Chapter 2: Got connected!

Lissy is home now! In order to fit in the trunk of my car and simply to make her loose weight that I might get her up to the attic in 3rd floor, I had to disassemble her. Thanks to the modular construction, it was not difficult to remove the power supply, the main controller board and the 4 syringe pump modules. Removing the xy arm was a bit more difficult at it is quite bulky and heavy. But in the end, everything went quite smoothly, she just gave me some scratches while struggling with her. Re-assembling the arm was very tedious as there are 4 nothches to get exactly in position. Support by my wife and some books and boxes lead to success. Hope that she (my wife) doesn’t get too jealous on her (Lizzy).

Then: Power on. No sound, no movement. Only a tiny green LED is glowing. At least no fire or smoke. Not too bad for 1.50 EUR (2 USD) + some more for shipping the pallet across the country [9 years ago, the price was almost 80k EUR (110k USD)]. Connected the serial cable. Started the Layout Editor software. Pressed the init-Button. The arm started to move into the upper left corner. From a bird’s view (as long as it flies above the instrument). Great! Some chance left that Lizzy’s functional. Then examined the control menu to play with the x,y and z motors and the grip tool. Fine! They seem to work! Then checked the syringe pumps: Error messages. They seem not present. It took some time to find out that I had messed up the serial connection chain [all tools of the instrument have a serial (RS232) port and a DIP-switchboard where they have been assigned an address. The modules are connected in series and each one has an input connector and an output connector. They should be wired in the right order (of course)]. Luan78zao should have read the labels on the backplane that he didn’t bother to install :(

Seems not too bad. I removed the pipetting needles, to prevent damage by accident during my first explorations. Anyway, now it’s time to find out how to control Lizzy by software and I’ll try to define a worktable layout and some simple methods. Think it might make sense now to study the f*** manual…

Had to edit the configuration files a lot: The software CD has parameter files for an instrument with a different serial number. Set new parameters for the wash station etc.
Although I may now control individual movements of the arm, the pipets and the grip within the layouter program, there is a problem that keeps me busy already for days: Within a method, the arm does not move to the racks, and pipetting happens at the wash station. Strange. No error message in the log. Could it be caused by having no system fluid yet? Will add some water…


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