Saturday, January 13, 2018

Do we have open source chromatography options?

I was looking for something a little different, but this is too good to not share! 

OPENChrom Community Edition is an open source community driven software for looking at chromatography and mass spec data from virtually any device -- in the same interface.

There is an Enterprise Division if you're really serious and you like it, but if you meet the requirements to use the Community Edition and you're real tired of looking at output from 6 different vendor instruments, this could be huge.

What I was looking for was something like this:

You can't tell me that with today's quality of home electronics that can built with Arduino and controlled with Python and/or Raspberry Pi that I can't recruit some summer students in mechanical engineering and have them build a functional HPLC.

I have access to a number of new/newish HPLCs now and I was surprised to see that many of the features that were standard on our old stack in grad school (that was controlled with a monochrome Macintosh II..and I wonder if it is still cranking along making beautiful chromatograms -- yup! sure is!) aren't things that we have now. Sure, the pressure is higher on the pumps, and the mixing is supposedly more uniform, and there are cool things like what the print cartridge manufacturers use to make sure I'm using the instrument vendor's columns. There are even cooler things like 1/16th inch screw unions that can't be used together and there are inconsistent labeling schemes for solvent delivery line diameters -- from the same vendor.

Important side note: Do not use NanoVuper and ZenFut unions interchangeably! They are both 1/16th. They are not interchangeable or compatible! They just look compatible and the consequences of using the wrong one can mean pulling a switching valve and trying to remove the dead volume seal. I didn't make this mistake, I just heard about it ;)

Maybe I'm just mad about pump seals and a fraction collector that doesn't automatically progress to the next 96 well plate so we can't batch fractionations (different vendors, btw, but the latter makes reproducing the ultradeep proteomics methods out of the Olsen lab seem much more difficult). I'm probably not angry enough to actually spend my Saturday morning emailing engineers and chromatographers I know to see if they'd like to pool resources on such a ridiculous after-school endeavor.  No one is that weird, right?

Albert would you even build an autosampler? Where would you get something in today's world that would have precisely automated and easily programmable recognition of space in X,Y, and Z planes that you could obtain with Prime Shipping by Tuesday? Even if I was that weird, I bet you I'd be stumped by that problem. And I'm sure it would be impossible to use that exact same product to make a fraction collector that would progress to a second 96-well plate for collection of the next sample.

I'm probably only weird enough to ramble on about it on some weird blog...however, that post on CF sure seems to be getting a lot of attention, and I wonder if anyone else is that weird?

EDIT:  WHOA!!! Someone has already done the Autosampler. I didn't have this idea first at all! It's called OpenSampler!!  Check this out!

Holy cow. I'm amazed. motor screws...valco valves....arduino compatible linear actuators...flow meter might be a challenge...though CMOS looks pretty cool...

EDIT 2 (1/15/2018): What about a UV detector for GC or CE separations?

This team built one with a sophomore engineering class in Ann Arbor. Price? $50.

You can check out this Open Access paper here.

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