Frequently Asked Questions

The Cephasonics Ultrasound API™ (Application Programming Interface) software is a C++ library used to access, configure, and manipulate any cQuest Ultrasound™ platform, including the cQuest Cicada™ system.

The API provides users with three distinct programming interfaces, each providing a different level of abstraction to the underlying platform. These interfaces are:

  • Quick Start 
  • Basic
  • Advanced

The Quick Start Interface offers an XML interface (a scripted static control). It provides the easiest point of entry into the API, allowing users to get an ultrasound scan up and running with less than 100 lines of C++ code.  With very little knowledge of the core programming API set needed, the XML interface allows users to specify the details of the scan through a robust XML-based scan specification.  This allows scientists and ultrasound engineers a quick jumpstart at understanding scan parameters and their effects on the ultrasound image. Several example setups are included with the API.

The Basic interface introduces the next level of engagement with the API, where more parameters are available for manipulation and dynamic parameter changes are possible.  This allows interactive changes to take place, allowing users to define user interface controls that change parameters settings dynamically. In both the Basic and Advanced Interfaces, users have C-programmed/dynamic control down to events.

The Advanced Interface allows maximum customization and enables users to manipulate parameters at the core of the ultrasound scan, allowing full control of channels, piezos, delays and weights of ultrasound beam forming.  

Note: MATLABR interface is available for research purposes.

The cQuest Cicada™ solution is a complete production-ready system that is available both as a dev kit and as a system in production quantities.

It is initially used by customers as a development platform for software development, integration and testing. The same exact hardware and API software are used by customers in production.

Probe tuning describes the process of optimizing the image or data  output quality for any given probe connected to the  Cephasonics system. This process is often called "Probe integration" as well. There are many  parameters (such as Tx Frequency, TGC, TFC, Tx voltage, etc.) that can be adjusted and saved as presets. Probe tuning requires great skill, combining ultrasound physics and understing probe characteristics as well as the imager's capabilities, and, most importantly, the many dependencies between the various parameters involved. Clinical sonographical experience is needed as well for tuning in-vivo as opposed to using phantoms. Traditional ultrasound companies use a team made up of a sonographer and engineer for this task, and budget up to four man months per probe. Our customers are responsible for this integration, but the Cephasonics Professional Services Group (CPSG) is available on a consultation basis to work with our clients.

Note: this process is different from (although can be related to) applying and tuning various image enhancing engines such as those for speckle reduction.

The cQuest Cicada™ system can support virtually any probe where each element can be defined in 3D space.

Out-of-the-box support is available for Linear, Convex, and Phase Array probes.

Custom probes can be defined by the user by manually defining the location of each element.

The system supports probes with up to 192 elements using a 3:1 muxing scheme to map these to the physical 64 channels.

Cephasonics has partnered with several probe vendors worldwide and can source probes that are desgined to interface to our systems. We can provide a wide variety of probes both in terms of probe types (linear, convex, phased array, endo-cavity, 2D or 3D), probe characteristics and specifications, and price. Contact us for more details.

There are two ways to interface probes to the system:

1. We provide a detailed appnote describing the interface pinout and connector PNs and you can have your probe assembly modified to this spec.

2. You provide us with the specs of your probe, and our Professional Services Group will customize the probe interface on the system and perform integration testing with your probe.

This customiztion can be done for prototyping or for the proof-of-concept stage as a "wired up" solution, or, for higher, long-term solutions, custom PCBs can be designed.


In either case, we will work closely with you to make sure the design is done correctly and will conduct mutual design reviews as needed.

The system has a hardware mid-processor that supports most common imaging and Doppler modes including:

  • B-Mode (2D/3D)
  • M-Mode
  • Harmonic Imaging
  • Color Flow Mapping (CFM)
  • Power Doppler Imaging (PDI)
  • Pulsed-Wave Doppler (PWD)
  • Duplex and Triplex modes

These functions can be optionally bypassed, in which case various formats of "raw" data can be acquired from the system.

Currently the cQuest Ultrasound API™ software supports Linux (Ubuntu 32/64 bit) and Mac OS X.

Ask us about support for other operating systems.

The FrameViewer™ application is a complete program example provided with the system.  It uses a simple XML file with probe and scan definitions to program the system and display a rich dynamic GUI for controls along with the scan converted into a real-time image display. This application is provided as an executable and full source code. Users may use it as a basis for their own application, or review it as a reference.

Besides the probe interface and the interface to the back-end host (via USB2.0 or PCIe), the cQuest Cicada™ system has a User Port for triggering other external devices. Customers' external devices can also trigger the cQuest Cicada system. Examples of such external devices can be various external transmit devices including lasers, DC motors used in probes or larger end-products, or various multiplexors.

These triggers are pulse signals that are triggered by or can trigger the system scheduler. These ports are intended for applications where the external device needs to be synchronized with the system at a precise event or time within the resolution of the scheduler. A trigger signal out can be flexibly scheduled in the system scheduler. Similarly, the system can wait for a trigger input from an external device in which case the system may stall until it receives this signal. Most applications require a trigger pulse at the beginning of a beam, firing or frame. More advanced applications may require an absolute time-based trigger in which case the user must have deep understanding of the timing wheel and be able to select an appropriate time slot to insert the trigger event.

A User Data Port can be customized to provide an SPI or I2C interface for data transfer to/from an external device as well.

The cQuest Cicada™ system can be ordered in two different hardware transmit configuration: a 3-level and 5-level transmit system.

The system can nominally support up to 140Vpp voltage levels, although with some configurations, systems with up to 200Vpp are possible.

Yes. The cQuest Cicada™ solution can be expanded to 128- and 256-channel configurations.

The cQuest Cicada™ system supports a by-4 PCIe ver1.1 interface to a back-end host.

The baseline system comes with a USB interface. An upgrade to PCIe is available. The upgrade includes a PCIe cable, PCIe adaptor board that plugs into the PCIe slot in your back-end PC, and the necessary software drivers.

No. It is the responsibility of our customers who build and sell the clinical end-product to receive FDA approvals. We work with customers closely and will support them as needed for such approvals.

Yes. We have a university program and our systems are being used in universities worldwide.
Please inquire about this program to see how you can benefit from it.

Your first system will be used initially for your software development and system integration. It will include the following:

  1. The cQuest Cicada™ hardware (the "blue box")
  2. Class II medical AC/DC 60W/15V power supply with localized plug
  3. USB cable
  4. Software release with full documentation and example application source code made on a secure FTP site
  5. Training on using the system and API, including a hand-on session (2 days at our site, or at your site for extra cost)
  6. 90 days of phone / email / Skype support included. Onsite support available.


The system hardware includes all the ultrasound-specific front­‐end transmit and receive analog, digital, and power circuitry, including Cephasonics' award­‐winning AutoFocus beamforming technology. The entire system is housed in a metal chassis.