Category: All

Lickometer – Feldman Lab

Brian Isett, a graduate researcher in the Feldman Lab at UC Berkeley writes, “Measuring licks using a lickometer can provide an intuitive and simple signal for scientists studying many aspects of rodent behavior.  Commercial lickometers are often bulky and expensive, easily costing a few hundred dollars. In the Feldman Lab, we designed a small and inexpensive lickometer with parts costing less than $20. The lickometer employs an infrared beam and sensor to minimize electrical noise artifacts during neurophysiology experiments and can be easily mounted in a micromanipulator for precise and repeatable positioning.
This open-source lickometer was designed in conjunction with an open-source water delivery system.  Together, these provide the basic hardware for a DIY behavioral assay and reward system for mice.”

Syringe Pump – Pearce Research Group

In their 2014 paper “Open-Source Syringe Pump Library,” Bas Wijnen, Emily Hunt, Gerald Anzalone, and Joshua Pearce detail an open-source syringe pump apparatus developed in their lab, as well as, validate the performance of the device. The authors write, “This syringe pump was designed using freely available open-source computer aided design (CAD) software and manufactured using an open-source RepRap 3-D printer and readily available parts. The design, bill of materials and assembly instructions are globally available to anyone wishing to use them on the Open-source syringe pump Approdepia page… The cost of the entire system, including the controller and web-based control interface, is on the order of 5% or less than one would expect to pay for a commercial syringe pump having similar performance. The design should suit the needs of a given research activity requiring a syringe pump including carefully controlled dosing of reagents, pharmaceuticals, and delivery of viscous 3-D printer media among other applications.”

Pearce Research group also provides an Open Source Lab page dedicated to low-cost, open-source lab hardware.

Wijnen, Bas; Hunt, Emily; Anzalone, Gerald; Pearce, Joshua (2014). Open-Source Syringe Pump Library. PLoS ONE, 9(9), e107216.

Visual Stimuli Presentation Device

This apparatus is designed to present complex visual stimuli in rodent behavioral experiments, such as visual discrimination tasks, or visually guided choice paradigms. This low-cost device utilizes an Arduino Uno microcontroller, and three (green) 8×8 LED matrices to present a montage of visual cues across a behavioral arena. Diffusion filters were used to decrease the luminance of the visual cues in order to render them more suitable for rodent visual discrimination. The present design incorporates three light displays to be mounted above three choice ports (nose pokes, levers, etc.); however as many as 8 light displays can be controlled by a single Arduino. This flexible device can be programmed to display a multitude of distinct static and dynamic visual cues, can easily be integrated into an existing behavioral chamber, and seamlessly interface with commercial systems such as MedPC. The wiring diagram and schematic below detail the configuration of this apparatus in a MedPC-based system; however, this device can be controlled by any comparable system, TTL signal, or other device in a behavioral chamber.

SchematicWiring Diagram

Adafruit provides extensive documentation on assembly and programming of these components on their website.

Please contact for Arduino source code and the 3D design files of the mounts used to install this device into a behavioral chamber.

Feeding Experimentation Device (FED)

WP_20160320_003Feeding Experimentation Device (FED) is a home cage-compatible feeding system that measures food intake with high accuracy and temporal resolution. FED offers a low-cost alternative (~$350) to commercial feeders, with the convenience of use in tradition colony rack caging.

In their 2016 paper, “Feeding Experimentation Device (FED): A flexible open-source device for measuring feeding behavior,” Katrina P. Nguyen, Timothy J. O’Neal, Olurotimi A. Bolonduro, Elecia White, and Alexxai V. Kravitz validate the reliability of food delivery and precise measurement of feeding behavior provided by FED, as well as, demonstrate the application of FED in an experiment examining light and dark-cycle feeding trends, and another measuring optogenetically-evoked feeding.


KravitzLab has shared the Arduino scripts for controlling FED, as well as, the python code used to analyze the feeding data collected by FED on the KravitzLab Github. Additionally, build instructions and power considerations are detailed on the FED Wiki page and 3D Design Files provided through TinkerCAD.

Nguyen, Katrina; O’Neal, Timothy; Bolonduro, Olurotimi; White, Elecia; Kravitz, Alexxai (2016). Feeding Experimentation Device (FED): A flexible open-source device for measuring feeding behavior. J Neurosci Methods, 267:108-14.

Rodent Operant Bucket (ROBucket)

Horizontal Figure 1-01The Rodent Operant Bucket (ROBucket), designed by Dr. Alexxai Kravitz and Kavya Devarakonda of the Eating and Addiction Section, Diabetes Endocrinology and Obesity Branch, NIDDK, is an inexpensive and easily assembled open-source operant chamber, based on the Arduino microcontroller platform, that can be used to train mice to respond for a reward.

The apparatus contains two nose pokes, a drinking well, and a solenoid-controlled sucrose delivery system. The chamber can easily run magazine training, fixed ratio and progressive ratio training schedules, and can be programmed to run more complicated behavioral paradigms.

rodent operant bucket

In their 2016 paper, “ROBucket: A low cost operant chamber based on the Arduino microcontroller,” Kavya Devarakonda, Katrina P. Nguyen, and Alexxai V. Kravitz validate ROBucket by demonstrating its application in an operant conditioning paradigm, as well as, detail the hardware comprising ROBucket, and the flexible software controlling it.

Further documentation of this device can be found on the NIDDK website, where Dr. Kravitz and his lab share ROBucket construction instructions, ROBucket design files, ROBucket source code, and 3D printing design files.

 Kavya Devarakonda, Katrina P. Nguyen, Alexxai V. Kravitz (2016). ROBucket: A low cost operant chamber based on the Arduino microcontroller. Behav Res Methods 48(2): 503–509.