Precisely timed experimental manipulations of the brain and its sensory environment are often employed to reveal principles of brain function. While complex and reliable pulse trains for temporal stimulus control can be generated with commercial instruments, contemporary options remain expensive and proprietary. We have developed Pulse Pal, an open source device that allows users to create and trigger software-defined trains of voltage pulses with high temporal precision. Here we describe Pulse Pal’s circuitry and firmware, and characterize its precision and reliability. In addition, we supply online documentation with instructions for assembling, testing and installing Pulse Pal. While the device can be operated as a stand-alone instrument, we also provide application programming interfaces in several programming languages. As an inexpensive, flexible and open solution for temporal control, we anticipate that Pulse Pal will be used to address a wide range of instrumentation timing challenges in neuroscience research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalFrontiers in Neuroengineering
Issue numberDEC
StatePublished - Dec 11 2014


  • Arduino
  • Maple
  • Open source
  • Optogenetics
  • Pulse Pal
  • Pulse generator
  • Stimulator
  • Timing


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