Open Optogenetics

The open sharing of science equipment is important for countering the overpriced and over-engineered kit sold by big manufacturers. This Open Optogenetics page will include curated lists of open source equipment for optogenetics, neuroscience and behaviour.

I hope for this page to serve as an open source hub. If you have any suggestions for good open source kit you have used or developed yourself, please send a message at the bottom of the page.


Finally, I provide some example setups for using this open source equipment for optogenetics studies.

Optogenetics TTL drivers


A simple and straightforward TTL driver that I developed. It has a single TTL output that is manually switchable. Flash on-times and frequency are selected by dials (settings can be easily modified during coding). Open source details for making it are available on Hackaday, and I sell it in the shop.

EasyTTL Uno single channel TTL driver

EasyTTL Mega

A simple 4-channel TTL driver that I developed. Each TTL output is independently manually switchable. Flash on-times and frequency are selected by dials (settings can be easily modified during coding). PWM control is also available. Open source details for making it are available on Hackaday, and I sell it in the shop.

EasyTTL Mega 4-channel TTL driver

Pulse Pal

Pulse Pal is a triggered signal generator. It generates programmable pulses in response to input triggers. This means it can be used for opto control during specific behaviours eg. nosepoking, or more complex electrophysiology stimulation. Details can be found on Github, and it is available on open-ephys.

Pulse Pal signal generator


SignalBuddy is an Arduino-based TTL generator. I haven’t used it, but it seems to be a simpler version of the Pulse Pal. It needs programming to your specific experiment. It is available on Hackaday, among other places.

SignalBuddy TTL generator

LED/laser controllers

Cyclops LED driver

This open source LED driver enables the precise control of light power for optogenetic stimulation. Head over to open-ephys for further information and design specs. They also sell it at a reasonable cost.

Cyclops LED driver

LED’s and lasers

Please let me know if you find any good open source designs for LED/laser illumination systems.

Behaviour monitoring

IR beam breaks

IR Beam-break activity monitors I developed for non-invasive tracking of locomotor activity. Sensors attach to the outside of the mouse’s cage, and data is acquired using an open source program. If you want to build it yourself, details are available on Hackaday. Alternatively, if you prefer to buy a complete ready-to-go system, I sell it in the shop.

IR beam break sensors attached to mouse’s cage


This is the 3rd iteration of a battery powered feeding device from Lex Kravitz. It is designed for operant tasks for mice, with 2 nosepokes and a pellet dispenser. Data is logged via built-in microSD card. For the most up-to-date version, visit Github.

FED3 operant feeder for mice


Rodent Activity Detector from Lex Kravitz. It uses an infrared motion sensor to detect mouse movement within its cage, and logs the data to a microSD card or can be connected to Wifi. Open source details are available on Hackaday.

RAD2 rodent activity detector


This is a 3D printed food hopper that I designed for a colleague. It is designed to hook into a Tecniplast mouse cage, and allows the animal to eat food with minimal spillage. The design is available on Thingiverse.

3D printed CrumbleHopper


3D printed stereotax

A 3D printed mouse stereotaxic frame, designed by Lex Kravitz. The only expensive parts are the thumbscrews and the heavy breadboard base. Details are available on Hackaday.

3D printed mouse stereotactic frame

Example setups

In vitro optogenetics with EasyTTL Uno

Use EasyTTL Uno to generate precise, timed TTL pulses to control an LED for ChR2 stimulation. This is actually what I designed the EasyTTL Uno for. The prototype is currently in use on an e-phys rig to control flashing of a 470 nm Coolled for activation of ChR2.

EasyTTL Uno connected to 470 nm Coolled for ChR2 stimulation

In vivo optogenetics with EasyTTL Mega

Connect the EasyTTL Mega to 4 TTL-controllable LED’s such as the Prizmatix blue LED. Then drive ChR2 stimulation in 4 animals independently/in parallel. Monitor behaviour, such as locomotor activity with the IR beam breaks.

In vivo optogenetics with Cyclops LED driver

Connect the Cyclops LED driver directly to an LED (eg. the Plexon blue Plexbright LED which needs precisely powered input). Then use a TTL driver, such as the EasyTTL Uno, to control the Cyclops.


That’s all I have to show. If you find anything useful, or want to let me know about your experience with open source equipment, please drop me a message with details.

If you want to use one of these setups, but are not sure how, I’m more than happy to help out. Just head over to the Services page and let me know what you are planning.

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