How to Download and Install LabVIEW Plug and Play Instrument Drivers in LabVIEW NXG

Updated Sep 3, 2020




Learn how to download and install LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers to automate third-party instruments using LabVIEW NXG with this tutorial.

Install LabVIEW NXG

LabVIEW NXG simplifies hardware integration so you can rapidly acquire and visualize data from virtually any I/O device, whether from NI or a third party. Combined with a graphical programming syntax that reduces programming time, LabVIEW NXG streamlines complex system design with tools and IP at the forefront of today’s technology.

Figure 1: LabVIEW NXG provides an intuitive programming environment for automating measurements from both NI and third-party instruments. 

LabVIEW Plug and Play Instrument Drivers

Plug and Play instrument drivers simplify control of and communication with your instruments through a standard and straightforward programming model for all drivers. They are easier to use and modify than other instrument driver technologies.

A Plug and Play instrument driver is a set of functions used to control and communicate with a programmable instrument. Each function corresponds to a programmatic operation such as configuring, reading from, writing to, and triggering the instrument. Plug and Play instrument drivers comply with programming guidelines. Because Plug and Play instrument drivers maintain a common architecture and interface and include application examples, you can quickly and easily connect to and communicate with your instruments with very little or no code development. Moreover, with the standard programming model of Plug and Play instrument drivers, you can easily add instruments to your test system without worrying about learning new communication protocols or spending time understanding new programming paradigms.

Figure 2: LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers use an intuitive and consistent programming pattern of open, configure, read/write, and close. 


NI supports certified Plug and Play instrument drivers, which are hosted on the NI Instrument Driver Network (IDNet). With NI-certified instrument drivers, you know you’re downloading and using drivers you can trust to work. To browse through certified LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers, visit or use NI Package Manager.

Find and Install Instrument Drivers in LabVIEW NXG

NI develops and supports thousands of instrument drivers for third-party instruments to help engineers and scientists automate measurements. SystemDesigner in LabVIEW NXG automatically detects USB and GPIB instruments. LabVIEW NXG then points to the latest instrument driver download in NI Package Manager.

Note: If the instrument you’re using is not automatically detected, check the alternative methods at the end of this tutorial for downloading instrument drivers.

SystemDesigner is a graphical tool for discovering, documenting, and configuring your test system and is integrated directly into every LabVIEW NXG project. This tool automatically detects most hardware connected to your host PC and adds a graphical representation to the window. If you select the device, you can see additional properties, such as the device name, and any software or drivers that are installed on your system to support this device. You can also troubleshoot and make manual function calls to your instrument to ensure that it is working as expected before moving into automation.


Figure 3: SystemDesigner provides an intuitive, graphical representation of all hardware and software associated with your test and measurement system. 



  1. Using the right cable for your communication port, connect your instrument to your host PC.
  2. Power on your instrument and allow time for initialization.
  3. Launch LabVIEW NXG.
  4. On the LabVIEW NXG Welcome Screen, select Use Your Hardware.
  5. SystemDesigner opens with an overall view of your system. Select the Live tab to see all hardware currently connected to your system. The procedure for detecting your device depends on the bus being used.
    • USB: USB devices are automatically detected.
    • GPIB: Select your GPIB interface in SystemDesigner. From the Configuration tab on the left, scroll down to the installed drivers section to find and install the NI-488.2 drivers. After the NI-488.2 driver is installed, return to the Configuration pane and go to the Advanced section to click Launch NI MAX. Within Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX), select the GPIB interface and click Scan for Instruments. The instrument is then detected.
  6. When the instrument appears on the Live view in SystemDesigner, select the device on the diagram and click Find and install drivers on the Item tab to install the instrument driver. This opens NI Package Manager and points you to the required driver to install.
  7. Select Install to download and install the driver from NI Package Manager.

Figure 4: You use NI Package Manager to download and install all instrument drivers for LabVIEW NXG. 


  1. Restart LabVIEW NXG.
  2. Verify that the instrument drivers have been installed correctly by opening the diagram and checking the Hardware Interfaces»Instrument Drivers palette.


Figure 5: You can see the LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers in the LabVIEW NXG palette. 


  1. The instrument driver is now installed and ready to use. Look for examples installed with the instrument driver in Examples»Hardware Input and Output»Instrument Driver Examples.

Alternative Methods to Download Instrument Drivers

Note: Wherever the instrument drivers are found, they are downloaded using NI Package Manager. NI Package Manager is used to install LabVIEW NXG and you can open it by searching for it in the Windows search bar.

Searching for Instrument Drivers Using NI Package Manager

For instruments that appear on the Live view, select the device on the diagram and click Find and install drivers on the Item tab to install the instrument driver. For instruments that do not appear on the Live view, search for your instrument's vendor and model number in NI Package Manager to find and install its instrument driver.


  1. Open NI Package Manager and select the Drivers tab on the left.
  2. Use the search bar at the top right-hand corner to search for your instrument’s vendor and model number.


    Figure 6: Search for instrument drivers using NI Package Manager. 


  3. Select the wanted result to open the driver page.
  4. Select install to begin the download and installation process.


Search Online Using the Instrument Driver Network (IDNet)

Using the Instrument Driver Network at, you can search online for third-party instrument drivers that NI hosts and supports. Selecting the download link for a LabVIEW NXG driver on IDNet opens NI Package Manager to then finish the download and installation process.


  1. Use a web browser to visit to access the Instrument Driver Network.


    Figure 7: The NI Instrument Driver Network houses thousands of instrument drivers for automating third-party devices. 


  2. Use the search bar to search for your instrument. When found, open the wanted instrument download page.


    Figure 8: This is the Instrument Driver Network page for the Tektronix TDS Series Oscilloscope. 


  3. Check the supported versions to make sure this instrument driver is supported in LabVIEW NXG. Select Download Driver Now to start the download process and automatically open NI Package Manager.


    Figure 9: Ensure that the instrument driver supports LabVIEW NXG. 


  4. NI Package Manager automatically points you to the wanted instrument driver download. Select Install to download and install the instrument driver.