Book

Practical Laboratory Automation Made Easy with AutoIt

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By closing the gap between general programming books and those on laboratory automation, this timely book makes accessible to every laboratory technician or scientist what has traditionally been restricted to highly specialized professionals. Following the idea of "learning by doing", the book provides an introduction to scripting using AutoIt, with many workable examples based on real-world scenarios. A large portion of the book tackles the traditionally hard problem of instrument synchronization, including remote, web-based synchronization. Automated result processing, database operation, and creation of graphical user interfaces are also examined. Readers of this book can immediately profit from the new knowledge in terms of both increased efficiency and reduced costs in laboratory operation. Above all, laboratory technicians and scientists will learn that they are free to choose whatever equipment they desire when configuring an automated analytical setup, regardless of manufacturers suggested specifications. http://www.wiley-vch.de/publish/en/books/ISBN978-3-527-34158-0/
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... AutoIt is a scripting language for the Windows operating system that allows easy integration of analytical devices [24][25][26][27]. By means of AutoIt, open-source autosamplers for a range of analytical purposes have been presented, covering both fluid (liquids and gases) [28,29] and solid samples [30]. ...
... The firmware of the board is Marlin, fully open-source, enabling the use of G-code [29,30]. The integration of the autosampler and elemental analyzer is done using AutoIt [28][29][30]24]. ...
... The autsosampler is synchronized to the elemental analyzer using AutoIt [24]. A script is written which coordinates commands between the software controlling the autosampler (Hype!terminal) and the software controlling the elemental analyzer (in this case, Isodat by Thermo Fisher). ...
Article
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Elemental and isotopic analyses are performed using elemental analyzers, and are widely employed for diverse scientific fields. An elemental analyzer is typically equipped with an autosampler. Here we present an open-source autosampler for elemental and isotopic analysis of solid samples. The autosampler consists of 1) a sampling table, on which a carousel pushes samples inside an orifice, and 2) a purging pipe, placed directly beneath the orifice, where the sample is purged off surrounding air, and then delivered to the reaction tube. The action of the purging pipe ensured that air contamination, an issue for the analysis of some elements like nitrogen and oxygen, was negligible, and results for elemental and isotopic composition of nitrogen and carbon were inside specs. Compared to commercial alternatives, the autosampler presented here has the advantages of lower cost to build and maintain, universal compatibility with instruments from different manufacturers, capacity do deal with bulky samples, capacity for a larger number of samples in a single run, and no necessity for time-consuming purging in-between sample loading. The autosampler could potentially also be employed for the analyses of other elements (e.g. oxygen, hydrogen and sulfur) because they are performed using similar equipment.
... In this aspect, it is as versatile as any commercial alternative [5]. Also, osmar can replace other low-cost autosamplers like robotic arms with the advantage of easier computer control [1,4]. ...
... A fourth command that can be useful at times is M114, which shows the current position of the axes. The automated control of osmar consists of writing an AutoIt script [1] that sends instructions to osmar via Hype! Terminal in synchrony with the software controlling other instruments. ...
... The key technology that makes possible osmar work as an autosampler is AutoIt [1]. AutoIt allows that the plethora of opoensource hardware being developed be promptly adopted to work together with existing laboratory equipment. ...
Article
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Microsyringe manipulation is a common approach for the automated sampling of liquids or gases. Commercial devices with this capacity are typically priced above US$30,000, despite their technology being not clearly superior to that commonly found in low-cost (commonly less than US$1,000) devices controlled using G-code (3D printers, CNC routers and laser engravers, for example). Here, we present osmar, an open-source autosampler built by combining parts of two low-cost G-code machines. Movement precision was excellent (error < 1% in repeated injections, equivalent to the error reported by the microsyringe manufacturer), and system reliability was comparable to that of commercial models. Also, users do not need extensive knowledge in electronics or advanced computing to make osmar work as an autosampler, because it can easily be integrated with analytical instruments using AutoIt, a scripting language for the Windows Operating System. Therefore, osmar is a viable, low-cost, and technically-accessible alternative for automated sampling with microsyringes, and can be also adapted and expanded for more general liquid handling tasks.
... Here we present auto-HPGe, an autosampler that costs a minuscule fraction (about AU$1,000) of commercial models. As the other low-cost autosamplers previously mentioned, auto-HPGe can be easily integrated to any analytical instrument using AutoIt, a scripting language for the Windows operating system [13]. Also, auto-HPGe is easy to build and operate, without need of knowledge on electronics or low-level computing. ...
