Automation and High-Throughput Technologies
Open Source Automation
The Lead Identification team at Scripps Florida routinely leverages open source technologies to meet operational challenges and to provide custom engineering tools for lab use. Most recently, these tools include development of a microsolenoid dispensing QC platform built around the Lee Company VHS series valve. This system was developed to address the unmet need of dispensing of 3D models such as spheroids and to assist with general QC of valves used in ongoing HTS efforts. This QC platform allows users to characterize & optimize the performance of VHS valves under a variety of conditions.
This reconfigurable QC platform is built on an optical breadboard and is comprised of three main subsystems: electronics, optical train and motion control. The electronics subsystem allows users to easily control VHS series valve behavior using an Arduino microcontroller through a custom in-house designed Arduino shield. The optical train consists of an off the shelf USB camera combined with an in-house designed open-source illumination panel that allows imaging of individual droplets via the stroboscopic effect. An open source X/Y motion control system further increases the utility of the platform by allowing automated dispensing into microplates. User control of the QC platform is provided via a custom web-based interface that communicates directly with the microcontroller and allows users to easily specify microplate dispense patterns by interacting with graphic representations of microplate wells.
Also presented is the development of a custom Arduino-based syringe pump system intended for use alongside the Lee valve QC platform. This syringe pump system utilizes a Tecan Cavro pump and allows for real-time adjustment of pump parameters during mixing and dispensing operations which are critical for mixing and homogeneous distribution of the spheroids. The development of these platforms, lessons learned, and results of initial testing are presented.