Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are the Alpha Cycler blocks interchangable?
No, the Alpha Cycler 1 and 4 have fixed blocks although at point of ordering the customer can choose what format and how many (in the case of the AC-4) blocks they wish. For simplified maintenance service engineers can remove and replace blocks to facilitate repairs.
Q. Are all block formats gradient?
Yes, every block format is gradient on the Alpha Cyclers, be that 96 or 384. The gradient range can cover up to 29° C across any of the block formats.
Q. What plates/tubes can I run in the Alpha Cyclers?
The blocks in the AC-1 and 4 have been developed to ensure a fit with most plate/tubes avalible on the market. Some manufacturers will make custom plates and tubes which only operate in specific instrumentation; it is unlikely that these will be compatible with the Alpha Cyclers. Feel free to contact us directly to check if your plastic ware is compatible.
Q. Can I generate specific user accounts?
Yes, the Alpha Cycler software will allow you to generate specific user profiles and limit access to
that users protocols to only that user or open them up to all users.
Q. What is the reporting feature and how does it work?
The Alpha Cycler software will communicate out, via a QR code displayed on the screen, to a mobile device (which can read a QR code) information on block status, when runs on the system will finish and also some service information will be communicated back to PCRmax to allow us and end users to monitor the systems performance and possibly allow us to identify ahead of time when a unit is going to have a service issue.
Q. Why are all the Delta Seek products lyophilised?
The entire Delta Seek range of products are lyophilised for a number of reasons but principally it massively simplifies the transport of the kits to any part of the world, makes storage of the kits significantly easier, especially in regions with intermittent or unstable electrical access. It also allows us to ship products to customers over weekends without fear of the product degrading as the ice has melted; this shortens delivery times to customer greatly.
Q. Can you supply primers for my gene of interest?
Yes! We can design primers for any gene, in any species. There is too many to list online therefore, but simply tell us the name of your species and the gene and our expert team will do the rest.
Q. How should I store product?
Storage conditions for all products are displayed on the product label. If you have any doubts fell free to contact us or your local distributor, see distributor page.
Q. Do I need any special equipment to use the product?
Yes. Our kits all require access to a real-time PCR machine and a basic laboratory set-up. If you are new to this field and would like some help and advice we can help with that, contact us directly through this site or your local distributor through the distributor page.
Q. Can you send me the user manual and associated documentation?
The documentation associated with each specific kit is custom to that kit, as such we have made this available through by accessing the documentation on each product listing on this site.
Q. What dyes and specific wavelengths does Eco support?
The following table details the excitation and emission wavelengths of Eco in each channel. The emission filters combined with spectral deconvolution algorithms effectively minimize cross-talk between dyes. Eco is factory-calibrated for SYBR Green I, FAM, HEX, VIC, ROX, Quasar670, and Cy5. You can use other dyes if they are within the wavelength range of the emission filters.
Q. What is High-Resolution Melt (HRM) curve analysis?
HRM is a recent advancement to the traditional melt curve analysis that significantly increases the amount of detail and information that can be captured. It is sensitive enough to be able to differentiate sequence differences within PCR amplicons down to a single nucleotide. Mutations within amplicons are detected as either a shift in the Tm of the product or a change in the shape of the melting curve.
Q. How does the Eco system achieve higher HRM performance than other block-based systems?
Temperature control and uniformity are the most challenging factors affecting HRM. The Tm shift for a single base change can be as small as 0.2° C for challenging Class IV A to T single nucleotide polymorphisms. Most current block-based instruments report temperature uniformity specifications in the range of ± 0.25° C to ± 0.5° C, generally considered too high to reliably differentiate a Class IV SNP. Block-based instruments that claim to perform HRM do so by extensive calibration and software compensation or by employing specialized analysis methods, such as temperature shifting, to overcome the thermal non-uniformity across the block. Eco’s unique thermal block provides thermal uniformity of ± 0.1° C, well above the industry standard for a block-based system. This extreme thermal uniformity allows Eco to perform HRM without software corrections. The thermal uniformity of Eco supports genotyping of even the most challenging Class IV SNPs.
Q. How do you analyse data generated with the Eco 48?
The Eco 48 comes with it’s own analysis software called Eco Study. This will allow for detailed analysis, interpretation of the dta and exporting raw and normalised data to various formats including Power Point, Excel, CSV and TSV. Eco software has unlimited licences.
