Indiana University Bloomington
IUMSC   Indiana University Molecular Structure Center

XPort was a pilot project (X-ray Portal) addressing the issue of remote instrument access, as well as Internet based collaboration tools for researchers working with crystallographic data. The project was designed to allow "same as being there" access to the remote instrument by having a variety of video and audio capabilities, as well as remote data access. Below some of the initial developments are summarized.

interface of video system of the Diffractometer Bay 1 Diffractometer Bay 1 (Bruker SMART6000)

Diffractometer Bay 1 has monitoring software installed so that the researcher can follow the progress of the experiment using a simple browser connected to the Internet.

Axis Video Camera Axis Streaming Video Server

The video systems described above rely on inexpensive PC cameras that are refreshed only a few time a minute. The lab also is making use of streaming video cameras such as the Axis 2120 shown in the picture. These cameras allow a continuous monitoring of the laboratory area. Click on the image for details.

video conferencing equipment Polycom Collaboration System

Another inexpensive solution is the use of commercial video conferencing equipment. The Polycom system shown in the figure provides not only the continuous video capabilities of the system above, but high quality IP based audio as well. The camera can be moved by the user. Two additional video input signals allow the remote user to view the crystal image being generated by the microscope on the goniostat as well as an auxiliary camera such as the one shown.

Axis 2401 Video server Axis Video Server system for CCD system

The Axis 2401 Video server shown in the image also allows the user to pan, tilt, and zoom the image. It has the advantage that it can be easily incorporated into web pages, but it lacks the audio capabilities of the Polycom system.

Video Microscopy System I Video Microscopy I

The most critical part of any crystallography experiment is the crystal. For remote collaboration to be successful the remote user must be able to view the sample that is being selected. The research quality Nikon microscope in the IUMSC is equipped with a color CCD camera. The video image can be sent to either the Polycom system above, or an Axis server similar to the one below.

Video Microscopy Syatem II Video Microscopy II

A preferable video solution utilizes the binocular "teaching" microscope shown to the left. A prism system allows the images seen by the researcher to be input into two CCD cameras similar to the one on the Nikon system. The result is a left/right stereographic image of the sample being examined. Click on the image for more details.

John e-Bench Collaboration 3D Workbench System (the John e-Bench)

An ideal remote workstation will allow the us of a variety of IT techniques and hardware. The workstation system shown in the figure allows the researcher to access nearly all of the various systems described above. The large scale image on the right screen can be projected in stereo mode with the operator using inexpensive polarizing glasses. For details, click on the image.

John e-Box Portable 3D Workbench (the John e-Box)

Shown to the right in the image is a portable version of the above workstation. The system can be easily folded into a compact box that can be moved from the laboratory to the classroom. For details, click on the image.

Indiana University
Indiana University Molecular Structure Center. Chemistry, A421, Indiana University, 800 E, Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405-7102, 812.855.6821
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