflective ball/marker onto the platform few times. The bouncing ball produces a sharp transition when it hits the surface of the platform, and it makes the data more obvious for validating the synchronization. Alternately, you can attach a marker on a tip of the foot and step on and off the force plate. Make sure that your toe — closest to the marker — strikes the platform first, otherwise the data will seem off even when it is not. You can then compare when the motion capture data says the ball or foot made contact with the force plate to when the force plate says it made contact.

    The following is an example of validating both good and bad synchronizations using these methods:

    • Graphs of good data.
      Example of good sync using tests described
    • Graphs of bad data.
      Example of bad sync using tests described

    Ethernet System Force Plate without eSync Configuration

    First of all, it is important to note that without a master synchronization device, recording for the camera system and the force plates will not be triggered precisely at the same time. Also, for longer takes the sampling timing of mocap data and the force plate data will eventually deviate from each other. If you want your system to be timed perfectly, we recommend synchronizing through the eSync 2.

    If you are using an Ethernet system without an eSync, ignore the synchronization configuration options. From the Cameras Pane, make sure that that the force plate sampling rate is a multiple of the tracking frames per second (e.g. 100 Hz and 1000 Hz). Motive will alert you if the sampling rates of cameras and force plates disagree. When the force plate sampling rate is not set to an integer multiple of the camera frame rate, force plate data may record improperly and cause an error.

    Also note that this mode will introduce a gradual drift between the two data sets, and the offset will be increasingly significant for longer recordings. To zero out the drift, the ReSynch feature can be used. Right-click on force plates from either the Devices pane or the perspective view, and select Resynch from the context menu to realign the sampling timing of both systems.

    Note: Bertec digital force plates can collect data up to a maximum of 1000 Hz sampling rate.

    • A sample free Run configuration with a camera system running at 200 Hz frame rate and the force plates sampling at 1000 Hz (X5).
    • Re-aligning initial sampling timing of the force plate.

    Force Plate Data in Motive

    To view and confirm the live force plate data, open the editor from the Timeline Pane. Then, open the Project Pane (or Cameras Pane) and select one of the force plates. A list of available channels will appear under each force plate instance. Here, you can confirm that your force plates are working properly. Select Fx, Fy, Fz, Mx, My, or Mz channels to view the live force plate data from the timeline. Multiple channels can be displayed at once. Both reconstructed markers and force plate channels can be selected to display two different plots on the timeline. In live sampling, the force plot will be sub-sampled when plotted along with trajectory data, but all of the recorded samples will be fully resolved in the playback mode.

    If you wish to double check the force plate position calibration, you may create a long trackable rigid body and use it to apply force against force plate. If the force plate location is precisely calibrated in Motive, the force vector will go right through the rigid body.

    • Graph of live force plate data.
      Graph of live force plate data.
    • A resultant force vector displayed in Motive.

    Data Playback

    When playing back a Take with force plate data, integrated devices will appear under the assets group in the Project pane. When a force plate is selected, available channels will be listed at the bottom of the pane. You can select data channels and respective signals will be graphed in the Timeline pane, as shown in the image below.

    Playback of recorded force plate data in Motive.

    Data Export

    Visual3D biomechanics analysis software provided by C-Motion
    The MotionMonitor biomechanics analysis software.

    We recommend the following programs for analyzing exported data in biomechanics applications:

    C3D Export

    From Motive, you can export the tracking and force plate data into C3D files. Exported C3D files can then be imported into a biomechanics analysis and visualization software for further processing. See the Data Export or Data Export: C3D page for more information about C3D export in Motive. Note that the coordinate system used in Motive (y-up right-handed) may be different from the convention used in the biomechanics analysis software.

    Since Motive uses a different coordinate system from the system used in common biomechanics applications, it is necessary to modify the coordinate axis to a compatible convention in the C3D export settings. When exporting to biomechanics analysis applications using z-up right-handed convention (e.g. Visual3D), the following changes on the axes should be made under the custom axis settings.

    • X axis in Motive should be configured to positive X
    • Y axis in Motive should be configured to negative Z
    • Z axis in Motive should be configured to positive Y.

    Note: For Motive 1.10, Y axis must be converted to positive Z instead, this issue has been fixed on Motive 1.10.1.

    C3D export setting for applications using z-up right-handed coordinate systems.

    Data Streaming

    To stream tracking data along with the force plate data, open the Data Streaming Pane and check the Broadcast Frame Data, and make sure that you are not streaming over the camera network. Read more about streaming from the Data Streaming workflow page.

    Motive can stream the tracking data and the force plate data into various applications — including Matlab — using NatNet Streaming protocol. Find more about NatNet streaming from the User's Guide included in the download.

    Visual3D Streaming

    For streaming into Visual3D, set the Visual3D Compatible setting to true from the Data Streaming pane. Real-time streaming into Visual3D uses Visual3DServer plugin provided by C-Motion. For more information on the Visual3DServer, refer to the C-Motion Documentation Wiki:

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