NI-DAQ Setup

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For Motive 1.10 and above, National Instruments data acquisition (NI-DAQ) devices can be integrated into OptiTrack motion capture systems. Through NI-DAQ devices, various analog signals (e.g. force and EMG signals) can be converted into digital signals at user-defined sampling frequency, and they can be precisely synchronized with tracking data in Motive. This page provides instructions on connecting NI-DAQ devices and acquiring analog signals with OptiTrack motion capture systems using Motive. Please refer to the list of recommended NI-DAQ models included at the end of the page regarding supported models. For instructions on configuring the NI-DAQ devices, please refer to the respective product User Guide or the NI's getting started guide.

Hardware Setup

Motive supports PCI and USB data acquisition devices from National Instruments. A list of supported models can be found in the supported devices section at the bottom of the page. For device specific connections, refer to respective NI User's Guide. For general instructions on setting up the mocap system, refer to the Hardware Setup pages.

Required System Components

  • An OptiTrack Motion Capture System: Ethernet-camera based
  • Motive 1.10 and above
  • The eSync synchronization hub
  • NI-DAQ device(s)- Devices with up to 16 analog channels are supported. See more at supported devices
  • Peripheral analog devices

Wiring Configuration

The following diagrams show general wiring setups for connecting and synchronizing NI-DAQ devices (screw and BNC terminals) with an OptiTrack Motion Capture system. For precise synchronization, the eSync synchronization hub must be used.

  • Wiring the eSync and the NI-DAQ device: Connect one of the output ports of the eSync into an external sample clock supported digital input terminal of the NI-DAQ device. For screw input terminal, ground signal must be separated from the BNC output of the eSync and relayed into a digital ground terminal.
  • Wiring analog devices with the NI-DAQ device: Connect the output port of the analog device(s) into one of the analog input channels of the NI-DAQ device. For screw terminals, corresponding ground signal needs to be connected into an analog ground channel. For BNC terminals, you don't need wire the ground signal, but the input ports should be configured to GS (ground source) setting since typical analog device delivers ground referenced signal. For more information on connecting peripheral devices into a NI-DAQ device, visit NI support.

  • Screw Terminal Device Cabling
    Wiring diagram for screw terminal NI-DAQ devices. The analog input channels in this configuration should use RSE terminal type.
  • BNC Terminal Cabling
    Wiring diagram for BNC terminal NI-DAQ devices. The analog input channels in this configuration should use Diff terminal type.

Software Setup

In order for Motive to communicate with NI-DAQ devices, the OptiTrack Peripheral Modules must be installed along with Motive and NI-DAQ device drivers. Follow the below steps to implement NI-DAQ devices within Motive.

Installation Steps

1. Install the OptiTrack Peripherals Module (OPM). The OptiTrack Peripherals Module (OPM) installs all the necessary Motive device plugins. During 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 plugins are installed along with Motive.

ND OPMinstall.png

2. Install the NI-DAQ device drivers. After agreeing to install the OPM, the installer will ask to install NI-DAQmx 15.1.1 driver. You will need to install this driver in order for MS Windows to recognize the connected NI-DAQ devices. Press Yes, and the NI-DAQmx installation will be initiated. Follow the corresponding installation process to setup the driver.


Installation Note: To ensure the best compatibility with Motive, it is strongly recommended to install the included NI-DAQmx 15.1.1 runtime driver. If you are already using a different version of the NI-DAQmx runtime and Motive is having problems recognizing the connected device, try installing the packaged version of the driver before contacting the Support. In Motive, you can investigate device connection status via the Status Log panel.

Connected NI-DAQ device detected and listed under Devices Pane in Motive.

3. Check device connection. Ensure the NI-DAQ device is powered and detected by MS Windows.

4. Launch Motive. In the Devices Pane, all attached NI-DAQ devices should be displayed within the Devices group, and available analog input channels will be listed.

5. Verify device operation. Once the NI-DAQ device is recognized properly, you should be able to see the live sampled signal in the 'Scope' view from the Timeline Pane when the inputted channel is selected.

a. Camera Panel: Select a NI-DAQ channel with an active signal.

b. Camera Panel: Toggle the NI-DAQ device to begin sampling.

c. Camera Panel: Select the active channel.

d. Timeline Panel: Show the 'Scope' View.

Live recorded signal from the NI-DAQ channel displayed on the Timeline pane in Motive.

NI-DAQ Device Property Reference

  • NI-DAQ device properties displayed in the Devices Pane.
  • NI-DAQ device channel properties displayed in the Devices Pane.

