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More on Plugins

More on Plugins


One of the greatest strengths of the Pioreactor its modularity; both on the hardware and software sides. Previously, you've seen how we can add physical pieces like pumps and LEDs to customize your Pioreactor. To use these pieces (or even change how we use basic actions), we can create and install plugins! 

Let's walk through how to make one, where to install it, and introduce two new plugins we created that are available on our web interface. 

Why plugins?

We want to streamline our basic Pioreactor functions to cover what most users would want to use. These are the main features seen on the web interface, like stirring or temperature. 

Sometimes, though, a particular project may call for a complex or specific feature that isn't available with the basic Pioreactor software. These additional features can be made into plugins, which you would code using Python. These can then be uploaded as a Python package and shared with the community! See more information on how to create your own plugin here

Before creating a new plugin, you can check the community to see if a plugin exists that suits your needs. 

Figure 1: The Plugins tab on our web interface. Install recommended plugins that meet standard requirements. 

Figure 2: Explore the Pioreactor forums to find a plugin made by the community. 

Our new plugins

We created two new background job plugins available for installation, called Relay and LED calibration


This is a simple but powerful plugin that allows you to turn on and off any additonal hardware in a given PWM channel. It effectively allows you to control additions like pinch valves, samplers, and other unique tools on your Pioreactor. 

This plugin adds a new section on the Activities page: 

Figure 3: Relay function on the Activities page on the web interface. 

You can turn on and off your add-on in the Settings tab using this switch: 

Figure 4: On and off switch for the relay function. A notification will alert you if relay is on or off.

LED calibration

This plugin allows you to create a calibration curve if you want to use LEDs in your Pioreactor. This is a useful tool if you'd like to compare LED intensities between Pioreactors, or you would like to know the exact output of your LED bulbs. 

You will need an external light probe that can fit into the glass vial. Once you install this plugin, access your command line and input pio run led_calibration, then follow the steps to make your curve! 

Figure 5: An example LED calibration graph.  

You can install either plugin easily through the Plugins tab on the web interface.


Plugins are our way of encouraging development and collaboration in our community. As the community grows, we expect more plugins to be developed, making future research even easier for everyone else. If you have any questions on plugins, or the feasability of your project, please reach out or make a post in the Pioreactor forums