Connecting to Benchtop and Modular Instruments with LabVIEW

Publish Date: May 19, 2017 | 1 Ratings | 1.00 out of 5 | Print


With LabVIEW, you can acquire data from third-party benchtop or modular instruments over any bus, such as USB, Ethernet, Serial, and GPIB, with thousands of instrument drivers that typically include APIs, example programs, and documentation. This document shows how to connect to third-party benchtop and modular instruments in LabVIEW.

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Table of Contents

  1. Third-Party Instruments
  2. Software-Defined Modular Instruments
  3. Additional Resources

1. Third-Party Instruments

A benchtop full of different third-party instruments is not an uncommon sight to see in the engineering and science world. These instruments play a vital role in taking the required measurements for your test system, but setting up these instruments in a combined system is always a struggle because of the different vendor-specific software that’s used, the multiple busses the instruments communicate on, and the extra work it takes to integrate them all. The ever-increasing pace of electronic innovation means the time available to perform verification and validation tests is even more limited. LabVIEW reduces system setup time with one piece of software that can acquire data from third-party benchtop instruments over any bus and with thousands of plug-and-play instrument drivers that typically include APIs, example programs, and documentation.


Figure 1. Installing third-party instruments using LabVIEW

Learn how to connect to third-party instruments using LabVIEW


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2. Software-Defined Modular Instruments

More and more capability of hardware is being moved to the software domain. To keep pace with the innovation of your smart device, you need extreme flexibility in the software or your instrumentation and test system. The traditional rack-and-stack box instruments or turnkey automated test equipment (ATE) systems struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing requirements of smart devices.

Take, for example, new digital pre-distortion techniques in RF amplifier technology. To effectively model and test those algorithms, your instrumentation needs to be open and modifiable through easy-to-understand software. The intellectual property that makes the instrument successfully test a power amplifier may have nothing to do with the instrument, but it clearly needs to work optimally with the instrument. LabVIEW with modular software-defined PXI instruments makes this not only possible but also easily done with the right domain expertise on your smart device. 


Figure 2. Using LabVIEW with a modular NI PXI Oscilloscope to take single-record acquisitions.

Figure 3. Customizing measurements with a modular PXI DMM with LabVIEW.

Figure 4. Using LabVIEW with a modular PXI Source Measure Unit.

Learn How to Connect to Modular Instruments Using Instrument-Specific Shipping Examples Included in LabVIEW

Note: To find and explore the instrument specific examples, download the appropriate free instrument driver from

  1. In LabVIEW, navigate to Tools»Find Examples…

    Figure 5. LabVIEW includes hundreds of instrument-specific example programs.

Use the example finder to select one of the following fully documented examples depending on the needs of your applications:

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3. Additional Resources

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