I am hoping that some of the list-serve readers are also users of
Merchantek's micromill for sample prep in their isotope labs. We
have been experiencing problems that seem to be irregular in their
occurrence and we are not sure if the issues are sourced in the
software or hardware. The mill was built in Dec. 2004 and the
software version is 126.96.36.199. The computer is not online so we doubt
a virus is the culprit. We thought we had fixed the problem by
reinstalling the software on a different portion of the hard-drive,
but the same symptoms have returned after a couple thousand samples.
Unfortunately, we are not getting much tech support for
trouble-shooting and without a breakdown of the mill components or
schematics, working on it ourselves is difficult. I've listed below
some of the problems as outlined by a student who was using the
device. It seems the mill loses track of its position when going
back and forth from scope to drill.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
1. For larger sample thicknesses, (13 mm or larger) the stage will not move
from drill position to scope position. The drill bit rises much higher than
it normally does (for all sample thicknesses), and then a dialogue box
appears on the screen that states "waiting for Z axis to move..." but the
stage never switches to the scope position if the sample is thick. If the
sample is thin (less than 2 mm) the drill bit still rises unusually high,
but the stage will still switch between drill and scope position. This only
happens after a sample thickness is measured. The stage will move between
the drill and scope positions before a sample thickness is measured.
2. The scroll bar on the top left corner of the screen that controls the up
and down movement of the drill bit will sometimes disappear.
3. Lines will randomly move far away from the places they were originally
4. Lines drawn are inaccurate. On a surface profile, the drill bit went to a
position that was about 1 mm off from the point it was supposed to go.
5. When the software is initially started, the system checklist will
indicate that the drill bit position is unknown, even though we went through
the drill bit positioning procedure before.
6. On a thick sample, the autofocus option is greyed out and unable to be
checked, but on a thin sample, it is not greyed out.
7. It does not seem to matter whether the autofocus box is checked. When
switching between the drill position and the scope position, the drill moves
too high and is not in focus when it gets to the scope side.
8. The systems checklist box will sometimes have a couple of the options
shown with a rectangle around them, and they are a brought a little to the
foreground (like a mouse is hovering over them).
Also, we've noticed that when the mill is in the scope position, the
interlock box is red as opposed to green. We are not sure if it is always
like that, and we have not noticed it before, or if this is also a problem.
We have also noticed that when the stage moves from the drill position to
the scope position the motor sounds strained. We seem to be having a
combination of hardware and software problems.
W. Joe Lambert
Alabama Stable Isotope Laboratory
University of Alabama
202 Bevill Building
P.O. Box 870338
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0338
Phone: (205) 348-4404
Fax: (205) 348-0818
email: [log in to unmask]
Visit our web-site: http:www.geo.ua.edu/asil