Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ValveLink® and ValveBank®?

ValveLinks are less expensive and include manual push buttons, digital/TTL and serial inputs to control valves. ValveBanks include all of the above, plus they can be programmed through their keypad and LCD screen or EasyCode® software from a Macintosh or PC-Windows. ValveBanks run user valve sequence ‘programs’ without a computer, and include eight programmable digital outputs for control of external devices. Entire ValveBank programs can also be triggered by a single TTL pulse. All AutoMate controllers include dual serial ports for communicating with multiple devices on a daisy-chain bus.

Can I control valves using the digital outputs of my DAQ board (i.e. DigiData, ITC-16, or National Instruments board) and/or acquisition software (i.e. pCLAMP, Pulse, or LabView)?

Both ValveBanks and ValveLinks accept real-time TTL inputs to control valves. Most acquisition software already being used in your experiments can talk to our controllers (i.e. pCLAMP, Pulse, or LabView can all send TTL outputs, or Kermit sends serial codes).

What software do I use to control valves?

AutoMate offers an optional program called EasyCode® for the Macintosh and PC-Windows to program ValveBanks. This software is used before an experiment — valve sequences are downloaded by serial cable into the memory of the ValveBank where they are run. ValveLinks only accept real-time TTL or serial inputs (as opposed to entire programs like the ValveBank), and therefore cannot use EasyCode®. An article by AutoMate Scientific can be found in Axon Instrument’s AxoBits 15 newsletter outlining these strategies.

What is the AutoPrime System?

The AutoPrime Perfusion Systems are designed to automate experiments that require oxygenated solutions — or any gas bubbled into solution in the reservoirs. Oxygen and other dissolved gasses tend to escape through tubing over time — while one liquid is flowing, the solutions in the other lines may become ‘stale’ in 10-15 minutes. Our 8-channel AutoPrime System uses a ‘tee’ fitting on each of 4 valves.

The three connections to each ‘tee’ are: 1) to the reservoir, 2) to a second ‘priming’ valve connected to waste, and 3) into the delivery valve whose manifold out-port is connected to the perfusion chamber. If you are using a particular solution for several minutes, the waste valve for the next liquid can be programmed to open for several seconds before switching the delivery valve to the new liquid. This re-primes the upper tubing with fresh solution from the reservoir to the delivery valve (tee) before changing to the next liquid, thus insuring fresh reagent is always delivered.

NOTE: AutoPrime Systems use two valves per liquid, so an 8-channel AutoPrime System controls four liquids.