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Tiger Tunable Lens Card (TGTLC)

TGTLC: Tiger Tuneable Lens Card

TGTLC is a Tiger plug-in card that can power 2 Electrically Tunable Lens(ETL) like OptoTune's EL-10-30.

ETLs are polymer lens whose curvature and thus focal length can be changed by applying current. They are available with diverse cover glass coating and optional offset lens.


  • TGTLC card can control up to 2 Electrically Tunable Lens(ETL) (such as C60-Tunable 4F assemblies)
  • Control with serial commands, manual input devices (knob or joystick), or a 0-5V analog signal
  • Open loop control
  • Very fast, 15ms transient response. Resonant frequency at 150Hz and 600Hz.


  • With fast response time, the Electrically Tunable Lens(ETL) is a good substitute for Piezo based focus devices
  • Acquire Z series without moving the objective
  • Performs like a Continuous focus device when used with ASI's XYZ Tracker Plugin in MicroManager.
  • Can be added to FIBER-COUPLED LASER SCANNER, for use as a remotely adjustable collimator.

Electrical Characteristic

  • Maximum output Voltage, 6Volts
  • Maximum output current, up to 290ma per channel. (On RevA and A2 cards max current was only 200ma)
  • Current resolution, 4.4μA . (On RevA and A2 cards current resolution is only 50ua)



Rev A2(Click to Enlarge)

On RevA2 and above cards , the BNC connector have dual purpose. By arranging jumpers in certain way , the BNC can be used for TTL IN and OUT trigger , or used to control the Tunable lens with a External input control ((0-5)Voltage).

Rev A(Click to Enlarge)

On RevA cards, the BNC connector are hardwired for External input control

WARNING!! DoNot connect Tunable Lens to TGLED cards, it too has same 3.5mm mono connectors. TGLED card will fry it. TGLED card outputs currents at 900ma , while the Tunable lens can only handle currents upto 400ma. This issue has been resolved in newer version of TGTLC cards where a 6pin Circular connector is used instead of 3.5mm mono connector.


TGTLC lets the user control a Electrically Tunable Lens(ETL) either in Internal mode or External mode. TGTLC card mode can be set with the PM command.

In Internal mode, user can adjust the ETL's focal length with serial commands like MOVE MOVREL or with manual input devices like Joystick and Knob. Refer to JOYSTICK command for more info.

In External mode, user can adjust the ETL's focal length with a 0-5V analog signal.

The TGTLC card is a constant current driver, it converts the user input into a currents (up to 290ma) that is applied to the ETL to produce a change in its curvature which results in the focal length change.


Post firmware version 3.19

User has two options for unit ie user input when commanding their ETLs. First is a 16bit abstract integer, another is diopters. User can pick their preferred units with Command:PR.

  • The abstract units, its a 16 bit integer. This replaces the previously 4000 count default axis profile B1.
  • Upper limit is 32768 with 290 ma of current , lower limit is -32768 with 0 ma of current, and default starting position is 0.
  • 1 is the smallest step change possible, which causes 4.4μA change in current applied to ETL.
  • The second option is in 1/1000 of diopter(dpt). ETL's manufacture calibrated the ETL in factory and stored the diopter vs current curves on the ETL's eeprom. TGTLC RevB and above cards are able to read this data, parse it and calculate the slope and intercept from this data. Its then able to accept user input in 1/1000 of a diopter and calculate the current it needs to apply to the ETL to get the desired diopter.
  • This option is also available on older RevA and A2 cards , which can't read the eeprom data , instead they go by default values.

Pre firmware version 3.19

  • With the default axis profile (B1) , ETL's upper limit is 2000 , lower limit is -2000 , and default starting position is 0.
  • Total travel is 4000 counts
  • 1is the smallest step change possible, which causes 50μA change in current applied to ETL.

Note: A ETL have no feedback sensor. TGTLC card is operating the ETLs in open loop. The current applied is regulated. Between aging, temperature affects, their may be error in the user input and actual diopter observed.


Say Electrically Tunable Lens(ETL) axis letters are V

m v=-32768

The above command would move the ETL to lower limit , where 0 amps of current would be applied ETL

m v=-32767

The above command would move the ETL to slightly above lower limit , where 4.4μA of current would be applied ETL

m v=0

Above command will move the ETL to middle of the travel range by applying 145mA of current.

m v=32768

Above command will move the ETL to upper limit of the travel range by applying 290mA of current.

Anti-Aliasing Filter

This option has been removed in TGTLC RevC cards and above.

TGTLC card has a Low Pass 5th order Bessel filter onboard. The filter's cut-off frequency can be adjusted between 100Hz to 650KHz with the BACKLASH command. User could use this feature to smoothen the jagged edges generated with a DAC. Else setting the cutoff frequency with a high cutoff frequency will cause the filter to not interfere with user input.

Default cut-off frequency is 300Hz.

