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Activate SICL Error - The Horror!

The Horror of it all!   Customers call when they get this error and exclaim all manner of frustration.  They've often spent several days trying to recover from this error - including re-booting, deleting and reloading the software, re-configuration of the instrument.  Violence is often part of the equation and sometimes I think drinking is also involved.  This particular error is very harsh and very un-forgiving.   In fact, the only way to recover from this insidious error is to reboot your PC!  Sometimes you even have to pull the plug.  Yikes!

The "Activate SICL" error is really a simple to fix.

In our current GCMS system the method of communication is via HPIB.  Some times it is reffered to as HPIB, GPIB, GPIL and even SICL.  Its a very stable protocol, but when it dosen't work - its pretty unforgiving.  Under the HPIB protocol you have to "configure" all your various instruments.  In most cases a GC, a Mass Spec and an Autosampler.   Each device has to have its own unique HPIB address.

When the "Activate SICL" error presents, the problem can almost always be attributed to an instrument that you promised would be there, but it can't find it.  It is  SELDOM a problem with the software.

Here are some ideas to try:

1.  Of course a good and firm reboot is always in order.  Power down ALL devices, including the PC.  Pull the plug from the wall and wait 10 minutes.  Be sure to cool and vent the mass spec according to the instructions in the manual before powering down the mass spec.

2.  Verify that all HPIB cables are connected and if necessary (especially those "ganged" together) tape them together with black tape.

3.  Open the case to the PC,  verify that the HPIB board is securely seated.  Sometimes the big fat HPIB cables can lever the HPIB board out of its socket.

4.  Power up each instrument.  Wait 10 minutes.  Verify that each device is powered up.  The GC and the Autosampler have lights to indicate power.  Unfortunately most of the Mass Specs we work on have no lights.  In this case, verify that the diff pump is hot or that the turbo pump is spinning.

5.  Check the DC power at the test points on the 597x main board +5, +15, -15, +26.  If the DC power is not correct the HPIB part of the mass spec mother board will not function.

6.  Now, power up the PC and wait 10 minutes for it to completely boot.  Start Chemstation.  Watch the Autosampler (7673 or similar) for movement in the vial gripper of the tray and watch for the method information to pass across the keyboard screen of the GC.  This will indicate that the Chemstation has found the Autosampler and the GC.  Unfornuately, there's no such indicator for the mass spec.  The only way to varify that the MSD is connected is to issue an SCINIT command, view pump status or go into manual tune and attempt to profile. 

If you continue to get the SICL error at this time it is likely that one of your devices is non-functioning.  In each device (GC, MS & ALS) there are separate boards that provide the HPIB communication.  It is possible that one of these boards has died.  It is always possible that the HPIB board inside the PC has died, or that the PC mother board has died.  If none of these tips help, than call us directly for help.

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