The circuit diagram of the device is presented in Fig 3a, a photograph of the assembled device in Fig 3b with one piezoelectric for low throughput and one for high throughput mounted on the platform, and the breadboard wiring diagram in Fig 4. The design is presented for a non-solderable breadboard, which can be easily assembled by a novice. Once the device has been assembled and tested, if you are comfortable with your soldering skills, you can use a solderable breadboard to re-assemble the circuit. This is ultimately preferred for a stable circuit, suitable for long-term use.
Device construction (Timing: ~6h, exclusive of machining time)
Construction of the voltage control circuit
1. Lay out the components on the lab bench, removing each component from their packaging. To organize your components, place each on a sticky note, writing the component name on the note. Orient the enclosure so that the long faces of the rectangle form the top and bottom sides, and the short faces form the right and left sides.
For Steps 2-5, refer Fig S1
2. Drill a small hole in the left side of the enclosure, towards the corner, approximately 10mm in diameter (~7/16”). If the mounting nut for the panel mount with the female jack is attached, remove the nut. From the inside of the enclosure, push the female connector through the hole and re-attach the nut. Tighten to secure the connector to the enclosure (A.2 in Fig 4, S1).
3. On the power supply (A in Fig 4, S1), examine the red button that allows you to adjust the voltage output from the supply. Use a flat bladed screwdriver to rotate this voltage setting to 12V. From the available power supply plugs that came with the power supply, choose the largest diameter plug (5.5mm diameter) and connect this plug to the end of the black wire extending from the power supply. This is the male DC power supply plug (A.1 in Fig 4, S1) that will attach to the female jack of the panel mount in the enclosure.
4. Use wirestrippers to strip the black wire and red wire from the panel mount, exposing approximately ¼” of the covering from each wire. If you want to avoid soldering, use a male Dupont connector to attach metal pins to the red and black wire. Otherwise, solder a single header pin to each end of the red and black wire.
5. Place Breadboard #1 in the enclosure, positioning it in the top left quadrant of the enclosure in the orientation shown in Fig 4, S1. Make sure that the red and blue lines, labeled as ‘+’ and ‘-’ respectively, are aligned vertically in the enclosure. Use a hot glue gun to tack the bottom of the breadboard to the base of the enclosure. Once positioned, connect the pin from the red wire of the power supply to the left red column of the breadboard. Connect the pin from the black wire of the power supply to the right blue column of the breadboard. Any row position is fine for either wire. These are the +12V and GND power rails of the breadboard.
6. Use a multimeter and connect the probe tip from the ‘+’ terminal of the multimeter to the pin of the ‘+’ terminal of the power supply (red wire) on the breadboard. While maintaining contact with the ‘+’ terminal, place the tip of the second probe from the multimeter (‘-’ or GND/COM connection) to the pin from the ‘-’ terminal (black wire) of the power supply. Ask someone to assist you and plug in the power supply, turning on the multimeter for a reading. The multimeter should read ~12V on the display. Disconnect the power supply.
CAUTION: Disconnect the power supply after verifying the wiring. You should not construct the rest of the circuit while power is still supplied to it.
For Steps 7-10, refer Fig S2
7. Place the buck converter (B in Fig 4, S2) in a helping hands tool, which uses clips to hold electronics components safely while working on the component. Make sure the bottom of the buck converter is exposed. Locate the blue potentiometer on the buck converter (Fig S2) and identify the three pins that connect this potentiometer to the buck converter. Turn on a soldering iron, wait until it reaches the working temperature, and then touch the tip of the soldering iron to one of the exposed potentiometer pins. You will soon melt the solder that connects the pin to the buck converter. Use this to remove the solder from each of the three pins of the potentiometer. Once complete, you can remove the potentiometer from the buck converter.
CAUTION: The removal of the potentiometer from the buck converter must be done carefully or you risk damaging other components of the converter. Place the tip on a pin for a few seconds, remove it, and then place it on the pin for a few seconds more. Eventually, you will heat and melt the solder.
