KineMouse Wheel

Light-weight running wheel for head-fixed locomotion in mice that allows 3D reconstruction of the position of the body with a single camera.

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Who says you can't reinvent the wheel! This running wheel for head-fixed mice allows 3D reconstruction of body kinematics using a single camera with DeepLabCut software. The wheel has a lightweight, transparent polycarbonate floor and a mirror mounted on the inside at 45 degrees so two views can be captured simultaneously. All parts are commercially available except for custom pieces that are laser cut from acrylic.

This wheel was designed by Richard Warren in Nate Sawtell's lab at Columbia University. Please let us know if you use this wheel in your research - it will be helpful for grant applications, etc. Also, if you use this wheel in published research please acknowledge us in your paper. If you have suggestions on how to improve this tutorial please let use know! Happy running!

This wheel allows you to capture two orthogonal views with a single camera, facilitating 3D reconstruction of body kinematics using DeepLabCut software. This wheel is also lightweight, allowing mice to run quickly and happily. I recommend using Bonsai software for image acquisition. We also have had success with FLIR cameras for high speed tracking.

The version of the wheel described below is made primarily of acrylic and polycarbonate. However, if you have a need for speed we use a modified version of this wheel that is sturdier and more lightweight. This is accomplished by using a thin aluminum spokes panel, and by cutting slits directly into the polycarbonate for traction and weight reduction. Both of these modifications require water jet manufacturing, and therefore increase the cost to several hundreds of dollars. Please reach out if you would like to know how to build this fancier version of the wheel.

If you would like to measure movement of the wheel, I recommend using a rotary encoder mounted on an additional post mounted in parallel with the other two. If you need advice on how to do this please reach out.

Please send pictures of your completed wheel so we can post them here!

AutoCAD DXF - 306.21 kB - 09/14/2018 at 17:54


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AutoCAD DXF - 1.18 MB - 08/28/2018 at 20:04


  • 1 × Thorlabs MB8 Aluminum Breadboard 8" x 8" x 1/2", 1/4"-20 Taps
  • 2 × Thorlabs PH4 Ø1/2" Post Holder, Spring-Loaded Hex-Locking Thumbscrew, L = 1"
  • 32 × McMaster-Carr 91772A106 Passivated 18-8 Stainless Steel Pan Head Phillips Screw, 4-40 Thread, 1/4" Long (32 screws not 32 packs!)
  • 1 × McMaster-Carr 5911K21 Lightweight Linear Motion Shaft, Anodized 6061 Aluminum, 1/4" Diameter, 12" Long
  • 2 × McMaster-Carr 3759T57 Precision Stainless Steel Ball Bearing, Shielded, Trade No. R188-2Z, 13000 rpm Maximum Speed

View all 19 components

  • 1
    Laser Cut

    Begin by laser cutting two copies of the spokes file using 1/4 inch acrylic (preferably extruded acrylic as opposed to cast acrylic) and one copy of the circle file using 1/8 inch acrylic. Each piece should be 7.5 inches in diameter. If the size is wrong there may have been an issue with the scaling of the file in your printing software.

    Attach the Polou mounting hub to both spokes using 4-40 screws.

  • 2
    Mount poles

    Mount Thorlabs RA180 clamps to TR4 posts, and clamp the ball bearings inside the clamps without over tightening.

  • 3
    Mount on breadboard

    Insert the posts into two PH1 post holders separated by 5 inches on the breadboard. Cut aluminum shaft to length of 5 inches.

View all 15 instructions

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