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Argotech

Argotech is a tech startup based in Dunedin, New Zealand. Founded by a neuroscientist and an electrical engineer, our goal is to provide local and cost-efficient lab devices, specialising in behavioural neuroscience research applications. We provide assembly services to make open source tech accessible, as well as our own original designs to create innovative research solutions. Our services and devices are provided at cost and we are available for in-person consultation and troubleshooting at no charge. We are just getting started on our journey and look forward to hearing from you.

Neuromouse fibre photometry data acquisition system

This is the fibre photometry system used at the Centre for Neuroendocrinology (e.g. see Clarkson et al. 2017, Kim et al. 2019).

Neuromouse is a free open-source fibre photometry data acquisition system, developed by Tussock Innovation and Argotech. Neuromouse can be used in place of Doric’s Neuroscience Studio or TDT’s photometry gizmo. Neuromouse is compatible with Doric LED drivers and measures emitted fluorescence from a single photoreceiver. The acquisition software is written in python and has been packaged into an executable interface. Designed with minimalism and simplicity in mind, Neuromouse can run either in continuous or duty-cycle acquisition modes and automatically omits the “peak” artefact observed at the beginning of the acquisition. The data is exported as csv file with separate columns for emissions evoked by different wavelengths. Argotech has developed an optional Arduino-based video synchronisation module and this will be uploaded at a later date. Neuromouse is easy to build, however if you would like assistance, Argotech can provide the assembly services. Besides the open-source python or matlab scripts available for data analysis, Argotech also provides simple user friendly excel/prism analysis templates. For any issues or trouble shooting, please contact Argotech.

Components

The list below is the standard photometry rig used at the CNE.

Description Supplier Product Additional Information
LED driver

Doric

LEDD_2 Neuromouse automatically runs the LEDs on “low power” mode
Minicube Doric FMC4_AE(405)_E(460-490)_F(500-550)_S
Photoreceiver Newport/Doric Newport2151 with lensed FC adapter Doric’s detector-mounted minicubes also work fine
LED to Cube optics Doric 200um 0.22NA We find the Doric LEDs to be generally overpowered. These cables provide a good level of excitation light at mid-range power settings.
Cube to Cannula optics Doric 400um 0.48
Cube to Detector optics Doric 600um 0.48NA
Acquisition board National Instruments USB-6211 Bus-Powered M Series

Computer specifications: Requires Windows 10. Recommended: at least 256GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, i7 processor, additional storage.

Instructions:

  1. Connect the inputs to LED 1 and 2 to the National Instruments board (as shown in picture labeled A and B).
  • LED 1 to AO0 (port 12)
  • LED 2 to AO1 (port 13)
  • Common ground to AOGND (port 14)
  1. Connect the output from the photoreceiver to the National Instruments board (as shown in picture labeled C).
  • Signal to AI6 (port 29)
  • Ground to AIGND (port 28)

Argotech NI Port cables

  1. USB connection from the computer to the Doric LED driver and National Instruments board is required. We use a USB hub for this.
  2. Connect blue excitation (465-490nm) LED to LED#1 on driver. Isosbestic excitation (405nm) LED to LED#2. Connect fibre optics from the LEDs to the minicube.
  3. Install the fibre photometry software (v1.07) using the installer (download link for .zip file). If this is your first time installing this, also follow the prompts to install the NI DAQ.
  4. If you  would like to upgrade from v1.06 to v1.07 please follow these instructions.

Argotech blueprints

  1. Open the Fibre Photometry software. Under setting, adjust power (units from 0-100) for each LED to desired output.
  • Duty cycling can also be enabled with desired on/off times. The “Enable” button must be pressed and after setting the on/off times, you need to press “Set”.
  • You can also set the default location where the acquisition data is automatically stored.

Argotech GUI settings

  1. Make sure the LED driver is on and press start on the fibre photometry software.
  2. To export your data, under file, click “Export” or control+E on the keypad. The data will be exported in .csv format.

Argotech GUI export

  1.  When turning off the system, first ensure that the fibre photometry software is closed down and that the black text window automatically closes. Then turn off the LED driver.

Optional:

  1. We build our photometry systems inside an electronics enclosure to create a single plug+play console, with a designated power switch and plug, output ports for the fibre optics, and an exterior battery for the photoreceiver. If you are in New Zealand, Argotech can provide this service for you. If you wish to build this yourself or with the help of an electrician, we recommend taking care into the positioning of the minicube so that the fibre optics are not over-bent inside the enclosure.

Argotech full console

View of the full console.

Argotech exterior ports

View of the exterior ports.

  1. The system can be paired with a 5V trigger to start the acquisition. The BNC connector needs to be connected to ports 4 (trigger) and 5 (ground) on the National instruments board.
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STL files for 3D printing

1. Mouse brain matrix. Original design by Lex Kravitz. It has been modified slightly to omit travel movements between the gaps for FDM printing. Current design has 0.5mm gaps every 0.6mm.
Future edits will include options for the caudal brainstem and fetal brain.
You can download an STL file here.

Argotech Brain_matrix_photo1Argotech Brain_matrix_photo2

2. Mouse pup dummy for maternal behaviour research. Modelled from open source microCT scan of E18 pup at mousephenotyping.org. Inspired by similar dummy models made by Dulac lab. Print at orientation provided with raft for bed adhesion. No supports needed. Scale down to desired size. We printed at 18mm height (usb for scale).
You can download an STL file here.

Argotech Pup_photo1Argotech Pup_photo2

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Disclaimer: Argotech is a strategic partner of the Centre for Neuroendocrinology. The Centre does not run Argotech nor does it have any financial interests with Argotech.