NOTE: The potentiometer that is supplied with the buck converter does not have an appropriate working range that is suitable with the operating range of the piezoelectric.
8. Once the potentiometer is removed from the buck converter, place the buck converter in the enclosure, locating it in the bottom left quadrant. Orient the buck converter so the +OUT and -OUT terminals point to the right. Make a mark on the enclosure base to identify the location of the two mounting holes (B.1 in Fig 4, S2) for the converter. Remove the converter, drill the pilot holes into the enclosure, and install nylon standoffs to mount the buck converter.
9. Using a green wire, cut and strip both ends. Solder one of the stripped ends to the middle terminal of the new potentiometer (C in Fig 4, S2). In the region of the buck converter where the potentiometer was removed, there are three open holes on the circuit board. Solder the remaining end of the green wire into the middle hole. Cut and strip a red wire at both ends, soldering one end to one of the end terminals of the potentiometer. Solder the remaining end to one of the remaining holes that formerly held the buck converter potentiometer. Finally, cut and strip a black wire, soldering one end to the third terminal of the potentiometer and the remaining end to the last connection point for the potentiometer in the buck converter.
10. Cut and strip a red wire at both ends. Solder one end to the +IN terminal of the buck converter. Connect the remaining end to the +12V voltage rail on the breadboard. Cut and strip a black wire, exposing both ends. Solder one end to the -IN of the buck converter and connect the remaining end into the GND rail of the breadboard.
For Steps 11-12, refer Fig S3
11. Press the SPST relay (D in Fig 4, S3) into the breadboard, making sure the pins from the relay are firmly seated in the breadboard. Orient the relay so the top right of the relay (terminal #5) connects into position F10 of the breadboard, and the lower left corner (terminal #2) connects into position E12 of the breadboard. Cut and strip a green wire at both ends, soldering one end to the +OUT on the buck converter and connecting the remaining end to position D10 on the breadboard (connecting to terminal #4 of the relay). Connect a new black wire, also stripped at both ends, from GND rail to position G13 of the breadboard (connecting to terminal #8 of the relay).
12. Strip the ends of the 3 colored wires (red, black and white) from the digital display (E in Fig 4, S3). Connect the end of the red wire to the +12V voltage rail of the breadboard, and the black wire to the GND rail. Connect the end of the white wire (colored green in Fig 4, S3 for easy visualization) into the breadboard at position C10 (connecting to terminal #4 of the relay).
CRITICAL STEP: At this point, you have assembled a circuit that will allow you to adjust the voltage input to the buck converter, reading out voltage supplied to the voltage amplifier. This is a good point to check that the circuit is working properly. Plug in the power supply to a wall outlet, connect the male DC plug into the female mount and turn the knob on the potentiometer. You should see the voltage on the display change as you turn the potentiometer.
For Steps 13-16, refer Fig S4
13. Place the Arduino Microcontroller (F in Fig 4, S4) in the top right quadrant of the enclosure. Position the Arduino to orient the USB connect towards the back wall of the enclosure, touching the USB connection to the wall. Mark the four mounting holes for the Arduino (F.1 in Fig 4, S4), remove the microcontroller and drill the appropriate holes in the enclosure base. Place the Arduino back in position and mark the opening needed for the USB connection (approximately 14mm x 14 mm – F.2 in Fig 4, S4). Make sure to take into account the extra vertical height from the standoff. Cut the opening for the USB connection and mount the Arduino using nylon standoffs, just as you mounted the buck converter earlier.
14. Cut and strip a piece of red wire, connecting one end to the Vin terminal on the Arduino and the other end into the +12V voltage rail of the breadboard. Similarly cut and strip a piece of black wire, connecting it from one of the GND terminals of the microcontroller to the GND rail of the breadboard.
15. Cut and strip a red wire, soldering one end into a post of the pushbutton switch (G in Fig 4, S4). Connect the remaining end of this red wire into the +5V terminal on the Arduino microcontroller. Using a second red wire, solder one end to the remaining terminal of the pushbutton switch. Connect the remaining end of the red wire to pin #7 of the microcontroller.
