July 24, 2015

About My Lab... Part 1 - The Questionnaire

 

Okay, let's make this one simple...

Click HERE to answer a few brief questions about how your lab approaches instrument support.

All info is confidential  We will publish results in an upcoming post.

Shortest darn blog all year...

 

August 7, 2013

Lab Instrument Support Survey

New MVS Survey

Oh behalf of HTStec, The LabSquad is pleased to inform you that their latest survey titled "LAB INSTRUMENT SUPPORT STRATEGIES TRENDS 2013" is now underway. 

"Proper maitl_files/labsquad/blog_images/Survey/Survey/survey.jpgntenance of laboratory instrumentation is an important consideration to ensure that lab assets remain available to researchers. Minimizing downtime makes the research process more efficient. A variety of support options are available from original equipment manufacturers (OEM), small third party independent service organizations (ISO), large multi-vendor service (MVS) providers and internal support staffs. Understanding the needs of lab users is essential for service providers to ensure customer success."

If you count on your lab instruments being in 'research ready; condition, please take a moment and fill out this most important survey.    JUST CLICK HERE

July 15, 2013

Motor Madness - Part I

If it moves...it probably has a motor.  There are a number of different types of motors within lab instruments and while repair or diagnosis of many of them are beyond the expertise even the most savvy field service technician, it is helpful to know a bit about them and what makes them tick (or spin).

The most common motors are simple AC or DC motors. As their names imply, each uses a different current scheme to achieve basic rotation but a simple brushed DC motor has five parts:

  • Armature or rotortl_files/labsquad/blog_images/Motor Madness/BrushedDCMotor2_opt.jpeg
  • Commutator
  • Brushes
  • Axle (shaft)
  • Field magnet

In many motors, the outer metal housing contains at least two field magnets (North and South).

The armature, also called the rotor as it rotates about the axel, is an electromagnet made by coiling thin wire around  two or more poles of a metal core.

The commutator is a pair of plates attached to the axle.  These plates provide the two connections for the coil of the electromagnet.

The commutator and the brushes enable for the "flipping" of the electric field" part of the motor.tl_files/labsquad/blog_images/Motor Madness/motor-labels.gif

Brushed DC Motors have two coils of wire around a rotor in the middle. Surrounding the coil are two magnets, both facing in the same direction. When the coils are facing the magnets, electricity flows into them. When electricity flows into a coil, it creates a magnetic field, and this magnetic field pushes the coils away from their magnets. As the rotor turns, the current shuts off. When the rotor has turned 180 degrees, each rotor faces the opposite magnet. The coils turn on again, this time with the electricity flowing in the opposite direction. This creates another pulse, pushing the rotor around again. The rotor has electric contacts on it, and there are small metal brushes that bump against the contacts. The brushes send in electricity, turning the motor on and off at the right times.

Operationally, all you need to do is apply the proper DC voltage at the nominally rated current and the motor will spin. For simple devices this can be done via an on/off switch.

A brushless DC motor has a permanent magnet on the inside of the rotor, such that its north and south poles are perpendicular to the axle. Coils surround the rotor.  These coils function similar to a brushed motor in that hey give out timed pulses to push the magnet, spinning the rotor. Because there are no brushes however, the motor cannot control itself. Instead, it is attached to a speed controller ciruit, which gives pulses of electricity at a certain speed to control the motor. The faster the coils pulse, the faster the motor will spin.  This is called Pulse Width Modulation or PWM (more on that in Part 3).

On a final note, other than brushes, there reall isn't much that can be easily fixed on a DC motor.  For older devices that are no longer supported, you can find rebuild services that can repair toasted armature (more common on larger motors).   The most tempting way to test a DC motor is of course to apply power...but please, if you do this make sure to disconnect the motor from any mechanical drive components (pulleys, bests, chains, linkages...etc) first.   As always, if you choose to ignore this advice, please do not send nasty emails, legal notices or graphic images of your physical injuries...

