You can use a photogate to monitor animal activity provided that the movement of the animal will block the gate as it goes past the photogate. A simple shuttle box or elevated plus maze can be set up to monitor animal activity this way. How this is set up depends on the type of photogate you are using.
Instructions for a Vernier Photogate (VPG-BTD)
When using a Verinier (BTD) Photogate, you will need to set up the photogate as a radiation monitor. This will allow you to monitor the animal activity for a periods of time longer than one minute. The number of “counts” will indicate the number of times the animal passes through the photogate during the sampling interval you set up.
1. Connect the Vernier Photogate to a LabQuest interface (any model).
2. Go to sensor set-up dialog and tell the device that you actually have a radiation monitor attached.
3. Next, set the sampling interval to 1 event / sec or slower.
This number identifies the time interval that counts are accumulated.
In this example, the number of times the gate is blocked each second will be recorded.
Note that the photogate will only mark an event once the animal has blocked and then unblocked the gate. By counting the number of events per unit time you can determine how active the animal was during that period.
Instructions for a Go Direct Photogate (GDX-VPG)
When using this type of photogate, you will need to set up the sensor to use the Gate 1 – Gate State sensor channel.
1. Launch Graphical Analysis app or turn on LabQuest 2 or LabQuest 3 (LABQ3).
2. Connect the sensor to your device via USB or wireless Bluetooth connection.
3. Change the default sensor channel setup so that Gate 1 – Gate State is the only channel selected.
4. Adjust the data collection mode to Time Based.
5. Set the Time Units and End Collection Duration as needed for your experiment.
To monitor for 1 day, set the Time Units to hours (h), then set the end collection duration to 24.
6. Start data collection.
Note that the Gate State will be 1 whenever the animal moves to block the gate. The Gate State will be 0 whenever the animal moves to unblock the gate. By counting the number of blocked events you can determine how active the animal was during that period.