... The automated control of auto-HPGe consists of writing an AutoIt script [13] that sends instructions to auto-HPGe via the two Hype!Terminal windows in synchrony with the software controlling the HPGe detector (Genie, Canberra instruments). The sequence of actions is: 1) opening the analyser lids; 2) moving the gripper to a sample petri dish; 2) gripping the petri dish; 3) moving the petri dish to the analyser; 4) leaving the petri dish inside the analyser; 5) getting out of the analyser; 6) closing the analyser lids; 7) starting the measurement; 8) waiting until the measurement is finished; 9) opening the lids again; 10) griping the petri dish inside the analyser; 11) taking the petri dish to the dump station. ...
Article
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Radionuclide measurements have proven to be essential for determining processes related to pressing environmental issues as well as reconstructing historical events related to natural and anthropogenic activities. The detection of radionuclide tracers in environmental and geological samples provides unique and essential insights into specific sources and sinks. Despite its usefulness in measuring natural and anthropogenic radioisotopes, high-purity germanium (HPGe) gamma ray detectors are rarely automated as a result of the heavy shielding required to use this equipment. Consequently, the commonly available autosamplers for this kind of analysis can be very expensive, exceeding AU$400,000. Here we present auto-HPGe, an autosampler for gamma ray detection in heavy shields that costs about AU$1100 to build. Auto-HPGe has potential to make HPGe analysis more attractive to scientists, especially when the equipment is located in remote locations or when the ability to change samples at odd hours is limited.
... The motors are controlled using a computer via a control board operating on the Marlin firmware which enables the use of G-code for motor control [8,9,11,22,10]. All movements are synchronized to a computer controlled balance (in this case, a microbalance) using the AutoIt scripting language [26]. Although home-made actuators can potentially be built [27,11], which could reduce the cost of the machine, commercially available actuators were purchased because they cost relatively little, have reliable performance, and are easier to assemble than home-made ones. ...
Article
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Powder weighing is an essential but tedious activity in many branches of science. Here I describe a MIcrobalance AUtosampler (miau) that transfers solids in the sub-mg range to a microbalance. Miau is a pick-and-place machine which moves a gripper with dual function: 1) move tin capsules; 2) deliver powder from a container to tin capsules. In our laboratory we routinely use miau to prepare working standards for quality control of elemental and isotopic analyses. In a test, miau produced standards between 0.3 and 1.1 mg, which is a useful range in our laboratory. Failure to produce a weighed standard happened in 5% of the cases. A comparison with manual measurements demonstrated that obtained amounts for automated samples were as accurate and precise as manually prepared ones. Setup for daily use is simple, and the microbalance can be easily used alternately with or without miau. Miau is a low-cost device that can work with microbalances from many manufacturers, and can be readily adopted by many laboratories.
... Cuando el sistema de información requerido es de alta prioridad y se requiere de un equipo de desarrollo más especializado, se evalúa la posibilidad de contratación de una empresa de desarrollo.Automatización de procesos con AutoItAutoIt es un lenguaje scripting gratuito para Microsoft que simula los comandos de Windows: movimientos y clics del mouse[2],[3],[4]. Envía pulsaciones de teclas a las aplicaciones y trabaja con el portapapeles para cortar y pegar texto, entre otras tareas[5],[6]. Este software permite interactuar con aplicativos de la misma forma que lo hacen los usuarios al usar realmente el ...
Article
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El Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe (HPTU), ubicado en la ciudad de Medellín, en busca de mejorar los procesos y la eficiencia en la atención de pacientes, incorporó la tecnología AutoIt, la cual emplea una combinación de teclas simuladas, movimiento de mouse y manipulación de ventana/control para automatizar las tareas. El HPTU identificó la necesidad de automatizar el proceso de creación de pacientes que contiene el manejo de las historias clínicas electrónicas de pacientes extranjeros, por medio de una plataforma llamada Web Cheking. Esta información se registra en el sistema transversal del hospital servinte, con el fin de minimizar tiempo, eliminar reprocesos, errores y contingencias. Se concluye que, gracias a esta implementación, el hptu ha mejorado la eficiencia de sus procesos al automatizar tareas que se hacían manualmente.
... The board is connected to a tablet running on the Android operating system, on which Macrodroid [23-25], a scripting interface, is used to program the motor movements. This is a similar approach to the use of AutoIt to integrate analytical instruments [26,27]. A communication software, Serial USB Terminal [28,29], is used to send the commands, while allowing manual input if needed. ...
Article
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Automated water sampling can be very useful, but open-source choices are limited. Here I present an autosampler which consists of a gantry robot that delivers water from a syringe pump to 24 capped 40 ml vials. The autosampler is controlled using an Android tablet automatized using Macrodroid. Three rinsing cycles ensure negligible carryover between consecutive samples. Hourly sampling from a creek under rainy conditions suggested that total organic carbon in water was diluted by the rain. Some important limitations: 1) the autosampler must be on a steady, flat, horizontal surface; 2) unattended sampling can only last as long as the batteries powering the tablet and the motors; 3) distance from the syringe pump to water cannot exceed ~2 m in height and ~4 m in length for 3 mm tubing; 4) sampling frequency does not exceed one sample every eleven minutes. However, because of its open design, the autosampler can be modified and improved to not only overcome these limitations, but also potentially expand its scope to more demanding sampling if necessary.