Next Up: Part 2 - Stepper Motors

 

May 14, 2013

Every Picture Tells A Story, Don’t It?

A picture is worth a thousand words…so even at a reduced frame rate of 15FPS, one minute of video has to be worth 900,00 words.” – Me

For better or worse, advances in cellular communications arecameraphonemaking the once seemly impossible, trivial.  Specifically, I am referring to video communication.   Just about everyone has a ‘smartphone’ these days and it is hard to find a new phone that does not include a camera.   The resolution of these cameras is incredible (the Apple iPhone 5 = 8 MegaPixels) and product stunningly clear videos and images.

Video applications such as Apple’s FaceTime and Skype make face to face remote communications simple, fast and cheap.   For service organizations, this has providedthermal imagingfield based techs with an incredible tool for diagnosing instrument failures.    There are even iPhone apps that now allow users to perform thermal imaging (how cool is that…no pun intended)!  Let’s face it, the pressure these on-site techs feel when faced with a failed instrument can be enormous.  End user anxiety and a ticking clock only add to the stress.   The ability to ‘phone a friend’, point the phone at the instrument and have a real-time conversation about such failures brings an added dimension to peer review.

On the wired side, I have visited many research labs that have added low-cost USB or Ethernet cameras to their automation systems that allow them to monitor status remotely (many times from home, over a weekend or at night).   When combined with remote network access tools like PC Anywhere or LogMeIn, it is possible to deal with simple application errors and continue assays or applications that would otherwise had to wait for human to come into the lab and simple press a key.   Remote observation in this fashion requires network access and must always include IT departments to prevent unauthorized access.

Still, many labs will not allow non-employee cameras or video use within their labs.  Thisskype5is short-sighted (IMO), and unfortunate.   I understand the competitive nature of pharmaceutical or biotech research and the commercial implications of potentially providing competitors with a glimpse of a labs inner workings, but let’s face it…it would take a pretty savvy bunch of people to gleam something worthwhile from a phone camera.  Instrument failures that render an instrument ‘down’ are generally easier to diagnose and repair, however it the aberrant or irregular failures that could benefit immensely from remote observation.   Unless an instrument or system is under a service contract it can be very expensive to pay for a service tech to sit and watch for a reported failure (they always happen when the tech leaves, right?).

Most labs require non-disclosure agreements or safety training prior to granting non-employees access their labs and the time is well past to include the use of remote diagnostic tools, particularly cellular video in such protocols.   Perhaps seeing is believing?

May 10, 2013

What is the opposite of TMI?

I am a big fan of Lab Manager Magazine.   I am an on-line and print subscriber anlab managerd find it to be a great source of information regarding lab trends and support.

Having said that…I was a bit disappointed by a recent “Ask The Expert” interview by Tanuja Koppal, PhD.  It was called “Optimizing Lab Services: Evaluating the Single-Vendor Option.”   You can read the full article by clicking here.

Although there are some good insights there were some major pieces of informationthe-godfather-brando-150x150missing.  For starters, it does not mention who the subject of the interview is.  I will give Dr. Koppal the benefit of the doubt and assume the interviewee is not fictitious, but I have a hard time understanding why he/she would need to anonymized.   Is there an MVS Mafia out there that requires a witness protection program?   Secondly, all the MVS providers whom the user evaluated are also anonymized.   I guess I could understand that given that many of these larger providers may have legal teams that would give any crime syndicate a scare.

In the spirit of peer review, I think it would be extremely helpful to both MVS providers and potential customers to know who this customer is and how they made the selection they did.

Who knows, using this feedback, maybe next time they need a contract, someone would be able to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse…

April 29, 2013

Well Equipped…Part II

WD40 Duct Tape Flow Chart“One only needs two tools in life WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop.” –  G. Weilacher

While true in many facets of instrument support, there is one other tool which lab support techs will find invaluable – the digital tachometer.    A more precise name would be a strobe tachometer, which neatly describes the basic theory of operation…a strobe light which is used to monitor the rotational speed of the rotor.

