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X-LCA4 LED Controller User's Manual

X-LCA4 LED Controller


Zaber’s products are not intended for use in any critical medical, aviation, or military applications or situations where a product's use or failure could cause personal injury, death, or damage to property. Zaber disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages resulting from the use of our products.


The X-LCA4 controller is intended to drive up to four channels of LED peripherals, providing a current of up to 3 A per LED. Zaber's MLR and MLT series LED peripherals are automatically detected by the X-LCA4 controller and are configured for appropriate driving currents. Always follow the instructions in Activating Peripherals when switching between LED peripherals.

The X-LCA4 is not recommended for use with third-party illuminators.

Warning exclamation.png UV Light Hazard! Zaber illuminators used with the X-LCA4 may contain a high-power UVA LED. Do not look directly into the beam of light or expose skin.

Conventions used throughout this document

  • Fixed width type indicates communication to and from a device. The symbol indicates a carriage return, which can be achieved by pressing enter when using a terminal program.

Quick Tutorial

We recommend using Zaber Console to communicate with the device(s) on set up. Please refer to the Protocol Manual for more detailed information on the available commands.

In addition to the regular software options available for all Zaber devices, the X-LCA4 is supported by Micro-Manager open source microscopy software. Micro-manager can be downloaded for free from the Micro-Manager website. For setting up your Zaber illuminators and other devices, see: Zaber's Micro-Manager documentation.

Initial Set-up

X-LCA4 Setup

  1. Daisy chain all controllers and integrated controller devices together using the RS-232 "Prev" and "Next" connectors (see Daisy-Chaining Devices for more details). Next, supply power to one or more devices. Many products share power through the daisy-chain cables. The power indicator on each should light up.
  2. Download and install Zaber Console. Start Zaber Console and select the communications port the first controller is connected to. For instructions on how to find the available communication ports on your system, please refer to: Appendix A - Available Communications Ports.
  3. If multiple devices are detected, Zaber Console may prompt you to renumber them. The first device in the chain (closest to the computer) will become Device 1, the next will become Device 2, and so on.
  4. Connect the LED peripherals in the order desired. During initial set-up, each channel will automatically be detected by the controller and appropriate settings will be applied to drive the specific LED. When swapping peripheral channels, it may be necessary to activate the new peripheral before it can be used. See the Activating Peripherals section for additional information.

Using the Device

Several commonly used ASCII commands are shown below. For a full list of available commands, please refer to the Protocol Manual.

Command Description
/1 1 get lamp.flux.max Query the maximum flux for the lamp connected to channel #1.
/1 1 lamp on Turn on lamp connected to channel #1.
/1 2 activate Activate the LED peripheral connected to channel #2.

Modifying Device Settings

Here are some examples if you would like to customize particular device settings. Refer to the Protocol Manual for detailed descriptions of each setting.

Command Description
/1 1 set lamp.current 0.25↵ Configures the driver to provide 250mA of current to the lamp connected to channel #1.

Activating Peripherals

Tip lightbulb symbol.png Important: The X-LCA4 should always be powered down before disconnecting or connecting an LED peripheral.

For more information about peripheral types, compatibility, and activation, please refer to the peripheral section of the protocol manual.

  • After the X-LCA4 is powered on with an LED peripheral connected to a channel, the peripheral will be activated automatically if the channel is not configured for use with a different peripheral.
  • When an autodetect peripheral is connected and the DATA LED is fading yellow, the peripheral has been detected, but needs to be activated.
    • If you are sure that you want to activate a new peripheral on this channel, either use the Activate button near the peripheral name in Zaber Console or send the activate command to the channel.
    • If you have swapped channels unintentionally, remove power, disconnect the current peripheral and then reconnect the desired peripheral instead. Any custom settings for the original peripheral will still be maintained.

Firmware Updates

In order to allow access to new features and bug fixes, this Zaber device can be updated remotely through Zaber Console. Follow instructions here to update:

Device Overview


All images are shown looking into the device.


Terminal Connector Pin Description
1 24 - 48 V
2 Device GND

Note: As of February 2022, the power supplies Zaber provides for X-Series devices are isolated and thus the device is not connected to Earth ground. If desired, the chassis may be connected to Earth ground with a screw terminal on the dedicated grounding lugs on X-MCC and X-MCB controllers.