16. Connect a new red wire, stripped at both ends, from pin #13 of the Arduino microcontroller to position G10 of the breadboard (connecting to terminal #5 of the SPST relay).
For Steps 17-18, refer Fig S5
17. Place Breadboard #2 in the bottom right quadrant of the enclosure. Press the proportional voltage booster (H in Fig 4, S5) into the breadboard. Make sure that you position the booster to electrically isolate the INPUT and OUTPUT sides of the booster by connecting +INPUT to C12, -INPUT to C18, +OUTPUT to I20 and -OUTPUT to I10. Cut and strip a green wire, connecting one of the exposed ends to the +INPUT terminal of the proportional voltage booster at position B12. Connect the remaining end to position D12 of Breadboard #1 (terminal #2 of the SPST relay). Cut and strip a black wire, connecting position B18 of Breadboard #2 (the -INPUT of the proportional voltage booster) to the -OUT terminal of the buck converter. Additionally, cut and strip a black wire, connecting position A18 of Breadboard #2 (the -INPUT of the booster) to the GND rail of Breadboard #1. Activating the relay with a signal from the microcontroller will close the connection from pin #4 to pin #2 of the SPST relay, sending the voltage from the buck converter to the voltage booster.
18. Cut and strip the ends from one half of the electrical terminal connector (I in Fig 4, S5). If you want to avoid soldering, use a male Dupont connector to connect the electrical terminals into the breadboard circuit. Otherwise, solder header pins to each end of the wire, connecting the pin from the red wire to position I20 (the +OUTPUT terminal of the proportional voltage booster). Next, connect the pin from the black wire to position I10 (the -OUTPUT terminal of the proportional voltage booster).
19. At this point, the circuit is complete. Drill a hole in the top of the enclosure to mount the potentiometer. In addition, drill a hole in the side for the electrical connector, tying a loop in the wiring to prevent it from pulling out from the circuit. Mount the digital display and pushbutton to the top of the enclosure.
NOTE: The photograph in Fig 3b shows the voltage booster also mounted to the top because the enclosure used was smaller than the one recommended in the Materials section.
Programming the microcontroller
20. Attach a USB cable to the Arduino microcontroller, connecting the other end to the USB port of a laptop.
21. Download and install the Arduino Desktop IDE.
22. Start the Arduino IDE, copying the necessary code to the working directory of the IDE.
23. Upload and install the code to the microcontroller.
24. At this point, you can test the functionality of your circuit. With the power supply plugged into the wall, press the pushbutton switch. If the code is working correctly, you should see an LED on the microcontroller blink momentarily. In addition, you can connect the output from the proportional voltage booster to a multimeter, adjust the voltage on the digital display, and see the output from the proportional voltage booster increase temporarily when you press the pushbutton switch.
Construction of the dTBI apparatus
For Steps 25-28, refer Fig S6
25. Using the remaining half of the electrical terminal connector, cut, strip and solder a small spade terminal onto each wire (J in Fig 4, S6).
26. Drill and tap two holes in the polycarbonate sheet (K in Fig 4, S6) to mount the piezoelectric actuator (L in Fig 4, S6). Ensure that the gap between the drilled holes corresponds to the gap between the holes provided on the piezoelectric mount. Use thin washers (circle in J in Fig 4, S6), sized for the 4-40 mounting screws (hexagon in J in Fig 4, S6), to adjust the height of the piezoelectric actuator relative to the polycarbonate sheet. You will want a height that allows you to insert the flies, immobilized in the Heisenberg collar (M in Fig 4, S6), under the actuator without contact (See next section Collars for exact details).
27. Insert the screw through one of the holes on the piezoelectric mount, the washers and spade terminals to attach the actuator to the polycarbonate sheet (Fig S6). Repeat for the second screw. At this point, the actuator will be securely mounted to the sheet.
