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Scan for Instruments Fails in Measurement & Automation Explorer

Updated Oct 17, 2018

Reported In




Agilent B1500A

Issue Details

I have GPIB instruments connected to my PC, but when I run Scan for Instruments in NI-MAX I have one of two problems:
  • I get an error message that says: Scan for Instruments failed because it did not find any instruments. Make sure that GPIB instruments are properly connected to the GPIB interface with a GPIB cable and that they are powered on, and then repeat Scan for Instruments.
  • I see that no instruments are found in the GPIB Instrument Properties tab: 
  • I get an error message that says: Too many Listeners were found during the instrument scan. This may occur when the GPIB bus extender or the GPIB Analyzer are connected to the bus.


This error message indicates that the GPIB card was not able to communicate with your instruments. Try the following steps to resolve this problem:
  1. Verify that the GPIB board is configured as the system controller.
    • To do this, right-click on the GPIB board in Measurement & Automation Explorer and select Properties. This opens a GPIB Configuration window which displays the board's settings.
    • Verify that the checkbox next to System Controller is checked.
  2. Make sure you have NI-VISA installed: NI-MAX uses NI-VISA to scan for GPIB instruments. Here is the link to the NI-VISA product page.
  3. Make sure the instrument is connected and powered on.
  4. Make sure the primary address of the instrument is set to something other than 0.
    • National Instruments GPIB boards have a default GPIB address of 0, so the GPIB board will not detect an instrument with the same address as itself.
  5. Make sure there are not two instruments on the bus with the same primary and secondary address.
  6. Power cycle the instrument to make sure that it is not in an offline state.
  7. Try communicating with the instrument with IBIC.
    • From NI-MAX, go to Tools»NI 488.2»Interactive Control.
    • An introduction to IBIC can be found here.
      • If you are able to communicate with the instrument in IBIC, then you should also be able to communicate with the instrument from any other programming language, such as LabVIEW or C. You can ignore the fact that NI-MAX does not find your instrument.
  8. Using this article, Using Both NI GPIB and Keysight HPIB Controllers in the Same System to check the NiVisaTulip.dll under Passports and re-scan.
  9. If none of these steps resolve the problem, it is possible that you have a faulty GPIB card or a faulty instrument.
    • Try connecting other instruments to your GPIB card and try connecting the problem instrument to other GPIB cards in order to isolate the problem


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