I Can't Detect My EtherCAT Device in NI MAX or LabVIEW

Updated Sep 6, 2023

Reported In


  • NI-9144
  • NI-9145


  • Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX)


  • NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT
  • Industrial Controller Device Drivers

Issue Details

I'm trying to write an application involving communication with an NI-9144 or NI-9145 EtherCAT RIO Expansion Chassis, or a third party EtherCAT device, but I'm experiencing one of the below issues:
  • I cannot see my EtherCAT device in NI Measurement & Automation Explorer (NI MAX).
  • I want to ensure that my EtherCAT device is connected to my system. How can I do this?
  • I have an EtherCAT device connected through a Real-Time Controller or an Industrial Controller.  I can see the Controller and the other devices I have connected to it from NI MAX, but cannot see my EtherCAT device.
  • I have an NI-9144 attached to my controller and have properly installed the NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT drivers, but cannot see my device in LabVIEW.


It is expected behavior that EtherCAT devices such as the NI-9144 or NI-9145 will not be detected in NI-MAX. EtherCAT devices will only appear in your LabVIEW project.

If you cannot see your EtherCAT device as an option when adding EtherCAT slaves to your project, try the below steps:
  1. Make sure you have installed the latest version of the  NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT drivers, and the other necessary drivers that are needed for your specific type of controller. This information is typically found in the getting started or user manuals for your device. 
  2. If you are using an NI-9144 and have installed  NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT 20.0+, you will need to revert to  NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT 19.0 or earlier to detect your device. As noted in the NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT 20.0 Readme, NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT dropped support for the NI-9144 driver in the 20.0 release. If you would like to continue using  NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT 20.0+, you will need to upgrade your NI EtherCAT chassis to the NI-9145. You can check the version of the NI EtherCAT drivers you have installed using NI MAX.
Once you have your drivers properly installed and can add your EtherCAT device in LabVIEW, you can follow this NI EtherCAT setup tutorial on remote controllers to begin programming with your device.

Additional Information

If you use NI MAX to install NI-Industrial Communications for EtherCAT software on a Real-Time Controller, some controllers, such as the Embedded Vision System, require you to install the Industrial Controller Device Drivers of the same version. If this driver is not installed, NI MAX will be unable to discover the controllers.

The step-by-step instructions provided in Setting Up EtherCAT on NI Programmable Automation Controllers  is the same for NI PXI(e) RT embedded controllers and NI CompactRIO controllers.