Note: Prior to 2022, most power supplies provided for X-Series devices were non-isolated. Isolated units can be distinguished by the "S" suffix in their Zaber part number (eg. PS14S), which is marked on the label on the bottom of the power supply.

RS-232 Communications

M8 4-pin Connector Pin Previous Next
1 Power (max 4 A) Power (max 4 A)
2 Ground Ground
3 Receive Transmit
4 Transmit Receive
Default Settings
  • Baud rate: 115200
  • Protocol: Zaber ASCII
  • Supported Protocols: Zaber ASCII
  • Supported baud rates: 9600, 19200, 38400, 57600, 115200
  • Bits: 8
  • Parity: None
  • Stop Bits: 1
  • Flow Control: None

LED Channel Connector

LED Connector
Male B-Coded M8 Connector
Pin Description
1 LED Temperature
3 LED-
4 Ground
5 LED+

Digital Inputs/Outputs

MCB2 Digital IO Terminal Blocks Pin Description
1 Ground
2 Digital In 4
3 Digital In 3
4 Digital In 2
5 Digital In 1
6 Not Connected
7 Digital Out 2
8 Digital Out 1
9 Not Connected
10 Ground

Mating Products

TE Connectivity 284506-5 or 1986692-5

Note: See I/O Usage and Examples for additional information.


Green (Device) - Power
  • On: Controller is operational.
  • Blinking twice per second: The power supply voltage or controller temperature is out of range.
Red (Device) - System Error
Yellow (Device) - Communication
  • On: Data is being transferred.
  • Blinking twice per second: Packet corruption has occurred for ASCII commands sent with a checksum.
  • Fading in and out every 2 seconds: A connected autodetect peripheral is awaiting activation.
Blue (Device) - Channel Activation Status
  • Solid: Any or all of the peripherals are deactivated.

Blue (Channel) - LED Channel Status
  • Solid: LED is on


The X-LCA4 can be connected to a computer as follows:

  1. Plug the M8 to USB adaptor (X-USBDC) into one of your computer's USB ports, then attach the device to the adaptor. You may need to use a cable extension to reach your computer. There is no need to power down or reboot the computer.
  2. Connect one or more peripherals to the X-LCA4 controller using the recommended cables. See the Quick Tutorial for more information.
  3. Connect the power plug of your power supply to the power connector of the device. The green LED should light up indicating the device has power.
  4. Additional devices can simply be daisy-chained to the first. See Daisy-Chaining Devices below.
  5. Install software from the Software page. For the initial setup, using Zaber Console is recommended.

X-LCA4 PC Connection Setup

Daisy-Chaining Devices

Multiple devices can be connected together in a chain through the Prev and Next connectors. This allows any number of devices to be controlled from a single connection to a computer, reducing cabling demands. In addition, X-Series devices carry power through the daisy chain, so in most cases a power supply only needs to be connected to one device in the chain. Whenever a device is added or removed from a chain, a renumber command should be sent to prevent device-address conflicts.

Daisy Chain Setup

To daisy-chain X-Series devices with A-Series devices:

  • Ensure all devices are set to the same baud rate and the A-Series devices are using the ASCII communication protocol before connecting them.
  • Connect any X-Series devices at the start of the chain (closest to the computer). This configuration will reduce the number of adaptor cables required.
  • Connect a T-XDC (or S-XDC for daisy-chaining an A-MCB2) adaptor cable to the Next port of the last X-Series device in the chain, and to the Prev port of the A-Series device.
  • Power supplied to an X-Series device will not be transmitted to any A-Series devices in the chain.
  • Contact Zaber Technical Support for assistance selecting connecting cables when daisy-chaining multiple series.

Physical Installation

The X-LCA4 is designed to mount to 25mm or 2" pitch optical breadboards using M6 or 1/4" screws, respectively, or for use on a desk or table.

Manual Control

Zaber's LED Controllers have an integrated, depressible knob with 20 detents per revolution, allowing LED channels to be controlled without the use of a computer.

Depress the knob to toggle the LED channel on and off.

By default the LED channels will power up with 0 brightness.
Turn the knob clockwise to increase the brightness, and counter-clockwise to decrease brightness. There are 11 brightness increments on the knob.

I/O Usage and Examples

The X-LCA4 features four digital inputs and two digital outputs that operate on a +5 V supply are TTL compatible. The input and output capabilities of the X-LCA4 can also be used with triggers to perform actions based on the current value of the I/O channel.

