ROBucket: A low cost operant chamber based on the Arduino microcontroller

Behav Res Methods. 2016 Jun;48(2):503-9. doi: 10.3758/s13428-015-0603-2.


The operant conditioning chamber is a cornerstone of animal behavioral research. Operant boxes are used to assess learning and motivational behavior in animals, particularly for food and drug reinforcers. However, commercial operant chambers cost several thousands of dollars. We have constructed the Rodent Operant Bucket (ROBucket), an inexpensive and easily assembled open-source operant chamber based on the Arduino microcontroller platform, which can be used to train mice to respond for sucrose solution or other liquid reinforcers. The apparatus contains two nose pokes, a drinking well, and a solenoid-controlled liquid delivery system. ROBucket can run fixed ratio and progressive ratio training schedules, and can be programmed to run more complicated behavioral paradigms. Additional features such as motion sensing and video tracking can be added to the operant chamber through the array of widely available Arduino-compatible sensors. The design files and programming code are open source and available online for others to use.

Keywords: Arduino; Instrumental conditioning; Open source; Operant chamber; Operant conditioning.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavioral Research / instrumentation*
  • Conditioning, Operant*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Reinforcement Schedule