Serial Commands

Apart from core serial commands like MOVE, MOVREL ,JOYSTICK command etc . Below is a list of serial commands that have specific function on the TGTLC card.

Hardware Jumper Configuration

Jumper in External Input config for Rev A2 ; Click to Enlarge

When the jumpers are arranged in above configuration (JP2 and JP3 have jumpers on pins 3 and 2). The BNC connectors can be used to control the Tunable Lens with an analog voltage of 0-5V. Use the Command:PM to set axis to external input or internal input mode.

Jumpers in TTL config for RevA2;Click to Enlarge

When the jumpers are arranged in above configuration (JP2 and JP3 have jumpers on pins 1 and 2). The BNC connectors can be used to as TTL. More info Command:TTL. If you like the Tunable Lens card to trigger a camera , set it up in above configuration.

Jumper config for Rev A ; Click to Enlarge

Brief on Tunable Lens Assembly

ASIs Tunable Lens 4F Assembly

Tunable Lens 4F Assembly leverages Tunable Lens to remotely focus an image on a microscope (ie without moving the objective itself).

  • Unordered List ItemThe Assembly is easy to install,its screws into the C-mount(Photo) port of most microscopes.
  • Only active component of the assembly is the tunable lens, it plus into the Tunable Lens card
  • A known issue at the moment is the Tunable lens as its focal length is varied, cause a slight X and Y shift in the image.
  • The Focal length of the Tunable Lens changes between 8 to 20 diopter. The resulting focus change will depend on your optics.

For example on a ASI RAMM Infinity microscope, the following objectives caused the varying Z focus change.

^Objective Magnification ^Z focus change for full 4000 units travel ^

5x 1600um
20x 80-90um
40x 50um

The relation between Objective magnification and focus change is

\begin{equation}Focus Change = \frac{-1}{M_{obj}^2}*\frac{n*f_r^2}{f_{ETL}}\end{equation}

where Mobj is objective magnification; n is refractive index of immersion medium; fr is focal length of the two lens in 4F assembly; FETL is effective focal length of the ETL in combination with any offset lens.

As described in Fahrbach, Florian O., et al. “Rapid 3D Light-Sheet Microscopy with a Tunable Lens.” Optics Express, vol. 21, no. 18, 2013

Temperature Compensation

Tunable Lens are susceptible to temperature change, their diopter decrease as temperature increases.Below is a graph of diopter vs current at two different temperatures

Graph showing diopter vs Current at two different temperatures

This diopter per celcius change isn't constant and varies too. Below is a graph of the change diopter change per celsius vs current.

diopter per Celsius change at various current

Fortunately this effect is predictable and the manufacturer has built a temperature sensor into the Tunable lens and provided characterization data. At the factory , we analyze this data and build a model. The parameters for this model are saved on the Tunable Lens EEPROM itself. The Tunable Lens card reads the EEPROM on starup. These parameters can be read and altered thru serial commands ERROR(E), PCROS(PC), PG and PSG

When Temperature compensation is enabled (thru the PM [Axis]=2) command, firmware periodically reads the temperature sensor on the Tunable Lens and adjust the DAC. This change won't be reflected in the position of the Tunable Lens read with WHERE(W) or set with MOVE (M). The correction is happening on a internal layer , right before the DAC and current amplifier.


Below is how the temperature compensation is calculated and applied.

  • First for a given current , Diopter per Celsius (D/T) at that current is calculated

\begin{equation}\frac{D}{T} = I_{user}*K_1+C_1\end{equation}

  • Then current temperature is measured by reading the temperature onboard the Tunable lens , and subtracting that from the set point temperature. This set point temperature is where the Tunable lens was characterized at factory, and coefficients like K1 and C1 were calculated.
  • This temperature change is multiplied with Diopter per Celsius (D/T) to get Diopter change

\begin{equation}D = \frac{D}{T}*(T_{current}-T_{setpoint})\end{equation}

  • The Diopters are converted back to current by multiplying it with Diopter to current coefficient KD2I. Then subtracted from the user input current before being applied to the Tunable Lens

\begin{equation}I_{applied} = I_{user}- D*K_{D2I}\end{equation}

The coefficients K1 , KD2I and constants C1 and Tsetpoint are calculated from two Diopter vs Current curves the Tunable lens manufactured provides with each Tunable lens. They are calculated by ASI technicians and stored onboard the tunable lens itself. If a user would like to alter any of these settings , they may do it thru the following commands.

\begin{equation} X=\frac{K_1*-1}{10000000} \end{equation}


One of the main application of Tunable Lens system is with ASIs XYZ Tracker plugin as a continuous focus device. For more info refer ASIs XYZ Tracker

Additional Reading

Address: 29391 W Enid Rd. Eugene, OR 97402, USA | Phone: +1 (541) 461-8181
tiger_tunable_lens_card.txt · Last modified: 2019/04/18 23:35 (external edit)