Ganglion and Windows 7?

I see that the Ganglion requires Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy). My understanding is that BLE is not supported under Windows 7. Does that mean that the Ganglion cannot be used with Windows 7?

The "Important Notes" on the Ganglion purchasing page recommend the purchase of a Bluetooth 4.0 dongle such as the one linked to on Adafruit. It says that this is recommended for users of "Windows 7+".  It's not obvious to me whether that means "Windows 7 and later" or "versions of Windows later than version 7". The dongle linked on Adafruit can handle BLE "on operating systems that support it." Since most of the computers that I have access to are PCs running Windows 7, it would be a bit disappointing to me if I could not use them with a Ganglion.

I appreciate help from anyone who can weigh in on this question, including suggestions for workarounds if Windows 7 is off the table.



  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA
    Google says,

    So check the manufacturer site for your laptop / desktop machine.

    If all else fails, you could try running Ubuntu, perhaps in a dual boot configuration.

    Given the low prices of budget laptops these days ($200 range), that may be a wise move.


  • Thank you for the ideas, William.

    The issue isn't really Bluetooth itself - I've successfully connected to Bluetooth devices with my Windows 7 laptop, and in fact the Adafruit dongle supplies Bluetooth (2.1?) connectivity just fine under Windows 7. It's specifically Bluetooth 4.0 that I think is not supported by Windows 7. But it's actually not entirely clear to me whether or not I'm correctly understanding that Bluetooth 4.0 cannot be handled in any way under Windows 7 (no software or hardware workarounds). If I've read the Ganglion page correctly, the Ganglion can only use Bluetooth 4.0 and not legacy versions.

    This is not so much a problem for me at home, but I'd like to make use of many Ganglion boards at my educational institution where we are still standardized on Windows 7 on the campus PCs. Dual boot may be an option, though it might mean we would have to forgo interfacing with programs such as Matlab for which I believe we only have Windows licenses. Upgrading the specific computers I'll be using to Windows 10 ahead of campus is not really an option, and purchasing extra computers would significantly raise the price of using the wonderfully low-cost Ganglions. With boards at this price, we could very comfortably use them in many courses or for outreach without too much worry about one getting damaged.

  • gubbeengubbeen Calgary, AB
    edited January 2017
    If Ganglion is entirely dependent on Bluetooth LE/Smart, then I'm all but convinced that it's essentially incompatible with Windows 7.

    Some context: I'm not a programmer or member of the duino-gentsia. My first and last brush with linux was a homebrew firewall circa 1998. But I consider myself a reasonably thorough Googler of things chipset-y and driver-ish and have shepherded lots of Windows PCs, some with pretty arcane hardware.

    Here's an exchange between blog post author Bernie Thomson, founder of Plugable and former Development Manager for Microsoft's USB and BT stacks, and another Win7 BTLE hopeful like me and the OP:

    Does this device give me the possibility to use BLE with the Broadcom stack on windows 7??

    Hi Lukas – I’m sorry I replied incorrectly this morning. Broadcom’s stack doesn’t reliably provide LE support on Windows 7. An API is needed to make that useful, and that’s only present on Windows 8 and up. So I’m sorry, if you’re a Windows 7 user there aren’t any options that will do what you’re hoping.

    That sums up equally well my several hours of web searching and his decades of Windows peripheral and wireless engineering. I'd guess that Win7 was just too long in the tooth (ha) by the time 4.0 Low Energy really hit and MIcrosoft seems content to let many of us do without.

    Anyone undertaking this quest encounters glimmers of hope.One such mirage is BlueGiga BLED112 (provides proprietary BT stack, but that doesn't expose dongle as a BT-compliant device, just creates a target for its proprietary BGAPI and scripting language). There are discussions of Low Energy development and even use under Windows 7, but none where the device is made to function in a way that OpenBCI or any other application could connect to it.

