Configuring PYME Acquire

Specifying your Hardware

The hardware in PYME is configured and initialised in a customised initialisation script. These typically start with init and live in PYME/Acquire/Scripts. You can tell PYME Acquire which script to use with the --init-script (short form -i) command line option eg:

python -i

If you don’t specify a script, it’ll use by default, which contains a setup for the simulator.

The easiest way to get your hardware up and running is to copy and modify one of the existing scripts. There is a little bit of magic going on in places, so I’ll attempt to explain the relevant bits.

The scope Object

scope is an object representing the microscope. It serves a a place to accumulate all the various hardware bits as well as being home to a few utility functions. By the end of the script, scope must have the following properties defined: The camera object. (scope.cameras is a dictionary of cameras used for multiple camera support, but can safely be ignored unless you really need to drive two cameras on one rig)
scope.chaninfo Information about colour channels. This is mostly left over cruft from previous versions of the software and specifies how to deal with colour (bayer mask) cameras, and the sequential acquisition of different colour channels when using shuttered laser excitation sources, a multiband dichroic/blocking filter, and a black & white camera. Just copy across from one of the existing scripts.
scope.shutters Cruft again, associated with chaninfo above

In addition to the mandatory items above, there are a couple of optional items that will be recognised and used if present:

scope.lasers This should be a list of laser objects, and is where most of the shuttering is now controlled
scope.joystick A joystick object.

Positioning - scope.piezos

scope.piezos is a list to which positioning devices which export the piezo interface (see the scripts in PYME\Acquire\Hardware\Piezos) should be added. Note that the piezo bit is historic, and this should probably be called scope.positioning (or similar) - there’s nothing to say that they can’t actually be stepper motors. The entries in this list should be tuples of the form (positioningObject, channelNum, displayName).

InitBG and InitGUI

This is where things start to get a bit complicated. To improve startup times, PYME Acquire supports a threaded initialisation, such that different hardware components can be initialised in parallel. This is what all the InitBG blocks are.

The InitBG function takes a name (to display on the splash screen) and a string containing the code to execute, and fires off a new thread to execute the code. It returns the thread created, so, if you have one bit of hardware which requires another to be initialised first, you can use the join function to force a wait. This is purely a performance tweak, so you can quite happily just put the code in without the InitBG wrappers.

The InitGUI blocks serve a different function - the main PYME Acquire GUI is not properly created when the init script is run, and any GUI operations associated with the various bits of hardware need to be deferred to such time as the main window is there. InitGUI blocks add the code contained to a list of things to be executed when the main window is ready.


PYME Acquire stores a lot of it’s settings in PYME/Acquire/PYMESettings.db. This is an sqllite database and will be created the first time PYME Acquire is run. It should then have it’s permissions changed so that all users who are going to be using the software can write to it.


Andor Noise Properties

The analysis software wants to know about the camera noise properties, which can be gleaned from the performance sheet shipped with the camera. At present you need to edit PYME/Acquire/Hardware/AndorIXon/ and add an entry to the noiseProperties dictionary. The key should be your camera serial number, and the settings should be for a readout speed of 10Mhz and a pre-amp gain of ??.


The old Andor EMCCD cameras use a method of setting the gain with is non-linear, and uncalibrated (basically you just set a value between 0 and 255 which is sent through a D to A convertor and used to control the gain register voltage). This needs to be calibrated if we want to know what our actual EM gain is. More recent Andor cameras give you 4 different ways of setting the gain, some of which are linearised / calibrated. PYME uses the default mode, which is similar to that of the older cameras (with some differences in scaling), and does it’s own calibration for these as well. The Steps for doing this are outlined below:

  1. Set up a uniform illumination using transmitted light (a uniform fluorescent field can also be used as long as there is NO bleaching & the illumination source is stable). If there are residual non-uniformities, a region of interest can be selected. If using a ROI it shouldn’t be too small.
  2. Wait for the CCD temperature to settle
  3. Decide what range of gain values you want to calibrate over (the default is 0 to 220, but this might be too much for newer cameras - I’d recommend 0 to 150 for these). Set the illumination intensity and/or integration time such that the maximum brightness in the image is at ~50% of saturation when using the highest gain you want to calibrate for. Note that this WILL saturate the display (the display saturates at 4096 counts, the camera at ~16000). Use the histogram instead - you want the upper bound somewhere between 8000 & 12000.
  4. In the console window, execute the following commands:
from PYME.Acquire.Hardware import ccdCalibrator

or (if you want to calibrate over a range other than 0 to 220):

import numpy
from PYME.Acquire.Hardware import ccdCalibrator
ccdCalibrator.ccdCalibrator(numpy.arange(0, <max_gain>, 5))

CCD Pixel Size

PYME stores it’s pixel sizes in a two step process - first there is a named list of pixel size settings, and then an index to the setting that is currently active. This is to facilitate the easy changing of cameras / objectives etc. To set the pixel size you thus have to create a new setting, and then make that active.

This can be done by selecting Controls > Camera > Set Pixel Size from the menu.

Alternatively one can execute the following commands in the console:

scope.AddVoxelSizeSetting(name, x_size, y_size)

where x_size and y_size are the x and y pixel sizes in the sample in um.