Crowdsourcing: Missing a Joystick…

19 04 2010

As a result of the move and the associated (and dreaded) cleaning out of our offices, I have since become the beneficiary of quite a few forgotten “treasures” from around the department.  The most significant of these being a Zeiss Axioscope 2 mot plus with a MCX-2 eco control box and attached VGA camera- quite an upgrade from my previous Olympus CH-2 to say the least.  Excellent, right? Well almost…

Most importantly, the joystick controller for the motorized stage is missing, or lost, or thrown out.  This beast of a microscope is currently being crippled by the lack of its controller.  I’ve done some routing around the internet in hopes of either A) finding a replacement or B) figuring out some way to operate it without its original joystick.  It appears as if the joystick control is via a proprietary port, so I am not quite sure what my options are.  I have tried to contact the manufacturer, but all I have is information I’ve gleaned on a Google results page, and those results are all in Dutch.  I have tried to contact the company, without response as of yet.  Thoughts?  Does anyone have any experience with this scope or set-up?  I would really like to get this rig up and working, but with missing hardware, I feel as if I’ve hit a wall.

Second caveat, the rig came with a PC that had, at one point, ran image analysis!  The software suite is called AIMS: Autocyte Image Management System.  This was very exciting until I realized that the company is now out of business and no longer supports the software at all, so I am not sure as of yet if that whole aspect is actually a – as well.  If so, I’d have liked to connect the camera to my laptop for simple image acquisition, but I believe the camera interface is proprietary as well (there is a special PCI card for it in the desktop containing 3 rows of pins), so no-go there either (if it’s 50-pin SCSI, maybe there’s an SCSI/USB converter out there somewhere??).  If for nothing else, it really is quite amazing to see how technology has so drastically evolved in the past ten years, and also how annoying a lack of cable standards was before USB (although proprietary parts are certainly not a thing of the past even today)!

UPDATE: I have gotten the PC up and running, and communication between the scope and the PC works- the Zeiss software can tell what objective is currently in place and I am able to adjust the focus using the included software.  There is a setting for X-Y control but it is grayed out unfortunately.  Still no luck in that department…

Any thoughts?  Should I just scrap the whole rig?  I’ve spoken with our scope guy, and he said he couldn’t help me.  Hopefully a little crowdsourcing can help me get this scope up and running!

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3 responses

21 04 2010
Randy

Can you post some pics of the joystick’s port? Maybe there are other devices using similar connectors. Sometimes it’s possible to reverse engineer the signals to the port (no personal experience myself). Is it possible to remove the proprietary stage control and put in something else (I’m thinking along the lines of a repurposed ink jet printer set up)?

18 06 2010
robstak

Randy, hilariously, I tried that already… haha. I found an old serial gravis gamepad (http://www.ntrautanen.fi/computers/other/images/gravis_gamepad_pro.jpg) in my box ‘o electronic crap and brought it in to work. Unfortunately, no dice! The port here is proprietary and has only 9 pins…

18 06 2010
robstak

After further review, it appears as if 9-pins is the OLD OLD serial port standard haha

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RS-232

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