Electronics and Computer Core

Director: Kwoon Y. Wong, PhD
Staffed by: Scott Almburg, MSET
Email: saalmbur@umich.edu
Phone: 734-936-7381
Fax: 734-936-7231

Submit a work order to the Electronics and Computer Core

The Electronics and Computer Core occupies 246 sq. ft. of dedicated space on the 7th floor of the Brehm Tower. It is readily accessible by investigators with laboratories on the same floor, and those in the adjacent Kellogg Research Tower.

The principal objective of this Core is to provide primary investigators who have NEI grants with additional electronics and computer support in conducting vision research.  A secondary objective is to facilitate collaborative studies among vision scientists.


The Core provides several services:

  • Design specialized electronic research equipment not available commercially.
  • Repair and maintain existing electronic equipment.
  • Consult on design of new equipment and modification of existing equipment supporting vision research, including breadboarding test circuits, wire-wrapping circuits, and PCB design and fabrication.
  • Support and repair of research computers.  Service extends to hardware and software for PC, Macintosh, and Linux.
  • Provide secondary backup services for research computers.
  • Provide programming support for Labview, C, Matlab, Microchip PIC, Arduino and Allen Bradley PLCs.
  • Provide consultation for bioinformatics high performance Linux computer cluster for gene sequencing analysis


The Core contains a full complement of electronic test equipment and software to support research:

  • Tektronix oscilloscopes – analog and digital
  • Function generators – Sinusoidal, RF, and Arbitrary Function
  • Power supplies, current sources, voltmeters, capacitance meters
  • MicroOptix i-Lab Spectrophotometer
  • Labview
  • Autocad
  • Cadsoft Eagle PCB design
  • Programmable logic programmers for ROM, PLA, GAL, FPGA, and PLD devices


Humidity Controller for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) studies in rats.

Humidity Controller for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) studies

Designed for the Puro lab to control humidity in ROP chambers. A wide fluctuation of humidity in the sealed chambers is caused due to animal
activity, and is controlled and moderated by cycling air flow through the camber with air pumps and desiccants.


Cellfinder - Computerize control of Burleigh 7000 micro-positioner controller

Designed for the Hughes Lab to control position of micro-electrodes in electrophysiology experiments. The electrical potential relative to a surrounding medium of a micro-electrode attached to a Burleigh7000 positioner, is monitored, in order to detect changes which indicate when the electrode tip has passed through a cell wall, and to stop the positioner before the electrode tip has passed completely through the cell, so that measurements of potential differences across the cell wall may be made.

Cell Finder
Burleigh 7000 micro-positioner controller
Burleigh 7000 micro-positioner controller

Modulated Blue LED light therapy instrument

Modulated Blue LED light therapy instrument

Designed for the Wong lab, the two blue LED lights are modulated by a PWM algorithm running on an Arduino micro-controller board.


Non-Contact Corneal Aesthesiometer (NCAA)

Non-Contact Corneal Aesthesiometer (NCAA)

This instrument, constructed for research work in corneal studies, provides precise controlled pulses of air up to 60 pascals, for non-invasive measurement of corneal sensitivity.


Micro-processor controlled LED light

Micro-processor controlled LED light

Designed for the Wong laboratory

Arduino micro-processor board provides custom modulation for approx. 60W LED light.


Microscope stage temperature controller for the Lecia 2 Photon microscope

Microscope stage temperature controller

Designed for the Hitchcock laboratory to maintain controlled constant temperature for microscope subjects.


Optokinetic drum motion controller

Optokinetic drum motion controller

Designed for the Kahana laboratory for zebrafish research. Adult zebrafish display a stereotyped pattern of eye movement, known as an optokinetic reflex (OKR), in response to moving visual stimuli. This response is evoked by placing zebrafish on a stationary pedestal within the rotating optokinetic drum that is marked on the inner wall by alternating black and white stripes. Watch the video of an adult zebrafish in the rotating optokinetic drum.


Electroporation pulse generator

Electroporation pulse generator

A custom power supply built for electroporation provides 20 to 120 volt DC pulse with 1 to 99 ms period and adjustable duty cycle. This unit was built at a significantly lower cost than commercially available units.


High voltage power supply retrofit

Several years ago, the Demb laboratory acquired a specialized microscope monitor to stimulate retina fragments with various patterns.  When the HV focus in the power supply was damaged, we discovered that parts were no longer available and the unit was no longer produced.  We obtained a schematic diagram and reverse-engineered a high voltage power supply for the focus control, making the unit usable again.

High voltage power supply retrofit

Low temperature freezer emergency switch boxes

Low temperature freezer emergency switch boxes

 The emergency power outlets (generators) in the Kellogg Tower are not sufficient to provide power for all of the -80 low temperature freezers.  Relocation of some freezers to the Brehm Tower has alleviated much of the problem.  To power the remaining freezers, we created emergency switch boxes that allow multiple freezers to be daisy-chained onto one power outlet, so each freezer has some time on power.  Up to five freezers can be connected to the box, which allocates power sequentially to each unit.  The box is controlled by an Allen Bradley PLC.