Software Platform Advantages of NI High-Speed Digitizers

Publish Date: Mar 28, 2012 | 7 Ratings | 3.57 out of 5 |  PDF

Overview

When choosing a high-speed digitizer, it is important to consider the specifications and key features of a device to ensure that all application requirements can be met. Typically, sample rate and resolution are among the first factors considered throughout this process. A factor that is often addressed last, however, is the software used to control and program a high-speed digitizer for use in automated test. Unfortunately, this can be a crucial oversight, as software is the single most important factor that determines the development time needed to complete an application.

This paper is a brief introduction to the powerful software platform that is employed by NI high-speed digitizers. More importantly, this paper describes the key components of this platform that provide the flexibility, ease of use, and depth necessary to keep development time as low as possible.

Table of Contents

  1. Managing Hardware with Measurement & Automation Explorer
  2. Getting Started with the NI-SCOPE Soft Front Panel
  3. Programming with the NI-SCOPE Driver and Example Programs
  4. Synchronization with NI-TClk

1. Managing Hardware with Measurement & Automation Explorer

The first advantage of this software platform that a user experiences is Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX), a powerful configuration utility. Here, users can easily view and organize all NI devices in their system including digitizerssignal generators, and high-speed digital I/O devices. MAX also provides the ability to test, reset, and calibrate devices in the system, giving the user quick and complete access to high-level device configuration and management.

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2. Getting Started with the NI-SCOPE Soft Front Panel

The next feature that a user can take advantage of when starting an application is the NI-SCOPE Soft Front Panel.  This interactive program resembles the dedicated display of a traditional oscilloscope to provide an easy-to-use interface.  Along with providing access to the basic functionality of all NI digitizers, it provides real-time measurements as well as the ability to save data to a file for postprocessing and analysis.  This interface makes it easy to begin taking measurements with an NI digitizer in seconds.

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3. Programming with the NI-SCOPE Driver and Example Programs

To take advantage of the full power of a PC-based measurement device, it is essential to programmatically define and control its behavior. All NI digitizers can be programmatically controlled via the NI-SCOPE instrument driver, which provides both high-level functions for getting started quickly, as well as low-level control for accessing all the features of a digitizer. In addition, there are more than 50 prewritten example programs that come with this driver, which illustrate how to access the full functionality of any NI digitizer. Because the NI-SCOPE instrument driver can be accessed through a variety of programming languages such as NI LabVIEW, C++, and Visual Basic, there are programming examples for each of these languages. Shown below are just a few of the available NI-SCOPE examples as seen in the NI Example Finder within the LabVIEW environment:

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4. Synchronization with NI-TClk

Synchronization of multiple devices is a key requirement of many applications, which can often add to software development time. NI digitizers that are built on the Synchronization and Memory Core (SMC) architecture, however, can make use of NI-TClk to achieve precise synchronization with minimal development effort. NI-TClk provides a high-level interface for programming the synchronization of multiple NI digitizers, arbitrary waveform generators, and high-speed digital I/O devices. Furthermore, there are a variety of prewritten examples for performing this type of synchronization, which makes getting up and running even easier. Shown below are the three functions (niTClk Configure for Homogeneous Triggers, niTClk Synchronize, niTClk Initiate) needed to perform homogenous synchronization on multiple PXI digitzers as programmed in the LabVIEW environment:

Conclusion

The software platform offered by National Instruments is a key advantage to consider when choosing a high-speed digitizer. In particular this platform includes MAX, a simple application that users can use to configure all NI devices in a system, as well as the NI-SCOPE Soft Front Panel, an easy-to-use application that can help to begin acquiring data within seconds. This platform also includes powerful and flexible tools in the NI-SCOPE instrument driver and NI-TClk synchronization architecture, which both offer example programs that demonstrate their full functionality. Overall, NI high-speed digitizers are accompanied by a software platform that provides a complete set of tools that can help streamline application development from design to deployment.

Related Resources

National Instruments High-Speed Digitizers

Top 10 Things to Consider When Selecting a Digitizer/Oscilloscope

PXI: The Industry Standard Platform for Instrumentation

National Instruments Synchronization and Memory Core - a Modern Architecture for Mixed-Signal Test

National Instruments T-Clock Technology for Timing and Synchronization of Modular Instruments

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