Can’t See GPIB Instrument Using Scan for Instruments In NI-MAX

Updated Jul 30, 2023

Reported In




  • Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX)


  • NI-488.2

Operating System

  • Windows

Issue Details

When I click on the Scan for Instruments button in MAX to find the instruments connected to my NI GPIB device, I see one of the following behaviors: 

•    Instrument does not show up, is not detected, or the instrument list is not populated.
•    Error message: No instruments were found during the instrument scan.
•    Error message: Too many listeners were found during the instrument scan.
•    Error message: There was an error performing instrument scan.


When Scan for instruments fails, this means VISA did not receive a response back from the instrument. Follow these steps to make sure your instrument is set up properly for communication.
If not, install them from the NI-488.2 and NI-VISA download pages. 
  • If the NI-488.2 driver is already installed, it could be that some corruption might have occurred during the installation. To resolve this, try uninstalling and reinstalling the NI-488.2 driver, or installing a different version of the driver instead.
  • Check if your instrument is SCPI compliant by referring to its user manual. If it is not, you can test instrument communication with GPIB Interactive Control (IBIC). 
  1. Launch IBIC by navigating to the Tools tab in MAX >> NI-488.2 >> Interactive Control.
  2. Enter help to launch the help and refer to your instrument’s manual for supported commands.
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 G code or C. If this fails, continue with the troubleshooting steps below.
  1. In MAX, right click on the NI GPIB device and select Properties. 
  2. Verify System Controller is checked. 
  3. If you have other GPIB interfaces connected to your computer, make sure System Controller is disabled
  • Make sure the instrument is on and connected securely to the NI GPIB device. 
  • Make sure the cabling is following GPIB cabling requirements
  • If your instrument has multiple communication modes, make sure it is configured to be in GPIB/488.2 mode so it can be discovered. Refer to your instrument’s user manual. 
  • Make sure your instrument has a non-zero address. Refer to your instrument’s user manual for how to change the address. 
  • If you have multiple instruments connected, make sure they all have unique, non-zero address.
  • If you have multiple instruments connected, disconnect all of them and scan for one instrument at a time. 

If you are still experiencing issues:

Additional Information

The Scan for instrument button first conducts a FindLstn() test for all GPIB address 0-30 to find active listeners on the bus. It will then attempt to identify these instruments by sending them a *IDN? and performing a read.