The LW Scientific Hand-Held tachometer can be found at a variety of web stores for under $200.   

tach

This device is easy to use and comes with reflective tape targets that you can place on the rotor arm.  Simply point the tach at the rotor in the general area of the target and hold it steady…after a few seconds you will see a reading that while changing, stays within the commanded speed.   This device can monitor speeds from 20-50,000 RPM which makes it ideal for most lab centrifuges and has a range of 50-400mm.  It’s accurate to +/- 20 RPM, so obviously you would want to be a bit skeptical at the low end range…

Interestingly, most separation assays call for acceleration of the sample not the rotational speed.  From a repair or assay integrity perspective, checking RPM’s will suffice as a general method to determine that the instrument is performing as specified by the manufacturer.    For those who are more curious, there is a great Wiki with more info.

Some centrifuge brands have sight glass windows that allow the digital tach to observe rotor speed while the unit is running…others do not.  Now comes the inevitable caution…caution! (notice I even used an exclamation point).    Seriously, most centrifuges Beck_L8are capable of causing great physical harm due to their extremely high speeds.   Safety interlocks that prevent internal access while spinning are there for a reason.   While a trained tech can defeat such locks, it is not advisable for a novice.   If you any doubts click this image to learn how dangerous high-speed centrifuges can be…

Manufacturer or third-party FSE’s re-calibrate the speed of a centrifuge by adjusting one or more potentiometers on the control board.  Initial speed setting is typically done without a rotor in the unit.

One last caution kids…speed kills.   Let’s be careful out there.

April 29, 2013

Well Equipped…Part 1

Not every instrument failure requires a call to the manufacturer (OEM)  or an independent service organization (ISO).   Some simple and common failures can be rectified by just about anyone with some common sense and common tools.      Can’t help much with the common sense, but the tool part is a lot more straight forward.

***WARNING *** if you are not comfortable working with electricity please don’t mess around and call for help from you own facilities support folkdmms or and ISO.    If you kill yourself, don’t write me a nasty-gram from the afterlife.

The handheld DMM -  Digital Multimeter (aka the voltmeter).   The name voltmeter is used pretty loosely by a lot of tech’s and only describes one function of this device.  Very capable DMM’s can be found at the local hardware store for under US$50.     For a good tutorial click here.

Voltage - Most DMM’s can measure a wide range of AC or DC voltage.   One of the most common problems when you fire up an instrument and get nothing is no AC power.   Most US labs will operator on 110 or 200VAC.    A zero volt reading means you probably have popped a circuit breaker.  If the AC outlet you are plugged into had a ground fault button, try pressing the reset button and try again.   If you get voltage at the outlet, but no action on the instrument, you may have blown a fuse.  Not comfortable checking voltage?  Try plugging the instrument into a known good working outlet instead.   More knowledgeable techs can test DC voltages for printed circuit boards (PCB’s) inside the instrument.  Most instrument power supplies will convert AC power into lower voltage DC power and distribute it throughout the instruments.    Many PCB’s have incoming power marked at a connector coming from the main power supply.

Resistance -  Resistance is a measure of a devices ability to restrict the flow of electrons in a circuit.   If you crack open an instrument and see a charred component, it is likely a burned out resistor.   If you can still see the value of that resistor  (some have the value printed, others may use a series of colored bands), you can use the DMresistorM to verify if it is blown (open circuit, infinite resistance).   While you may be able to unsolder and replace this component, there is no guarantee that it will not blow again, as something else may have failed that caused too much current to flow thru it or too much voltage across it, causing it to cook.  If you come across a cooked resistor (or any other component), better to have someone replace the entire module.   Almost no FSE’s will spend time doing component level failure analysis as it is time consuming and ultimately more expensive.

