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Black Squares Syndrome -

"When I turn my TrueTalk on the display turns on for an instant and then goes all black."

On rare occassions the TrueTalk may forget it's contrast setting, resulting in the "Black Squares Syndrome". The problem is easily corrected simply by reajusting the contrast level, although this must now be done "blind" as the display is not legible. Proceed as follows:

  1. Press and hold the power button for a couple of seconds to turn the TrueTalk on.
  2. Wait a few seconds for the unit to initialise.
  3. Briefly push and release the power (setup) button again, to enter setup mode.
  4. If the display is dark, repeatedly push the "-" (error) key until the display is readable again. You may have to press the "-" key 15 to 30 times to restore the display. If the display is too light, press the "+" key instead of the "-" key.
  5. Briefly push and release the power (setup exit) button once more, to exit setup mode and save the new contrast level.

In all cases of this "black squares" syndrome, the above sequence has corrected the problem. If you still cannot get it working please send an email to the support address shown above or contact us by phone on +61 3 8611 7903.







Revision 2





User's Manual




TrueTalk Revision 2 User’s Manual




EvereadyÒ and EnergizerÒ are registered trademarks of Eveready Battery Company, Inc.




The information contained in this document is subject to change without notice.


Synergistic Electronics Pty Ltd makes no warranty of any kind with regard to this material.


Synergistic Electronics Pty Ltd shall not be liable for errors or omissions contained herein or for incidental or consequential damages in connection with the furnishing, performance, or use of this material.


No part of this document may be photocopied, reproduced, or translated to another language or medium without the prior written consent of Synergistic Electronics Pty Ltd.



Edition 1, February 1997

Edition 2, January 1998

Edition 3, May 2003

Edition 4, April 2006           (for Revision 2 TrueTalk)

Edition 5, February 2008   (changed phone numbers)

Edition 6, June 2012           (battery replacement picture)


Copyright © Synergistic Electronics Pty. Ltd. 1997 - 2012



1.       Introduction

1.1.     Overview

1.2.     Capabilities

1.3.     Features

2.       Familiarisation

2.1.     Controls

2.1.1.  POWER      



2.1.4.  SYLLABLE (+)

2.1.5.  ERROR (-)

2.2.     Display

2.2.1.  Session timer

2.2.2.  Syllable count

2.2.3.  Error count

2.2.4.  Syllable rate

2.2.5.  Error rate

2.2.6.  Error percentage

3.       Session Mode

3.1.     What is Session Mode?

3.2.     Turning the TrueTalk on

3.3.     Entering correct syllables

3.4.     Entering incorrect syllables

3.5.     Timer backup

3.6.     Other session operations




4.       Setup Mode

4.1.     What is Setup Mode?

4.2.     Setup Page 1

4.2.1.  Time Limit

4.2.2.  Timer Direction

4.2.3.  Syllable Limit

4.3.     Setup Page 2

4.3.1.  Auto Timer Pause

4.3.2.  Auto pace Pause

4.4.     Setup Page 3

4.4.1.  Rate Alert

4.4.2.  Multi-Rate

4.5.     Setup Page 4

4.5.1.  Time-out light

4.6.     Setup page 5

4.6.1.  Restore Default Settings

5.       Welcome Screen

5.1.     Personalised Welcome Screen

6.       Battery Replacement

6.1.     Battery replacement

7.       Service Information

7.1.     Servicing information

7.2.     Service address

7.3.     Warranty

8.       Specifications

8.1.     Mechanical Specifications






Congratulations on your purchase of a TrueTalk speech rating instrument.  In order to make the most of your TrueTalk's potential and features, we urge you to read this User's Manual thoroughly, and keep it in a safe place for future reference.


The TrueTalk is designed to be used by speech pathologists to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of speech disorders.


It is particularly suited for use with the Lidcombe Method of stuttering treatment, developed by the Australian Stuttering Research Centre. The TrueTalk can aid in the measurement of various speech parameters including rate, syllables uttered, defective syllables uttered, and defect percentage.




Your TrueTalk measures the following quantities:


time                                        1.0 second             +/- 0.1 sec

syllable count                       1.0 syllable            absolute

error count                            1.0 syllable            absolute

syllable rate                          0.1 spm                  +/- 0.1 spm

error rate                                0.1 spm                  +/- 0.1 spm

error percentage                   0.1 %                      +/- 0.1 %



Your TrueTalk has many features designed to make the process of rating a range of behaviors as simple as possible.