    But those are just tantalizing search results that quickly reveal dead ends. The most actively misleading information I encountered, sadly, is the Adafruit landing page for the CSR8510-based dongle:

    We've used this with great success on a Windows 7 computer, installing as a 'generic' Bluetooth device, but we expect it to work just fine with any modern computer as this chipset is very common. 

    ...Drivers for CSR Bluetooth modules are built into Windows XP/7/8/10 so you do not need to install any software or download anything: other bluetooth drivers or 'stacks' such as BlueSoleil are not as good as the Windows stack and will cause problems. Just plug it in and let windows auto-install the BT driver, it may take a few minutes!

    If that sounds at all familiar, it's because that's the product endorsed by OpenBCI on the Ganglion sales page!! Contrast the Adafruit/CSR language with Plugable's Amazon ad copy for it's 4.0 dongle:

      • Adds Bluetooth support to Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, or Linux PCs that don't already have it. Adds Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy) support to Windows 8 and higher.
      • Uses the built-in Windows Bluetooth software in Windows 10. Includes Broadcom Bluetooth drivers for Windows 8.1, 8 and 7. 
      • Does not add Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth 4.0) capability to Windows 7 and earlier.

    Bernie should know--if BTLE was in XP Vista or 7, he'd remember putting it there.

    Still, obsessed with stirring my BTLE card to life, I turned to linux. Spent another couple of hours reading forum and change note tea leaves to guess how my laptop might respond to various distros. I'd already placed my bet (on Kubuntu) and created a bootable USB, when I realized that there's no Linux port of the OpenBCI software--so, what, now I have to perform an installation of my crippled OS inside an unfamiliar OS and try to trick it into working with imaginary hardware?!?


    It wasn't that I mistakenly thought my laptop was cooking with Low Energy when it wasn't. I wasn't sure, but didn't think it mattered for my application, which is sleep recording. (We're desperate to monitor our four year-old who has a very rare form of epilepsy (CSWS) that basically hijacks his entire brain--but no part of his body--and overwhelms nearly all of his non-REM sleep with seizures. If his meds are controlling it, we're golden. If they aren't, things could be quietly going south. We have semi-monthly EEG tests, but a 20min nap at 9am a lab is clinical-grade precise, but not a reliable sample. The CSWS signature is really obvious and global, so it's easy to capture and identify. What matters is sample coverage. OpenBCI is exactly, exactly, exactly what we need!)

    My mistake was assuming that, like all of my other storage card-equipped devices, the Ganglion would have it's own 'On' switch to start recording. I'd looked into the sd card file translation function and all looked well. But the documentation for the Ganglion is incomplete--it describes formatting an sd card, but nothing about how they are used. I didn't want to assume that the Ganglion would work like the dongle-driven RFduino models. It wasn't until I dug into the Cyton tutorial (sect IV.6) that I discovered that the sd card recording is initiated through the desktop GUI. Huh.

    Just now, three pages deeper in forum search results for "sd card" than I'd gone previously, I found this: data-streaming-to-sd-card-without-pc-and-dongle That's it!! Given the effort (I imagine) required to get radio functionality working, esp. with a custom dongle, I'm really surprised that this 'lights out' shortcut wasn't implemented first. I get the appeal of live display and that a lot of BCI is either biofeedback or control interface experimentation, neither of which are much fun to do asynchronously. But for those of us interested in data logging, esp. during sleep or 'activities of daily living', ditching the radio control would be fine, even preferable. I'd love to put that concept into code, but learning how to program firmware is just a bridge too far...

    Sorry if I sound like an entitled consumer rather than the incredibly grateful open-source patron/beneficiary that I am. To me, this project stands out as an example of how our world really is changing for the better. 

    I'm less sure about Windows 10 (ech) and touch screen laptops (double-ech) as signs of human progress--but if that's what it's going to take to get my kid wired up to OpenBCI, so be it.

    If nothing else, I do think the Ganglion page should have a brief clarification about the LE requirement viz. Windows versions. If someone would be interested in taking on the 'radio silent' firmware fork, I'd be interested in supporting the effort.

