What is NI ELVIS?

Publish Date: Aug 01, 2013 | 3 Ratings | 4.67 out of 5 |  PDF


This article features an overview of NI ELVIS, a hands-on design and prototyping platform that integrates the 12 most commonly used instruments into a compact form factor ideal for the lab or classroom. In addition, common applications are explored such as instructional and research applications. Furthermore, the features of NI ELVIS, including affordability, adaptability, and flexibility, are highlighted and discussed. Additional resources can be found at the bottom of the page.

Table of Contents

  1. Where Is NI ELVIS Applied?
  2. Why Adopt NI ELVIS?


The National Instruments Educational Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Suite (NI ELVIS) is a hands-on design and prototyping platform that integrates the 12 most commonly used instruments – including oscilloscope, digital multimeter, function generator, bode analyzer, and more – into a compact form factor ideal for the lab or classroom. It connects to your PC through USB connection, providing quick and easy acquisition and display of measurements. Based on NI LabVIEW graphical system design software, NI ELVIS offers the flexibility of virtual instrumentation and the ability of customizing your application. NI ELVIS is also an integral part of the NI electronics education platform, combining simulation of circuits and measurements from NI ELVIS instruments inside the NI Multisim capture and simulation environment. Designed with education in mind, NI ELVIS is a comprehensive tool for teaching everything from circuit design, instrumentation, controls, telecommunications, and embedded/MCU theory.  

In addition, NI ELVIS II+ is now available with the added feature of a 100 MS/s oscilloscope, giving you the power to measure higher-frequency signals or design high-frequency filters. 


1. Where Is NI ELVIS Applied?


Many times engineering students experience a disconnect between theory and application of concepts. Even more of a challenge is keeping a student’s interest piqued in the classroom or lab.  NI ELVIS fulfills both needs. Not only does NI ELVIS provide an engaging, hands-on learning experience, but it also plays a role in bridging the gap between theory and prototyping. With a suite of the 12 most commonly used instruments, students can make measurements quickly and easily. For circuit education, tightly integrated with Multisim SPICE simulation software, NI ELVIS takes circuits from theory to reality.


Researchers need the ability to develop prototypes rapidly as well as the flexibility to iterate on their design. Researchers can access the suite of 12 instruments found on NI ELVIS through the NI ELVISmx Instrument Launcher to make measurements with ease. For customization, researchers can take advantage of the flexibility of LabVIEW. In combination with the integrated instruments, the protoboard is ideal for efficiently constructing proof of concepts.


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2. Why Adopt NI ELVIS?


With 12 commonly used benchtop instruments available from a single platform, NI ELVIS eliminates the need to purchase multiple instruments for one application. It is no longer necessary to purchase many different instruments and hope they work together without issues. A digital multimeter (DMM), a function generator, an oscilloscope, and a bode analyzer, just to name a few, are all available from the same platform. Save money not only by having 12 instruments in one, but also by gaining the ability to use the same platform with different users and multiple applications. Removable protoboards make it possible for morning classes to use the same platform as afternoon classes without having to deconstruct their designs, which is often cumbersome and time-consuming. NI ELVIS is helpful to users at all levels and from a variety of disciplines because it can be used for a wide variety of applications. From those learning circuit basics to those conducting research, a single platform can be used by all.


Easy to Use: Less Time Troubleshooting, More Time Learning

NI ELVIS quickly connects to your PC through USB, making time-consuming hardware installation a thing of the past. In addition, the USB connection makes NI ELVIS portable should it need to be used in different labs or classrooms.  The Kensington security cable lock connector on the workstation can be used to secure the workstation to a stationary object.

Installed with the NI ELVISmx driver is the NI ELVISmx Instrument Launcher, which provides quick access to all 12 instruments on the NI ELVIS platform. From the Instrument Launcher, soft front panels allow you to instantly configure your instruments.

Due to the integration of NI ELVIS with Multisim, the transition from simulation to prototype building is smooth and painless. Within Multisim, it is possible to design a circuit using NI ELVIS virtual instruments. That same design can be built virtually on the 3D simulated NI ELVIS protoboard within the Multisim environment. The design can then be taken yet another step further onto the actual NI ELVIS protoboard. This step-wise development helps cut down on troubleshooting time, especially because the simulated measurements can be presented simultaneously with the NI ELVIS real-world measurements in the same display.  Connecting theory and real-world measurements is made easy with this complete toolchain.


