Canadian Macromolecular Crystallography Facility

Remote Control & Mail-In

Aside from visiting the CMCF in person to collect data, there are two types of Remote Access:

  • Remote Control
  • Mail-In Crystallography

Remote Control

This mode allows Users with active proposals to collect data as though present at the beamline without leaving the home laboratory. The samples are shipped to the CMCF then loaded into the robotic automounter by beamline staff. Using a freely-available software client installed on your laboratory computer, you can connect to the beamline through a secure encrypted channel in order to perform experiments with minimal intervention by beamline staff.

  • Remote control is currently available on both CMCF beamlines.
  • All remote users must complete training in the form of a Remote Beamline Specific Orientation (Remote BSO). Please arrange this well ahead of your beamtime.
  • Once you have booked remote beamtime, you should receive an automated e-mail with detailed instructions 1 week before your beamtime begins. Please let us know if you do not receive this information or if you have any questions.

Mail-In Crystallography Service

Mail-In Crystallography is a service where CMCF staff collect data on projects having the highest peer-review scores. Upon approval, beamtime is allocated from the user's regular peer-review awarded beamtime. Up to 3 shifts per week are assigned for Mail-In Crystallography in a flexible manner around regular user shifts. Crystals are collected in the order they arrive at the facility during Mail-In beamtime. If necessary, Mail-In users will be prioritised using their scores. We cannot guarantee results will be complete by a certain date, nor against possible damage to crystals during transportation, mounting or measurement. At this time, there is no charge for this service for regular users. While some screening is anticipated, this is not the intention of the service. 

Applying for Mail-In beamtime

  • Apply for Mail-In beamtime here, indicating the number of samples you wish to send.

Preparing Samples for Mail-In

After your Mail-In has been approved, you will be contacted with the expected start date.

  • Prepare samples according to guidelines in the Samples & Automounter section. Uni-Pucks are the preferred container. If canes are used, they should be in plastic sleeves so that vials do not fall out during transport. The bottom of the cane is considered to be position "1".
  • Sample & experiment information should be provided through MxLIVE. More information can be found in the MxLIVE section.
  • if you want data for different crystal forms, binding of different ligands, etc, please separate these into different Groups within MxLIVE as much as possible (each different ligand should be a different experiment/group, for example)
  • Send a data storage device properly formatted (FAT32), with no less than 100 GB of available space per 15 - 20 samples. If the disk is not formatted properly or there is not enough space, we will have to reformat it or delete files to make room. The disk that you send should therefore not contain critical data for which there are no other copies, and should be considered temporary storage only. We cannot guarantee the safety of your disk during transport.
  • Your Fed-Ex account number and return address will be required for return shipment and should be entered in your MxLIVE profile. It is your responsibility to ensure that the information in MxLIVE is up-to-date.
  • See the Shipping Samples section for instructions on sending your dewar. We advise sending samples several working days prior to your expected collection start date.

Tips for making the most of your Mail-In beamtime:

  • provide pre-screened crystals whenever possible
  • the most efficient protocol is to provide 3-4 crystals for each Group/Experiment with instructions to "Collect First Good"
    • in this case, the first good crystal with acceptable diffraction that meets your criteria will be collected and the remaining crystals in that Group kept as backups and not used unless there is a problem with the resulting dataset

Results from Mail-In

We process a maximum of about 20 samples per 8-hour shift, including screening. Expect up to ~ 10 datasets per shift. Fewer crystals per shift can be accommodated for SAD/MAD projects or when many images are needed (low symmetry, small oscillation angles, etc.).

The progress of your Mail-In collection can be followed through MxLIVE. Datasets, screens, and output from Autoprocess are automatically uploaded to MxLIVE. You can view diffraction images, processing reports, and download available .mtz, .cns, and .shelx files as well as images.

The raw images as well as the output from Autoprocess will be returned on your data storage device. It is expected that the scientist who collects the data, the beamline and the CLS be acknowledged in any resulting publications as outlined in the Acknowledging the CLS section.