Digital Inputs

The inputs will draw up to 1 mA during operation.

Input circuit for D12.png

Reading the input is accomplished by sending the unit an io get di command, as shown below.

/1 io get di 1↵
@01 0 OK IDLE -- 0

This command queries the input on the device, in this case input 1, which is low.

Digital Outputs

The digital outputs use an open collector buffer with a pre-installed 1 kΩ pull up resistor to +5 V. Each output can sink up to 20 mA.

Output circuit for D12.png

The digital outputs are set through the io set do command, as shown below.

/1 io set do 2 1↵
@01 0 OK IDLE –- 0
/1 io set do 1 0↵
@01 0 OK IDLE –- 0

The first command sets the second digital output high (5 V). The second command sets the first digital output low (0 V).

Controlling Lamps

Some users may find it useful to turn lamps on and off with the digital inputs directly. To link a lamp to a digital input, add a pair of triggers as shown below for each desired lamp.

Set up a trigger to turn a lamp on when a digital input is high:

/trigger 1 when io di 1 == 1↵
@01 0 OK IDLE –- 0
/trigger 1 action a 1 lamp on↵
@01 0 OK IDLE –- 0
/trigger 1 enable↵
@01 0 OK IDLE –- 0

Set up a trigger to turn a lamp off when a digital input is low:

/trigger 2 when io di 1 == 0↵
@01 0 OK IDLE –- 0
/trigger 2 action a 1 lamp off↵
@01 0 OK IDLE –- 0
/trigger 2 enable↵
@01 0 OK IDLE –- 0


The following sections contain tips for troubleshooting common problems. If the device is unable to communicate, and it is operating erratically, a manual factory reset can be performed on most devices using the following steps. Note that this will reset most settings.

  1. Power Off the device
  2. Push and hold the knob for the first lamp
  3. Power On the device
  4. Continue to hold the knob in (for ~5 seconds) until one or more LEDs are fading or the blue LED is lit, then release.

The device has been returned to its factory defaults and can be configured as per the steps in Initial Setup.

Driven LED Behavior

The LED is not illuminated, although the axis light is blue.
The LED might be set to 0 power. Try turning the knob to increase the brightness.
If the illuminator is installed in a microscope, check that the filter cube is compatible with the LED channel you are attempting to use.

Front Panel Indicators

Green LED on.
The device is powered on and is operating normally.
Green LED flashes slowly.
The operating conditions of the device are outside of the recommended range.
This will occur when the supply voltage is either over or under the recommended range or the controller temperature has exceeded the set limit. Check the following:
  • The input voltage is within the operational range of the device. This can be read from the device with the get system.voltage command.
  • The device temperature is within range. This can be read from the device with the get system.temperature command.
Green LED off.
The device is not powered.
Check the supply connections and power adaptor for correct operation.
Red LED on or flashing.
A critical error has occurred.
Please contact Zaber Technical Support.
Yellow LED always off or flashes but no reply.
There are communication errors.
Please see the Communication Errors section below.
Blue DATA LED is on.
One or more of the channels is deactivated. Plug in any unplugged peripherals. Set to 0 on any channels that are not intended for use.
Yellow DATA LED fades in and out every two seconds.
One or more axes need to be activated. See Activating Peripherals for more information.

Communication Errors

There is no communication with the device; the Yellow LED does not come on or flash.
There are several things that should be checked:
  • Make sure the correct serial port is selected. Try selecting other serial ports in the software.
  • Check the baud rate, hand shaking, parity, stop bit, etc. when configuring the serial communications software. The required settings are listed in the RS-232 Communications section above.
  • Make sure there are no bent pins in the ends of all the data cables
  • Make sure the device is powered. The Green LED should be on.
  • If the computer is a laptop running on batteries, try plugging in the power. Some laptops disable the serial ports when running on batteries.
  • Make sure a null modem adaptor or cable is not being used.
  • Make sure the correct adaptors(if any) are being used. Refer to the pinouts in the RS-232 Communications section above.
  • If the problem was encountered when trying to control the device with custom software, try using one of the demo programs from the Zaber website to verify that the hardware is functioning properly.
Two or more devices both respond to commands sent to device 1.
Most devices are shipped with their device number set as 1. If you connect the devices through Zaber Console, you will be prompted to renumber them. If you aren't able to install and open Zaber Console, send the renumber command in the software you are using to set all of the device numbers to different values.
The Yellow LED comes on briefly when sending a command, but the axis does not reply.
Check baud rate, hand shaking, parity, stop bit, etc. are set as per the RS-232 Communications defaults.
The device numbers may not be what is expected, issue a renumber command. Make sure that the computer does not transmit anything else while the devices renumber.
If the problem is encountered when trying to control the device with custom software:
  • Use a demo program from the Zaber website to verify that the hardware is functioning properly.
  • Make sure that the receiving part of the code or commercial package is correct.
  • Check the serial port settings are correct.
  • Check connectors for bent or broken pins.

