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Convert PXI Controller to a Real-Time Target Running Phar Lap ETS

Updated Jun 10, 2021



  • PXI Controller


  • LabVIEW Real-Time Module

Operating System

  • Windows
  • PharLap

  • I have a PXI controller that I would like to run real-time (RT) applications on. I know National Instruments sells multiple PXI RT controllers, but is there any way to modify my existing controller?
  • Is there a process for converting old PXI Windows controllers to RT?

Note: NI will remove support for Phar Lap for cRIO in the NI 2020 Software Release and for PXI in the NI 2022 Software Release. For more information, please see the Phar Lap RT OS EOL Road Map.

Any PXI controller that meets the requirements of a desktop ETS system can be made into a real-time target. PXI controllers are still computers, and the same hardware that is needed for a real-time operating system are also needed for a PXI.

There are two ways to check to see if the PXI's hardware is compatible:

  1. Use the Utility described in PC Compatibility with LabVIEW Real-Time or LabWindows/CVI Real-Time for Desktop ETS
  2. Manually check the hardware components as listed in Requirements for Desktop PCs as Phar Lap ETS Real-Time Targets.

Prior to installing the real-time operating system onto your controller or using the hardware compatibility utility, the controller's hard drive must be formatted as FAT32.  Software such as Mini Tool Partition Wizard has the ability to change the file system without erasing the data on the hard drive. If you do not wish to use third-party software, you can use the recovery CD provided with your controller and a USB CD-ROM to reinstall the operating system.

To format your PXI controller to use FAT32:

  1. Connect a USB CD-ROM drive to the controller and insert the recovery media that was shipped with the product.
  2. Power on the controller and enter the BIOS by pressing the Delete key.
  3. Navigate to the Boot section and change the boot order to: 1) CD ROM Drive, 2) Removable Devices and 3) Hard Drive. Save changes and exit the BIOS. This will reboot the controller.
  4. The controller should then boot to the recovery CD and the user will have the option to press any key to boot from CD. Press a key and enter the recovery CD setup.
  5. The user will be prompted to choose which convention to use to format the controller. The default format is NTFS. Make sure to change this selection to FAT 32.
  6. Continue with the recovery process and when prompted to reboot make sure to change the boot order back to the original setting or disconnect the CD ROM.

If the PXI Controller has a USB port, then the real-time operating system can be installed via a USB flash drive. Follow these instructions for more information (highly recommended): Using a Utility USB Drive to Format my PXI Real-Time Controller .

Depending on your PXI Controller, you may be able to use a floppy disk to install the real-time operating system.  To create a floppy disk to install the real-time operating system navigate to Creating a LabVIEW Real-Time Floppy Disk Utility

These utilities will load a lean version of the real-time operating system, and the installation is completed remotely from a host computer using MAX.

Additional Information

Note: The recovery CDs shipped with NTFS controllers have the option to choose your file system upon reformatting the drive. To detect whether your recovery CD has this option, navigate to I386\SYSTEM32\ within the CD and ensure that the executable DISKSIZE.EXE exists. If your recovery CD does not have this file and your controller shipped with the NTFS file system, please contact National Instruments Technical Support.