Lab Device Setup – IDEXX VetLab (Serial)

Lab Device Setup – IDEXX VetLab (Serial)

Estimated reading time: 8 min

This article outlines how to physically connect your device to the network, and establish communication to the RxWorks Lab Manager. Since
many lab devices share common connection requirements, you may need to consult the supporting Lab Manager article in the Online Manual: “Setup Serial Lab Device-to-PC Connections”

Special System Requirements

The IDEXX VetLab Station is similar to the newer IVLS system, but uses a serial rather than network connection to the practice management system. The serial connection method has been superseded by IDEXX IVLS system using Interlink technology and has limited support.

We recommend contacting your IDEXX representative about updating IDEXX lab systems to utilise Interlink and SmartService technologies.
If the system is already Interlink and SmartService enabled, see the IDEXX IVLS (Network) article in this section of the Online Manual.
Operating System Requirements

A direct serial connection can only be used in older operating systems. Successful serial connection between the VetLab and your Server requires the following:

  • The Server must have 32-bit versions of Windows Server 2003, Vista, or XP installed.
  • The PC connected to the VetTest must have 32-bit versions of Windows Vista, XP or 2000 installed.
  • Serial connection in Server 2008 & Windows 7 is Not supported– contact your IDEXX representative about adding an IVLS with SmartService Technology to your laboratory.
  • As of 8th April 2014, Windows XP is no longer supported or updated by Microsoft.

    Requirements for Connection – Direct to Server

  • Server within 15 meters (cable length) of the lab device.
  • Server must have a spare serial port OR a USB to Serial (RS232) adapter.
  • IDEXX VetLyte connector (pictured).
  • Requirements for Connection – Via Network PC

  • PC connected to the RxWorks Network with remote access from the RxWorks Server.
  • PC within 15 meters (cable length) of the lab device.
  • PC must have a spare serial port OR a USB to Serial (RS232) adapter.
  • IDEXX VetLyte connector.
  • Network Serial Port Kit software.
  • 15 meters is the maximum recommended cable length for serial communications. However, it may be possible to extend this up to 50 meters if twisted pair Ethernet cable is used with appropriate Serial to Ethernet adapters.
    A USB to Serial (RS232) adapter can be used to add extra serial ports where there no available ports on the physical machine (drivers may be required – check OS compatibility).
    CAT5 Ethernet cable is used in conjunction with the VetLyte connector instead of regular serial cable. This means the 15m maximum serial cable length may be exceeded. Check with your IDEXX representative for cable length recommendations.
    If you are unsure of the correct device setup for your practice, contact your IDEXX representative for assistance.

    Connecting The Lab Device

    The VetLab Station is a PC with a touch screen that functions as the central controller for all attached lab devices. Connecting the VetLab Station to a PC is a simple process. However, it is important to take into account the connection of additional laboratory devices as this may change some aspects of the setup.

    Your IDEXX representative will usually perform the device setup for you. RxWorks technicians can provide limited assistance with physical connections.

    Physical Connection – VetLab Station (Serial)

    1. An IDEXX technician will ensure all devices are correctly connected to the VetLab host PC. Make sure you can identify the port that is to be used to connect to the PIMS workstation.
    2. Attach a VetLyte Connector to a spare COM port on the server or host PC.
    3. Connect a Cat5 network cable between the VetLab Station and the Vetlyte connector.
    Cat5 network cable may be directed via a patch panel but must not be connected to a network switch or router device.

