Archived:Automate Power Generation From a Keysight E363X Power Supply Using LabVIEW NXG

Updated Oct 20, 2022

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Keysight E363X Power Supply

Learn how to download and install the instrument driver to automate measurements from the Keysight E363X Power Supply using LabVIEW NXG. This tutorial supports the following models of the Keysight E363X Series Power Supply, formerly branded as Agilent E363X Series

  • Keysight E3631A

  • Keysight E3632A

  • Keysight E3633A

  • Keysight E3634A

Install LabVIEW NXG

LabVIEW NXG simplifies hardware integration so that 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.

Install the Agilent/Keysight E363X Instrument Driver

NI develops and supports thousands of instrument drivers for third-party instruments to help you automate measurements. You can find these instrument drivers in the Instrument Driver Network.

Figure 2. The NI Instrument Driver Network houses thousands of instrument drivers for automating third-party instruments

Connect and Configure the Keysight E363X Power Supply 

You can connect your Keysight E363X Power Supply to your host PC using GPIB (IEEE 488.2) or serial (RS232). NI offers GPIB and serial control modules to add to PXI- and PCI- based systems, as well as USB to GPIB, USB to RS232, and USB to RS485 converters (common for adding GPIB and serial ports to laptop computers).

Figure 3. The back of the Keysight E363X Power Supply has GPIB and serial communication ports

Configure System With SystemDesigner

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 USB 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, as well as 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 4. SystemDesigner provides an intuitive, graphical representation of all hardware and software associated with your test and measurement system


  1. Locate the communication ports on the back of the Keysight E363X Power Supply. All supported models will have a GPIB and serial port.

  2. Locate the communications ports on your host PC

    • If you are using a laptop, you likely have only USB. In this case, you will need to use a USB to GPIB or USB to serial converter (mentioned in paragraph above)

    • If you are using a desktop PC or an industrial PC, you likely will have serial and GPIB slots. If not, you can use a PCI(e) GPIB/serial device

  3. Using the right cable for your communication port (GPIB/serial), connect your Keysight E363X Power Supply to your host PC.

  4. Power on your Keysight E363X Power Supply and allow time for initialization.

  5. Launch LabVIEW NXG.

  6. On the LabVIEW NXG Welcome Screen, select Use Your Hardware.

  7. SystemDesigner displays a high-level view of your system. The procedure for detecting your device depends on the bus being used.

    • GPIB-- Select your GPIB Interface in SystemDesigner. From the Configuration pane on the right 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, select the GPIB Interface and click Scan for Instruments. The instrument is then detected. 

    • Serial-- The COM port does not show up in SystemDesigner. First ensure you have the NI-Serial driver installed. Select the PC from the SystemDesigner page. Using the Configuration Pane on the right go to the Advanced section to click Launch NI MAX. Within MAX, select the COM port and make sure the port settings match the serial settings on your instrument. Serial instruments are not visible in MAX or SystemDesigner. When writing an instrument control application for a serial instrument, you communicate with a COM port rather than the serial instrument connected to the COM port.

  8. The instrument is now configured.

Automate Measurements With LabVIEW NXG

After performing manual/interactive measurements to achieve the results that you need to test your device, the next step is to perform automated measurements to reduce measurement time and increase repeatability.

Application Programming Interface (API)

To help accelerate software development, all instrument drivers follow a consistent programming flow of: open, configure, read/write, close. All drivers for NI hardware (for example, PXI modular instrumentation) also follow this paradigm as it is a best practice when programming in LabVIEW NXG.

Figure 5. The Agilent/Keysight E363X instrument driver for LabVIEW NXG uses an intuitive and consistent programming pattern of open, configure, read/write, and close

Start From an Example Program

The Agilent/Keysight E363X LabVIEW Plug and Play driver contains a LabVIEW NXG project that includes several example VIs to get started from. Open these examples using the following procedure.

  1. Open LabVIEW NXG. 

  2. Open the Learning tab by selecting the Learn to Program tile in the Welcome screen or select the Learning tab from the top right.

  3. Select Examples » Hardware Input and Output » Instrument Drivers to locate all the examples included with installed LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers.

  4. Click the Agilent E363X project to create a new copy. 

    Figure 6. LabVIEW NXG instrument driver examples are included with every LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument driver.

  5. The Agilent E36X lvproject contains several example VIs that require no extra programming to run. Double-click a VI in the Project Files tab within the Navigation pane to open it.

    Figure 7. The Agilent/Keysight E36X LabVIEW Plug and Play driver includes multiple example VIs to get started.

  6. To run a VI, first select the corresponding VISA resource name and appropriate settings on the panel. Then click the green Run arrow at the top left of the VI. 

    Figure 8. Select the corresponding VISA resource name and appropriate settings on the panel before running the example VI.


Configure Tracking

All LabVIEW Plug and Play examples are completely extensible and customizable to fit your measurement needs. For example, start with the "Agilent E363X Series Output DC Voltsgvi" included in the Agilent E363X example project. You can add the ability to enable tracking. In track mode, the +25V and -25V supplies track each other. This is useful for circuits that need balanced positive and negative inputs. Note: this feature is only supported on the E3631 power supply.

  1. Open the Agilent E363X Series Output DC Volts.gvi from the Agilent E363X.lvproject.

  2. Click Diagram on the View Selector to view the VIs diagram.

  3. On the left side of diagram, you want to navigate to Hardware Interfaces»Instrument Drivers»Agilent E36X Series»Configure»Configure Tracking. Delete the wires connecting Configure Current Limit.gvi Read Output.gvi.

    Figure 9. Navigate to the 'Hardware Interfaces' palette to find the 'Configure Tracking' function

  4. Connect the purple instrument wire and yellow error wires through the function to the Read Output.gvi. 

  5. Create an enable tracking Boolean constant by right-clicking on the input terminal of the Configure Tracking.gvi and selecting Create constant. Change the value of the constant to True.

    Figure 10. Enable tracking on the 'Configure Tracking' function

  6. You can verify that tracking is enabled by reading the output values of the paired channel. Insert another Read Output.gvi (Hardware Interfaces»Instrument Drivers»Agilent E36X Series»Data»Read Output) between the first Read Output.gvi and the Close.gvi and re-wire instrument name and error wires. 

  7. Connect the purple instrument wire and yellow error wires through the second Read Output.gvi to the Close.gvi.

  8. Create a control on this Read Output.gvi for the channel input by right-clicking the input and selecting Create Control. Rename it Tracking Channel.

  9. Create the indicators for actual voltage level and actual current level on this second instance of the Read Output.gvi by right-clicking the terminals and clicking Create Indicator. Rename these Actual Tracked Voltage and Actual Tracked Current.

    Figure 11. Adding a second Read Output function allows you to view and verify that the second channel is tracking the first.

  10. Navigate to the panel, and move the indicators from the Unplaced items onto the front panel. 

    Figure 12. Place the controls and indicators for the second 'Read Output' function on the front panel

  11. Select the channel for Channel as Channel 2 and the channel for Tracking Channel as Channel 3.

  12. To run a VI, first select the corresponding VISA resource name and appropriate settings on the panel. Then click the green Run arrow at the top left of the VI.

Logging Measurements to Text File

  1. Open the Agilent E363X Series Output DC Volts.gvi from the Agilent E363X.lvproject.

  2. Click Diagram on the View Selector to view the VIs diagram. 

  3. Add four copies of the "Number to Fractional String" function to convert the numeric data of voltage and current to the string data type.

    Figure 13. Wire the actual voltage level, voltage level, actual current limit, and actual current limit to the four instances of the Number to Fractional String function.

  4. Use the Concatenate Strings function to build sub-strings to add headers and organize data before writing to file. 

    Figure 14. Use space constants to separate relevant titles from your data, making the file more readable

  5. Add one final Concatenate Strings function to append all the sub-strings into one formatted string. Then use the Write to Text File function to write the data to a text file. By keeping the File Path input to the function blank, the program prompts the user to browse to a location on disk and give the file a name.

    Figure 15. Add test parameters such as current test date and time, and use"End of Line" constants between sub-strings to format your data into a more readable style


Sequencing and Database Reporting With TestStand Test Management Software

TestStand is a ready-to-run test management software is designed to help you develop, execute, and deploy automated test and validation systems faster. Whereas LabVIEW NXG is ideal for developing individual code modules, you can use TestStand to call multiple code modules that you have developed in LabVIEW NXG, along with other programming languages, to build a sequence. Finally, you can specify execution flow, reporting, database logging, and connectivity to other enterprise systems for your test system.

Figure 16. Test management software (for example, TestStand) is at the top of a properly architected test system.

PXI Programmable Power Supplies and Precision Sources

PXI programmable power supplies and precision sources offer high-resolution, high-speed, and high-power voltage and current outputs for automated test systems or lab environments in a single PXI slot. With compact and modular form factors, NI's PXI programmable power supplies and precision sources simplify the task of designing automated test systems by saving expensive rack space and reducing the need for multiple instrument form factors within a test system. On top of providing standard power supply features such as remote sense, integrated timing and synchronization through the PXI platform, and output disconnect relays to isolate instrumentation from the DUT, these instruments provide a tightly integrated programming API, making them ideal for automated test applications. 

Figure 17. The PXIe-4110 is an excellent general-purpose, single-quadrant power supply for design validation and manufacturing test applications.

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