You can save time when developing instrument control applications by using the LabVIEW Instrument Driver Finder (IDFinder) to automatically identify the instruments connected to your system, install the appropriate instrument driver libraries for programming, and launch an application example to verify communication. The installed instrument driver generates the application example; therefore, you also already have a template from which to begin your own customized test applications.
You have the ability to launch the IDFinder and immediately download the compatible instrument driver for your connected instrument from directly within NI Measurement and Automation Explorer (MAX).
Start by clicking on the instrument within the configuration tree located on the left side of the window. If you don't see your instrument, [ensure your instrument is connected correctly | http://www.ni.com/getting-started/set-up-hardware/instrument-control]. Once you select the instrument, you'll see the Find and Download Instrument Drivers section in the lower area of the center portion of the window.
Figure 1. Accessing IDFinder from MAX
Select the version of LabVIEW that you intend to develop your instrument control application. Only versions of LabVIEW currently installed on your machine are available for selection. Once you have selected the applicable version, click Go to launch IDFinder.
When the IDFinder window opens, click Login and log in to your NI user profile. If you do not have an account yet, follow the given steps to create one. User profile accounts are free, and they grant you access to thousands of free instrument drivers from NI as well as valuable development content located throughout ni.com.
Figure 2. Login to Your User Profile Account
Next, click on the Scan for Instruments button. This scans for all instruments connected to any ports on your machine. The identified instruments are displayed in the tree on the left side of the IDFinder window. Double-click on the instrument for which you would like to find an instrument driver to have the instrument's information automatically populate the search fields.
Figure 3. Scan for Instruments
Click Search to locate your instrument driver. You should see a list of the instrument drivers available for your instrument. The right side of the window displays information about the instrument driver including which ADEs, models, buses, and operating systems are supported, as well as the user ratings of the driver and the minimum required support software needed to use the driver. Click on the driver you would like to download and then click Install.
Figure 4. Installing the Instrument Driver
The fastest and easiest way to get to your measurement is by using one of the examples located within the instrument driver. Double-click on an example to open it within the LabVIEW environment. For this tutorial, the Acquire Waveform.vi example was selected.
Figure 5. Using Examples
Select the VISA Alias from the drop-down menu that you applied to your instrument within MAX (see Connect and Set Up Hardware), adjust the control facets as necessary, and click on the Run arrow at the top of the Front Panel to run the VI.
Figure 6. Select VISA Resource Name (Alias) in the Acquire Waveform.vi
Navigate to File » New VI to open a blank VI. You can see all of the functions provided by an instrument driver from the palette. To access the palette, switch to your LabVIEW Block Diagram (the development window with the white background), right click to open your Functions palette, and navigate to Instrument I/O » Instrument Drivers to see the drivers you have installed.
Figure 7. Navigate to the Instrument Driver Palettes
Many instrument drivers contain the VI Tree. When accessed, the VI Tree displays a categorized chart of all VIs contained within the instrument driver. To open the VI Tree, click and drag the VI Tree icon onto the block diagram and then double-click the icon. You now see the Front Panel of the VI, however, you need to access the Block Diagram of the VI to see the contents. Use <Ctrl+E> to open the block diagram of the VI Tree.vi
Figure 8. Tektronix TDS 200 1000 2000 VI Tree
Use <Ctrl+H> to open the Context Help window, and then hover over a VI with your mouse to get more information. By using the VI Tree, you become more familiar with the categorization of VIs within the LabVIEW development environment. This assists you in becoming a more efficient LabVIEW developer and gets you to measurements and analysis in a much shorter period of time.
Instrument drivers are powerful pieces of software that combine the granular, low-level command strings needed for configuration and measurement into higher-level functions such as initialize, reset, and read waveform. Instrument libraries make instrument control easier and help you focus on taking measurements, developing complete tests, and making decisions versus learning the nuts and bolts of how to make your instrument take a measurement. National Instruments provides a complete selection of the most popular instrument drivers requested by users today. For more information or to request additional instrument drivers, visit the National Instruments Instrument Driver Network.
Use the following Video tutorials to assist you in this task: