Mechanical Design and Construction



Building things is my specialty. I am a builder.

For Psychology research I've built many types of mazes including the Radial Arm Maze, T-Maze, Gated Runway and Treadmill. My mazes are used throughout the Department of Psychology at UWM. At the Swain Neuroscience Lab, Stephanie Powell used my Rotary Maze for her Ph.D. Dissertation "The Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Spatial Learning in the Rat" (2004).


Building operant chambers for classical behavior research is another specialty of mine. This includes Rats, Mice, Pigeons and Fish (Yes Fish!)

The Rat and Mice animal chambers include standard response detection using press levers. I built a special high impedance electronic circuit to detect when a Rat 'licks' a water bottle. The Pigeon chambers use pecking keys, both mechanical and optical for response detection.



For the Great Lakes Water Institute in Milwaukee, WI. I created a special Fish Tank Operant Chamber with a submersable bumper to record Fish responses. The Fish Bumper response device was very challenging because it had to operate under water and inside an operant fish tank. It is amusing to observe the fish respond to a stimulus by slapping a bumper with his fin.

Mechanical food delivery devices include pellet and liquid food dispensers, seed hoppers and a special fish food dispenser I created for my fish tank operant chamber.

Human study apparatus includes Human Isolation Chambers, Button and Joystick Response Consoles, Hidden Camera and Microphone Enclosures for Clinical studies.



The Faraday Cage is used for Radio Frequency (RF) suppression. The Faraday Effect causes RF energy to be conducted around the outside of an enclosure and not penetrate to the interior. In neuroscience research very sensitive electronic amplifiers are used for detecting minute electrical signals. These amplifiers need shielding from the RF noise of everyday life. The Farady Cage suppresses this RF noise and shields high gain electronics from this interference. The cage I built for the Swain Neuroscience Lab uses a copper screen top cage attached to a 1/4" thick solid copper floor. This makes an extremely stable and completely shielded enclosure.




Daniel Shurilla
Electronic Research Technician

Stephanie K. Powell, Ph.D.
Pediatric Neuropsychologist
St. Louis Children's Hospital

Rodney A. Swain, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Associate Dean, Social Sciences
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee