Update 2015/03/18/: link to the portable v1.0rc0 instead of the earlier developer preview. This release candidate is considered stable for routine use; the only major change expected prior to v1.0 is the addition of a Windows installer.
We are getting set to release version 1.0 of the Micrdrop software as well as a couple of new hardware add-ons: (1) a test board and (2) an anti-aliasing filter shield. In combination, these improvements provide a simple method for users to quickly calibrate and benchmark their DropBot systems and to diagnose hardware problems. In addition, they significantly improve the accuracy of impedance-based measurements. We are in the process of upgrading our systems here to perform internal testing, but we thought we would share a preview of what’s in store.
This first set of screenshots shows a wizard for calibrating the reference load resistors. Once calibrated, this allows the DropBot to monitor the high-voltage output from the amplifier.
This next wizard is for calibrating the circuit responsible for measuring device impedance. This process makes use of the previously mentioned test board, which is essentially just a bank of known reference capacitors connected between one of the switching boards and the feedback cable (i.e., in place of a DMF device).
This final set of screenshots shows a test routine for checking the high-voltage switching boards. This can be useful for quickly identifying faulty solid-state relays.
One of the other changes with the upcoming software release makes it possible to run Microdrop as a portable application (e.g., from a folder or USB thumb drive) without installing the software. We still plan to provide an installer, but this will make it possible to run multiple versions of Microdrop on the same computer (e.g., one “stable” version and one “experimental” version).
If you are feeling brave and want to try out the release preview, download and double-click on the self-extracting zip file , then double-click on the
Microdrop.bat file. Be warned that this version may not be compatible with your old protocols/plugins (we are working on upgrade tools, etc.). You will also need to download the new control board plugin (change log); click on the menu item
File/Manage plugins, click the
Download plugin... button, select
dmf_control_board from the list and click
OK. Once you restart Microdrop, it should give you the option to flash the upgraded firmware. Note that if you want to go back to the previous firmware version, you will need to re-flash the control board and recalibrate.
In the new year, we will post an official release (with a Windows installer) and provide some additional details on the new hardware and software features. If you have any comments or questions about the release, please direct them to the development email list.