Install Instrument Drivers
Included in the Section
LabVIEW Instrument Wizards Automate Interactive Control
The LabVIEW Instrument Driver Finder (IDFinder) addresses this by automating and integrating, directly inside of LabVIEW, some of the start-up tips previously discussed. With the IDFinder, you save time in developing instrument control applications because LabVIEW automatically identifies the instruments connected, installs appropriate instrument driver libraries for programming, and then launches 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.
The following example demonstrates how you might use the IDFinder to start your instrument control application.
Accessing IDFinder from MAX
Now that you have successfully connected and configured your instrument within NI Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX), you have the ability to 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. 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 for developing your instrument control application. Only versions of LabVIEW currently installed on your machine are available for selection and the version that is selected influences which instrument drivers the IDFinder locates for you. Once you have selected the applicable version, click the Go button to launch IDFinder.
When the IDFinder window opens, click the Login button to log in to your NI.com user profile. If you do not have an account yet, follow the given steps to create one. User profile accounts are free. 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
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 you would like to find an instrument driver to have the instrument’s information automatically populate the search fields.
Figure 3. Scan for Instruments
Now click the Search button located on the bottom of the window to have IDFinder locate your instrument driver.
You should see a listing of the instrument drivers available for your instrument. On the right side of the window, is information about the instrument driver (highlighted to the left) including which ADEs, models, buses, and operating systems are supported as well as the user ratings of the driver, driver technology (Project, Plug-n-play, IVI, and so on), and the minimum required support software needed to use the driver.
Click on the driver you would like to download and then click on the Install button located on the bottom of the window.
Figure 4. Installing the Instrument Driver
You should receive a Successful Installation message along with the location to which IDFinder has installed your instrument driver. This is the exact location that LabVIEW uses to look for the driver, as well, so there is no need to move the file from this location.
Figure 5. Successful Installation
If you have additional instruments for which you need instrument drivers, click on the “Install another driver” button. Otherwise, click on “Start using this 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. Advanced LabVIEW developers can use the Open Project button to go directly to the Project Explorer to begin development on their application immediately.
Double-click on the example that most applies to your application need to open the Front Panel within the LabVIEW environment. For this tutorial, the Acquire Waveform.vi example was selected.
Figure 6. Using Examples
You can now 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 7. Select VISA Resource Name (Alias) in the Acquire Waveform.vi
The LabVIEW Instrument Driver Finder is designed to guide you through the discovery process of adding instrumentation to your system. By automating detection, query, and instrument driver installation, you can quickly get your system up and running and then begin focusing on building your actual test applications.
Exploring the Instrument Driver Palette
For those interested in exploring all VIs contained within the instrument driver, the Open Palette button opens the instrument driver palette.
Figure 8. Open Palette
Figure 9. Instrument Driver Palette
Once you have opened the palette, close the IDFinder by clicking the Close button located at the bottom of the window. The instrument driver palette will disappear, but do not worry. This is normal and the palette reappears once you open a blank VI. After IDFinder has closed, the main LabVIEW screen appears.
Figure 10. LabVIEW Main Screen
Select Blank VI on the left side of the window to open a blank VI. Also take note that you can access the IDFinder from the main LabVIEW screen as well as from MAX.
Once the blank VI has opened, click on the block diagram (the development window with the white background) and the instrument driver palette will reappear.
Figure 11. Block Diagram and Instrument Driver Palette in a Blank VI
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 12. Tektronix TDS 200 1000 2000 VI Tree
Use CTRL+H to get more information about the VIs within by hovering over them via the Context Help feature. 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: