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tapping hardware & software: summary

Dear all,
first of all I wish to thank all those who replied to my message. I
received more or less 30 messages! This enthusiasm and will to share
knowledge make me "feel good"! Again thank you so much.
I tried to summarize the different solutions below grouped in different
"categories", in case this may help someone else in the future.

I still have to make a definite choice, but after discovering that onset
extraction of tapping on a mic is mostly automatic, 
I may choose this way (ie recording both playback and tapping on the same
file, left & right), although the NanoPad might be more fun for kids.

very best regards

"Psychological solutions": software for presenting stimuli and recording
using a mouse or keyboard.

- DMDX, free software for stimuli presentation:

- Psyscope X. It is freeware.
It's Mac-only, but has good timing accuracy and fairly easy to use.  

- Impromptu 1.21 (free MAC Scheme program 
language with easy access to sound, graphics and MIDI) and a Korg NanoPad 

"Classical solutions"

- MaxMSP patch 
http://www.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/~andrewr/software/BeatAnnotator.zip (Mac
Tap along on a mic or MIDI, analyzes and saves taps to txt file

- MatTap:Matlab toolbox 

Requires Matlab and a data acquisition card compatible with the Data
Matlab toolbox 

"Audio solutions": Using a microphone as the sensor, Playback of the
stimulus and recording 
Better to record both output (metronome or music) and input (mic) as L&R
channels in a stereo file.

- PD (http://puredata.info/). Free

- Daqarta for Windows (Shareware, 1 month) 

- Audacity, Free, can play and record, plus automatic extraction of taps
to txt file

Alternative to microphone: tap a button that makes or breaks a simple
electrical circuit. The resulting signal could then be
recorded through the sound-card as if it was a sound signal on the second
stereo channel.

"Hybrid solutions": audio software recording the mouse, keyboard or MIDI

- Transcribe (http://www.seventhstring.com/)
play a file and set markers by use of mouse/keys 
(Shareware, 1 month, multiplatform)

- Sonic Visualiser (free, multiplatform)
Can playback and record via keyboard or MIDI
Export taps as txt file.

"Getting rid of the computer solution"

- Arduino (http://www.arduino.cc/). 
It contains a number of A/D converters as well as TTL inputs/outputs as
well as a microcomputer. 
It can therefore be programmed to operate in real-time as a standalone, 
independent of any personal computer you need for the control and
programming interfacing.
It requires programming to perform a tapping experiment