... Programming involves activities such as analysis, developing understanding, generating algorithms, verification of requirements of algorithms including their correctness and resources consumption, and implementation (commonly referred to as coding (Shaun, 2014)) of algorithms in a target programming language. Automation is essential for many scientific and clinical applications (Carvalho, 2016). Therefore, automation has been extensively employed in laboratories. ...
Article
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This study aimed at the design, fabrication, evaluation and calibration of an improvised soil permeameter for measuring saturated soil hydraulic conductivities. A metal support frame with a permissible strength of 50e-4 N/mm2 was made using steel galvanized pipes of 6 cmØ (internal diameter) and metal flat bars of 8cm long and 0.4cm thick. The water tank (thickness 0.6 cm, height 28 cm, internal diameter 19 cmØ) and permeameter cylinder (thickness 0.6 cm, height 23 cm, internal diameter 19 cmØ) were both made of Perspex glass material. An electromechanical measuring device which was programmed and operated wirelessly was designed and constructed to measure head-in and head-out parameters. To calibrate the improvised soil permeameter, sampled and particle analysed soils from different locations within Zaria metropolis, were a test run on both foreign and improvised soil permeameters and their respective Ksat readings were subjected to regression analysis. According to the R2 values, the generated 3rd order polynomial regression equation from the Ksat readings of both foreign and improvised soil permeameter had a satisfactory R2 value of 0.985. Keywords: Permeameter, Hydraulic Conductivity, Electromechanical, Saturated, Automation
... GUI automation can be done via the Windows application programming interface (API) or using utilities such as UIPath Studio, 33 Automa, 34 SeleniumHQ, 35 JUnit, 36 AutoHotKey, 37 and AutoIt Scripting Language. [38][39][40] AutoIt is a freeware BASIC-like scripting language. It was designed for automating the Windows GUI and enables scripting tasks using mouse clicks, keyboard control, and control actions. ...
Article
The monitoring of chemical reactions is an important task in chemical engineering, especially in quality control, pharmaceutical and biological processes, or industrial production. The development of new reactions such as catalyst-based procedures requires detailed knowledge about process steps and reaction kinetics. For qualitative and quantitative analysis of reactants and resulting products, proprietary online measurement systems are used, which were designed for special applications. A mobile online reaction monitoring system was developed for a flexible coupling to different mass selective measurement systems for structural (ESI-MS) and elemental (ICP-MS) analysis to determine chemical precursors, reaction products, and internal standard compounds and their elemental composition at any stage of the reaction. Chemical reactions take place in a tempered continuous-flow microreactor. The flow rate in the microreactor can be varied to adjust the residence times in the reactor. An online dilution module was integrated to adapt the concentration of the reaction solutions to the working range of the analyzers. The performance and limitations of the online reaction system were determined using standard solutions and a real chemical reaction. The control software with a graphical user interface enables the adjustment of reaction, sampling, and measurement parameters as well as the system and process control.
... The measurement parameters were customised for each analysis such that the integration period for DIC and δ 13 C-DIC were 100 and 310 s respectively. Therefore, in order to achieve autonomous measurement of DIC and δ 13 C-DIC, a computer script using Au-toIt (Carvalho, 2017) was developed to autonomously modify the AIRICA's operating parameters at pre-determined time intervals without the need for an operator (the computer script is supplied as Supplement). The script was sequenced so that a single measurement cycle consisted of the AIRICA system acidifying three aliquots of sample. ...
Article
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A new method to autonomously determine concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and its carbon stable isotope ratio (δ13C-DIC) at high resolution is presented. The simple method requires no customised design, instead it uses two commercially available instruments currently used in aquatic carbon research. An inorganic carbon analyser utilising non-dispersive infrared detection (NDIR) is coupled to a Cavity Ring-down Spectrometer (CRDS) to determine DIC and δ13C-DIC based on the liberated CO2 from acidified aliquots of water. Using a small sample volume of 2 mL, the precision and accuracy of the new method was comparable to standard isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) methods. The system achieved a sampling resolution of 16 mins, with a DIC precision of ± 1.5 to 2 µmol kg-1 and δ13C-DIC precision of ± 0.14 ‰ for concentrations spanning 1000 to 3600 µmol kg-1. Accuracy of 0.1 ± 0.06 ‰ based on DIC concentrations ranging from 2000 µmol kg-1 to 2230 µmol kg-1 was achieved during a laboratory-based algal bloom experiment. The high precision data that can be autonomously obtained by the system should enable complex carbonate system questions to be explored in aquatic sciences using high temporal resolution observations.
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