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USB cameras for tracking in Morris Water Maze and other experiments

A range of USB cameras can be used with the HVS Image video tracking and analysis software, including the HVS Image camera supplied in the accessories kit available from the company, and off-the-shelf web cams you can buy from PC stores or at low cost from eBay and Amazon.

Which camera suits you best will depend on your experimental set-up and whether you need to cater for more than one type of experiment.

If you want a versatile camera that can be used at different distances from the tracking area and for tracking area of different dimensions, the HVS Image camera is the answer. This has:
  • wide angle lens for use with Morris Water Maze, and other lenses for smaller mazes and arenas;
  • manual focus allowing you to focus at the tracking surface, so there is no issue of an auto-focus taking time to adjust when the subject enters the tracking area - it will already be in focus;
  • threaded mounting point for fixing the camera securely in place with the accompanying ceiling mount or other standard mount.
The HVS Image camera comes with a 30 foot USB boosted extension lead, lenses including a wide angle and a varifocal zoom, ceiling mount and long range wireless remote for starting trials from the pool, maze or arena.

Other cameras that can be used include the low cost Microsoft LifeCams such as the VX-800, which you can pick up for around $10, or the Logitech C920. Watch out for the following if choosing your own camera:
  • Not all web cams have a threaded mounting point, so you may need another way to hold it in place, such as duct tape;
  • Most web cams are auto-focus, so run some tests to make sure that the image is clear enough for the subject to be tracked right from the start of the trial;
  • The angle of view stated in web cam specs is usually the diagonal, so be careful to ensure you get one that will fit your tracking area into the image;
  • Most web cams don't have a wide enough angle to fit a large water maze, unless you have a high ceiling, so you may need the HVS Image camera. HVS Image are always happy to advise.

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