Seeing as the MLPrep is a relatively new platform and is still ramping up in terms of usage and reach, I’m hoping to start a thread where we can provide some feedback into features that would improve QoL for the users. Seeing as there’s a massive Hamilton presence on these forums, I think this would be a great way to improve the Prep’s utility in labs, new and existing.
I’ll start → Give us variables and the ability to do some math on our side! I don’t think I’m the only one who finds it a little tedious to change the volume for 8 different aliquot steps all individually, all the time with the method editor jumping back up to line 1 of the script every time a change is applied. I swear that one of my arms are stronger than the other after having to hold it up for so long applying changes on that touch screen.
P.S.: I love the ML Prep and this criticism is 10000% constructive in nature!
Thanks for starting this thread! I’m the team lead for the PREP sales side, and one thing the sales team has been tasked with is gathering suggestions on features we could add, tweak, or remove to better the experience, so great timing on this. Glad to hear you are loving the PREP!
Question: would you want to be able to select the 8 different steps “checkbox” style, and then say "change volume → [ enter new value])?
Also, I like the idea of you not having to scroll down to the last step.
(For the arm strength, one “hack” I always use if I’m working on the PREP for a while is sticking my bluetooth dongle into the USB slot and using my wireless mouse and keyboard to navigate/type!)
Please keep the feedback coming!!
Any sort of “bulk editing” would be nice; loops, variables, or even checkbox style like you suggested.
One thing that variables would be nice for is reagent calculations. It looks like the Prep uses only a plain 5% overage for calculations, and maybe a very small dead volume. However, it overlooks pre-mix of the source trough when making these calculations so there are some situations where this can cause over-aspiration events. For instance if you need to alq 500µL into multiple wells, but use a pre-aspirate mix on the source trough at 750µL, you would be causing issues on anything less than 8 samples. Using a pre-mix volume ≤ transfer volume is always an option… but the mixing becomes inefficient at larger sample sizes. Bit of a tricky problem within the current capabilities of the software.
And I elaborated a bit on the arm strength aspect - its not that bad I was just being dramatic
My team and I ran into an issue with the MicroLab prep that I want to raise awareness about:
The default aqueous liquid class on it has an air travel volume default of 5uL but no setting to adjust what height it draws that extra trailing air cushion at after aspiration. The default liquid class also has the “Jet” dispense setting that clears the entire tip contents.
If you’re dealing with small source volumes at fixed aspirate heights (where liquid level sensing won’t work in many plate types) you need to dial that travel volume down to 0 and save a custom liquid class for that or it always pulls that extra 5uL of “air” volume from the liquid in the source well and dispenses it.
My team has also even noticed this behavior with liquid sensing enabled and working at the default -2mm liquid level aspirate setting with volumes <20uL.
I’d love to be able to set my new custom “aqueous-no-extra” liquid class I’m now using for most of my methods as the default. There should also be some kind of logic in the software for an alternate “zero travel volume” default liquid class when aspiration is set to a fixed height and/or aspiration volumes are below some threshold volume.
Unrelated: is there any way to enable pipetting from/into plates that are on the heater/shaker position? Or handle lids? The HHS integration is a nice idea but not as useful as it could be without those functionalities.
Thank you for sharing this! I’m sending this over to the product management/software team this morning.
The requested changes I’m hearing here are:
–ability to set which liquid class is the default
–ability to either set when the air travel volume is aspirated or (and) have it automatically remove the transport volume when pipetting in certain parameters.
Is that a good summary?
For the HHS piece, Hamilton doesn’t recommend pipetting into/from plates on the HHS on any of our systems due to the risk of a) damaging the HHS [if chemicals/reagents got into the unit) and b) causing fires. There have been times where people set up their protocols incorrectly and pipetted volatile liquids directly onto the HHS without a plate in place, which caused a fire. So from a liability and best practice standpoint we actively discourage that.
On the PREP, since it is a little more streamlined (or locked-down), we just completely disabled the option, particularly since you can’t do a tap-off to confirm that the plate is present before pipetting.
The goal here was to make it “undergrad resistant” [sorry to any undergrads reading this…feel free to mentally substitute “PI resistant” if it makes you feel better] and let them use/program with next-to-no training (and not risk burning down their lab).
RE: lids. I remember asking about this, and I honestly don’t remember the reason we don’t handle lids currently. I’ll ask about that as well.
Michael: thank you so much for your quick response! I think your summary of requested changes is spot-on. That all makes sense regarding the HHS too.
I know that I’ve shared this privately but an API would be awesome.
I understand that it’s standalone but it seems like the ability to at least pull information from the system after a run or send it information would be super useful.
Also at the moment, is the end of run report only a manual download?
My team has recently acquired a ML prep and we like how easy it is to use which makes it simple for anyone to pick up. However, we’ve found a few limitations of the ML prep which has been slightly frustrating.
Some of the limitations of the Prep are:
- You are unable to use sample select setting that cause steps to be skipped from the sample select page. This limitation forces us to create multiple protocols for the steps you wish to be skipped.
- You are forced to select tubes or plates as the variable in the sample select page, you are unbale to select reservoirs.
- You are unable to program the Prep to continue to replicate samples until the source runs dry.
- You are forced to use the sample tip size throughout a serial dilution, you can’t start the serial dilution using a 50 μL tip then switch to a 1000 μL tip in the sample serial dilution step.
- When using the reagent from file feature:
- You are unable to use the 8-tip head.
- You are unable to use multi dispense.
- You are unable to add different reagents from a single add reagent step.
- The ML prep will just pause when it runs out of tips, it won’t flash or give any warning, it is up to the user to periodically check.
- The ML prep cannot be programmed to automatically save the run report after every run, the user must manually save.
We love our Prep and it has already proven its worth, I’m only providing the above criticism as I want to see this platform become more useful into the future.
Hey @decoy , thank you for sharing the feedback!
The good news is that some of the things you mention are actually doable/available in the software today, or have other ways of achieving similar results.
I can share some of that here, but it may be easier to hop on a call to walk through it/share my screen with the software so you can see it?
If you’d like to do that, shoot me a DM and we can connect via email