Warranty and Repair

For Zaber's policies on warranty and repair, please refer to the Ordering Policies.

Standard products

Standard products are any part numbers that do not contain the suffix ENG followed by a 4 digit number. Most, but not all, standard products are listed for sale on our website. All standard Zaber products are backed by a one-month satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, we will refund your payment minus any shipping charges. Goods must be in brand new saleable condition with no marks. Zaber products are guaranteed for one year. During this period Zaber will repair any products with faults due to manufacturing defects, free of charge.

Custom products

Custom products are any part numbers containing the suffix ENG followed by a 4 digit number. Each of these products has been designed for a custom application for a particular customer. Custom products are guaranteed for one year, unless explicitly stated otherwise. During this period Zaber will repair any products with faults due to manufacturing defects, free of charge.

How to return products

Customers with devices in need of return or repair should contact Zaber to obtain an RMA form which must be filled out and sent back to us to receive an RMA number. The RMA form contains instructions for packing and returning the device. The specified RMA number must be included on the shipment to ensure timely processing.

Email Updates

If you would like to receive our periodic email newsletter including product updates and promotions, please sign up online at (news section). Newsletters typically include a promotional offer worth at least $100.

Contact Information

Contact Zaber Technologies Inc by any of the following methods:

Phone 1-604-569-3780 (direct)
1-888-276-8033 (toll free in North America)
Fax 1-604-648-8033
Mail #2 - 605 West Kent Ave. N., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6P 6T7
Email Please visit our website for up to date email contact information.

The original instructions for this product are available at

Appendix A - Available Communications Ports

Finding Installed Serial Ports


  1. Open Search or Run from the Start Menu or Taskbar, type "Device Manager" and press enter.
  2. Expand the Ports (COM & LPT) category.
    • In this example there are two serial ports available (COM1 and COM15), which are both USB adaptors.


  1. Finding devices
    • Open a terminal and execute the following command:
    dmesg | grep -E ttyU\?S↵
    • The response will be similar to the following:
      [ 2.029214] serial8250: ttyS0 at I/O 0x3f8 (irq = 4) is a 16550A
      [ 2.432572] 00:07: ttyS0 at I/O 0x3f8 (irq = 4) is a 16550A
      [ 2.468149] 0000:00:03.3: ttyS4 at I/O 0xec98 (irq = 17) is a 16550A
      [ 13.514432] usb 7-2: FTDI USB Serial Device converter now attached to ttyUSB0
    • This shows that there are 3 serial ports available: ttyS0, ttyS4 and ttyUSB0 (a USB adaptor)
  2. Checking port permissions
    • Using the ports found above, execute the following command
    ls -l /dev/tty{S0, S4, USB0}↵
    • The permissions, given below, show that a user has to be root or a member of the dialout group to be able to access these devices
      crw-rw---- 1 root dialout 4, 64 Oct 31 06:44 /dev/ttyS0
      crw-rw---- 1 root dialout 4, 68 Oct 31 06:45 /dev/ttyS4
      crw-rw---- 1 root dialout 188, 0 Oct 31 07:58 /dev/ttyUSB0
  3. Checking group membership
    • The output will be similar to the following:
      adm cdrom sudo dip plugdev users lpadmin sambashare
      Notice that dialout is not in the list
    • A user can be added to the dialout group with the following command
    sudo adduser $USER dialout↵
    • Group membership will not take effect until the next logon.


  1. Finding devices
    • Open a terminal and execute the following command:
    ls /dev/cu.*serial*
    • The response will be similar to the following:
    • This shows that there are two serial ports available, both of which happen to be USB adaptors.
    • There may be other devices that match this query, such as keyboards or some web cameras. To determine which one corresponds to your USB serial cable, try repeating the command with and without the cable connected to the computer, to see which one appears and disappears.