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A blinking red light on the instrument may indicate that a hardware component has failed or a possible communication disruption has occurred between the instrument and computer. Completely shut down the instrument, wait for 2 minutes, and then start up in the order documented in Applied Biosystems™ 310 Genetic Analyzer: Starting Up the Instrument Technical Note or the Applied Biosystems™ 310 Genetic Analyzer User Guide.

If the instrument goes from a flashing amber light to red light, one or more of the hardware components has failed the hardware diagnostic and a service call should be opened up. 

A perpetually blinking amber light usually indicates that there is a door open on the instrument or a bad door sensor. Open the main door, the oven door and the detector cell door (small black door with the laser warning on it) and close them again. After the autosampler stops moving the light should change to green. On the Applied Biosystems™ 310 Genetic Analyzer, there is a top panel above the door that can also trigger the blinking amber light. Make sure the panel is pushed all the way in. If the light does not go to green, it is possible that a door sensor is not working properly and a service call may be required.

Some of the other causes of a fluctuating electrophoresis current error message are:

  • Leak on the system
  • Polymer that:
    • Has expired
    • Has been left on the instrument for more than the recommended time
    • Is a mixture of expired polymer and non-expired polymer
  • Using Running Buffer that was:
    • Diluted to 1X incorrectly
    • Swapped with the water position on the Autosampler deck
    • On the instrument longer than 48 hours 
    • Not filled to the fill line or evaporated below the fill line
  • An arcing event that was not cleaned afterwards using the water wash wizard
  • Not performing regular maintenance on the instrument
  • Hardware issues

Inspect the system for leaks. If you do not see any leaks on the system, remove the syringe, gel block, anode and cathode buffer containers, water, and rinse containers and clean them with distilled water. Place fresh, non-expired polymer and freshly made 1X Running Buffer on the system. If the problem persists, a service call may be required.

A leak is detected if the gel pump moves a greater distance than expected. Normal polymer usage is approximately 4–7 µL per injection which is equivalent to 1–2 encoder counts for the 1.0 mL syringe (seen in instrument run log). Actual leaks can occur at various locations on the system and should be carefully examined. The message may sometimes be generated by conditions on the system that mimic a leak—these also need to be considered. More information on troubleshooting this issue can be found on Pages 7–9 in the Errors Encountered on the Applied Biosystems™ 310 Genetic Analyzer  Guide.

If the capillary is stuck in the gel block, even after loosening the ferrule, squirt around the edge of the ferrule with distilled water and try to remove it again. If the capillary will not move, a service call may be required. Do not use excessive force or tools to try and remove it. 

When placing the capillary on the instrument, if the ferrule is not hand-tightened enough, some polymer gets pushed through the center of the ferrule and/or around the threading. When it dries up, it appears as a white, flaky residue. Use a damp, lint-free cloth to remove it. If more residue appears after the cleanup, it is possible that the ferrule is not tightened down enough or may require replacement. 

You can purchase a computer for installation of the secondary analysis software packages (e.g., Sequencing Analysis, GeneMapper™ software) as long as the computer meets the software compute requirements (for processor speed, the minimum speed of the processor should be at least 3 GHz) and you can install the software yourself. 

For the instrument computer, the computer system has a much more stringent requirement and undergoes thorough testing to make sure it can handle the flow of data from the instrument to the computer. The images for the computer system are streamlined to make sure they have the proper drivers for the computer components, and the Operating System is optimized to make sure there is nothing running in the background that might slow the computer down, take up memory, or conflict with our software. Purchasing a computer commercially can introduce too many variables in terms of hardware and software that can negatively affect the data collection process so we cannot support connecting it to the instrument.