Continuity – Some DMM’s allow you test for continuity (the closure of a circuit) that will result in a beeping signal.   No beep, no continuity.   A quick crossing of the probe leads will tell you what sound you are listening for.   This is what you will use to check you fuses or diode.    A diode allows current to flow in one direction only.   Diodes can be checked by reversing the leads across the component.  It should beep with the leads in one positreceptacleion, not beep in the other.  Some instruments have a main fuse as part of the receptacle that the AC cord plugs into.  MAKE SURE YOU UNPLUG THE INSTRUMENT BEFORE YOU DO THIS!!!   You can pop this open and check if the fuse is good or not.

Current -  Not really something I would advise a notice to attempt.   While voltage is measured across a load, current is measured in series with a load.   So, in order to check current, you need to break the circuit and use the DMM to measure current flowing through the meter as part of the circuit.   Lots of potential to hurt yourself here…leave to a professional.

Temperature – One of the features of many digital mulitmeters versus their older analog counterparts is the inclusion of a thermometer probe.   This can be very hand for diagnosing random failures that are related to run away heating problems -  a common example might be an intermittent cooling fan failure.   Try taking a cover off near the fan, tape the probe somwhere close and note the temperature during normal operation with fan running (and cover back on).   Then open it up, and unplug the fan (replace the cover) and monitor the temperature increase.  If you do this, be vigilant and don’t leave the instrument unattended.   You are looking not only for a temperature spike but also abhorrent instrument behavior…so you want to be able to shut it down ASAP.electicution

Okay, so there you have it.  Some basic things you can do with a DMM.  Just remember, when it comes to anything involving electricity, you should always consult with your facilities management.   Never perform electrical testing alone and never in the presence of liquids (especially flammables).   When in doubt…leave to someone in the know.

March 29, 2013

DIY in the Lab

Things break in the lab. Here’s how to protect your equipment, and what to do when it stops working.

By Jeffrey M. Perkel | March 1, 2013
 
tl_files/labsquad/blog_images/diy/labtools-2.jpg

With NIH funding fewer than 20% of the research grant applications received in 2011 (the most recent data available) and little hope for improvement in the coming year, researchers must squeeze what they can from every dollar. For some cash-strapped labs, that means buying used instruments instead of new, keeping equipment running long past its warranty, and jerry-rigging existing lab gadgets that might otherwise be scrapped.

When such equipment inevitably fails, it puts yet another strain on already tight budgets. Researchers facing service calls costing hundreds of dollars an hour may feel obliged to delay repairs, only to find that a service tech may not be readily available. Even in the lab, time is money.

There is an alternative. Lab workers armed with a bit of mechanical know-how and some basic tools can sometimes tackle repairs and problems themselves. Not every repair can or should be handled in-house, but those that can will get the lab up and running quickly and cheaply. The Scientist spoke with equipment repair technicians and core facility directors about the kinds of repairs that researchers can and cannot do on their own, and some obvious, but oft-ignored, steps they can take to avoid problems in the first place. Here are their suggestions.

1. RTFM (READ THE F**KING MANUAL)

Like cars and computers, laboratory equipment almost always comes with a manual (either printed or as a PDF). And, as with cars and computers, researchers often toss those manuals in the trash or “file” them in a drawer. Here’s a better idea: as they say on the interwebz, RTFM. Manuals outline recommended maintenance and cleaning schedules, provide troubleshooting tips, and demystify error codes. (Lane Smith, President and Senior Engineer at Phoenix Technical Services, an equipment repair company that serves the University of Mississippi, suggests storing manuals together in a safe place, or as PDFs in a common folder on a lab computer, for easy retrieval.)

The maintenance suggestions these manuals lay out may surprise you. Rebecca Wood, co-owner and vice president of Southern Medical Services, a medical and lab equipment repair firm that serves south Texas, notes, for instance, that some vacuum pump manufacturers specify in their manuals that vacuum oil should be changed after every use. Yet many researchers reuse the oil until it gets dirty—a practice that could potentially cost the lab big bucks. “If you had a vacuum pump that quit and you sent it in for repair and it had black gunk in the oil, they would say you’d voided your warranty,” Wood says.