28. Solder the wiring from the mounted actuator to the respective electrical spade terminals (red to red; black to black) connecting the piezoelectric to the control circuit.
CRITICAL STEP: Confirm that the control circuit works. Attach the components together, plugging in the power supply to the wall outlet and connecting the electrical output from the control circuit to the piezoelectric actuator. You should see the piezoelectric deflect when the pushbutton is activated.
29. The spade terminals are a more robust design than the direct connections shown in Fig 3b. For the direct connection, solder the red wires from the piezoelectric and the electric terminal connector together, and the corresponding black wires together. Secure each of these soldered connections to the polycarbonate base using the 2-56 mounting screws.
30. Multiple piezoelectric actuators can be mounted on the same platform and used with the same voltage control circuit (Fig 3b). When switching between different actuators, attach the half of the electrical terminal connector from the voltage control circuit to the other half that is connected to the piezoelectric you wish to use. The low throughput piezoelectric (A in Fig 5a) can be used to injure a single fly head at a time, while the high throughput piezoelectric (B in Fig 5a) can injure up to 6 simultaneously.
Collars (Timing: ~2-3h, exclusive of construction time)
Low throughput dTBI device
31. Collars can be constructed by a machine shop using the design specifications that have been published23,24, or purchased through commercial websites and modified if necessary.
32. Importantly, the space between the metal plates needs to be precisely set to 125µm, which we find is the optimal gap that allows flies to slide through easily, while still providing the stable bottom surface against which the head is compressed (C in Fig 5a).
33. The distance between the top of the head and the piezoelectric is also important, since it is one of the factors determining the exact magnitude of head compression. When mounting the piezoelectric to the platform, it is important to use the appropriate number of washers so that the gap between the surface of the collar and the piezoelectric is 393±13 µm. This allows for fly heads to easily slide under, and fine adjustments can then be made by tightening the mounting screw of the piezoelectric. For our w1118 male flies, the average height of the fly head was 319±8 µm (as measured from the base of the head to the highest point of the eye). All the calibrations and subsequent experiments were performed with a gap of 67±13 µm between the piezoelectric and the fly head (as measured between the highest point of the eye to the piezoelectric) (Fig 5b, Movie 2).
CRITICAL STEP: It is important to ensure that the gap is similar between calibration and the actual experiments. If the gap is reduced between calibration and the final experiment, the same voltage will cause a larger magnitude of compression. Whereas if the gap is increased, the resulting compression will be smaller for the same voltage setting.
High throughput dTBI device
34. The collars to be used with the multi-dTBI device must have flat-head screws on the top plate to ensure that the collar can slide underneath the piezoelectric actuator (D in Fig 5a). Note that commercially bought screws may need to be flattened further to avoid the piezoelectric striking them. Attempts at machining a longer collar that could fit under the piezoelectric were unsuccessful because it was challenging to keep the metal plates absolutely flat throughout the length of the collar. This resulted in unequal head compression across a single cohort of flies.
CRITICAL STEP: As far as possible, the metal plates must be parallel to the piezoelectric such that the gap between collar and piezoelectric is uniform throughout the length of the collar. Additional screws throughout the metal plate may be used to keep it perfectly flat.
Calibration (Timing: ~1d)
Generation of voltage vs. displacement graph
35. Set up the dTBI device under the Leica Z16 APO macroscope. Place a collar underneath the piezoelectric and move the 45˚-angled mirror up against the collar (Fig 5c). Note that in this case, the collar is only used to ensure that the placement of the mirror is consistent (between multiple video rounds, or between calibrations with and without fly head compression).
36. Adjust the brightness, zoom and focus to capture the reflection of the piezoelectric in the angled mirror.
37. Using a frame rate of at least 10 fps, capture 3 replicate videos of the piezoelectric deflection events in 5V steps, starting from 35V till 80V.
38. Analyze the videos in FIJI, using the Manual Tracking plugin to track a single pixel on corner of the piezoelectric to measure the y-displacement.
