The Mobile HomeCage® Large

The Mobile HomeCage® Large allows integrating live imaging, electrophysiological recordings, and optogenetic stimulation with complex behavioral readouts.

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      The Mobile HomeCage® Large is a combination of a stable head fixation with a large airlifted arena for 2D navigation. Compared to the standard size Mobile HomeCage®, the large model is better suited for integrating imaging, electrophysiological recordings, and other high-precision tests with complex behavioral experiments. The latter include maze navigation or sociability tests involving several mice. Besides that: the Mobile HomeCage® Large allows mapping place cells during imaging and recording in awake head-fixed mice.

      Key benefits

      • Stable head-fixation during active locomotion;
      • No general anesthesia during training or experiments;
      • Cage has flat floor and walls: it resembles laboratory mice’ natural habitat and helps to reduce stress;
      • Walls are a source of natural tactile stimulation;
      • Fast habituation;
      • Behavioral monitoring during imaging and recordings;
      • Visual stimulation (from within and outside the cage) is possible but not required;
      • Compatible with VR;
      • Maze navigation and other complex behavior;
      • Technical and experimental support from Neurotar (free).

      Applications

      • acute and chronic two-photon imaging in the brain and spinal cord;
      • wide-field imaging;
      • functional ultrasound imaging (fUS);
      • optical coherent tomography (OCT);
      • electrophysiological recordings, including patch-clamp;
      • optogenetic stimulation;
      • behavioral research, including complex behavior such as maze navigation and sociability tests.

      Options

      There are three main options: the basic Mobile HomeCage Large, the Mobile HomeCage Large with locomotion tracking capabilities, and the Mobile HomeCage Large with tracking capabilities but with a set of foam cages instead of the carbon fiber cage. The table below shows the product composition for each option.

      Kit partsOptions that do not affect the priceMobile HomeCage Large - basic modelMobile HomeCage Large, locomotion tracking Mobile HomeCage Large, locomotion tracking, foam cages
      Air dispenser X X X
      Bridge and towers with adjustable horizontal and vertical positioningstandard or short towersXXX
      Head fixation block: neck and rotating clamp clamp options: standard, tilted, elongated, Levelt, fUSXXX
      Ten head plates for cranial surgery implantation same model or an assortment (choose form 12 models)XXX
      Carbon fiber cage (diameter: 290 m or 325 mm)wall height: 20, 40, 70 mm
      XX
      Set of parts for assemblying 15 foam cages (diameter: 325 mm)wall height: 20, 40, 70 mm
      X
      Hose for connecting to air source (diameter: 12 mm; length 3 m)XXX
      Grounding wireXXX
      Electronic control unit (ECU)XX
      Sensor board built into the air dispenserXX
      RS-232 cableXX
      USB connector cable (A to B)XX
      Open source softwareXX

      Cage options

      The floating cage must be both light and durable. We offer two basic choices: a cage made of carbon fiber or a cage with a foam bottom and plastic walls. The table below explains the differences between these options:

       Carbon fiber cageFoam cage
      Weight46-76 g 60-90 g
      Has a doorYesNo
      Bottom materialSmooth, slippery when wetGrippy, not slippery
      Reusable for the same mouseYesYes
      Reusable between different miceYesNo
      Disinfection, odor removal70% ethanol (whole cage)70% ethanol (walls only)
      PriceHighLow
      Production methodHand-madeWater-cutting, 3D printing
      # of cages per Mobile HomeCage Large setOne (1) cageParts for fifteen (15) cages
      Standard diameters290, 325 mm325 mm
      Standard wall height20, 40, 70 mm 20, 40, 70 mm
      Mobile HomeCage Large versionNTR000254-03NTR000318-01

      Don’t be fooled by the carbon fiber cage’s seemingly simple design: our cage has a sandwich bottom (for optimal weight and rigidity), and magnets built into the bottom (but not visible to humans and mice). The magnets enable locomotion tracking and reduce rotational inertia.

      Foam & plastic are easier to handle. In addition to the round cage, we offer square cages and several maze designs.

      Compatibility with 2-photon microscopes

      The Mobile HomeCage® Large (with a 325 mm cage) is compatible with the following commercial 2-photon systems without any modifications: Scientifica’s Hyperscope (VivoScope frame), Neurolabware, Nikon A1R (gantry frame), Sutter MOM, LaVision Biotech’s TriM Scope Matrix, Femtonics’ FemtoS-Bridge and Olympus FVMPE-RS (with InnerFocus). With smaller cages, the system also works with Bruker’s Ultima Investigator and 2P Plus models, and with Thorlabs’ Bergamo II and DIY 2-photon. Finally, it is possible to use the system with most commercial microscopes by adding a periscopic extension, such as the Inverterscope available from LSM Tech.

      Technical specifications

      • Dimensions: 720 X 570 X 155 mm (W X D X H)
      • Unpackaged weight: 11,7 kg / 13 kg (with locomotion tracking components)
      • Materials: aluminum, composite materials.

      Airflow and acoustic noise

      The air source is not included in the Mobile HomeCage® Large kit. The system requires an airflow of 150 L/min at 20 kPa. Most labs are able to use their local air supplies; some require portable air pumps. Compressed air tanks are not optimal as they run out of air very quickly. Contact us for tips on portable air pumps.

      Most acoustic noise in the system comes from the air source. To reduce noise, increase the distance between the air source and the Mobile HomeCage® Large or build an enclosure for the air source.

      Electrical noise and shielding

      To reduce weight, the Mobile HomeCage is made of a composite material. For this reason, the air dispenser is not shielded. We include a grounding kit with every Mobile HomeCage® Large and recommend using it for grounding the air dispenser lid. This prevents electrical noise from leaking from the air dispenser.

      Parts and accessories

      Our online accessories shop has variable kit parts (such as head plates and cages), upgrades (such as locomotion tracking) and a wide range of accessories for spinal cord imaging, behavioral research, and operant conditioning.

      Maintenance

      The Mobile HomeCage® Large is easy to use and it requires minimal maintenance. The carbon fiber cages can be cleaned with a 70% ethanol solution. The head plates are reusable. Learn how to reuse them in our guide to head plates. The air dispenser must be protected from dust and water penetrating inside through the air holes.

      References and support

      You are not alone. Our support team provides both technical and experimental support. Besides that: dozens of labs worldwide are using the Mobile HomeCage. Learn from them or get help from us!

      All Mobile HomeCage® patents and trademarks are the property of Neurotar. Unauthorized use and distribution are strictly prohibited.