      LARGE DISPLAY provides all results at all times during a rating session


      SETUP MODE allows the user to quickly and easily adjust rating parameters, even during a session


      MULTI-RATE MODE allows multiple clients to be rated in a single session.


      STORED CONFIGURATION data allows instant use with preferred rating parameters


      HIGH PROFILE syllable entry keys




      SLEEP MODE conserves battery power if the unit is  accidentally left turned on.


      TIMEOUT INDICATOR provides a visual cue to clients to slow down or pause their speech.


      PERSONALISED WELCOME DISPLAY to deter long-term ‘borrowing’.






00:00 $ 0.0%  s/m   0.0

s#   0 $#   0  $/m   0.0


The TrueTalk is controlled by three small buttons and two larger key-switches all on the front of the instrument. Most of these keys perform different functions depending on whether the unit is in session mode or setup mode.  For a quick description of these modes refer to sections 3.1 & 4.1.


2.1.1 POWER


Pushing this key for 1 second turns the TrueTalk on and off.


To prevent accidental operation, pushing this key for less than 1 second has no effect.




Session mode:      When pushed for less than 1 second, this key is used to cycle through multiple clients. When pushed, the selected client number and total number of clients is shown in the top left of the display.


                                When pushed for 1 to 2 seconds, the current client data is cleared.


When pushed for more than 2 seconds, data for all clients is cleared.


Setup mode:          Advances to the next page of setup information.




Session mode:      When pushed for less than 1 second, this button manually starts and stops the session timer.


NOTE: The session timer is normally controlled automatically by either the auto timer pause or auto pace pause functions, described in detail in sections 4.3.1  and 4.3.2


Pushing this button for more than 1 second enters or exits setup mode. Setup mode is described in detail in section 4.


Setup mode:          Advances to the next setup field on the current screen (page).


2.1.4 SYLLABLE (+)


Session mode:      Records a correctly uttered syllable, and starts the session timer, if it is paused.


Additionally, the auto time pause and auto pace pause functions are overridden while this key is held down. This timer-override feature is described in section 3.6


Setup mode:          Increases or toggles the selected value.


2.1.5 ERROR (-)


Session mode:      Records an incorrectly uttered syllable, and starts the session timer, if it is paused.


Additionally, as with the SYLLABLE key, the auto time pause and auto pace pause functions are overridden while this key is held down. This timer-override feature is described in section 3.6


Setup mode:          Decreases or toggles the selected value.





00:00 $ 0.0%  s/m   0.0

s#   0 $#   0  $/m   0.0


During a rating session, 6 fields are presented on the display.  Referring to the diagram above, these are:


2.2.1 SESSION TIMER                      00:00


This indicates how long the rating session has been active.  Note that it represents the time during which the client has been speaking, rather than how long the session has been in progress.  See section 3.5 for more details.


2.2.2 SYLLABLE COUNT s#0000


This is the total number of syllables uttered during the current session.  This field is increased by 1 whenever the SYLLABLE or ERROR keys are pushed.


2.2.3 ERROR COUNT                        $#0000


This is the total number of erroneous syllables uttered during the current session.  This field is increased by 1 whenever the ERROR key is pushed.


2.2.4 SYLLABLE RATE                    s/m 000.0


This is the client’s overall speech rate, measured in syllables per minute.  It is continuously updated during a rating session.


2.2.5 ERROR RATE                           $/m 000.0


This is the client’s speech error rate, measured in erroneous syllables per minute.  It is continuously updated during a rating session.


2.2.6 ERROR PERCENTAGE   $00.0%


This is the percentage of erroneous syllables in the client’s speech.  It is continuously updated during a rating session.






Your TrueTalk has two basic modes of operation, Session Mode and Setup Mode. Session mode is where all the work is done.  This is where syllable data is entered, and speech rating calculations are performed.  The TrueTalk defaults to this mode when it is first turned on.




Turn the TrueTalk on by holding down the POWER button for one second.  After a couple of seconds during which version and serial number information is shown, the session screen should appear.  The session screen presents all the session information relating to the currently selected client:


session timer  error percentage   speech rate

         ¯            ¯                ¯     

    00:00 $ 0.0%  s/m   0.0

    s#   0 $#   0  $/m   0.0

         ­            ­                ­

syllable count    error count      error rate




The two larger buttons on the TrueTalk are the syllable input keys.  As a client speaks, correct syllables are entered with the SYLLABLE key, and incorrect syllables (e.g. stutters) are entered with the ERROR key.

