The Mighty Mini Scope for Behavioral Studies in Microorganisms

I used to spend many hours working on microscopes, but now that the job has changed I am no longer playing around with microscopes.

So you can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to develop a behavioral setup for microorganisms. There’s plenty of interesting and fascinating questions to ask in the microcosmos but when you join neuroscience and behavior at the micro-scale, it gets really mind-blowing!

So I built my own mini-microscope + behavioral setup using 3D printed parts, Raspberry Pi and LEGO! Yes, Lego!! I love LEGO and my mind was blown away when I discovered that most of the electronic components (including the Pi NoIR Camera and 3 mm LEDs) fit perfectly in lego parts! This gives me the flexibility I need to adapt the miniscope to different 3D-printed behavioral chambers.

The design is still work in progress. One thing to improve is the overall robustness: I initially went for a sleek, cool, light (and usable) design but a more robust design may be required for the actual experiments.

What I am aiming for is a “functional” design, meaning I need a strong support for the camera with the option to quickly insert it on different behavioral chambers. This may require to have a single core with the optics and multiple, interchangeable parts that can be rapidly attached to different chambers.

Being this hooked up to a raspberry Pi, the experiments can be simply run with Python for controlling the hardware (wavelength, temperature …) and tracking the subject in the image.

a mini microscope built from lego-parts and raspberry pi camera

Mini microscope built from lego parts and 3D printed chambers for performing behavioral experiments in microorganisms


Leonardo Restivo

Behavioral Neuroscientist, M.Sc., Ph.D. - Passionate about Behavior, Data Visualization & Psychology. Read my CV+résumé. Follow me on twitter @scipleneuro