Getting started

This section provides new users with a set of run-through tasks to familiarise themselves with the Zantiks unit. We recommend that users conduct this run through after they have set up the Zantiks unit and familiarised themselves with the Zantiks Control Console (the unit's home page) and the Zanscripts & uploading services functions.


Familiarise yourself with the unit

The Zantiks unit comes pre-loaded with several demo scripts. More demo scripts are available on the website, or direct from Zantiks upon request. Each of these demo scripts shows you specific features of the unit, tests these features work properly and shows you examples of how to write scripts in the Zanscript software.

Some of these demo scripts will require assets. Check that any assets included in the script can be found in the Assets Directory folder which is found under the Administration section (#4 in the image below) on the Home page of the Control Console. Download each pre-loaded image to ensure it is correctly loaded.


  1. To start to familiarise yourself:
    1. With the AD unit: first insert the testing tank/cage into the recessed area above the screen in the system ensuring it is slotted securely in this area.
    2. With the MWP unit: place a multiwell plate or petri dish on the supplied stand and then insert the stand with plate into the recessed area at the bottom of the chamber. Take care that all the stand's legs are slotted into the recessed area.
  2. On the Live Video page (#10 in image above), a live image of the cage/tank or well plate within the unit can be seen.
  3. Capture Image (#9 in image above) will take a still image of the camera’s current view.
  4. This image can be found in the Media Directory (#5 in image above) on the home page in the bottom left corner of the Administration section.
  5. The file will be named “capture.jpg”, located at the top of this page.

- With the AD unit: You can configure the various inserts inside the tank and take pictures to see the many ways the tank can be set up.


Running services with 'fake animals'

We recommend that you run through demo scripts, and new scripts, using the supplied 'fake fish' or 'fake mouse' in the AD unit and the well plate with ball bearings in the MWP units. By using these you can check automated stimuli and data collection. Once a script is 'built' as a service, when running the service, the first 30 seconds or so is when the unit is collating an auto reference image enabling it to track the model organisms.

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In the AD unit, during this auto-reference time, move the stick with the animal on it around little towards the top of the chamber. Take care to keep the stick flat. (The fake animals are mounted on clear acrylic sticks that catch and reflect light if not moved flat in the unit or if too close to the bottom screen (and infrared light). The auto reference image will have bright patches across it from the stick if it isn't held high in the chamber during this initial period.)

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In the MWP units, during the auto-reference time, gently move the whole unit from side to side in order to get the ball bearings rolling. Do not move the plate itself as this will interfere with the auto-reference image.

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Checking the Zanscript directory

To explore scripts, go into the Zanscript directory page, from the link at the bottom of the home page. A selection of demo scripts will be loaded into this directory. Compare those listed in your delivery note (which you will have received with your Zantiks unit) with the Zanscripts loaded into this folder. You may also upload more from the website, or contact us to request more.

  1. By clicking the edit link next to each file’s name, you can open the file and see the script in detail.
  2. Next, open each of the unit demo scripts. These are sample scripts which are useful in illustrating how various commands within a script are written and work.
  3. Please note that some of the demo scripts have notes built in to them - each note is written next to the relevant line of code it is explaining after a tabbed space and a hash sign # - the unit will not read any text that is written after a # so the notes will not interfere with the commands.
  4. Each of the demo scripts will need to be built, click Build button. This compiles all the “INCLUDE” scripts into an executable file (i.e., a .zex file) for the unit to read. Click the Build button at either the top of the page or at the bottom of the Zanscript script. You can then load the experiment as a service on the unit. All .zex files are held in the ‘Services Directory’ which can be accessed from a link on the Home page.

Create new services

To create new services from the demo scripts, upload the zanscripts as services, if not pre-loaded into a service slot. Instructions on this, and writing scripts, are included in the Zanscripts & services manual.

A variety of demo scripts and tutorials are available from the support section of the website. The demo scripts demonstrate how the commands work together to track and output behavioural data. You should run these scripts to help familiarise yourself with the features of the scripts and how to edit various aspects of the commands.

Ensure you keep the bottom of the tank/cage or well plate dry

When using the units, especially with model organisms placed in water, it is advisable to keep a cloth by the unit to keep the tank/cage or well plate dry before placing in the chamber.