Push the SYLLABLE key once, and watch the display.


You will see the s# (number of syllables) field advance from 0 to 1, and the timer begin counting upward.  Unless the setup has been changed, when the counter reaches about 5 seconds it will halt.  You should also notice the s/m (syllables per minute) field changing as the timer counts upward.


     00:05▲ $00.0%  s/m  12.0

     s#   1 $#   0  $/m   0.0




Take note of the current display, and then push the ERROR key once.


This time you will see the $# (number of errors) field advance from 0 to 1, and the s# advance from 1 to 2. The s# field is increased because this field represents the total number of syllables, and an error is still regarded as a syllable. The $% (error percentage) should show 50%, indicating that half the syllables so far have been errors.


     00:07▲ $50.0%  s/m  15.3

     S#   2 $#   1  $/m   7.6




If you were watching the timer, you may have noticed that it counted up for about another 5 seconds, and when it stopped it backed up a few seconds.  Whenever the timer pauses, it backs up to the time when the last syllable was entered, plus an amount equal to the average period between syllables.  This tends to filter out any long breaks in the client's speech. The TrueTalk does this in order to base its calculations on a theoretically continuous speech sample.  When the timer pauses, and it is backed up in this manner, the s/m and $/m values are also updated, to reflect this more accurate timebase.




Pressing the PAUSE button will pause the timer if it is running, or restart it if it is has stopped.  Pushing either the SYLLABLE or ERROR keys will also restart the timer. Holding either the SYLLABLE or ERROR keys depressed will over-ride the auto-pause functions, and prevent the timer from pausing.


Pushing the CLIENT button will briefly display the current client number at the upper left of the display. Pushing this button again while the client number is shown will advance to the next client. See section 4.4.2 (multi-rate) for more information.


Holding down the CLEAR button for one second will clear the session data for the current client. Holding it for two seconds will clear the session data for all clients.


Holding down the POWER button for one second will turn the TrueTalk off.





Setup mode allows various session parameters, such as timer direction, session limits and auto-pause functions to be altered to best suit the individual client(s) or situation.


To toggle in or out of SETUP MODE, press and hold the SETUP button for one second.


Parameters that can be adjusted within SETUP MODE are:


1.       timer  direction

2.       session time limit

3.       session syllable limit

4.       auto timer-pause value

5.       auto pacer-pause value

6.       rate-alert (speech rate limit)

7.       multi-rate (number of clients)

8.       timeout light operation

9.       restore default settings


These parameters are accessed from 5 different setup screens, or ‘pages’. To cycle through the pages, press the PAGE button. To cycle through different setup fields on a page, press the FIELD button. To modify a setup value, press the + or keys.


The setup pages and parameters are explained in the following sections.



     Time-limit   Syl-Limit

     10:00 on     1000 on




This setup function can be used to set a time limit on the rating session.  Turning this function on causes the TrueTalk to halt the session after the specified time. 




This setup function specifies whether the timer is to count upwards, showing elapsed time, or downwards, showing remaining time.  The count direction is indicated by the arrow immediately to the right of the time field.




This setup function can be used to set a limit on the number of syllables in a rating session.  Activating this function causes the TrueTalk to halt the session after the specified number of syllables.



If both this function and the t-lim function are enabled, the first limit reached will halt the session.



     Timer-Pause    Pace-Pause

     sec:5.0 on     syls: 5 off




This setup function controls one of the three ways in which the session timer can be paused (auto-time, auto-pace, or manual).  Turning this function on causes the timer to pause a set number of seconds after the last syllable was entered.


NOTE: When the timer pauses it will normally back up a bit, as explained in section 3.5.




During the course of a session, your TrueTalk continually calculates the average syllable rate.  This result is shown on the session screen as s/m.  In addition to this, your TrueTalk determines the average time period between syllables.  AUTO PACE PAUSE, when enabled, pauses the timer when no syllables are entered for a specified multiple of this period.


For example, if this function were enabled with a value of 5, and after some time into a session the client's speech rate was 120spm, the timer would pause if no syllables were entered for 2.5 seconds. This would be derived from the setup value of 5 multiplied by the average period between syllables of 0.5 seconds.


This means that a slow speaking client is given more time to continue with the next syllable than a faster speaking client, as opposed to the auto-timer pause function which could pause the timer thinking that the client had stopped speaking when in actual fact they were merely between sentences.