    CAS Ports

    A CAS port number is unique to IDEXX devices and corresponds to the physical port connecting the device to a PC. The numbers 10, 20 & 30 refer to the CAS ports 1, 2 & 3 respectively. If you are unable to obtain the CAS port from connection tests, use these examples as a guide:

  • VetTest Only– CAS Port usually set to 1.
  • snapReader– There are 3 CAS ports on the SnapReader, plus one ‘VT’ port for the VetTest machine. The port connected by a network cable to a PC will be the CAS port.
  • VetComm Box– There are 4 ports on the VetCom Box. The port connected by a network cable to a PC will be the CAS port.
  • IVLS/LaserCyte PC– CAS Port usually set to 1.
  • Primary Device Communication Test

    Enable Device Communication

    The data communication features of the lab device must be enabled to allow test results to be transferred. You will need to consult with your IDEXX representative to ensure all devices hosted by the VetLab have their individual communication features enabled.
    The following instructions are to enable the VetLab communications feature on the VetLab Station only.

    Enable VetLab Data Transmission
    1. Select settings from the Main Menu.
    2. Select the practice Management tab.
    3. Set the practice management option to OTHER – SERIAL CONNECTIOn. Click OK to Save.
    4. Return to the main menu & select INSTRUMENTs.
    5. Select the practice Management tab.
    6. Check that tRANSMIT RECORDS is set to On.

    The Practice Management tab will only be available if communication is active between the IVLS and PC workstation. Once communication is established, the RxWorks status icon on the main menu will display ‘Ready’.

    Devices other than the VetLab may need additional communication settings enabled. Consult your IDEXX representative for assistance with your specific device combination.

    Test Transmission Using PuTTY/HyperTerminal (Physical Link).

    A serial port utility such as HyperTerminal or PuTTY is used to test the communication link between the lab device and the PC/Server it is physically connected to. Follow the steps below to test the data link:

    As long as data transmission is enabled on the ‘controller’ IDEXX device, it will begin sending messages approximately every 30 seconds.
    1. Open the serial port utility & select the correct COM Port to start monitoring.
    2. Make sure the VetLab devices are displaying the main Menu when testing (data transmission is paused when other menus are in use).
    3. Symbols and numbers should begin to appear in the monitoring window within 1 minute. This indicates the VetLab device is communicating successfully.

    4. Take note of the numbers that appear in the HyperTerminal/PuTTY window for future reference.
  • The numbers refer to the CAS port that the machine is communicating on.
  • See the CAS port information in the device connection section of this article for more information.
  • Next Steps – Important Notes

  • If the lab device is physically connected to the server, you can skip the next article section and go directly to Configure & Test RxWorks Lab Settings.
  • Take note of the COM Port number, as this is required to set up the device in RxWorks.
  • If the lab device is connected to a network PC or at another clinic location, read on through the next section, setup & Test Network Serial Port Kit.
  • For more information on how to use the serial port utilities see this related article in the Online Manual: “Setup Serial Lab Device-to-PC Connections”

    Setup & Test Network Serial Port Kit

    Install NSPK if Required

    If the lab device is not physically connected to the Server where RxWorks is hosted, you will need to create a virtual serial port link. The virtual serial port link is achieved by using software called ‘Network Serial Port Kit’ (NSPK). If NSPK is not required, skip to the next section of this article.

    Detailed setup information can be found in NSPK installation article here: “Setup Serial Lab Device-to-PC Connections”

    You will need the COM port number (Physical) from the previous testing stage to configure NSPK. Once NSPK is configured, test the new virtual COM port communications.

    Test Transmission Using PuTTY/HyperTerminal (Virtual Link)

    To validate the link between the Server and PC, the PuTTY/HyperTerminal test is repeated from the RxWorks Server. Results transmission will be monitored via the serial port utility on the Server rather than the PC.

    1. Check the NSPK link status indicators to verify that a successful link between the server and PC has been created.
    2. Take note of the new virtual COM port number on the Server (the port will be shown in Windows Device Manager).
    3. Open the serial port utility (on the server) & select the correct COM Port to start monitoring.
    4. Make sure the VetLab devices are displaying the Main Menu when testing (data transmission is paused when other menus are in use).

    Symbols and numbers should begin to appear in the serial port utility window (on the server) if the connection is working correctly. It may take up to a minute before the data appears.

    Configure RxWorks Lab Settings

    The final Lab Manager setup tasks can be completed once device communication is established.