Q.How long will the Eco 48 take to complete my run/How fast is an Eco 48?
We specifiy that a standard protocol of 40 cycles will be completed in 40 minutes,. optimised protocols can be perform 40 cycles in under 15 minutes using standard plastics and chemistries thanks to the Eco 48s thermal control and ramp rates.
Q. How do I increase the throughput of the Eco Real-Time PCR system beyond 48 wells?
Eco Study software enables data from multiple plates to be combined and analysed as a single study, effectively increasing sample throughput. Using Eco Study, a standard curve from one plate, or even a previous experiment, can be applied across all plates in a study, eliminating the need for each plate to carry its own standards and making additional wells available for samples.
Q. How does the Eco system provide a significantly higher level of thermal uniformity compared to other block-based systems?
Eco’s hollow thermal block is constructed of highly conductive silver and is filled with a thermal conductive fluid. The fluid is rapidly circulated through the block by paired agitators that are powered by high-efficiency electromagnetic motors. The constant circulation of fluid evenly distributes the heat throughout the block to remove the hot or cold spots typical of block-based instruments. This design allows for rapid temperature ramps and extreme thermal uniformity (± 0.1° C recorded at 95° C) well to well across the plate, with no edge effect.
Q. I am using a kit that includes an internal control, and so I need to select two channels for reading. Where do I select the channels?
On the Plate Layout tab, click the Assays button to open the Assays dialog box. Add two assays, one for the target and another for the IPC. Assign reporter dyes from different channels to each assay. Regardless of the plate setup, Eco acquires data in all four channels for all 48 wells. The dyes enable you to focus on the desired information during analysis.
Q. On how many computers can I install the Eco system software?
The Eco comes with unlimited licenses for the system software, so that you are not constrained to perform the data analysis on the included workstation. You can install the Eco software from the USB drive that is provided with each Eco.
Q. Can I export my Eco run data for use in other software packages?
You can export your data as multiple *.csv files or as a single Excel file with multiple worksheets. In addition, you can export a report as a PDF or PowerPoint file.
Q. What is the Beer-Lambert law?
The Beer-Lambert law is an equation which relates the absorption of light to the properties of the material through which the light is travelling. The general Beer-Lambert law is usually written as:
A = E x c x L
where A is the measured absorbance, L is the path length, c is the analyte concentration and E is a constant for each species and wavelength known as the extinction coefficient.
The Beer-Lambert law is only valid at low concentration, typically <0.01M.
Q. What does the Z-dimension of a spectrophotometer cell/cuvette mean?
Z-Dimension is defined as the distance from the bottom of the cell compartment in the instrument to the centre of the light beam. The Z-dimension or beam height in the PCRmax spectrophotometers is 15mm.
Q. Why is the Z-Dimension important?
Each instrument manufacturer optimises the height, width, focus and placement of the light beam within the design of an instrument to ensure that it performs optimally. It is important to users when attempting to use a small sample volume, as the sample will need to be placed in line with the light path.
Q. What is the smallest volume I can spec on the Lambda?
When using the 0.2mm path length 0.5ul can be used as the minimum volume, when using the 0.5mm path length then the smallest volume is 1ul.
Q. Do I need a separate computer to run the Lambda?
No the lambda has a built in computer so there is no need to purchase another PC to run the system. There is a component of the software which can be run on a separate system connected to the Lambda, but this is not essential.
Q. How long can the system be programmed to hold a specific temperature?
The system can be programmed to hold a specific temperature for up to 9 days.
Q. When does the timer start?
The timer will not start until a stable temperature has been achieved so that you hold at the programmed temperature for the programmed time.
Q. What is the max and minimum temperature Gamma can achieve and how long will it take to equilibrate?
A temperature range of between 0°C to 40°C is programmable with the Gamma. Please note the primary design of Gamma is to maintain biological samples safely between 4 and 37°C. Gamma will achieve any temperature between 4 and 37°C within 30 minutes in an ambient temperature of 20°C. Gamma will also reach 0°C or 40°C, but this may take several hours. Reaching 0°C can be speeded up by pre-cooling the aluminium blocks before use.
Q. What is the temperature accuracy for the PCRmax Gamma.
The Gamma will achieve a temperature accuracy of ±1°C from the programmed set temperature.