The FlexHCD is new generation sample changer for macromolecular crystallography beamlines
This manual provide information concerning the operation and use of Flex High Capacity Dewar sample
FlexHCD is a versatile, high performance, sample changer system designed to be used in automatized synchrotron beamlines to handle biological crystallized samples at cryogenic temperatures. It allows the users to automatically transfer samples from the High Capacity Dewar to the diffractometer and back. It is based on a 6-axes robotic arm and a high capacity dewar. FlexHCD has been developed by the EMBL Diffraction Instrumentation Group in collaboration with ESRF.
· User: People interacting with FlexHCD machine.
· Beamline technician: People in charge of the technical problems occurring on the beamline
· Pin: small, slender, metallic tube or needle with mounted crystal support holding the sample to be exposed to xrays.
· Cap: support/base of the pin.
· Sample holder: Cap + pin.
· Vial: sample holder reservoir and protecting device.
· Puck: Device that stocks several sample holders in order to ease their transport.
· Gripper: Electromechanical device attached to the wrist of the robotic arm intended to pick up/release samples
holder and hold them when the robot is moving.
· Robot controller: Unit holding control electronics and power supply for robotic arm movements.
· Dewar: Liquid nitrogen vessel in which samples are stored
· Tool bank: Mechanical support for the storing of robot grippers
· De-freezing station: Gripper drying device mounted on the tool bank.
· Main rack: Closed cabinet containing electrical & pneumatic devices of the machine.
· Front end rack: Closed cabinet containing electrical & pneumatic devices of the machine installed under the tool
· Touchscreen: Screen of the control computer installed on the marble of the experimental hutch. It’s used to
interact with the FlexHCD during Dewar loading mode and Maintenance mode
· GUI: graphical user interface of the FlexHCD control software
· Goniometer: MD2S goniometer installed in the experimental hutch. The FlexHCD main purpose is to mount and
unmount samples to and from the goniometer.
· X-ray Detector: Detector installed in the experimental hutch permitting to image diffraction patterns resulting
from a data collection.
To prevent damage to the equipment or personal injury it is mandatory to read the following safety precautions before use. To prevent possible injury, read all warnings before using this equipment. Any use of the machine not described in this manual is considered as non-compliant.
Two working modes are available for beamline users:
Loading High Capacity Dewar
To load the High Capacity Dewar (HCD) with your samples, follow the steps described down below.
Wear cryogenic gloves when loading HCD with your samples.
Wear face shield when loading HCD with your samples
Residual risk of nitrogen burns can occur when loading and unloading HCD
Warning against moving part. There is a risk of hitting or crushing when opening and closing HCD User Port.
In the HCD, there are two types of segments: SC3 puck footprint segments and Unipuck footprint segments. On each segment you have three puck slots. The placement of these segments is represented in the following table
|Plate number||Segment Numbers||Segment type|
|1||1, 2, 3||SC3|
|2||4, 5, 6||Unipuck|
|3||7, 8, 9||SC3|
|4||10, 11, 12||Unipuck|
|5||13, 14, 15||SC3|
|6||16, 17, 18||Unipuck|
|7||19, 20, 21||SC3|
|8||22, 23, 24||Unipuck|
The figure below illustrates the SC3 and Unipuck segments. The guiding finger is used to ensure the pucks are correcly oriented in the puck slot
At any time during HCD loading or unloading, if an emergency situation arrives, you can press the Emergency Stop button (Figure 1) to cut machine power. If this happens, get in touch with local contact to reset the machine.
Most problems can be overcome using the 'init' command in "sample changer" tab in MxCuBE once the experimental hutch has been interlocked.
If this does not work then interlock the hutch and log onto the FlexHCD computer using VNC on bacon (ID30B control computer). Check the status of the FlexHCD software on the top left. If it reports 'gripper unknown' then restart the FlexHCD software, MxCuBE and redo 'init'.
Initializing the robot
When all you pucks are loaded in the HCD and the robot holds the correct gripper, you can proceed to the initialization
of the robot. For that you have to click on the button “Init Robot” (“Commands/Status” tab) in MxCuBE. It will defreeze the gripper
and put the robot in the correct standby position. Once this action is done, the robot is ready for normal operation.
Parking the robot
When you finished working with the FlexHCD it’s recommended to park the robot, in order to clear the space in front of
the goniometer. For that you have to click on the “Park” button (“Commands/Status” tab) in MxCuBE