Multisim Integration

As an integral part of the NI electronics education platform, NI ELVIS supplies the necessary components for a wide variety of applications from investigating basic circuit principles to prototyping research projects.  When NI ELVIS is paired with Multisim, a software package created to help efficiently design and validate a circuit through SPICE simulation, the hurdle between theory and prototyping is minimized.  Multisim circuit files are available for download for a number of textbooks commonly used in circuit classrooms.  With these files, students can explore textbook theory in a simulated environment where they can observe expected results. Students can expand upon the simulation experience with the NI ELVIS hardware platform by prototyping the circuit and then comparing the measured with the simulated data. 

Within Multisim, students can design circuits on the NI ELVIS schematic which models the NI ELVIS protoboard. Students can then go a step further by building the circuit on a virtual protoboard, which has the same layout as NI ELVIS itself. The circuit design can be taken to the NI ELVIS platform. Using the soft front panels, students can view the simulated results with the real-world measurements in the same screen. In addition, designs can be customized in LabVIEW because the VIs are open source. With NI ELVIS, Multisim, and LabVIEW, the transition from theory to fully-functional applications becomes stepwise and seamless.


Added Functionality with NI ELVIS II+

NI ELVIS II+, the newest addition to the NI ELVIS product family, now has the added feature of a 100 MS/s oscilloscope enabling higher-frequency measurements and design of high-frequency filters. A 20MHz optional filter is available, vertical offsets and horizontal triggering are some of the new features on the oscilloscope.  The exploration of higher-frequency components, characterizing circuits, and investigating rise times has never been easier.


Flexibility with LabVIEW and Software

All 12 instruments of the NI ELVIS platform are accessible through the NI ELVISmx Instrument Launcher. These instruments are based on industry-leading LabVIEW graphical system design software, giving you the flexibility of virtual instrumentation and the ability to customize applications. These instruments are open-sourced and customizable.

The LabVIEW graphical block diagram and dataflow approach to programming provides customizable application and flexible measurement. With the installation of the NI ELVISmx driver, included with NI ELVIS hardware, the NI ELVIS series of instruments have associated LabVIEW Express VIs and LabVIEW SignalExpress steps. This lets you interactively configure the settings for each instrument and develop LabVIEW applications without extensive programming expertise. In addition, the integrated data acquisition device in NI ELVIS can be programmed using the NI DAQmx API. Refer to the user manual for more information.


Expandability with Plug-In Boards

The NI ELVIS platform can used in a wide range of applications and disciplines by extend your lab beyond instrumentation and circuits with NI ELVIS plug-in boards and courseware from third parties such as Emona Instruments, Freescale Semiconductors, and Quanser to teach telecommunications, microcontroller, and control concepts. National Instruments also adds to the platform with a digital electronics and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) plug-in board. You can maximize lab usage and save space by sharing between introductory level classes and advance senior classes in a range of disciplines. This is possible with the NI ELVIS design and prototyping platform with its suite of 12 instruments and family of plug-in boards.


Technical Support

With the purchase of NI ELVIS, you have access to NI applications engineers who provide world-wide technical support. In addition, you can become a member of the NI Developer Zone community and collaborate with professors, enthusiasts, and professionals through discussion forums and instructional material downloads. Before adopting NI ELVIS, you can request field sales engineer on-site visits and consultations to determine which package is the best fit for you and your application. 


Additional Resources

What’s New in NI ELVIS II+

    View this webcast to see what is new with NI ELVIS II+.

Introduction to NI ELVIS, Multisim, and LabVIEW

Download this courseware by Professor Barry Paton, containing a lab manual, circuit files, and LabVIEW code to begin teaching circuits using NI ELVIS, Multisim, and LabVIEW.

Educator and Classroom Resources for Circuit Design and Simulation

Explore courseware, white papers, case studies, and more on using NI ELVIS and Multisim to teach circuit theory and electronics.

Find pricing information and buy here

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