Frequently Asked Questions

Something's come up and I can't use the microscope today. Can you cancel my booking?

The ABIF has a firm "24 hour" cancellation policy. This policy provides other researchers enough time to plan on using the microscope. However, sometimes the facility will allow a short notice cancellation, but not if it is a common occurrence. 

The microscope wasn't working yesterday. Can you cancel my booking?

Sometimes the instruments do not work due to a protocol error in starting up the machine, a glitch in the software, a component not initializing properly, etc. If the machine is not working, please find a member of the facility staff to assist you. If the staff cannot solve the problem, then your booking will be cancelled. We do not want our users to be charged for time they could not utilize through no fault of their own.

HOWEVER, if the microscope was not functioning and you did not get a member of the staff to assist you even though they were available, your booking will not be cancelled. This is due to the fact that it is possible that the staff could have solved the issue and you could have used the machine during your booked time.

Are USB keys/flash drives allowed for extracting my files from the facility computers?

NO. USB devices could potentially carry viruses that would infect the facility computers. Because these computers all share the same network, viruses could infect the whole system. The ABIF has devised a strategy for users to get around this - please visit the Map Network Drive tutorial on the Resources page to learn how to access your files from your own laptop. You can access your personal data files from any computer that is connected to the network. 

How can I get access to the microscope rooms?

All microscopy users are required to fill out the Building Access Request Form from the Building Director to gain access to specific rooms. The facility cannot personally grant access to each room. 

The next booking after mine is more than 3 hours away. Should I leave the microscope on?

YES. The user that is arriving after your booking is expecting the microscope to be on, warmed up, and ready to begin imaging. If the microscope is turned off, that user will be one hour behind in their imaging to allow the laser sufficient time to warm up. 

If the microscope isn't working, what should I do?

When in doubt follow this series of trouble-shooting steps:

1. CHECK THE START-UP PROTOCOL. Each system has a start-up and shut-down protocol. Review the steps laid out in the protocol to make sure you did not miss an important component.

2. Close the software program, wait 30 seconds, and then launch the software program again. If the problem was a simple software glitch, this should fix it. 

3. If restarting the software does not work, restart the computer. It is possible the computer software is not communicating with the microscope hardware. 

4. GET A FACILITY STAFF MEMBER. The above are standard and basic trouble-shooting protocols, however, if these basic steps do not solve the issue there is likely something wrong that a trained microscopy expert should handle. 

I accidentally booked the wrong equipment. Will I be charged for something I did not mean to do?

You will not be charged for this mistake if you notify a member of the facility staff. 

I am already trained on a microscope in the facility, do I still have to fill out the Training Request Form to use a different instrument or image analysis?

YES. This is the only way we can keep a thorough record of who has what training on which machine. If you have been trained on the LSM710 microscope and would like to use the LSM710 FLIM microscope which is also a confocal, you still have to fill out the form. You do not however, have to include the FOAPAL and PI McGill ID information because it is already in the system (unless you will be using a different fund). Image analysis training or access to one of our Workstations also requires you to fill out the form again.  

I can't map my computer to the Facility Campus Domain Server to access my files. Help!

Many people have issues with mapping their computer to the facility server. First visit our How to Map the Network Drive page for instructions. If you have followed the instructions and it still does not work, please check the following:

1. Make sure you are using the right set of instructions (PC or Mac).

2. If you are using a PC, you use the server address \\\medicine\research\imagingfacility and you can log in using your regular McGill e-mail account and password (firstname.lastname [at] or firstname.lastname [at]

3. If you are using a Mac, you use the server address smb:// and you log in using your McGill shortname and e-mail password.

4. Make sure you are using the right "slash" - backslash for PC, forward slash for Mac.

5. Check to make sure you are using the right shortname. McGill gives everyone a shortname, which is the first letter of your first name, the first five letters of your last name, and a number. To check your shortname: Log into Minerva -> Personal Menu -> Password for McGill Username. At the bottom of the screen there is a table that will have your shortname listed next to Short Username.

6. If you are receiving an error message, you may have to install and go through VPN. The instructions for installation are found HERE. However, in the instructions list you will enter the appropriate server address (PC or Mac) in the window AnyConnect and then click Connect. This should map your computer to the network drive.

Someone else is booked on the microscope but they are not here. Can I use this time instead?

We ask all microscopy users in the facility to please notify us if they cannot use their microscope during their booked time. This way, we can cancel the booking or notify other users the microscope is available for use. No user is permitted to use an instrument they have not booked themselves because one user will be using the microscope for free, while the other user is charged. We want to try our best to maintain a fair and pleasant working environment.

I cannot book any time on the microscope because someone is using it all the time.

The facility's Rules of Use page states:

Each confocal session is limited to one 3 hour session per day, and a limit of 3 sessions per week* (9 hours total) within regular working hours (9:00AM - 6:00PM).

This is a rule that we only enforce if we have to. We understand that some experiments require longer or more frequent imaging times, though this can get in the way of others using the microscope. If you contact a facility staff member with this issue, we will either move you to a similar and less busy microscope or ask that the individual using the machine so often move their bookings to later in the day so others will have more opportunities to image.  

The homepage reminds the users to acknowledge the ABIF in their publications. What do I include?

There is a specific set of guidelines to follow when publishing microscope images. Please refer to this page for all inquiries on microscopy image publications.