Create Group and Next Labware commands

Trying to add some clarity to these commands for anyone else going through my same struggles. I want to use them to assist in tip tracking by utilizing them as tipbox arrays with ‘<Home’> positions. They are possibly not meant to work that way - but I can’t figure out what else they might be useful for…

Some behaviors…
Create Group command:

  • Creating a group without selecting the option checkbox, then querying the group results in an error; TestGroup is undefined.
  • Same test but with checkbox selected, =TestGroup results in the first position, TL1 (but doesn’t move the labware)
  • Using move labware command to move labware from TestGroup to a new position, and TestGroup is still set to TL1

Next Labware Command (This is where it gets weird):

  • Using the “Next Labware” command with no options slected. labware on TL2 (2nd array item) gets moved, and =TestGroup reports TL9, the position that the labware is now sitting on.
  • Selecting the 1st checkbox, “If the next labware is on deck, leave it where it is” results in no labware movement, but =TestGroup now reports TL2, the next item in the array.
  • Selecting the 2nd checkbox results in movement of labware in 1st array item, =TestGroup reports TL9
  • Selecting BOTH results in no movement, =TestGroup reports TL1

So possibly, the Next Labware command moves the labware and advances the array while also recording the intermediate position? Well, not always. The conditionals make this command somewhat difficult to predict and use. Using the serial Next Labware commands will, predictably, move an exhausted tipbox back to its <'Home> position and move the next tipbox out when the checkboxes are properly configured, but =TipGroup itself only reports the intermediate position. I can’t find a way to return different items of that array. This functionality can easily be added scriptwise with some array manipulation, and may be more robust that way.

The main reason I wanted to write this post is to demystify these commands a bit and provide any resource outside of the ((limited)) user manual on how these commands interact. Also as a fair warning, it is very easy to crash the software using these commands. Biomek Software has dynamic tip loading (Select Tips) using an intermediate tip re-rack position. If this is used alongside Labware Groups and Next Labware commands, the software WILL crash as soon as validation looks at that command. Select your labware group as the backup tip position and have fun.

If =TestGroup is used as the backup tip location for the load tips command, your software WILL crash.

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After some more testing, a few more notes:

  • Next Labware skips empty positions (However, you can’t select empty positions when creating the group, so the labware needs to be dynamically removed)
  • Crashing the software is actually WAY easier than I thought. Just set the backup tip position equal to the current position of that tipbox.
  • Using the Next Labware command to cycle through the array does NOT work with dynamically loaded labware. When loaded via script, the <'Home> value is apparently not set, and thus the labware cannot be returned to its original position. There is likely a way to set this, but I do not know the commands.

Looks great! Is this done dynamically or using standard commands? I’m curious about the extent of the software’s innate tip loading with the build-a-box position accessible.

Need many vbscript and If else. And a library to manager tips.