3T Pilot Tone

The Pilot Tone transmitter, pictured next to a 25¢ coin, can be used to track motion during MRI exams.

Track Motion in MRI

We are making available Pilot Tone devices, upon request.

The Pilot Tone transmitter is a compact stand-alone device that can be used to track motion during MRI exams. The transmitter emits signal at a single frequency outside the imaging bandwidth but inside the oversampled readout band. During readout, radiofrequency coils detect the Pilot Tone signal alongside regular MR signal. The subject’s motion modulates the received amplitude of the Pilot Tone signal, creating a real-time reference.

The 3T Pilot Tone signal has a frequency of 123.355 MHz, intentionally offset by 155 kHz from the 123.2 MHz Larmor frequency of Siemens 3T MRI scanners. The signal is generated by the fifth harmonic of a 24.671 MHz standard clock oscillator, filtered through a Chebyshev bandpass filter to suppress all undesired harmonics, and radiated by a small non-resonant loop antenna. Two pairs of crossed diodes protect the oscillator from the MR system’s high-powered transmit pulse. The signal’s amplitude can be adjusted with a built-in potentiometer.

The device, powered by an internal rechargeable battery, is housed in a 3D-printed case about the size of a deck of cards. The Pilot Tone transmitter can be easily attached to the outside of an MRI scanner (e.g. with adhesive tape) or placed anywhere in the scanner room. See related publications for more information about how we have used this technology to detect, track, and correct respiratory motion in MRI.

The device is about the size of a deck of cards and can be placed anywhere in the scanner room.

Related Publications

Contact and Requests

Pilot Tone transmitters are available upon written request, typically within 4-6 weeks. Although we do not provide signal-processing software for the Pilot Tone, we do offer recommendations based on our experience and the intended research application. Scientists requesting a Pilot Tone device can expect that our research team will share its expertise with them. Interested researchers should email inquiries to Jan Paška, PhD, at jan.paska@nyulangone.org and include the phrase “pilot tone” in the subject line.


The design of the 3T Pilot Tone was adapted by Jan Paška from a 1.5T Pilot Tone version created by Jan Bollenbeck (Siemens). The 3T Pilot Tone was tailored to printed circuit board (PCB) assembly by Jan Paška and Leanna Pancoast.


Philanthropic Support

We gratefully acknowledge generous support for radiology research at NYU Langone Health from:
• The Big George Foundation
• Bernard and Irene Schwartz

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