     Rate-Alert   Multi-Rate

     s/m:400 off  clients:3




If this function is turned on, whenever the current clients speech rate exceeds the Rate Alert value, the timeout-light is activated. If the timeout beep feature is turned on (see setup page 4), a speech rate warning beep will also sound.




The TrueTalk is able to rate multiple clients in one session. This setup parameter determines the number of clients in a session. If you do not wish to use the multi-rate feature you may set this to 1.


During a rating session, whenever the CLIENT button is pushed, the session timer briefly changes to show the current client number and the number of clients. For example 1/3 indicates the session screen is displaying data for client 1 of 3. Subsequent pushes of the CLIENT button while the client number is being displayed will cycle through the different clients.




     Timeout Light

     secs: 5  #$: 4  beep:on




The time-out light is an optional light which connects to the TrueTalk via a socket on the right side of the case. The time-out light is a visual cue for the client to slow down (refer to section 4.4.1 – Rate Alert) or stop speaking (have some “time-out”).


The setup screen above shows the time-out light set to activate for 5 seconds, whenever 4 incorrect syllables have been uttered. Additionally, the TrueTalk will emit a ‘beep’ sound when the time-out period is over.




     Restore Default Settings

     Press + and – to restore




Press the + and keys simultaneously to restore all setup parameters to their default settings.





The ‘Welcome Screen’ which is displayed each time the TrueTalk is turned on can be customised to display a user defined message. The space available for test on the welcome screen is 2 lines of 24 characters each.


Typically this would be used to display owner information, to deter long term ‘borrowing’ of the device. For example:



      Property of Sydney Uni

        Phone 02 1234 5678


This optional feature must be requested and specified at the time of order. There is provision on the TrueTalk order form for this.


Please contact the manufacturer if you require further details on this feature.






Your TrueTalk requires one “AAA” size 1.5 volt battery for power.  It is recommended that only alkaline cells such as Eveready “Energizer” be used, as these have both a higher capacity and a longer shelf life than carbon-zinc batteries.


6.1.1       Separate the front and rear halves of the case. The front of the case forms a “U” shape which must be prized apart slightly to release the rear “C” shape section. Partially release one end at a time as shown in the picture and then slide the rear section off evenly so as not to over-stress either end.



6.1.2       Remove the spent battery from the holder clips, and replace with a fresh battery, taking particular care of battery polarity.


6.1.3       It is extremely important to observe the correct battery polarity. Installing the battery the wrong way around will cause instant and irreversible damage to the circuitry, even if the TrueTalk is not turned on.


6.1.4       Check that the TrueTalk operates correctly with the new battery, before re-joining the case halves.








Your TrueTalk contains a microcomputer, and owing to the complex nature of such devices, repair by unqualified personnel is unwise.


If, during the life of this instrument, it fails to operate correctly, and proper performance cannot be restored by any means described in this owner’s manual, it should be returned to the manufacturer for repair.



Before returning your TrueTalk for repair, please contact us by phone, fax, post or email with a description of the problem or fault, as return may not be necessary.




All service correspondence should be addressed to:


Synergistic Electronics Pty. Ltd.

P.O. Box 1066

Launceston TAS 7250 AUSTRALIA


Phone    +61 3 8611 7903

Fax        +61 3 8611 7903

Email     info@synelec.com.au

Web        www.synelec.com.au  - or -  www.truetalk.com.au




Synergistic Electronics Pty Ltd warrants that this product will be free from defects in material and workmanship under normal use and provided that the customer exercises reasonable care in operating the product in accordance with this user’s manual for a period of 12 months from the date of original purchase.


Pursuant to this warranty, Synergistic Electronics Pty Ltd will repair or replace the defective product except where such defect is the result of alterations or modifications to the product not authorised by Synergistic Electronics Pty Ltd, abuse, accident, misuse, the fault or negligence of the customer or servicing by persons not authorised by Synergistic Electronics Pty Ltd.







SIZE ..................................................... 130 x 67 x 23mm


WEIGHT ............................................... 200g


OPERATING TEMPERATURE ........... -10 to +50°C


POWER REQUIREMENTS ................... 1.5V (1 x AAA)


BATTERY LIFE EXPECTANCY ............ 120 hours*


* continuous usage with high capacity alkaline cell; typical

   battery life with normal usage is greater than 1 year.