2. Clean up once in a while

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, they say, and that’s certainly true in the lab. Dust accumulates on computer parts, ice accretes inside freezers, and carbon dust builds up inside centrifuges and stir plates. Taking care of these issues before they become problems can save a lab some money in the long run. “If you use a [centrifuge] rotor, make sure it’s cleaned afterwards,” says Craig Folkman, a field service engineer atBioNiQuest Lab Services in Danville, Calif. “Make sure O-rings aren’t cracked, and change them as necessary. If there’s a spill, clean it up, don’t let it sit there.”

For mechanical devices that use brush-based (as opposed to induction) motors, such as vortexers and microcentrifuges, Smith recommends investing in a small vacuum cleaner to clean out the carbon dust. (Smith notes that replacing a worn set of motor brushes is a relatively simple task that researchers can do themselves. For one of his techs to make a lab call would cost $200 for an hour of labor plus the brushes ($20–$50 for a set), not to mention travel time.)

Invest in a can of compressed air to clean computer fans and cables, or tracks on liquid handlers. And clean the air filters on lab freezers regularly (they are usually easily accessible on the front of the instrument). “These are fairly expensive pieces of equipment, and some scientists will have their entire research life in these things,” Smith observes. Cleaning or replacing the filters will keep the compressor working properly and prevent it from overheating.

Another easy bit of maintenance: Defrost freezers regularly. “Try to do it once a year, because you will either do it on your own schedule or on the instrument’s—at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning.”

3. Establish a maintenance schedule

“My feeling about lab repairs is really trying to avoid them,” says Tim Hunter, Director of the Advanced Genome Technologies Core at the University of Vermont. Hunter recommends lab managers ensure that each piece of equipment be kept on a routine maintenance schedule (often outlined in the operator’s manual).

For instance, in his facility, one worker’s job includes tracking the background signal in the lab’s real-time PCR machine, to make sure the instrument is operating correctly. Another bleaches fluid lines in the array reader between runs to minimize cross-contamination concerns.

Another commonly overlooked task, Hunter says, is defragmenting the computer hard drives attached to lab equipment. Hunter suggests doing that monthly. “[These are] things that people take for granted and just don’t check, but [that] can really impact things when you least suspect them.”

Wood recommends copying and laminating the schedule for each piece of equipment and affixing it on or near the machine, so that everyone in the lab knows what needs to be done, and when.

4. Build a basic lab-repair toolkit

Charles T. “C.T.” Moses, an independent consultant in Framingham, Massachusetts, has been offering seminars on laboratory equipment repair throughout the Northeast since 2004. The handout for his seminar includes a suggested laboratory tool set for taking on most basic repairs (see also: www.chastmoses.com/tools.html). To wit: Flashlight; multipurpose screwdriver (slotted and Phillips); small vise grips, needle-nose pliers, and side-cutter pliers; a small crescent wrench; small clamps; scissors; measuring devices (scale, tape measure, or ruler); small hammer; pocket knife; multimeter; polarity tester (to test electrical circuits); and a lockable tool box.

Other items you might want to have on hand are lubricants (e.g., oil or WD-40), compressed air, a set of American and metric Allen and socket wrenches, a drill, and electrical tape.

5. Try the obvious

When something goes wrong, the most obvious solution sometimes is the right one. So, if a piece of equipment suddenly stops working, make sure it actually is plugged in and that the outlet is working; even in the lab, plugs come loose, fuses blow, and circuit breakers trip unexpectedly.

Smith recommends doing a quick and commonsense “self-assessment.” For instance, if the −80 °C freezer is suddenly warming up, did anyone recently perform an inventory during which it was left open? Ditto for the cell culture CO2 incubator.

Next, see if restarting the instrument and/or attached computer solves the problem. Or, if it is a mechanical device, see if you can identify something obvious, such as dirt in a track or hinge, which might be causing the malfunction.