  • wjcroftwjcroft Mount Shasta, CA
    edited January 2017
    Dirk, hi.

    "when I realized that there's no Linux port of the OpenBCI software"

    But OpenBCI_GUI does run on Linux. It's written in Processing language, a variant of Java.


  • edited January 2017
    Ganglion+Windows 7 Solved!  Probably.

    I've gotten the Ganglion running with my Windows 7 laptop, and I had it running briefly with my Windows 7 PC - though that stopped, and I'm not sure why.

    1. OpenBCI shipped a Bluetooth dongle with my Ganglion, and that dongle included a mini CD inside the little printed cardboard piece that lists the dongle specs (I nearly threw this out without seeing the CD). Run this CD to install the "CSR Harmony Wireless Software Stack". It worked successfully for me without changing any of the default installation settings. If you want to check the installation, you should be able to go to your Control Panel, open Bluetooth Devices, and after getting it to list all devices, you should see your Ganglion pop up. Note that as soon as you complete step 2 you will no longer be able to locate your Ganglion through the Control Panel... but that's okay, apparently.

    Note that if you order the USB Bluetooth dongle from Adafruit, they do not ship it with this CD or any other software.

    2. In the Ganglion Getting Started Guide (under Learning/Tutorials on this site) it describes at the bottom of the page the zadig tool. Follow the instructions for using this to install new drivers (while you have your Bluetooth dongle plugged in).

    3. After this the OpenBCI GUI was able to spot my Ganglion as soon as I turned it on, and it streamed data as expected. But there's a caveat: For some reason the GUI seems to be able to spot the Ganglion board if the dongle is plugged into some USB ports but not others. On my laptop, it never detects the board if the dongle is plugged into the USB 3.0 "charging" port but works fine on the other ports. On my PC, it detected with the board when I plugged the dongle into a USB 2.0 port, but not others. But after I tried using other USB ports and returned to the one that had worked, it failed to detect the dongle even in that one, and I haven't been able to get it to work again even after some fussing. I should say that even though the OpenBCI GUI is not detecting the Ganglion device when the USB dongle is plugged into certain USB ports, my computer is registering the presence of a USB Bluetooth device no matter what port I use. So perhaps some ports are simply preventing the device from operating in Bluetooth 4.0 mode?

    So far the Ganglion has worked consistently with my laptop with no trouble pairing and with good reception. It actually works even if I use the Bluetooth dongle that I purchased from Adafruit instead of the one that OpenBCI shipped, but that only started working after I installed the software stack provided with the OpenBCI dongle.

    If I have any more success with my PC or sort out any other details, I'll post updates here.

  • gubbeengubbeen Calgary, AB
    Very happy to report that I've had to swallow my earlier bile. As with Patrick, I just plowed through the OpenBCI_GUI, CSR Harmony stack and (weird) zadig driver switcheroo. He's right that this process seems to disable/disappear the dongle for all other purposes, which is the opposite experience of a typical successful Windows driver installation crusade. But fear not--the proprietary stack sees all.

    I can't recall if I installed the Ganglion Hub as part of an earlier effort to get Processing + OpenBCI up and running, but I assume that piece is included with the standalone package. Either The Hub does execute with the both standalone and sketch GUI (a cute black cat appears in the notification area).

    Because, like Patrick, I have an early implementation of the '3.0+charging' usb port wizardry:
    a) I haven't dared to test his hypothesis because
    b) from my experience, he could well be right.

    Mine has bonked other peripherals in mysterious and only partly resolvable ways.

    I guess the moral of the story is that as long as you can implement an end-to-end BLE solution, Win7 isn't going to get in your way. Very thankful that the OpenBCI team has done just that.

  • biomurphbiomurph Brooklyn, NY
    Hey, this is great news! We have a couple of Win7 laptops here in the lab, and I will run through the steps that you are outlining here.

    I did a quick look-see, and found a page with the CSR Harmony Wireless Software Stack available for download. 

    Please let me know if you have any trouble using these downloadable drivers
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