Frequently Asked Questions​

Technical . Biological . zencell

Technical FAQs

zenCELL owl is a 24-channel microscope for the incubator which automates remote monitoring of cell cultures. The compact and lightweight device ensures space-saving and uncomplicated use in the incubator. Data capturing, display and analysis is performed 24/7 in real time. Cell cultures can be comfortably monitored from your PC.

zenCELL owl is based on inverted transmitted light microscopy.

Because of technical limitations like the small size of the zenCELL owl in combination with 24 integrated cameras it is not yet possible to provide fluorescence imaging.

System requirements depend on the individually selected recording interval and algorithms. zenCELl owl software calculates the minimal possible recording interval at beginning of measurement. For a 10 min interval with all algorithms selected a PC with Windows® 8 or 10, 32/64 Bit, 2.5 GHz, 4 cores, 8 GB RAM is recommended. Make sure that no other programs are running during the zenCELL owl measurement. Check the power saving settings of your PC (see question no. 28).

Field of view is 1,2mm x 0,9mm for each of the 24 cameras.

Right now, field of view is limited on 1,2mm x 0,9mm for each of the 24 cameras. But we are working on technical optimizations for enlarging the field of view.

Magnification is 10x with additional digital zoom.

zenCELl owl software calculates the minimal possible recording interval at beginning of measurement. It is limited on your PC’s performance and the number of wells and algorithms selected for the experiment. The maximal adjustable recording interval is 24 hours.

Recommended system requirements for a 10 min interval with all algorithms selected are a PC with Windows® 8 or 10, 32/64 Bit, 2.5 GHz, 4 cores, 8 GB RAM.

Make sure that there no other programs are running while zenCELL owl measurement. Check the power saving settings of your PC (see question no. 31).

The maximum focus range is 280 μm, adjustable in 1050 steps.

zenCELL owl uses a ribbon cable for data transfer and power supply. A suitable USB3 cable is provided with each zenCELL owl. Via remote access you can monitor your cell cultures from anywhere outside the lab.

The software includes options for monitoring of cell count (adherent cells, detached cells and total cell number), cell coverage and calculation of standard deviation.

zenCELL owl software delivers information about relative changes in the number of cells for each well over time. But there is no possibility to differentiate between vital and dead cells which is necessary for correct cell counting. Therefore it is not recommended to use zenCELL owl as a cell counter.

Biological FAQs

All kinds of adherent cells can be monitored. There are limitations in cell type for the use of algorithms (e.g. cell count, cell coverage). See question no 14).

The default software algorithms are optimized for L929 mouse fibroblast cell lines. For other cell lines it is necessary to customize the algorithms by machine learning. Please contact us to adapt zenCELL owl algorithms to your individual cell culture requirements: info@zencellowl.com

Because of technical limitations like the small size of the zenCELL owl in combination with 24 integrated cameras it is not yet possible to provide fluorescence imaging.

Spheroids can be monitored under certain conditions, i.e. size and mobility have to be taken into consideration. Please contact our support at info@zencellowl.com.

It is possible to perform 24 Scratch Assays in parallel. We provide a template for a better positioning of manual scratches. Please contact our support at info@zencellowl.com.

zenCELL owl is compatible with standard culture vessels. For multiwell plates (6-well, 24-well or 96-well plates) use the zenCELL owl’s adjustable universal adapter frame. T-flasks (T25 or T75) can be observed with a suitable adapter.

Keep in mind that the 24 fields of views are determined by the 24 permanently positioned cameras of the zenCELL owl and do not show the entire surface of the vessel. Therefore in 96 well plates only a certain set of wells can be monitored.

Individual shaped cell culture vessels also can be used, please contact our support: info@zencellowl.com.

zenCELL owl is optimized for the use of 24-well plates but it is possible to use 6-well plates. The 24 cameras of the zenCELL owl are in fixed positions and correspond to the wells of 24-well plates.

Coated plates can be used when the coating is appropriate for light microscopy.

How to use zenCELL owl

zenCELL owl is designed for temperatures from 20 °C up to 45 °C and a relative humidity of 20% to 95%.
Make sure that the zenCELL owl is placed in the incubator at least 2 hours before startup.
This serves to compensate for the temperature difference to ensure stable measurements.

zenCELL owl can be used like a conventional microscope to have a short look at the cells without saving any information (e.g. project setting, pictures or measurement results). For this application use the Menu “Live View”.

Main Menu > Views > Live View (see User Manual page 20)

In order to perform long-term Cell Culture Monitoring or an experiment with automated data recording it is necessary to define distinct Project Settings (e.g. project path). This can be done via using “Project Wizard” to create a new project (see User Manual page 15) or adjusting the “Project Settings” (see User Manual page 17).

