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Legacy: NI-488.2 Communicator

Launching It

There are several ways to launch the NI-488.2 Communicator:

  1. It will launch as step 2 of the NI-488.2 Getting Started Wizard.

  2. Right-click on a GPIB board listed in the Measurement & Automation Explorer and select "Scan for Instruments" from the pop-up menu:

    MAX Pop-up 1


    Then right-click on a found instrument and select "Communicate with Instrument" from the pop-up menu:

    MAX Pop-up 2



What It Does

The NI-488.2 Communicator program opens in its own window and looks like this:

MAX Pop-up 2


This program is much more user friendly than the Interactive Control (IBIC), but it is also much more limited. You can use this program to send messages to an instrument and receive messages back from that instrument. The key parts of this program are:

  • Send String: This is the message you want to send to the instrument. The default message is "*idn?", which is a basic identification query. Most instruments understand this message and they will respond with an identification string. (See your instrument's manual for a list of possible messages you can send.)

    If you have an older instrument that requires a termination character such as line feed (\n) or carriage return (\r) to be appended to your string, then you must use the Interactive Control (IBIC). The NI-488.2 Communicator program is designed for 488.2 compliant instruments.

  • Write: This button will send the message in Scan String to the instrument. You would then press the Read button to retrieve the instrument's response. If you press this button twice in a row, then you may experience a timeout error.

  • String Received: This is the message returned from the instrument.

  • Read: This button will return the instrument's response to a message sent to it previously. If you press the Read button when the instrument has nothing to send to the GPIB board, then you will experience a timeout error. Try sending a message to the instrument that it will understand. (See your instrument's manual for a list of possible messages you can send.)

  • Query: This button has the effect of pressing the Write button followed by the Read button.


Some other aspects of the program are:

  • The Show Sample button, which will display a sample GPIB program written in C. Other sample programs are available (see your NI-488.2 installation program).

  • The Globals box, which displays the three NI-488 global variables. See the online NI-488.2 User Manual for more details.

  • The Status box, which displays the component bits of the NI-488 status word. See the online NI-488.2 User Manual for more details.


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