Getting Started with USB3 Vision Cameras and NI Vision Acquisition Software

Publish Date: Feb 05, 2019 | 13 Ratings | 2.46 out of 5 | Print | 2 Customer Reviews | Submit your review


This tutorial provides a quick-start guide to setup and test a USB3 Vision compliant camera on a system running NI Vision Acquisition Software.

Table of Contents

  1. Hardware Requirements
  2. Software Requirements
  3. Connecting the Camera
  4. Installing Software
  5. Configuring the Camera in Windows Device Manager
  6. Testing Camera in Measurement and Automation Explorer (MAX)
  7. Troubleshooting

1. Hardware Requirements

  • USB3 Vision-compatible Camera
  • USB3 Vision-compliant Cable
  • PC or PXI system running Windows XP, Windows 7 or Windows 8
  • PCIe 2.0 Compatible USB 3.0 Host Controller

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2. Software Requirements

  • USB 3.0 Host Controller Driver
  • NI Vision Acquisition Software August 2013

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3. Connecting the Camera

  1. Plug the USB 3.0 cable into the camera and the host controller on the PC. Secure the connection on the camera-end with the cable jack screws.

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4. Installing Software

  1. Install the USB 3.0 Host controller driver. Open Windows Device Manager to ensure that there are no issues with the host controller.
  2. Install and Activate NI Vision Acquisition Software.

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5. Configuring the Camera in Windows Device Manager

  1. Open up the Windows Device Manager from Control Panel > System > Device Manager.
  2. Ensure that the camera appears in the Device Manager under NI Vision Acquisition Devices

  1. If the camera appears under the category Other Devices change the driver to IMAQdx. Instructions for a Windows 7/8 machine are as follows:
    1. Right-click the device and select Update Driver Software
    2. Select Browse my computer for driver software
    3. Select Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer
    4. Scroll through the list of drivers and locate NI IMAQdx

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6. Testing Camera in Measurement and Automation Explorer (MAX)

  1. Launch MAX from Windows Start > National Instruments > Measurement and Automation Explorer
  2. The camera should appear under My System » Devices and Interfaces.

  1. Press Grab or Snap to test the camera acquisition


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7. Troubleshooting

The Camera does not appear in Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX)

Case 1: The camera is not USB3 Vision compliant

The camera must comply with the AIA USB3 Vision Specification version 1.0 or later. All USB3 Vision cameras should display the compliance logo on the camera or in marketing literature.

Note that even though the marketing literature for a USB camera may indicate that it is USB3 Vision compliant, it is possible that the firmware on the camera is outdated and must be updated in order to achieve full USB3 Vision compliance as indicated in the literature.  Contact the camera manufacturer to verify if the camera is USB3 Vision compliant and to request a firmware update that is compatible with USB3 Vision.

Case 2: The NI-IMAQdx driver is not installed

The NI-IMAQdx driver must be installed for a USB3 Vision camera to be used with National Instruments software.

  1. In the MAX Configuration window, select My System»Software.
  2. Expand Software, and verify that NI-IMAQdx appears in the list. If it is not listed, then NI-IMAQdx must be installed.
  3. The latest version of Vision Acquisition Software, which includes NI-IMAQdx, can be downloaded from the Drivers and Updates page.

Note:  NI-IMAQdx is not available for free. You can use it as a full featured evaluation version for 30 days after which you will need to activate for further use.

Case 3: The USB host controller is not compatible with the USB 3.0 specification

Make sure that your USB host controller is compatible with the USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB. You may also wish to check the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) website, which provides a list of hardware that is compliant with USB 3.0.

Case 4: The USB cable length is too long

The maximum length cable length for USB 3.0 devices is not explicitly specified in the USB 3.0 standard. However, the standard provides a description of the relationship between wire gauge and maximum length in order to prevent too high a voltage drop and attenuation.  Thus, for passive cabling solutions, a length of 5 meters or less is recommended.

Case 5: Inadequate Power is being provided to the camera

Power can be provided to the camera directly over the USB 3.0 bus. According to the USB 3.0 specification, the maximum power that can be supplied is 4.5 watts at 5 volts. If there are other devices that require large amounts of power, it is possible that there is insufficient power being supplied to the camera. In this case, you may wish to investigate the use of a powered USB 3.0 hub.

The Camera cannot acquire images at the advertised frame rate

USB 3.0 allows a maximum throughput of 400 MB/s. However, every component from the camera, cable, USB 3.0 ports to the PC and its drivers could limit the effective throughput. Bus speed and/or the USB host controller interface are two factors that may have an effect on frame rate.

Case 1: PCI interface for USB 3.0 Host controller cannot handle the bandwidth requirements

To ensure that the camera can send data at the rated speed, please ensure that your USB 3.0 host controller interface and your motherboard support PCIe 2.0 data throughput rates, which is effectively 384 MB/s. PCIe 1.0 architecture cannot exceed 180 MB/s, while regular PCI supports only 133 MB/s.

Case 2: Host controller interface does not support USB 3.0

Make sure that your host controller interface and/or your motherboard support version 3.0 of the USB standard rather than version 2.0. It is possible that the USB 3.0 camera is running on USB 2.0 bus, but at just 480 Mb/s, the throughput of USB 2.0 is significantly less than USB 3.0.


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Customer Reviews
2 Reviews | Submit your review

And what are the next steps?  - Mar 7, 2017

This into helped me quite a bit. But not to get started but to get to the point of now being ready to start but still not having a clue how to do it? What about a link to a site explaining how to build a first VI that controls a camera and displays images acquired by it?

whats the maximum sustained data rate that can be acheived with your USB 3,0 DAQ system  - Feb 25, 2015

Hello, what is the max SUSTAINED data rate that can be achieved with USB3 Vision Cameras system. THANK You, regards.

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