Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Having communication problems between your LC and Mass Spec?

Quick blerb here on a hidden feature in Windows 7 that is called: Automatic Metric.  This was something kind of snuck in and something a lot of us will never notice.  One of the functions of automatic metric is for Windows to get to determine which port to use and when.  Not a problem on most PCs, cause most of the time we have 1 port.  But if you have, oh I don't know, 3 ethernet ports on your PC -- maybe one for your LC, one for a mass spec, and one for Internet -- it can cause problems.

The solution?  Turn the darned thing off.  Honestly, if I think about it I turn it off on every LC-MS system I visit if I think of it -- particularly if I'm looking at a system with a Waters LC on it.  Does it fix every problem?  Nope, but it has fixed several.

The way to find it is to go into the Network and Sharing Center (look that up in the search bar if you don't know how to directly navigate to it.) Then open the properties for the ports for each device.  It takes a while to toggle through.  In the end it looks like this (click to Zoom In):

In the case of the above screenshot I turned off the Automatic Metric and set the Orbitrap to permanently be port 2.  Repeat for the LC (Waters LCs want to be port 1, by the way).  If you have had some communication problems and Windows 7, it can't hurt to try it out.

Edit (5/6/15): For further discussions on this topic, see this helpful thread at the ABRF discussion forum (here.) pay particular attention to the posts from September 2014 from my fellow Hokie, Dr. Wingerd.

Edit (5/6/15) 2:  If none of these suggestions help...sorry...go after the Windows Firewall settings.  I recently had luck with a room full of mixed vendor instruments by taking all of them off the network and disabling all firewalls.  An IT security person followed after me and put the devices back on the network after verifying that EVERY program that the LC and Mass spec used for communications (there are secret hidden ones!!! you have to get them all!) was allowed full permissions through the firewall.  This took quite a bit of time.

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