Main menu > File > New Project or Main menu > Settings > Project Settings

Technical Problems

  • Check the USB port. The zenCELL owl can only be used on USB 3.0 ports or higher.
  • Use only the supplied USB-C cable.
  • Make sure to use the newest software version suitable for your zenCELl owl (check for updates)

  • make sure to use USB 3.0
  • make sure to use newest suitable software version
  • check whether owl is found under DEVICE MANAGER > Universal Serial Bus controllers, if owls are shown here but not in the software go into the tab VIEW in the DEVICE MANAGER Window, deinstall all shown owl devices > restart windows > zenCELL software should recognise your plugged in owl again

  • Check if the system settings of your computer meet the minimum requirements.
  • Use only the supplied components, such as USB-C cable.
  • The zenCELL owl is not compatible with a USB 2 port.

  • The computer must not be shut down during a long-term project.
  • The computer enters sleep mode when it is no longer used. As a result, the zenCELL owl is no longer supplied with power and consequently the image acquisition is stopped. To resolve this issue, edit the power saving settings. Under Control Panel> All Control Panel> Power Options> Edit Power Plan Settings, set the Scheduled Power Saver to Never.
  • Make sure the computer can not install updates during a project. To do so, go to Settings> Update and Security> Windows Update> Advanced Options> Suspend Updates to On.

Turn off the computer's automatic update feature. Windows installs updates at certain times, restarting the computer. This closes the zenCELL owl user program and stops the image acquisition. To rule out this issue, keep your computer up to date and install any available updates before starting a long-term test. For safety reasons, switch off the automatic update function. To do so, go to Settings> Update and Security> Windows Update> Advanced Options> Suspend Updates to On.

  • Make sure your notebook is plugged in and configured to "High Performance". To do this, in the "Windows Mobility Center" under "Battery status" set to "maximum performance".
  • Check if the system settings of your computer meet the minimum requirements. Upgrading your main memory contributes significantly to the improvement of performance.
  • Closing unneeded programs and browsers improves performance.

  • Make sure your notebook is plugged in and configured to "High Performance". To do this, in the "Windows Mobility Center" under "Battery status" set to "maximum performance".
  • Check if the system settings of your computer meet the minimum requirements. Upgrading your main memory contributes significantly to the improvement of performance.
  • Closing unneeded programs and browsers improves performance.

Check if the system settings of your computer meet the minimum requirements. If this is not the case, too little computing power can lead to overlapping of the recording intervals and thus to the loss of data.

Check your resolution settings in Settings> System> Display> Scaling and Arrangement.

The measurement file "coverage.csv" may not be opened while a project is running. This makes the file read-only so it can not be overwritten by the zenCELL software.

  • Make sure to run the autofocus function before the start of measurement. You also can adjust each well’s focus manually.
  • Make sure to correctly use the universal adapter frame for your multi-well plate to keep the correct distance to the camera units. For T-flasks make sure to use the correct adapter frame.

  • Preincubate the zenCELL owl in the incubator at least 2 hours before startup. This serves to compensate for the temperature difference to ensure a stable work environment.
  • Make sure that there is no condensation inside the cell culture vessel’s lid.

This a safety feature preventing the risk of overheating the cells during continuous operation. Please confirm the pop-up menu to avoid automatic closing of Live View after 15 seconds.

  • The software algorithms are optimized for L929 mouse fibroblasts cell lines so far.
  • Cell counting is correct until a cell confluence of 100% is reached.
  • Drug-treated cells can not be counted correctly if drugs have an influence on cell morphology.

Make sure that there is no condensation on the inside of your cell culture vessel’s lid. Condensation often results from temperature changes. To avoid condensation keep your cell culture vessel and zenCELL owl device at stable temperatures or preincubate both in the incubator for two hours before beginning measurement.

The following picture shows how condensation can tarnish your pictures

You have not found the right answer to your question?
Our team will be happy to help you!
Simply fill out the contact form and write us your question as a message.

Our team will get back to you shortly

innoME GmbH
In der Tütenbeke 36
32339 Espelkamp
Tel.: +49 (89) 215 377 00
E-Mail: info@zencellowl.com

Handelsregister: Amtsgericht Bad Oeynhausen, HRB 14557
UST.ID-Nr. DE300923829
WEEE-Reg.-Nr. DE 43441295
Geschäftsführer: Eike Kottkamp
Verantwortlich für den Inhalt: InnoME GmbH /alle Rechte vorbehalten