Now that the device is recognized by Motive, you can select and configure the device and its channels from the Devices pane in Motive. For better identification of the channels, their labels in the Devices panel can be renamed to a more applicable names; such as the type of connected signal or device.

NI-DAQ Device properties

Acquisition Rate: In the Devices panel, acquisition rate for the NI-DAQ device can be assigned next to the device name. This determines NI-DAQ sample acquisition rate when not referencing to an external clock signal. This must be set to a whole multiple/divisor of the camera framerate, and the corresponding factor ratio is displayed next to the acquisition rate. This is disabled when using an external clock.

Record Trigger: This setting determines how the recording of the selected NI-DAQ device will be triggered. Setting it to True will use hardware data packets to trigger the record start frame. Setting it to False will trigger the recording when Motive start capturing data.

Use External Clock: Sets whether an external clock signal is integrated.

  • True: NI-DAQ board is connected to an external clock on one of it's digial I/O terminals, and will use this signal to control sampling. Acquisition rate is disabled since the rate is now controlled by the external clock.
  • False: NI-DAQ board will collect samples in 'Free Run' mode at the specified Acquisition Rate.

External Clock Channel: Name of the NI-DAQ digital I/O terminal that is connected to the external clock (TTL) signal.

NI-DAQ Device Channel Properties

Refer to your NI-DAQ boards User's Guide for detailed information about supported signal types and voltage ranges.

Min Voltage: Configure the terminal's minimum voltage range (default is -10 volts)

Max Voltage: Configure the terminal's maximum voltage range (default is +10 volts)

Terminal Type: Channel physical signal type. In general, analog input channels with screw terminals use the single-ended measurement system (RSE), and analog input channels with BNC terminals use the differential measurement system. For more information on these terminal types, refer to NI documentation.

  • Terminal: RSE Referenced single ended. Measurement with respect to ground (e.g. AI_GND) (Default)
  • Terminal: NRSE NonReferenced single ended. Measurement with respect to single analog input (e.g. AISENSE)
  • Terminal: Diff Differential. Measurement between two inputs (e.g. AI0+, AI0-)
  • Terminal: PseudoDiff Differential. Measurement between two inputs and impeded common ground.

Synchronization Configuration: eSync

NI-DAQ device synchronization configuration using the internal clock signal from one of the eSync output.

In order to precisely synchronize the motion capture system with NI-DAQ devices, the eSync must be used. The internal clock signal from the eSync will be outputted into the NI-DAQ devices and referenced as the 'external sample clock'. When synchronizing with the eSync as the master clock, the acquisition rate of the NI-DAQ device will match the output rate of the eSync Output clock. Setting the NI-DAQ rate directly will be disabled in Motive. To setup a NI-DAQ device to use an eSync output as the NI-DAQ 'external sample clock':

1. Hardware: Connect one of the eSync Output(N) ports to the NI-DAQ digital input terminal.

2. Motive: Open the Synchronization Pane and the Devices Pane.

3. Motive: Synchronization Pane: Select Custom Synchronization from the dropdown menu.

4. Motive: Synchronization Pane: Configure the Sync Source to Internal Clock.

5. Motive: Synchronization Pane For the eSync output ports connected to the NI-DAQ devices, set the Output(N) Type to Gated Internal Clock. Now the internal clock signal is configure to be delivered into the connected NI-DAQ channel.

6. Motive: Devices Pane: Within the NI-DAQ device property, set the 'Use External Clock' to True. The NI-DAQ sampling rate in the Device Panel should now display the eSync Internal Clock rate.

7. Motive: Devices Pane: Designate the NI-DAQ device property External Clock Channel to the NI-DAQ digital input terminal connected in Step 1.

8. Motive: Timeline Pane: Record. The recorded NI-DAQ device samples will be synchronized with the external clock signal.

Collecting Data

The following steps describe a general workflow of collecting signals from NI-DAQ channels in Motive.

1. Motive : Device Panel Configure NI-DAQ collection channels properties (terminal type, voltage range).

2. Motive : Device Panel Enable the channels to collect by checking the box next to each channel.

3. Motive : Device Panel Configure NI-DAQ device properties (Acquisition rate, external clock).

4. Motive : Device Panel Enable the NI-DAQ device by checking the box next to the device.

5. Motive : Timeline Tools : In the Live mode, scope the timeline to verify the recorded channel/terminal signals appear correctly.

