Interactive Soft Front Panel for PXI SMUs and Power Supplies


The NI-DCPower driver software includes an interactive soft front panel for full out-of-the-box functionality. This interactive soft front panel includes two modes: one for constantly outputting a DC current or voltage, and another for performing one or two channel sweeps. In addition, you can enable a Debug Driver Session to monitor and debug the instrument during automated measurements.

Table of Contents

  1. Video Demonstration
  2. How to Download and Access
  3. Technology Features
  4. Mode: Source and Sample
  5. Mode: 1 or 2 Channel Sweep
  6. Next Steps

Video Demonstration


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How to Download and Access

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Technology Features

This new soft front panel application enables you to:

  • Monitor devices with Debug Driver Technology
  • Save and load soft front panel configurations
  • Export data for offline analysis or storage
  • Link files such as specifications, help documents, or product datasheets for quick access to relevant information
  • Utilize multiple tabs within the application or drag a tab into a new window



The application has two modes: Source and Sample, and 1 or 2 Channel Sweep. These modes are not exclusive – you can have multiple tabs open and run multiple tasks simultaneously as long as you are not trying to access the same channel. For example, if you have 4 SMU channels, you can configure 2 of those channels to output a static voltage using Source and Sample mode, and then use the remaining 2 channels to perform a nested sweep.


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Mode: Source and Sample

Source and sample allows you to configure your devices to output either voltage or current, modify device settings, and toggle the output on/off. It provides similar functionality to the older DCPower soft front panel, with the following upgrades.


Chart voltage and current over time: Many users want the ability to output a voltage and track the current consumption of their device over time. By including basic charting capability, users can easily visualize the voltage and current of relevant channels without any programming.

Debug Driver Technology: Many users want to monitor the output of their power supplies or SMUs while a test is running in LabVIEW, TestStand, or another environment. While Debug Driver Technology is not a new feature for the NI-DCPower soft front panel, the ability to visualize the output of multiple devices within the same window does make this more user friendly.

Manage multiple devices in a single window:  Users can add multiple devices to the same task and minimize or remove unused channels to save space.

Rename channels: “Slot 3 – NI PXIe-4145 Channel 1” is not descriptive of what the SMU is connected to, and is difficult to remember when trying to manage multiple channels. This application allows you to rename the default channels to something more relevant to your system such as “Vcc”, “Vout”, “GROUND”, etc.


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Mode: 1 or 2 Channel Sweep

Sweep mode allows users to configure and run a hardware-timed voltage or current sweep using 1 or 2 channels. Users can configure timing properties such as aperture time and source delay, as well as measurement settings such as voltage range and current range, and output either a linear or logarithmic sequence.


1 Channel Sweep: Configure 1 SMU channel that will step through a sequence and return a voltage and current measurement at each step. A common example is sweeping voltage across a diode/LED and plotting the resulting voltage vs. current.

2 Channel Sweep: Configure a nested sweep (see image below) using 2 SMU channels, which is useful for generating IV curves on transistors or performing efficiency tests on DC-DC converters. The default behavior will return one measurement after each step in the sequence, and plot voltage vs current for the Inner Channel (Sweep) SMU. This is the same behavior as the shipping example: NI-DCPower Hardware-Timed Two-Channel Sweep



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