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PI GCS Driver for High-Speed Piezo Z Motion


Interfaces with Physik Instrumente (PI) GCS Piezo Controllers for fast Z motion stages


Steffen Rau (PI) (based on code by Nico Stuurman and Nenad Amodaj)




All platforms (uses serial interface)



Example Config File:


Micro-Manager version:


’’ Please Note: This adapter is limited to Z Stages and serial communication. Please see PI_GCS_2 for an updated driver for X/Y and Z stages with more features. Further development will focus on the PI_GCS_2 adapter only (Steffen Rau, PI)’’

PI GCS driver is designed for high speed piezo Z motion and is compatible with all current PI piezo controllers. PI piezo controllers are also compatible with analog input (via analog DAC board driver in uManager). Piezo-Z motion is used for faster step times than motor-Z - typically about 10X faster.

The adapter has been tested with E-816-based controllers (E-665, E-621, E-625), as well as with the E-753, E-712 and C-848 but should work also with all PI controllers that support the GCS (General Command Set) and can be connected via a serial interface (C-880, C-702, …).

All communications to devices take place through serial ports. For some controllers you may need to set the serial port to ‘hardware handshaking’. The baudrate of the controller can be changed (defaults to 115.200 baud). Use the provided software from PI or a terminal program to connect with the controller and change the default baudrate. For E-816 based controllers this can be done with the “BDR” command:

BDR 57.6
WPA 100

For controllers supporting GCS2 (E-753, E-712) use “IFS”:

IFS 100 RSBAUD 57600

To use the PI Adapter, select “PI_GCS” as library and “PIZStage” as adapter in the Hardware Configuration Wizard. The PIZStage has two properties:

  • Axis is the axis to be controlled by Micro-Manager. For E-816 based controllers this is “A”, for E-753 use “1” (see the User Manual of your controller for available axes and their identifiers)
  • Port is the serial port to be used, which needs to be configured earlier in the Hardware Configuration Wizard. The default values are OK for PI controllers (AnswerTimeout = 500, DelayBetweenCharsMs = 0, StopBits = 1).

The PIZstage can be synchronized with image acquisiton, which is only neccassary for motorized stages. There is no “Homing” for ZStages in micro-manager (yet). So if you need to initialize the stage with “Auto Zero” or by moving to a reference, you need to start the provided PI software or a terminal application to do this once after power on. (This does not affect E-816 based controllers (E-665, E-621, E-625) which do not need to be referenced)

Steffen 15 January 2009

This driver does not work with the E-750. The E-750 uses a special binary protocol over the serial line.

–Karl Bellve, Biomedical Imaging Group, University of Massachusetts 16:48, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

Successfully configured with a C-867 controller and a PILine Piezomotor.

Julou 16:33, 30 November 2010 (UTC)