If the problem persists, write down any error codes or messages you see, as well as what you were doing when the problem occurred. For instance, if an autoclave stops working, where in the cycle did it halt? Also, see if you can figure out where in the instrument the problem is occurring. “The easiest thing to do when troubleshooting is to cut your problem in half,” says Folkman. For instance, suppose your HPLC isn’t working; see if you can determine whether the blockage appears to be between the buffer reservoirs and the pump, between the pump and the column, or in the fraction collector.

Even if you end up having to call in a repairperson, such information can save time (and thus money). “If you have an error message, instead of saying ‘I’m getting this diagnostic

,’ if you can say ‘I tried this or that,’ that makes it easier for us. . . . We can know exactly what the issue is.”

6. First, do no harm

If you do decide to open up an instrument to attempt a fix, Smith recommends following the physicians’ creed: First, do no harm. Put another way, make sure you can put back together that which you have taken apart.

Use a cellphone camera to take pictures of wires and instrument settings so you know where they go and how they were arranged. Moses suggests using a piece of white paper, marked to indicate the front and back of the instrument, and taping screws on the paper in approximately the positions from which those screws came, “so you know more or less how it goes back together.” (Oftentimes, instruments may use different screws in different positions, so this kind of information can be invaluable.)

To do no harm also means to protect yourself, says Moses. That means powering down and unplugging equipment before opening it, and putting your left hand behind your back before plugging it back in and turning it back on. That latter point, he says, is an “old electrician’s trick” that “helps prevent shocking your heart should your repair leave a loose wire inside the machine.”

Deciding what can and cannot be repaired in the lab must obviously be done on a case-by-case basis. But as a general rule of thumb, repairs that are covered in an instrument manual’s troubleshooting section can probably be attempted in the lab, such as changing the bulbs on a spectrophotometer or replacing the brushes on a microcentrifuge. Instruments like stir plates are easily fixed, says Moses—often a drop of oil at the point where the motor shaft emerges from the motor, called the bushing, is all it takes.

Instruments that are under warranty or service contract probably should not be repaired in-house, as doing so might void the warranty. Very heavy equipment, very expensive equipment, equipment with precise tolerances (such as a microscope), or equipment involving high voltages, lasers, and so on, probably should be left to experts as well. So should equipment with obvious charring or burning, Moses says, as these might require special expertise in measuring and monitoring electrical circuits.

7. Know when to call for help

When in doubt, it never hurts to call the manufacturer or a third-party repair company. Smith says his company will often offer advice gratis over the phone, and so will most instrument vendors. “I have rarely come across a manufacturer that will not answer simple questions on the phone,” he says.

In some cases, you can purchase a part, like a hinge or a circuit board, and have technical support walk you through the installation process. But make sure the repair doesn’t cost as much or more than buying new. Moses recommends checking the manufacture date on equipment to see how old it is (and thus, if it makes sense to repair it). Circuit boards and electrical components often contain a four-digit code in the form YYWW. For instance, 9613 means the component was built in the thirteenth week of 1996; 0744 means the forty-fourth week of 2007. Though such information will not give a precise manufacturing date, an instrument obviously must be at least as new as its newest component.

But before you do anything, see if you cannot at least identify what is wrong before calling in an expert. By figuring that out you can give the technician the most accurate information, thereby saving him time and you money. Just as practically, you can learn what to do differently moving forward.

“By opening [up a piece of equipment] you can be aware of what happened and what not to do in the future. We don’t want this to happen again,” Moses says. 

Originally Published on March 1, 2013 at:  The Scientist.com

March 4, 2013

IT's an IT Thing

windows xp the task failed successfully dr heckle funny wtf windows errorsWe’ve been hearing a lot of our customers ask about various lab instruments being compatible with Windows 7 lately.   Seems  IT groups everywhere are struggling with the eventual demise of Windows XP.  Already unavailable for new PC’s since 2010, Microsoft has announced that all support for WinXP will cease in April of 2014.