6. Motive : Timeline Tools Start Recording.

Data Playback

Captured analog signals are recorded within the Take file and they can be played back in Motive. In the Edit Mode, the NI-DAQ device will be shown under the assets in the Project pane, and the corresponding channels will be listed at the bottom of the panel. When you select one of the channels, the recorded signals can be played back in the Timeline pane.

A recorded NI-DAQ device and its channels displayed under the Project pane.

Data Export

NI-DAQ data can be exported to C3D along with the Motion Capture data.

When exporting C3D files, it is important to understand the C3D format assumes all analog data (NI-DAQ, force plate, etc) is at the same RATE. If you are capturing analog data at different rates, Motive will automatically resample all analog data to the rate of the fastest device.

For more information refer to the C3D format.


1. NI-DAQ device does not show up in Motive - Confirm device is detected by your windows system and by the NI Device Monitor (task tray) that installs with your NI-DAQ software. - Re-install Motive, choosing 'Yes' to install the NI-DAQ runtime - Check the Motive Status Log panel during startup and confirm: 1a. The OptiTrack Peripherals Module (OPM) is loaded by checking the Motive Status Log panel during startup. 2b. The NI-DAQ device is detected and created

External Sample Clock

OptiTrack mocap systems use the eSync to provide highly accurate synchronizations. The eSync can be configured to output internal clock signals, which can be used as the master reference clock so other devices can synchronize to. In order to ensure best possible synchronization, it is highly recommended to use use a NI-DAQ device with support for "external sample clock". Using channels without the sample clock support may offset the synchronization by few frames.

External Sample Clock Supported NI-DAQ Models:

  • X Series: (e.g. PCIe 6320, USB 63XX Series)
  • Bus-Powered M Series: ( e.g. USB 6210)
  • M Series: (e.g. USB 6221, PCI 6220)
  • Non-USB B Series: (e.g. PCI-6010)

External Sample Clock NOT Supported NI-DAQ Models:

  • Low cost USB Series (e.g. USB-6002)

Supported National Instruments Devices

Below is the list of NI-DAQ models that are supported with Motive. NI-DAQ devices with up to 16 analog channels are supported. If you wish to use devices with higher channel counts, please contact us for more details. For best compatibility, use the recommended models or verified models since they are most tested and approved to work with Motive. Unverified models should work as well, but their integration is not yet verified.

NaturalPoint Recommended Devices

  • USB-63XX X-Series

Verified Devices

  • USB-6341, USB-6351, USB-6361
  • USB-6002

Unverified Devices

Device Type Model Number
(Low Cost) USB Basic Series NI 6000, NI 6001, NI 6002, NI 6003, NI 6008, NI 6009
E Series NI 6023E, NI 6024E*, NI 6025E, NI 6030E, NI 6031E, NI 6032E/33E/34E/35E, NI 6036E*, NI 6040E, NI 6052E, NI 6062E*, NI 6070E, NI 6071E, NI PCI-MIO-16E-1, NI PCI-MIO-16E-4, NI PCI-MIO-16XE-10, NI PCI-MIO-16XE-50
M Series NI 6210/11/12/15/16/18, NI 6220, NI 6221, NI 6224, NI 6225, NI 6229, NI 6230/32/33/36/38/39, NI 6250, NI 6251, NI 6254, NI 6255, NI 6259, NI 6280, NI 6281, NI 6284, NI 6289
X Series NI 6320, NI 6321, NI 6323, NI 6341, NI 6343, NI 6345, NI 6351, NI 6353, NI 6355, NI 6356, NI 6358, NI 6361, NI 6363, NI 6365NI 6366, NI 6368, NI 6375
S Series Simultaneous Sampling: NI 6110, NI 6111, NI 6115, NI 6120, NI 6122, NI 6123, NI 6124, NI 6132, NI 6133, NI 6143, NI 6154
SC Express Signal Conditioning: NI 4300, NI 4302, NI 4303, NI 4304, NI 4305, NI 4322, NI 4330, NI 4331, NI 4339, NI 4353, NI 4357
DSA Series Sound and Vibration: NI 4431, NI 4432, NI 4461, NI 4462, NI 4463, NI 4464, NI 4472/B, NI 4474, NI 4492, NI 4495, NI 4496, NI 4497, NI 4498, NI 4499, NI 4610
CompactDAQ Platform to be used with I/O Modules: Supported
C Series

Network DAQ


I/O Modules to be paired with Chassis: NI 92xx, NI 94xx
NI MyDAQ Educational: NI MyDAQ

Additional Notes

  • As of Motive 1.10, the NI-DAQ functionalities is not supported with the use of the Motive API.