    RxWorks Lab Device Settings

    Follow the steps below to configure the lab device in RxWorks.

    1. Go to: LAB MANAGER > Manage Devices & Reference Laboratories
    2. Click the Add button.
    3. Enter the device details into the fields as per the example shown below. Read on to see an explanation of each field.
    4. NAME – identify the device with a name e.g. “IDEXX VetLab”. This will be displayed in the Lab Devices List.
    5. Clinic –Select the location of the device from the drop-down list.
    6. ATTACH TO –Select VISIt. This will attach the results to the visit record.
    7. LAB COMPANY FOR ORDERS –Select IDEXX – In-House. If you do not wish to create Lab Order Task Lists in your Lab Workflow, leave this field blank.
    8. NOTES –Add in details such as the machine Name & IP address of the PC the device is connected to, physical COM Port Number, Locationof the PC, and a description of Cable connectionsused.
    9. LAB ORDER METHOD– Not Required.
    10. LAB RESULT METHOD– IDEXX In-House Legacy Serial Connection
    11. LAB RESULT FORMAt– IDEXX In-House Text
    Notes can be used to record information that can help identify how the device is connected to the network. This information is useful for trouble-shooting device connection issues.
    Serial Connection Settings
  • COM PORT – the COM Port number that you recorded earlier should be entered as per the example e.g. COM2 This should be the number you recorded at the end of the Primary Device Communication Test (physical connection to server) or after the setup of NSPK (Virtual COM port).
  • BAUD RATE –Enter 9600
  • CAS PORT –Enter the CAS port number as recorded during the communications test. The number will usually be a single digit 1,2 or 3.
  • Test Device Connection to RxWorks

    This test is used to verify that the lab device can transmit data into the RxWorks Lab Manager. Follow the steps below to begin the test.

    1. Go to: LAB MANAGER > Device Monitor
    2. Select IDEXX VetLab & Click CONNECT TO DEVICe. The device monitor window will open and establish a connection to the COM Port.
    3. Make sure the VetLab devices are displaying the Main Menu when testing (data transmission is paused when other menus are in use).
    4. Symbols and numbers should begin to appear in the Lab Device Monitor if the connection is working correctly. It may take up to a minute before the data appears.

    If the connection is working correctly, you should see the symbols and numbers appear in the Lab Device Monitor. The results will automatically be imported into RxWorks and be accessible via Lab Manager & the visit record.

    Setup the Scheduled Task on the Server

    RxWorks uses the Windows Task Scheduler to trigger the automatic import of lab test results from lab devices. Follow the steps below to configure the scheduled task for your lab device.

  • Windows Scheduled Tasks require user credentials to be able to execute automatically.
  • Ensure you have the Username and Password of a server account ready before you begin the task setup.
  • RxWorks servers use a special user account to run the scheduled task in the background. An RxWorks technician can assist with this.
  • If you are not sure which account to run the task as, consult with your hardware technician.
  • Before you proceed, close RxWorks and re-open using ‘Run as Administrator’. This allows RxWorks to use admin–level security to complete the scheduled task creation.
    1. Close the Device Monitor after testing communication. The scheduled task will not be able to connect to the COM port if it is in use by the Device Monitor.
    2. Go to LAB MANAGER > Manage Devices & Reference Laboratories & select your device from the list.
    3. Click CREATE SCHEDULED TASK from the device settings window.
    4. Enter a server account Username, and Password.
    5. Click the Arrow Icon to begin the automated task creation.
    6. The task will be created automatically and will be visible in the Windows Task Scheduler. If task creation fails, you may need to create the task manually – see this section of the Online Manual for more information: “Manual Scheduled Task Setup”

    7. Ensure that the Scheduled Task is set to ‘enabled’.
    8. Perform a final Test Result transmission from the lab device to verify that communication to RxWorks Lab Manager is successful.
    Your Lab setup is now complete! Results should automatically transmit at the completion of lab tests during normal day to day usage.
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