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Revision as of 07:41, 30 July 2011 by P.nanda (Talk | contribs)

Summary:Interfaces with Andor laser combiner
Author:Karl Hoover, UCSF - µManager device adapter
Pariksheet Nanda, Andor Support - this documentation and µManager device adapter code maintainer
Platforms:Windows XP 32bit, Windows 7 32bit and 64bit (No Mac or Linux driver available)
Devices:Andor laser combiners: ALC-401, ALC-501, ALC-601

Getting Started

  • The Andor Laser Combiner SDK, and consequently µManager which depends on it, can control the following models:
    1. LC-401
    2. LC-501
    3. LC-601
  • These models are not currently supported:
    1. LC-103
      • Use the AA AOTF driver instead. There is a an RS-232 connection on the front of the Andor PCU to interface to the AOTF controller. However, switching lasers wavelengths and power using this method is much slower than using the analog interface.
      • If you want proper analog control supported for fastest operation, i.e. using Andor's choice of DAC card, please request Andor
    2. External laser control via PCUV-101
      • Use the NEOS driver instead.
  • You need to download a copy of the Andor Laser Combiner SDK (ALC_SDK). It is not publicly available. Request Andor support to gain access to it, stating in the support request form you need the drivers for µManager.
  • ALC_SDK 2.0 is the current version as of July 29, 2011
Note: The rest of this guide assumes you have a computer preconfigured with drivers, such as the computer Andor sells. If, instead, you have a non-Andor computer please read the appendix to install the drivers and map the COM ports.

Installing the Device Adapter

Setup the ALC_SDK

  • The Andor Laser Combiner SDK is packaged in a zip file. Decompress to a folder on your C: drive. Copy the location of the `Libraries' folder (e.g. C:\Andor\0.9\ALC_REV_SDK\Libraries).
Decompress the Andor Laser Combiner SDK from the zip file
  • Right-click the My Computer icon on the desktop or start menu, click properties and on the advanced tab choose Environment variables. On the system variables list, find "Path" or "PATH" and click edit. DO NOT DELETE ANYTHING. Just add ;C:\YOURFOLDER on the end of the line on the edit window. Of course, remember to change the folder to where you unzipped the SDK. Also, remember to include the semi-colon (;) or you might break something on your windows installation. Now, reboot your computer.
Add the Andor Laser Combiner SDK `Libraries' folder to the Windows PATH so that MicroManager can find the DLLs

Configuring Micro-Manager

  • The version of Micro-Manager you require depends on your wanting to run on the 1.3 or 1.4 branch:
    1. 1.3.47
    2. 1.4.x users currently need to get the latest nightly build.
  • When configuring your hardware setup, remember to add the AndorLaserCombiner and AndorLaserCombiner Piezostage (if you have a piezostage). Also, the configuration wizard will ask if you have a multiport unit present. If you have a FRAPPA unit or TIRF setup, you do and should set it to "1" (true). Other than those cases you probably don't have it, set it to "0" (false).
Add the Andor Laser Combiner to the Hardware Configuration
Finalize configuration settings


Laser Combiner questions

For contacting Andor product support regarding any questions, use this Andor Product Support link

Development support

This driver is not actively maintained by the Andor software team. For feature requests or bug reports, please liaison with µManager developers on the mailing list and Pariksheet Nanda.


Setting Micro-Manager but not iQ

If you want to run Andor's iQ software as well on this computer, skip to the the next section

Specific driver versions are required. Do not rely on the manufacturer websites for these drivers. The ALC_SDK version 2 now bundles all the drivers you need to install to get the ALC running. Install the drivers bundled with the ALC SDK zip file for your flavor of Windows:


Setting Micro-Manager alongside Andor iQ

Andor completes the steps described in this section in their factory. If you are setting up an Andor laser combiner on a new computer, only then do you need to follow this section.

When you start Windows, ignore the Found New Hardware Wizard. Also when installing, ignore the driver requests to restart your computer.

  1. (Optional for testing) Dongle Driver
  2. Andor iQ
    • Necessary because iQ installs the driver to recognize the DeVaSys microcontroller in the combiner
    • (Optional for testing) iQ would also serve to test that communication and control of the combiner is possible
  3. Instacal for the Measurement Computing DAC card driver
    • Recognizes the Andor Precision Control Unit (PCU) box which controls the laser combiner Acousto-Optic Tunable Filter (AOTF)
  4. Prolific PL-2303 USB to RS232 driver. For Windows 7 do not use Prolific's public driver. It will lock up Windows. Use the version bundled with the ALC SDK instead.
  5. Restart your PC
  6. Let Windows Found New Hardware wizard finish for all hardware
  7. Start menu > Measurement Computing > InstalCal, to register the PCU DAC card
    • Running InstaCal creates a new configuration file which is used by iQ
    • Simply running the program once and closing it creates the file
    • Do not delete the DEMO board.
    • Two boards should exist, the DEMO board #0 and your installed board #1
  8. Start Menu > Andor Bioimaging > ConfigurationManager
    • Create a new configuration with a Kinetic Dummy Camera and the Andor laser combiner

Mapping COM ports

  1. Remap the USB-to-Serial COM ports in your Device Manager to 201-204
    • iQ reserves these specific port numbers for the combiner
    • (Right-click) on My Computer > Manage to invoke the Device Manager
    • See screenshots below to change COM ports. By unplugging the USB cable from the front of the Andor combiner we know that Windows has enumerated the COM ports for the lasers from COM 7 to COM 10 (since these port numbers disappear from the Device manager when we unplug the combiner and reappear when we plug it back in)
      Step 1: After restarting Windows with drivers freshly installed, the device manager can list the COM ports of the laser combiner out of order i.e. it orders alphabetically instead of numerically. In this case COM10 should not be made 201, but COM7 would be 201
      Step 2: Process of reassigning the COM port from COM 7 to COM 201. (Right-click) on the port > Properties > Port Settings (tab) > Advanced > change the COM port number
      Step 3: After 201-204 have been resassigned, click on scan for hardware changes to refresh the window
      Step 4: Result of COM port changes


  1. (Optional for testing) Now start iQ with your new laser combiner configuration and test. The ALC_SDK also includes a test program which turns lasers on sequentially and then off:

P.nanda 14:39, 29 July 2011 (PDT)

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