This tutorial shows you how to find, install, and use a plug-and-play instrument driver in LabVIEW.An instrument driver is a set of software routines that control a programmable instrument. Each routine corresponds to a programmatic operation such as configuring, reading from, writing to, and triggering the instrument. Instrument drivers simplify instrument control and reduce test program development time by eliminating the need to learn the programming protocol for each instrument.
Use the NI Instrument Driver Finder or the NI Instrument Driver Network to find and install the instrument driver.
If you do not have a connected instrument, manually select from the Manufacturer field. You can type the model of your instrument in the Additional Keywords field or leave it blank to display all drivers from a specific manufacturer.
Click Search. A list of instrument drivers from the chosen manufacturer and their descriptions are displayed.
Make sure the instrument driver installed properly by checking if it appears in the LabVIEW palette. Right-click on the block diagram >> Instrument I/O >> Instrument Drivers. If you don’t see the instrument driver palette, refer to Third Party Instrument Driver Missing in LabVIEW After Installation.
If you are unable to find an instrument driver using the NI Instrument Driver Finder, you can search in the online Instrument Driver Network (IDNet). IDNet has a more extensive library, but an additional step is required to properly install the instrument driver.
The instrument driver will install examples and the API required to communicate with your instrument. Use these examples as programming references and an easy way to start using your instrument.
To better use the examples, it is helpful to understand the main components of an instrument driver menu palette.
Note: You can enable LabVIEW Context Help for VI function descriptions of the VI by selecting Ctrl+H.
Establishes communication with the instrument.
Can perform any necessary actions to place the instrument in its default power-on state or in another specific state.
Generally, only needs to be called once at the beginning of an application.
Configures the instrument to perform the desired operation.
Numerous configuration VIs can exist depending on the instrument.
Instrument is ready to take measurements or to stimulate a system after these VIs are called.
Initiate or terminate test and measurement operations, such as arming the trigger system or generating a stimulus.
Differ from Configuration VIs in that Action VIs do not change the instrument settings but order the instrument to carry out an action based on its current configuration.
The Status VIs obtain the current status of the instrument or the status of pending operations.
Transfer data to or from the instrument.
Examples include VIs for reading a measured value or waveform and VIs for downloading waveforms or digital patterns to a source instrument.
Perform a variety of operations that are auxiliary to the most often used instrument driver VIs.
Include the majority of the instrument driver template VIs, such as reset, self-Test, revision, error query, and error message.
Can include other custom instrument driver VIs that perform operations such as calibration or storage and recall of setups.
Terminates the software connection to the instrument and frees system resources.
Generally, only needs to be called once at the end of an application or when communication is finished with the instrument.
Make sure that for each successful call to the Initialize VI, a matching Close VI is used to avoid maintaining unnecessary memory resources.
If you are unable to find an instrument driver using the NI Instrument Driver Finder or the Instrument Driver Network, contact the manufacturer of your instrument directly. In some cases, instrument manufacturers make drivers available on their websites. If using a Plug and Play instrument driver doesn’t fit your application needs, or you want to modify or create your own instrument driver, refer to Choosing the Right Interface to Control Instruments in LabVIEW for more options.
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