Installing Instrument Drivers

Included in the Section

LabVIEW Users can save time when developing instrument control applications by using the LabVIEW Instrument Driver Finder (IDFinder) to automatically identify the instruments connected to their systems, 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, as a LabVIEW user, you also already have a template from which to begin your own customized test applications.

Accessing IDFinder From Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX)

You can launch the IDFinder and immediately download the compatible instrument driver for your connected instrument from directly within 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 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 use to develop your instrument control application. You can select only from the LabVIEW versions currently installed on your machine. 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. Log In to Your User Profile Account

Scanning, Identifying, and Installing

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 want 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 OSs 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 want to download and then click Install.

Figure 4. Installing the Instrument Driver

Using 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

Exploring the Instrument Driver Palette

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 much faster.

Summary

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. NI provides a complete selection of the most popular instrument drivers requested by users today. To obtain more information or request additional instrument drivers, visit the NI Instrument Driver Network.

Other Environment Users (LabWindows™/CVI, ANSI C, .NET)

Use the following video tutorials to assist you in this task:

LabWindows™/CVI

ANSI C

  1. Set Up
  2. Download and Configure

.NET

  1. Set Up
  2. Download and Configure

The mark LabWindows is used under a license from Microsoft Corporation. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.

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