Choosing the Right Software for NI Vector Signal Transceivers

Updated Oct 6, 2021



  • PXI Vector Signal Transceiver
  • PXIe-5644
  • PXIe-5645
  • PXIe-5646
  • PXIe-5820
  • PXIe-5830
  • PXIe-5831
  • PXIe-5832
  • PXIe-5840
  • PXIe-5841



This document outlines the different software options for programming NI Vector Signal Transceivers (VST), as well as instructions for installing the hardware and performing initial measurements.

Installing the Software

There are three software options available when using the NI VST Vector Signal Transceivers.

NI-RFSA and NI-RFSG Driver Software

NI-RFSA and NI-RFSG Driver Software provide APIs for LabVIEW, C, and .NET, as well as out of the box support for NI RF standards toolkits. These drivers provide industry-standard functionality and interfaces for signal analyzer and signal generator hardware. Application-specific FPGA enhancements to the default hardware functionality are possible with instrument driver FPGA extensions. The NI-RFSA and NI-RFSG instrument drivers are optimized for typical automated test applications, with the potential to accelerate test speed and augment instrument functionality through instrument driver FPGA extensions.
Note: The NI RF Device Drivers DVD linked above includes both NI-RFSA and NI-RFSG as well as the Spectral Measurements and Modulation Toolkits in a single install.


Instrument Driver FPGA Extensions

Instrument Driver FPGA Extensions are available for advanced users who need low-level FPGA access. These requests can also be made through your local NI Account Representative. FPGA Extensions allow for host connections to the FPGA alongside the NI-RFSA and NI-RFSG driver interfaces, for more information see the NI-RFSG and NI-RFSA Help for Instrument Driver FPGA Extensions and get in contact with contact Sales.

The VST Instrument Design Libraries (IDLs)

The VST Instrument Design Libraries (IDLs) provide LabVIEW sample projects for PXIe-5644/5645/5646 devices. These common design patterns are designed to be starting points for creating application-specific instrument designs. Each sample project contains LabVIEW VIs for controlling the hardware, which run on the host processor, and LabVIEW FPGA VIs, which can be compiled for execution on NI VST FPGA. The sample projects and instrument design libraries are optimized for more significant architectural flexibility in the VST software and firmware, and provide a driver development kit or firmware development kit-like experience.
Note: The NI RF Device Drivers DVD linked above also includes NI PXIe-5644R/5645R/5646R Instrument Design Libraries. Support for the IDLs is LabVIEW-version-specific see the IDL readme for supported LabVIEW versions.

Installing the Hardware

  1. Power off and unplug the chassis.

  2. Ensure the ejector handle is in the unlatched (downward) position.

  3. Hold the module by the ejector handle and slide it into an empty compatible slot. Ensure the base engages with the guides in the chassis.

  4. After sliding the module completely into the chassis, latch it by pulling up on the ejector handle.

  5. Tighten the captive screws at the top and bottom of the module front panel.

  6. Plug in and power on the chassis.

Caution: Do not disconnect the cable that connects CAL IN to CAL OUT. Removing the cable from or tampering with the CAL IN or CAL OUT front panel connectors voids the product calibration and specifications are no longer warranted.

For detailed software and hardware installation instructions, please refer to the NI VST Getting Started Guides:

Making a Measurement with NI-RFSA and NI-RFSG Soft Front Panels

  1. Use the NI-RFSG Soft Front Panel and NI-RFSA Soft Front Panel to verify proper installation and configuration of the NI VST hardware.

  2. Connect the RF IN port to the RF OUT port using an SMA (f)-to-SMA (f) cable.

  3. Select Start»All Programs»National Instruments»NI-RFSG»NI-RFSG Soft Front Panel to launch the NI-RFSG Soft Front Panel.

  4. Select the device identifier assigned to the NI VST in MAX in the Device drop-down menu.

  5. Click the RF On/Off button to generate a 1 GHz continuous wave (CW) tone RF signal at the RF output terminal of your device.

  6. Select Start»All Programs»National Instruments»NI-RFSA»NI-RFSA Soft Front Panel to launch the NI-RFSA Soft Front Panel.

  7. Select the device identifier assigned to the NI VST in MAX in the Device drop-down menu.

  8. Verify that the NI-RFSA Soft Front Panel is receiving the CW tone.

  9. Close the NI-RFSA Soft Front Panel and NI-RFSG Soft Front Panel.

For more information about using the Soft Front Panels please see the NI-RFSG Soft Front Panel Product Page or NI-RFSA Soft Front Panel Product Page

Next Steps

After installing the software above, more information on how to get started with your device can be found in the NI RF Vector Signal Transceivers Help file located under Start»All Programs»National Instruments»Vector Signal Transceivers