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ImageJ Microscope Stage Controller

Medical Informatics, Telemedicine and E-Health Lab, University of Udine, Italy

ImageJ Microscope Stage Controller

The new version of the IJStage Controller, for Prior Optiscan as well as Märzhäuser LSTEP stages, is available from here, together with a general-purpose serial communications plugin (IJSerial). It is based now on the open source RxTx library.

Old information

Stage controller on Windows

Basic installation instructions are included in the package. Briefly, to use the stage controller as a Java plugin, you need to:

  1. Download and install the Java Communications API (available for Windows and Solaris); this enables serial port access from Java. UPDATE: it seems that Javacomm for Windows (which wat version 2.0) is no more available on the provided page; however, I found a direct link
  2. . An alternative is RXTX.
  3. you have to add both comm.jar (the Java CommAPI) and vfsc.jar (the stage controller) to the ImageJ classpath;
  4. put the Prior_controller.class into the ImageJ plugin folder.
  5. In practice, if you are using ImageJ with bundled JRE, put the files as follows:
    • PriorController.class: "ImageJ_dir\plugins"
    • comm.jar: "ImageJ_dir\jre\lib\ext"
    • win32com.dll: "ImageJ_dir\jre\bin"
    • javax.comm.properties: "ImageJ_dir\jre\lib"
    • PRIOR STAGE JAVA CONTROLLER.lnk: "ImageJ_dir\jre"
    • vfsc.jar: "ImageJ_dir\jre\lib\ext"
  6. Fatto! Start ImageJ, select the plugin, check the connection parameters (including serial port used), and connect. You'll be able to move the stage from either the GUI and programmatically.

Stage controller on MacoSX

The class has been developed on Windows, but it should be usable on MacOSX and Linux too, for example by means of the RXTX serial library implementation.

I personally tried it successfully on MacOSX (10.3.9, Powerbook 12"); here I describe what I did.

  1. Recent Macintoshes do not have a serial port. I tried an USB to Serial Adapter (Keyspan USA-28X) with two serial ports, to which I connected a mini-DIN to DB9 converter;
  2. I downloaded the most recent driver from the Keyspan site; I installed it without hassles.
  3. RxTx is an open source implementation of the Sun's Java CommAPI. You can download sources there, and then compile it on your computer. However, I preferred to use a pre-packaged installer from, well, the JMRI Model Railroad Interface project (here for the direct download);
  4. Then I've put the vfsc.jar library into the Java Extensions (/Library/Java/Extensions); by the way, there you can find the freshly installed comm.jar.
  5. The Prior_controller.class should go into the ImageJ plugin folder.
  6. Fatto! Start ImageJ, select the plugin, check the connection parameters (including serial port used), and connect. You'll be able to move the stage from either the GUI and programmatically.

Further developments

As we have other stages, it could be possible that in the future we extend the package to some other controller (i.e., LSTEP and MC2000); however, I do not know when.

If you use this package and you enhance it, please let me know.


Vincenzo Della Mea, Medical Informatics and Telemedicine Lab, University of Udine, Italy
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