39. Generate a graph between voltage and y-displacement to ensure that the piezoelectric responds linearly to the voltage.
Generation of voltage vs. head compression graph
40. Set up the dTBI device and angled mirror under the Leica Z16 APO macroscope as above (Fig 5c).
41. Collar 5 flies (see dTBI Procedure for detailed instructions) and once they are awake, position the last collared fly underneath the piezoelectric (see dTBI Procedure for detailed instructions, Fig 5d).
42. Place the angled mirror against the collar and adjust the brightness, zoom and focus to capture the reflection of the piezoelectric and the fly head in the mirror.
43. Capture videos of the compression event in 5V steps, starting from 35V till 80V. Do not reuse the same fly for multiple videos; instead use a fresh fly for each compression recording.
44. Obtain 3-6 replicate videos for each voltage step, using flies of the same genotype obtained from different bottles to control for natural variation in head size.
45. Analyze the videos in FIJI and obtain the % head compression by comparing the fly head heights between frames of no compression and maximum compression (Fig 5b, Movie 2).
46. Use the equation of the line obtained from linear regression analyses to calculate the voltage required for 35% (mild), 40% (moderate) and 45% (severe) compression.
47. Perform a survival analysis on sham, mild, moderate and severe injury to identify the median lifespan.
CRITICAL STEP: Since the fly background is one of the factors important to survival post-injury, it is possible that 45% head compression may be too severe for some genotypes. It is important to define “mild”, “moderate” and “severe” thresholds of head compression according to the survival response. In our hands, the median lifespan post-injury is 10d for severe dTBI, 22d for moderate, and 43d for mild.
48. After the initial calibration, the device needs to be assessed every 6 months for piezoelectric wear and tear. Use 6 flies to measure the % head compression at the voltage calibrated for 45%, and verify that the compression is not significantly different from what was calculated during calibration. If the newly measured compression is lower than the calibrated compression (with all other factors being unchanged since calibration), the piezoelectric may need to be replaced. After replacement, re-measure the % head compression for 45% to ensure that it is now comparable to the calibrated measurement. Additionally, use the 7d post-injury survival to verify that the biological response of the new piezoelectric is similar to the old one.
High throughput dTBI device
49. The maximum number of flies that can be simultaneously compressed depends on the maximum voltage rating of the piezoelectric and must be empirically determined. For the piezoelectric used in our device (Q220-A4BR-2513YB from piezo.com), the severe 45% compression injury was reached at 62V when 6 flies were used, and using more than 6 flies caused the 45% compression to occur beyond the maximum voltage rating of the piezoelectric.
50. Before calibration, verify that the gap between the head and piezoelectric is similar across all 6 flies to ensure that all heads are uniformly compressed.
51. Follow the same procedure as the single dTBI device to generate the voltage vs. displacement and voltage vs. head compression graph. Obtain 3-6 replicates for each voltage setting, ensuring that flies are sampled across all 6 positions.
52. Use the equation of the line obtained from linear regression analyses to calculate the voltage required for 35% (mild), 40% (moderate) and 45% (severe) compression.
53. Perform a survival analysis on sham, mild, moderate and severe injury to identify the median lifespan.
54. We recommend using the 7d post-injury survival assay on severe dTBI flies to ensure that the head compression is even across all 6 flies. When returning flies to food vials during the dTBI process (see dTBI Procedure), split the injured flies according to their position on the collar (last 2 flies on the left can be combined as one group “L”, middle two flies as group “M”, right 2 flies as group “R”). Track survival of the 3 groups separately and ensure that the 3 lifespan curves are not significantly different from each other.
dTBI procedure (Timing: 3.5 – 5 min for a cohort of 6 sham, 6 dTBI flies)
Low throughput dTBI device
55. Determine the number of flies needed for the experiment taking into consideration dTBI severity, final experimental readout and the timepoint until when flies need to be aged. Collect the required number of flies in fresh food vials in groups of 30 or less, and age them to 3d.
