A little opening: Sharing some designs as open hardware

Headplate and shield

We believe value creation – be it new software, hardware or methods – comes with a moral obligation to make it available to everyone who needs it.

As a commercial company, we create designs that we sell as products (our main thing, microdrives). However, now we also create custom designs that we sell once, then shelve. Custom designs don’t become products for a range of reasons. The main one being that we want to focus on improving our main products and the experience of our users.

But we believe our custom designs can be useful to many. Therefore, we decided to share them as open hardware, with all the information needed for easy manufacturing, use and potentially modifying the designs.

The first design we are sharing is a head plate + light blocking shield for two-photon (2P) imaging in headfixed, behaving mice. Used in combination they save precious time during the setting up compared to more manual methods of light shielding. (If fiddling around with putty, small pieces of black cloth, or tape sounds familiar to you, you might want to have a look.) Next we will share a 3D-printed spherical treadmill design for mouse virtual reality setups, which, incidentally, works great together with the present head fixation system.

When sharing, we strive to adhere to the Open Hardware standard and in future, converge toward the Open Know-How specification.

Inspiration for this came from enjoying the benefits of open source in our own work, and from watching open source initiatives and their impact. Specifically, Open Ephys, Open Labware and Open Behavior.

For now, we’ll self-host those files. We also plan to disseminate them on the various open hardware platforms later, and in turn test and host designs by others that we find relevant to our microdrive users. As everything, this is a learning experience for us. And we want these designs to be useful for research. So if you see anything we can improve, or if you want to contribute, drop us a line by mail or tweet our way!

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