While most instrument OEM’s (original equipment manufacturers) are already making the move to Win7,  a huge number of legacy instruments in labs are running XP.   Manufacturers may not want to provide ‘backward compatibility’  for older equipment for two reasons; First, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  Sounds lame, but most instrument software is developed with the OS of the day in mind.   Trying to get the performance and reliability that users expect by supporting a major OS upgrade could lead to tons of surprises…ones that  they won’t be paid to correct.   Also,  more than a few vendors have used this Microsoft phase out as a reason to obsolete older instruments and encourage users to upgrade to new hardware in order to get Win7 compliance.

If budgets don’t permit the purchase of new equipment desperate users should consider exploring the Windows 7 compatibility tool.    One caveat is that you would be well advised to back up your WinXP first, or better still try installing your legacy applications on a new Win7 PC.    It’s a lot easier to mess around with a new PC if you know you can go back to the original PC if all else fails…

The following is gratuitously ‘borrowed’ from http://www.howtogeek.com
 

Using Program Compatibility Mode in Windows 7

It can be quite annoying when you try to install a driver or other software on Windows 7 just to find out it isn’t compatible with the new OS. Today we look at using the Program Compatibility Assistant, and troubleshooting compatibility issues so programs install successfully.

Program Compatibility Assistant

Program Compatibility is a mode that allows you to run programs that were written for earlier versions of Windows. The Program Compatibility Assistant detects compatibility issues and allows you to reinstall using the recommended settings. For example we got this error trying to install a music interface device driver for home recording.

2comp

After we closed out of the error, the Program Compatibility Assistant came up advising that the program didn’t install correctly. To try to install it again select Reinstall using recommended settings.

The Compatibility Assistant went through and fixed the issue and we were able to install the driver. The problem was the driver was designed for Vista and the the assistant automatically select the correct compatibility mode for us to install it.

Sometimes you might get a screen similar to this example where Virtual PC 2007 isn’t compatible with Windows 7 and you can check for solutions online.

After checking for solutions online, we’re shown that there is an update that might solve the issue.

Which points us to the Microsoft site to download Virtual PC 2007 SP1.

Note: Sometimes a program does install correctly and Program Compatibility Assistant thinks it didn’t. There are also times when you cancel an installation half way through and it pops up. If you’re an Admin and tired of seeing it pop up because you know what you’re doing, check out our article on how to disable program compatibility assistant in Windows 7 and Vista.

Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

There might be times when Program Compatibility Assistant can’t find a solution, or a program installs fine, but doesn’t work the way it should. In that case you’ll need to troubleshoot the issue. Right-click on the program icon from the Start Menu or in many programs the shortcut icon and select Troubleshoot compatibility.

Windows will detect any issues with the program and you can try to run it with the recommended settings, or go through the troubleshooting wizard. For this part of our example we’ll select Try recommended settings.

This option allows us to test run the program to see if the new compatibility settings fix the issue. Click on Start the program to begin testing it out. After testing the program and determining if the settings work or not click on Next.

If the program is running correctly you can save the settings and it will continue to run with those settings. If it didn’t work properly, you can try using different settings or report the problem to Microsoft and check for an online solution.

If you selected No, try again using different settings it will bring up the troubleshooter where you can specify the issues you’re having with the program.

Depending what you check in the screen above, you’ll be presented with other options for what is not working correctly. Where in this example it shows different display problems.

New settings are applied to the program and you can try running it again.

If none of the compatibility settings work for the program, you’re prompted to to send a generated problem report to Microsoft.

Manually Select Compatibility

Of course if you don’t want to deal with the Program Compatibility troubleshooter, you can go in and manually select Compatibility Mode. Right-click the program icon and select Properties.

Then click the Compatibility tab then check the box Run this program in compatibility for and select the version of Windows from the dropdown. Now it will always run the program in Compatibility Mode for the version of Windows you selected.

Conclusion

Hopefully running the program in an earlier version of Windows helps solve the problems you’re experiencing. Each program is different so the troubleshooting steps will vary. Most programs written for Vista should work in Windows 7, but not all of them. If you’re having problems with a program not working correctly on Windows 7 and have gone through the Compatibility Mode troubleshooter, your best bet is do search the developers website for a newer version or in their forums.