56. When the flies are 3d old, briefly anesthetize a vial of flies and tip them on to a CO2 pad. Only tip the number of flies necessary for a single cohort, i.e. 5-6 sham and 5-6 TBI flies.
CAUTION: Maintain the flies on the lightest possible CO2 anesthesia. Excessive CO2 will cause the wings to fold upward making it difficult to collar them.
57. Place a collar on the CO2 pad with the opening on the right side.
58. For steps 58-62, see Movie 3. Under a stereo microscope, select a single fly and use a pair of blunt-ended forceps to pick it up by both wings. Manipulate the fly on to its right side, with the straight wings on the right side of the fly body and the legs on the left. Ensure that the forceps grasp both wings, close to the fly body. This gives better motor control to precisely manipulate the fly when collaring.
59. Bring the fly to the opening of the collar and gently thread the neck through the gap between the metal plates. Make sure that the head is stably resting on the metal plates before proceeding.
60. Flip the collar over and push the fly to the far end. Hold the forceps closed and rest them vertically on the metal groove against the right side of the fly body. Push against the fly body gently so that it moves smoothly along the collar.
CRITICAL STEP: Ensure that the forceps are closed so as to not injure the fly body. It is important to move the fly by sliding the forceps along the groove made by the metal plates rather than pushing against the body directly, because the latter can lead to decapitation.
61. A slower, but safer alternative is to move the fly by using a paintbrush to nudge the head with short pushes.
62. Collar the rest of the flies to have a total of 5-6 flies per collar. Collar the flies for the dTBI group first, then the sham, so that that dTBI flies are awake by the time the sham flies are collared.
63. Position the last collared fly about 2 mm from the next fly. It can be helpful to mark the spot with a sharpie. When the flies are awake and showing signs of activity, proceed with the next step.
64. For steps 64-68, see Movie 4. Grasp the collar firmly with the left hand and push down lightly. With the right hand, push down on top of the metal plates near the opening of the collar. While still pushing down lightly on the collar with both hands, slide it underneath the piezoelectric.
CRITICAL STEP: This ensures that the head slides in easily without bumping against the piezoelectric (which can lead to decapitation). Take great care not to let your hand or the screws on the collar graze against the piezoelectric, which can damage it.
65. Viewing through the stereo microscope, position the head so that the piezoelectric is above the third antennal segment. Make sure that the neighboring fly is far enough away that it will not be damaged by the piezoelectric as it deflects.
CRITICAL STEP: Variations in the positioning of the piezoelectric with respect to the head can contribute to the heterogeneity in the injury severity.
66. With the left hand still lightly holding the collar in the correct position, use the right hand to push the button that deflects the piezoelectric. Often, for severe dTBI, the proboscis unfurls upon head impact and retracts as the piezoelectric returns to normal position.
CAUTION: Additional pressure on the collar from the left hand can increase the gap between the fly head and piezoelectric and lead to a lower than calibrated head compression.
67. Gently slide the collar out from under the piezoelectric and use the forceps or a paintbrush to remove the injured fly on to a CO2 pad.
68. Use the forceps or a paintbrush, slide the next fly along the collar to the dTBI spot.
69. Repeat steps 64-68 for all the remaining flies.
70. Collect the cohort of dTBI flies into a fresh food vial.
71. Remove the sham flies from the collar onto a CO2 pad, and collect into a fresh food vial.
72. Repeat steps 56-71 until the desired number of flies have been injured.
CAUTION: When doing multiple rounds of dTBI, we recommend not anesthetizing the same vial successively, and to not have more than 20 flies in a single vial.
73. Once all the flies have been injured, return the vials to the incubator to allow them to recover.
High throughput dTBI device
74. Follow the same procedure as the single dTBI device, with a few modifications. When the flies to be injured are collared, make sure they are positioned equidistant from each other, leaving ~0.5 mm gap between the heads.
75. Position the heads under the piezoelectric, ensuring that it strikes all the heads above the third antennal segment.
CAUTION: Always injure the same number of flies for which the piezoelectric was calibrated.