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An instrument driver is a set of high-level functions that control and communicate with instrument hardware in a system. In LabVIEW, an instrument driver is a set of VIs that communicate with an instrument using LabVIEW built-in VISA I/O functions. Each VI corresponds to a programmatic operation, such as configuring, reading from, writing to, and triggering an instrument. LabVIEW instrument drivers simplify instrument control and reduce test program development time by eliminating the need for you to learn the complex, low-level programming commands for each instrument. You also can control instruments directly.
The Instrument Driver Network contains instrument drivers for a variety of programmable instruments that use the GPIB, Ethernet, serial, and other interfaces. You also can search for National Instruments drivers at NI Drivers and Updates on the National Instruments Web site. You can use an instrument driver for a particular instrument as is. However, LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers are distributed with their block diagram source code, so you can customize them for a specific application. You can create instrument control applications and systems by programmatically linking instrument driver VIs on the block diagram. Use the NI Instrument Driver Finder to search for and install LabVIEW Plug and Play instrument drivers without leaving the LabVIEW development environment. Select Tools»Instrumentation»Find Instrument Drivers or Help»Find Instrument Drivers to launch the Instrument Driver Finder.
LabVIEW instrument drivers usually use VISA functions to communicate with instruments. You can use VISA for many different instrument types, such as GPIB, serial, USB, LXI, PXI, and VXI. Once you learn how to use VISA for one type of instrument, you do not have to learn a different way to communicate when you use another type of instrument. You do have to learn about the specific command set for the two instruments, but the method by which you send and receive the commands does not change.
|Note You can use the Instrument I/O Assistant to communicate with message-based instruments and graphically parse the response.|
NI provides more than 8,000 instrument drivers from more than 275 vendors. Refer to the Instrument Driver Network on the National Instruments Web site for a list of available instrument drivers. You also can search for National Instruments drivers at NI Drivers and Updates on the National Instruments Web site.
You can search for and install existing LabVIEW instrument drivers.