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Thomas Pencil Drive

Single Electrode Microdrive System

Neuroscience Products > Accessories > Amplifiers > Chronic Recording Devices > Data Acquisition Systems > Eye Tracking Systems > Microdrives > Microelectrodes > Microinjection Systems> Optogenetic Products > Primate Training Systems > Screws > Software > Stereotaxic Instruments > Cell & Tissue Media > Rodent Products Medical Products Electrochemical Products

Thomas Pencil Drive

Single Electrode Microdrive System

The Thomas Pencil Drive System is a single electrode microdrive with integrated preamplifier. This microelectrode manipulator can drive Thomas microelectrodes with the patented rubber tube mechanism as well as Thomas multitrodes. This device has an integrated 8 channel low-noise preamplifier.

Key features:
  • High precision & quality “Made in GERMANY” by Thomas RECORDING
  • Axial resolution better than 1μm
  • Patented rubber-tube drive, no hysteresis, slick or free motion due to patented ruber tube drive (avoids drawbacks of cable, direct or hydraulic driven systems)
  • Eletrode travel range 10.000 micrometers
  • Variable speed range from 0…250μm/s, higher velocity on request
  • Small and lightweight (just 33g per drive unit incl. motor)
  • No electrode connection cables free in air!
  • Easy electrode exchange
  • Custom made solutions for each recording application
  • Stable long-term recordings with thin microelectrodes for hours
Technical Data
Electrode travel:10.000µm
Preamplifier:8 channels
Drive principle:Patented Thomas rubber tube drive


  • The tetrode/electrode is completely shielded against noise pickup from the environment
  • The patented rubber tube drive does not cause any slick or free motion like cable or hydraulic or thread rod driven microdrive systems
  • Adaptation to different electrode travel distances for cortical or deep brain recordings
  • Modular system
  • Networkable software to control one recording setup with multiple Thomas Pen Drives from different workstations by more than one neuroscientist
  • System uses thin microelectrodes with high recording quality (e.g. Thomas electrodes or tetrodes)
  • Low price
  • Small size and weight
  • Easy setup and many features more  

Figure 1 shows all components of a Thomas Pencil Drive.

The Thomas Pencil Drive is a lightweight system that can be mounted directly on an implanted primate recording chamber.


Figure 2 shows a Pencil Drive guide tube introduced in a grid hole of a primate recording chamber. 

Although the electrode travel distances is 10mm, larger travel distances are available on request. The dimensions of the Thomas Pencil Drive are shown in figure 3.

Beside using the Thomas Pencil Drive for primate recording application it is also possible to use this drive with small animal stereotaxic instruments for small animal recording applications.


Furthermore we have developed a motorized xyz-manipulator with Pencil Drive holder for slice recording applications (see figure 4).

The Thomas Pencil Drive System is delivered with 8 channel motor control unit, motor control software, integrated 8 channel preamplifier with accumulator power supply and charger, primate chamber holder or small animal stereotaxic system holder. 

Figure 1: Components of the Thomas Pencil Drive (1) = Motor control connection cable, (2) = 8 channel preamplifier, (3) = Preamplifier connection cable, (4) = O-rings for cover fixation, (5) = Cover for electrode chamber, (6) = Recording chamber holder, (7) = Electrode guide tube, (8) = Recording chamber (not part of the delivery)

Figure 2: Thomas Pencil Drive mounted on a primate recording chamber. The Pencil Drive guide tube is introduced in a grid hole to guarantee high reproducibility of the recording position.

Figure 3: Dimensions of the Thomas Pencil Drive for primate recording applications

Figure 4: Thomas Pencil Drive with Thomas motorized xyz-manipulator mounted on a slice recording chamber

Figure 5: Thomas Pencil Drive networkable motor control software graphical user interface. The Thomas Pencil Drive system is delivered with an 8 channel motor control unit (MCU-2) and a single channel software license for each single Pencil Drive. So it is easy to add another pencil drive to a complete setup just by ordering another pencil with another software license.

Figure 6: Connection diagram of the Thomas Pencil drive system. This connection diagram shows the required connections for driving the motor of the Thomas Pencil Drive

Figure 7: Connection diagram of the Thomas Pencil drive system. This connection diagram shows the required connections for signal amplifier connection of the Thomas Pencil Drive


[2] Mountcastle VB, Reitboeck HJ, Poggio GF, Steinmetz MA. Adaptation of the Reitboeck method of multiple microelectrode recording to the neocortex of the waking monkey. J Neurosci Methods 1991;36(1):77-84.

[1] Reitboeck HJ. Fiber microelectrodes for electrophysiological recordings. J Neurosci Methods 1983;8:249-62.

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